Financial experts say they are seeing more Canadians struggling through the pandemic due to economic pain due to wage losses. Some of the stresses can be eased with preparation.
Financial experts say they are seeing more Canadians struggling through the pandemic due to economic pain due to wage losses. Some of the stresses can be eased with preparation.
Jim Lowes had never thought about being an organ donor until he read a story about Logan Boulet nearly three years ago. Boulet was one of 16 people who died in April 2018 when a truck driver blew a stop sign and drove into the path of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team's bus in rural Saskatchewan. Thirteen players were injured. Boulet, 21, had signed up to be an organ donor on his birthday, five weeks before the crash. "He had already planned on giving his organs," said Lowes, who lives in Burlington, Ont. "That really struck me. "What a brilliant young man. Most kids at that age are not thinking about donating their organs." Six people across Canada benefited from Boulet's organs and the Logan Boulet Effect soon followed. Nearly 147,000 Canadians registered to be donors in the two months after learning the player had signed his donor card. It also led to Green Shirt Day every April 7, the anniversary of Boulet's death, to promote organ donor awareness and registration across Canada. Canadian Blood Services says more than a million people have registered a decision about organ donation in the years since Boulet's death. There are about 12 million Canadians on provincial registries. Lowes, 61, said he was inspired by Boulet to be a living donor. "I was too old to donate (part of) my liver ... but I checked into the kidney," he said. "I ended up donating one of my kidneys." Canadian Blood Services says the number of living donors increased in 2019 but dropped about 30 per cent to 427 in 2020. Deceased donors also dropped about 21 per cent to 654. Officials say the decline was due to COVID-19. "The impact we've seen has changed over the year," said Dr. Norman Kneteman, a transplant surgeon at University of Alberta Hospital and a member on an expert advisory committee with Canadian Blood Services. During the first wave of COVID-19 last spring, there was fear of the unknown, he said. "Donation really slowed down and very nearly stopped for awhile." Surgeries considered non-essential were delayed. There were fewer trauma patients who might become donors. And there was an early concern about transmission of the novel coronavirus between donor and patient, which he said is extremely rare and can be managed with careful testing. Kneteman, also a director for the division of transplantation at the U of A, said programs were almost back to normal by summer, and surgeons kept up with transplants during the pandemic's second wave. "We did see through the year — 2020 — that we had between 10 and 15 per cent reduction in activity in transplant for all organs," he said. "We have some catch-up to play there." Boulet's father said his family hopes an online campaign, which started this week, reminds people about organ donation. "We just want people to register their intent, what they want to do, whether they want to be an organ donor or don't want to be an organ donor," Toby Boulet said from Lethbridge, Alta. He said it's disappointing organs went unused in the early days of COVID-19. "We lost many, many chances in Canada to have transplants," he said. "There are chances to save lives. There are chances to make people's lives better and, even though COVID has enveloped and consumed all of us ... we can't forget about organ donation and transplantation." Canadian Blood Services said there were some bright spots in 2020. Newfoundland and Labrador brought in a new way last April for residents to register as organ donors. An online registry started in Saskatchewan last September. Nova Scotia recorded higher donation rates as awareness increased before a presumed consent law that requires people to opt out of organ donation. "The law came into effect in January, but we had been working on changing the system in preparation for the law for the past 18 months," said Dr. Stephen Beed, medical adviser for the Nova Scotia organ and tissue donation program. "We've ended up having by far the most successful donation year." Beed, who was working in an intensive care unit in Saskatoon the week of the Broncos crash, has a special connection to the Boulet family. "I was involved in taking care of Logan," he said. "It's quite remarkable to think I am living in Nova Scotia and doing a lot of donation-related work here, and then happened to be involved with one of the most tragic and significant donation-related circumstances we've had." Beed said the crash was noticed around the world. "To be able to find something positive in the middle of such a tragic circumstance — with Logan's gift — is something that really resonated and continues to resonate." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021 Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press
Paul Harrington has been a leading figure with the Lower Churchill Project since he began working as an embedded contractor with Nalcor Energy in 2007. He is one of seven senior project managers fighting against the release of their pay information from 2019.(Terry Roberts/CBC) Seven senior contractors working on the Muskrat Falls hydro and transmission project — including longtime project leader Paul Harrington — are fighting a request to Nalcor Energy to have their 2019 compensation information made public. That's despite the fact Nalcor believes the information should be released. As well, legislative changes made nearly three years ago lifted the veil of secrecy over compensation to embedded contractors, and previous court rulings have also come down on the side of full disclosure. What's more, Nalcor released a comprehensive breakdown of Harrington's compensation in September 2019, in response to a CBC News access to information request. It revealed the project leader was billing up to $75,000 per month, including HST, for services performed a few years earlier. As of March 31, 2017, Harrington's daily rate of compensation was almost $2,000. CBC News filed a follow-up access to information request three months ago with the provincial energy corporation, seeking a list of the nearly two dozen most senior members of the Lower Churchill Project management team, and the amount of money the companies they represent were paid for their services in 2019. With the exception of Gilbert Bennett, who is executive vice-president for power development and a top official at Nalcor Energy, the senior project team is comprised primarily of contractors, or consultants, many of whom incorporate their own companies and hire themselves out to Nalcor. On Feb. 8, Nalcor released the names and pay of 13 members of the project team, with the annual fees for 2019 ranging from a low of just over $210,000, to a high of more than $395,000. But Nalcor initially withheld the identity and compensation details for eight members of the management team. That's because those eight members, including Harrington, filed a complaint with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, in a bid to have the information shielded from public release. But one of those eight, Ray Butler, later withdrew his complaint to the privacy commissioner and Nalcor released his financial information on March 2. Butler is the construction manager at the Soldiers Pond converter station, switchyard and synchronous condenser facility. Butler's company is called RB Consulting Services Inc., and was paid more than $406,000 by Nalcor in 2019. This is a list of 14 senior contractors working on the Lower Churchill Project, and their compensation for 2019.(Nalcor Energy) A Nalcor official said the corporation is withholding information relating to the seven other senior contractors until it receives direction from the information and privacy commissioner, which is now reviewing the matter. Information and privacy commissioner Michael Harvey confirmed in an email Tuesday that his office received "several" complaints after Nalcor issued notices to those involved that it would be disclosing the information to CBC News. Harvey could not provide specifics of the complaints, but confirmed his office will investigate whether disclosure of the information should be withheld under sections 39 or 40 of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Michael Harvey was appointed Newfoundland and Labrador's information and privacy commissioner in July 2019.(Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner) Those sections allow for the withholding of information if it would be harmful to the business interest of a third party, or if the disclosure would be harmful to personal privacy. Harvey said the investigations commenced in early February, and the legislation requires the investigations to be concluded within 65 business days. However, Harvey said his office is working with Nalcor and the complainants to reach an informal resolution. Otherwise, Harvey noted that it's possible the issue may not be resolved until mid-May. The senior managers are also entitled to appeal any recommendations from Harvey's office to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. Paul Harrington among the holdouts Meanwhile, CBC News was unable to confirm the identities of all seven, but has confirmed through sources that Harrington, who joined the project team in 2007, five years before the troubled project was sanctioned, and Ron Power, who is deputy project manager responsible for Muskrat Falls power generation, are among the holdouts. Harrington is a key architect on a project that is billions over budget and years behind schedule, and is not expected to achieve full commercial power until the end of 2021, at a final forecast cost of more than $13 billion. The project was sanctioned in late 2012 with a projected in-service cost of $7.4 billion, with first power scheduled for July 2017. For nearly a decade, Harrington was the overall project director for the Lower Churchill Project, but is currently project director for electricity generation at Muskrat Falls. Harrington vigorously — though unsuccessfully — fought a similar battle to shield his compensation in 2017 and 2018, and launched a court challenge against a CBC request for his pay information. He also applied to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador for an order prohibiting questions about his compensation when he appeared before Justice Richard LeBlanc at the Muskrat Falls commission of inquiry in late 2018. Harrington's lawyers said in court documents that releasing these details "would not serve the public interest, but would cause undue financial harm to him and his consulting company." But those legal challenges lost steam after LeBlanc ruled "there will be no restrictions," and it was revealed at the inquiry that Harrington was being paid a day rate of nearly $1,700 up to March 31, 2011. A subsequent access request two years ago revealed Harrington's day rate had increased to $1,945 as of March 30, 2017. The documents also revealed that Harrington billed Nalcor $74,800 including HST for his services in November 2016, though at least one month that year was below $40,000. Lifting the veil of secrecy Five years ago, the provincial government passed legislation requiring an annual listing of all public employees who receive a total compensation of more than $100,000 in a calendar year. Nalcor employees are included, and the list for 2019 revealed that CEO Stan Marshall received a $315,000 bonus on top of an almost $460,000 salary, while executive vice-president for power development Gilbert Bennett received an almost $70,000 bonus along with a $334,000 salary. Temporary workers on the Muskrat Falls project are not included on the so-called "Sunshine List," even though the project is publicly funded. So nearly three years ago, following months of intense media scrutiny of the issue, the provincial government made changes to the Energy Corporation Act, allowing for the identities and amount of money paid to contractors hired directly by Nalcor to work on Muskrat to be subject to disclosure under the province's access to information laws. At the time, then-Natural Resources Minister Sioban Coady said such secrecy was "not reasonable or necessary." In 2017, prior to a change in the legislation, Marshall said that "If it was up to me, I'd release it." The Muskrat Falls hydro and transmission project is scheduled to achieve full commercial power later this year, four years later than originally planned when the project was sanctioned in late 2012.(Nalcor Energy) Insiders say secrecy is preferred by the contractors because they compete with each other for work. But the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner ruled in 2017 there was "no evidence" that releasing the information would unfairly expose contractors to "risk of financial or other harm." In a similar case, the province's teachers' association launched a legal challenge against the Sunshine List, calling it an unnecessary invasion of privacy. The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador agreed. But that ruling was overturned in 2018 by the Court of Appeal, which rejected privacy arguments like those made by the Nalcor contractors, and concluded that pay details for people on the public payroll is public information. The NLTA unsuccessfully took its case to the Supreme Court of Canada. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
The European Commission on Thursday announced goals for the 27-nation bloc to reduce poverty, inequality and boost training and jobs by 2030 as part of a post-pandemic economic overhaul financed by jointly borrowed funds. The goals, which will have to be endorsed by EU leaders, also include an increase in the number of adults getting training every year to adapt to the EU's transition to a greener and more digitalised economy to 60% from 40% now. Finally, over the next 10 years, the EU should reduce the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion by 15 million from 91 million in 2019.
Why do some long-term care residents who contract COVID-19 become seriously ill and die, while others show just mild symptoms, or none at all? That's a question one of Nova Scotia's top infectious disease experts is looking to answer with a study that's currently underway. "We know very little about immune systems in older adults — not just in Canada, but in the world," said Dr. Lisa Barrett, an infectious disease researcher and clinician at Dalhousie University in Halifax. "They are a very under-studied population of people, and therefore this particular study allows us to really get in there and understand immune responses to a brand new pathogen, or virus, that these folks have never seen before." Four long-term care facilities in the province are taking part in the study, including Northwood's campuses in Halifax and Bedford. Barrett said 356 people have agreed to participate. "The participants and their families have been incredibly generous with their time, with consent, and, of course, with their blood, which is where we get the immune cells to study their immune systems," she said. "It is orders of magnitude bigger than most immune studies of this type, which makes it one of our most powerful tools we have right now to study older people — not just for COVID, but immunity and frailty in general." Northwood's long-term care facility in Halifax, where 53 residents died after contracting COVID-19, is taking part in the study.(Robert Short/CBC) Blood samples were taken from residents before they got vaccinated against COVID-19, and samples will continue to be taken after their first and second doses to study their immune response. Samples are also being taken from both residents who have contracted and recovered from COVID-19, and from people who have never had the disease. This will allow researchers to compare the immune response in those who were never infected, those who were highly exposed but never infected, those who had moderate symptoms of COVID-19, and those who had severe symptoms. Studying vaccine responses Of the 65 people who died of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, 53 of them were residents at Northwood's Halifax facility. After a provincial review into the Northwood outbreak last year, experts recommended a more robust response to the spread of infection, like fewer shared rooms, better ventilation and more staff. Josie Ryan, Northwood's executive director of long-term care, said those recommendations have been addressed. But the review didn't help them understand why some residents were getting sick and others weren't. "You could have a person that was 100 years old that would go through the virus with very little symptoms, but yet somebody that was 70 would be significantly affected," she said. "So it was a mystery sometimes because you didn't know." Ryan is the executive director of long-term care at Northwood. The province started vaccinating long-term care residents for COVID-19 in January.(CBC) Ryan said now, about 95 per cent of Northwood's residents are vaccinated against COVID-19 and researchers will continue to monitor their immunity. "That's the big piece for me, to know if the seniors are protected by the vaccine," said Ryan. Beyond COVID-19 The COVID-19 pandemic has been the source of unspeakable tragedy, but Barrett said it also presented an opportunity to research the immune response of a group of people who are typically left out of these kinds of studies. The $1.9-million study is being funded through the Government of Canada through its COVID-19 Immunity Task Force. Barrett said this research will have "huge implications" beyond COVID-19. "We struggle to get funding to study immunity in older people, and one of the biggest killers of older people is infection, whether that's pneumonia, influenza or other infections," said Barrett. "So while this is about COVID, it's also about making more knowledge about immunity in older people, which is a huge part of keeping people healthy and living longer." Barrett acknowledged the study is a "silver lining that I know cannot make up for the heartbreak of people lost." "But certainly, it does help people to feel like we're making the best of a very bad situation, I think." MORE TOP STORIES
GENEVA — As the head of African soccer battles in court this week to stay on the ballot for re-election, FIFA president Gianni Infantino is coming off a comprehensive tour of the continent. The timing of the visit does not appear to be coincidental. Infantino fueled talk of election interference by visiting about a dozen African countries and meeting heads of state along the way — ala predecessor Sepp Blatter — while promoting his preferred candidate, South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe. The current president of the Confederation of African Football, Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar, is appealing against a five-year ban imposed by FIFA for financial misconduct while running the Cairo-based body. Although Infantino helped put Ahmad in office four years ago, it is unlikely that even a victory for the Madagascan at the Court of Arbitration for Sport would help his chances in a campaign increasingly influenced by the FIFA president. In the aftermath of Infantino’s African tour, a deal was offered to the four candidates challenging Ahmad in the March 12 election to clear the way for Motsepe, according to the office of Senegalese candidate Augustin Senghor. No agreement was reached. Motsepe, a mining magnate, is the brother-in-law of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and the owner of South African club Mamelodi Sundowns. Infantino met with Ramaphosa in Cape Town last month. After Infantino completed his tour, his top aides travelled to Morocco, where the challengers met in Rabat. The city will also host the election next week. The candidates are set meet again this weekend at a soccer tournament in Mauritania. FIFA presidents have long courted Africa, which has 54 voters among the 211 member federations. Infantino defied African opposition to be elected FIFA president in 2016, and one year later travelled extensively during the campaign to help Ahmad unseat longtime CAF president Issa Hayatou. African tours during election periods “are clearly very problematic,” said Miguel Maduro, the independent official who vetted candidates for FIFA in 2017 before being ousted by the leadership in Zurich. “Their (African members) access to money depends on the goodwill of the president of FIFA,” Maduro told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. Infantino’s latest trip was detailed in news updates on FIFA’s website. He echoed Blatter’s trademark rhetoric by promising more money and praising his hosts. “Before my arrival at FIFA, each federation received $250,000. Today it’s $1.5 million per year,” Infantino said in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. “Is it enough? No, we can do more. We must do more.” Infantino said in Mali that players at a new technical centre will “lift this great nation to the highest heights of African and world football.” In Benin, he said the country could “very well be one of those models” for world soccer. FIFA said in a statement that the focus of the tour “was on football development across the continent” and to hear the candidates’ views and plans. Infantino has consistently said he wants African national and club teams to be contenders in FIFA competitions. No African team has ever gotten past the quarterfinals of a men’s or women’s World Cup, nor won the Club World Cup. “There is an impression that Africa is going backwards,” Infantino cautioned African soccer leaders last year. Still, the timing of Infantino’s packed travel schedule raised questions during a pandemic and just before an election. He was also likely targeting his own re-election in 2023, Maduro said. “Of course, that is their concern. FIFA operates as a political cartel,” the Portuguese lawyer said. The basis for Ahmad’s ban last November was a FIFA-appointed forensic audit of CAF accounts. The FIFA review committee, once led by Maduro, later excluded Ahmad as a candidate. Even if CAS overturns Ahmad’s ban in the next week, the FIFA block on his election eligibility should stay in place. A separate decision would be needed to lift that. It all leaves Motsepe as the favoured candidate to get a four-year term as CAF president and one of the eight influential FIFA vice-president spots alongside Infantino. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press
P.E.I. potato growers now have a new pesticide to use to help fight a costly pest called wireworm. In October 2020, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency approved the registration of broflanilide, the active ingredient in two new insecticides. One targets wireworm in cereal crops, such as wheat; the other does the same thing in potato and corn crops. "I think it will be a game changer for a lot of producers that have been without a very effective, easy-to-use insecticide for quite some time," said Ryan Barrett, research and agronomy co-ordinator with the P.E.I. Potato Board. "We have some insecticides available that do an okay job. But this new insecticide, broflanilide, appears to actually kill wireworm rather than just stunning them." Costly problem Barrett said wireworm has been a costly problem for the potato industry on Prince Edward Island over the years. "It's probably one of the largest yield-robbing diseases or pests that potato producers deal with here in P.E.I.," he said. "It's particularly bad in the fresh-market industry, as a table-stock potato that has a lot of wormholes on it just becomes unmarketable. So for a lot of those varieties and a lot of growers growing for those markets, it's a huge yield robber." Barrett says the new insecticide, broflanilide, appears to actually kill wireworms like this one rather than just stunning them. (Ryan Barrett ) Barrett said wireworm can also be an issue with a potato destined for processing as a French fry or potato chip as well. "I think we had previously estimated that wireworm damage in P.E.I. potatoes was costing over $5 million a year in damage, plus the cost of insecticides, plus the cost of growing some of these different crops. So we are talking about big-dollar figures here," Barrett said. In 2018, the total cost was estimated at $10 million, including the control measures. "So, yes, it will cost something to put the insecticide on the crop, but I think in terms of what it will do, the damage that it will prevent, hopefully, will be significant." Invasive species Until now, Barrett said P.E.I. potato growers have been using other insecticides to fight wireworm, but also changing how they do their tillage and crop rotation. They have been adding crops such as brown mustard or buckwheat, which have been shown to reduce some of the damage from wireworm in later plantings in the same field. Barrett said a table-stock potato with this kind of wormhole damage on it becomes unmarketable. (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada ) Barrett said it was important that research on the new product was done here on P.E.I. because the wireworm found on the Island is a invasive species from Europe, and not the dominant species in most of the rest of North America. "There are insecticides that work in Saskatchewan or work in Alberta on their wireworms, but don't work here," Barrett said. "So it's very important to have research done locally on our species of wireworm, and when they showed that it actually works on what we have here in Prince Edward Island, that was huge." Potato growers on P.E.I. have been planting fields of mustard and buckwheat to help fight wireworms. (Submitted by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada) Christine Noronha has been testing the new pesticide since 2015. "We would plant the potatoes by hand in the furrow, and then we sprayed the insecticide in the furrow and covered it up," said Noronha, a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Charlottetown. "We would look at, is it affecting the emergence of the potato plants? And then looking at yield, is it affecting the yield?" Noronha said it's important that this chemical kills the wireworms, rather than just paralyzing them, to stop the population from rebounding in subsequent years. (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada ) "Then, at the end of the year, we would actually look at the potatoes, and count the number of holes that we had on the tubers, and that would tell us if there was any damage, or any reduction in damage." Noronha said it's important that this chemical kills the wireworms, rather than just paralyzing them, to stop the population from growing. "Because wireworms don't only affect potatoes; they feed on other crops as well," Noronha said. "If you go in with your barley the following year, and you have a big population, you're going to lose some of your crop because of wireworms." During Noronha's research, they planted the potatoes by hand in each furrow, then sprayed the insecticide into the furrow and covered it up. (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada ) Noronha said the new pesticide also may have less impact on the environment. "The newer chemicals, they're more environmentally friendly and they don't move as much in the soil — and also, they're less toxic to other organisms as well," she said. "Broflanilide is persistent in soil, but is not expected to move through the soil and reach groundwater because it binds strongly to the soil surface. In water bodies, broflanilide will move to sediments where it may remain over time," says Health Canada's documentation about the new pesticide ingredient (see link at bottom). "When used according to the label directions, broflanilide poses acceptable risk to wild mammals, birds, beneficial insects, earthworms, terrestrial and aquatic plants, fish, or amphibians." Ryan Barrett calls wireworm one of the largest yield-robbing pests for potato growers on P.E.I. (Ryan Barrett) Noronha said she will continue to look for other strategies for dealing with wireworm, but noted this is a big deal for P.E.I. potato growers. "Because at one point, the damage was really, really high and they couldn't even sell their crop. "This was a good thing that happened, and we were — all the researchers — happy to see that there is something for them to use." More P.E.I. news
At least 19 Myanmar police have crossed into India to escape taking orders from a military junta that is trying to suppress protests against last month's coup, an Indian police official said on Thursday, adding that more were expected. The men have crossed into Champhai and Serchhip, two districts in the northeastern state of Mizoram that share a porous border with Myanmar, the official said, declining to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue. There have been several instances recounted on social media of police joining the civil disobedience movement and protests against the junta, with some arrested, but this is the first reported case of police fleeing Myanmar.
Hudson's Bay Co. hopes to transform its website into Canada’s next online shopping marketplace in a bid to position itself as a premium, home-grown alternative to e-commerce heavy hitters like Amazon. The company will open its website to third-party sellers starting later this month, adding hundreds of new brands and thousands of items to its online assortment of products at a time when pandemic restrictions have curtailed in-person shopping. The new site will include electronics and sporting goods, pushing the retailer beyond tried-and-true categories like clothing and home decor as it seeks to attract and retain customers who increasingly demand a strong online presence. The company has to find the right balance between maintaining its premium brand and expanding its inventory, executives said in an interview. "Although it will very much be a vast assortment, it will feel curated," said Adam Powell, senior vice-president of omni customer experience. "We're not going to approach it in the same way that Amazon our Walmart would, which is 'absolutely everything goes' … with little consideration other than having as many products as possible." Shoppers will have access to more products, some of which will be sold and shipped directly by Hudson’s Bay -- and can be returned in store -- while others will be sold and shipped by third-party sellers that also manage returns for those items. The Hudson’s Bay marketplace, hosted on the Mirakl software-as-a-service platform, comes a little over a year after the iconic company was taken private. Since then, many of its department stores have been closed for months on end amid COVID-19 restrictions, hundreds of workers have been laid off and competition online has soared as consumers take to internet shopping in record numbers. Although the company’s digital strategy was in place before the pandemic – the retailer relaunched its website last April using a new e-commerce platform from Salesforce – it has taken on more urgency amid lockdowns. "This was the most logical way to really expand our digital first strategy at a supercharged rate," Iain Nairn, said president and CEO of Hudson's Bay. "It opens up thebay.com for one-stop shopping." Even post-pandemic, retail watchers say consumers will continue to shop more online and look for “omni-channel” options such as picking up online purchases at stores, while in-store shopping will focus more on interacting with products. “It’s actually creating the store to be more exciting and have more experiences,” Nairn said. “There may not be as much absolute product but there will be more options for them to look at" before they purchase online. The idea is to use stores as more of a showroom for products, with a wider selection available online and shipped directly to customers, Powell said. “What we want to do is extend the aisle for in-store shoppers,” he said. “We want our in-store customers to know that when they're shopping in our stores, they have access to a much broader catalogue than what resides within those four walls.” Like the new HBC marketplace, some other online retailers like Best Buy, Walmart and Amazon also allow third-party sellers. Yet HBC is banking on the department store’s unique position as a Canadian retailer with a reputation for higher-end goods to attract customers. The company has about 225 million website visits a year and 5.6 million loyalty rewards members, numbers HBC expects will attract sellers interested in reaching Canadian shoppers. Hudson's Bay marketplace will feature large multinational third-party sellers of brand-name goods as well as smaller vendors, artisans and entrepreneurs, the company said. The retailer even issued a call out for "cool local and Canadian brands" with direct-to-consumer shipping capabilities and inventory on hand, providing a national platform for handmade products that might normally be sold on websites like Etsy, Facebook marketplace or Kijiji. “It will be a variety of different sellers that will run the gamut from big strategic partners that are larger well-known organizations to smaller or independent businesses,” Powell said. “It gives us a great opportunity to showcase local products and local retailers from the communities. The focus will be on merchandise customers are already searching for, including technology, sports equipment, pet products, food and drink and health and wellness, Powell said. “We can tell by our search results that these types of categories are products that our customers are already looking,” he said. “If Nintendo launches a new console, we see that coming up in our search results, so it won’t feel foreign to a customer to stumble upon these new categories that we're going to be introducing. "It'll be a real natural extension from our existing business, and it'll still be very much in keeping with the types of areas and quality that we want to portray with our customers." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press
A national panel of vaccine experts recommended Wednesday that provinces extend the interval between the two doses of a COVID-19 shot to quickly inoculate more people, as the prime minister expressed optimism that vaccination timelines could be sped up. In laying out its new guidelines, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization said extending the dose interval to four months would create opportunities to protect the entire adult population against the virus within a short time frame. As many as 80 per cent of Canadians over 16 could receive a single dose by the end of June simply with the expected supply of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the panel said. Second doses would begin to be administered in July as more shipments arrive, the panel said, noting that 55 million doses are expected to be delivered in the third quarter of the year. In comparison, the federal government previously said 38 per cent of people would receive two doses by the end of June. The addition of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to the country's supply could mean almost all Canadians would get their first shot in that time frame, but Ottawa has not yet said how many doses of that vaccine will be delivered in the spring and how many in the summer. "The vaccine effectiveness of the first dose will be monitored closely and the decision to delay the second dose will be continuously assessed based on surveillance and effectiveness data and post-implementation study designs," the panel wrote. "Effectiveness against variants of concern will also be monitored closely, and recommendations may need to be revised," it said, adding there is currently no evidence that a longer interval will affect the emergence of the variants. The updated guidance applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for use in Canada. The committee's recommendation came hours after Newfoundland and Labrador said it will extend the interval between the first and second doses to four months, and days after health officials in British Columbia announced they were doing so. Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec also said Wednesday they will delay second doses. Earlier Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said any change in public health guidance regarding the timing of the two doses could affect the speed of Canada's vaccine rollout, as could the approval of more shots. The federal government's plan to have doses administered to all Canadians who want one by the end of September didn't factor in the arrival of new vaccines such as the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot, Trudeau said. And despite delays in the delivery of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last month, Canada is now "fully back on track and even ahead of schedule" when it comes to its supply of the various shots, he said, noting the country should receive more than the six million doses of COVID-19 vaccines it initially expected to get by the end of March. "The projections we've had for many, many months certainly hold, but we're also very optimistic that they're going to be able to be moved forward if, indeed, all the vaccines that we've contracted for are able to be manufactured and shipped in the right ways," the prime minister said. The first 500,000 doses of the recently approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in Canada on Wednesday, though confusion persists over who should get them. The vaccine, manufactured at the Serum Institute of India, is the third COVID-19 shot approved for use in Canada. Health Canada last week authorized its use for all adult Canadians but the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended Tuesday that it not be administered to people 65 years of age or older. The committee said there is limited data from clinical trials about how effective the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is for seniors and recommends that they be given priority for the two other vaccines — Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — already greenlighted for use in Canada. Both Health Canada and the committee stress no safety concerns have arisen in the clinical studies or among the millions of seniors who have received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in other countries. Some provinces, including Alberta, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island, plan to follow the advisory committee's advice and target the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine at younger people working in front-line essential services or in high-risk settings like prisons. On Wednesday, the Ontario government said it will give the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot to residents aged 60 to 64. The drug will not be doled out through mass immunization clinics but rather through a "different pathway," Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said. Details of the program were not released. Manitoba said it plans to target those between the ages of 50 and 64 who have high-risk underlying conditions. The province said it expects to receive its first shipment of the AstraZeneca shot by mid-month. Other provinces, including Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, are still mulling over the issue. Meanwhile, Quebec said it would move more regions into the less restrictive orange level of its pandemic system starting next Monday. But while residents in Quebec City, Chaudiere-Appalaches, Mauricie, Estrie and Centre-du-Quebec will see measures loosen, those in the Montreal area will remain under the more stringent rules of the province's red level. New guidelines for shipping and storing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were also released Wednesday, with Health Canada saying the drug can be transported and kept at standard freezer temperatures for up to two weeks. The previous storage instructions required that the vaccine be kept in ultralow temperatures and thawed just before use, which restricted its distribution to areas equipped with the necessary specialty freezers. The change should allow for wider distribution of the vaccines. Ottawa also confirmed Wednesday it is extending three federal support programs meant to lessen the economic impact of COVID-19 on residents and business owners until June. The federal wage subsidy, rent support and lockdown programs will carry on with the same level of aid, the government said. In addition to Wednesday's shipment of Oxford-AstraZeneca doses, Canada is also scheduled to receive 444,600 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week. With Oxford-AstraZeneca added to Canada's vaccine arsenal, the country is on track to receive a total of 6.5 million vaccine doses by the end of this month — half a million more than originally expected. -- With files from Mia Rabson in Ottawa This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press
BRUSSELS — An inquiry into claims that the European Union’s border and coast guard agency was involved in illegally pushing back migrants has cleared Frontex of links to most of the incidents but has been unable to establish what happened in five cases, according to the official report into the allegations. The report is by a special working group set up to investigate media allegations that staff, ships or aircraft working with Frontex took part in or were near more than a dozen pushback incidents in the sea between Greece and Turkey last year. Its findings will be the focus of an extraordinary meeting of the agency’s management board on Friday. Frontex, which is responsible for patrolling the external borders of the 27-nation EU, has rejected the pushback allegations and said that its own internal inquiry could find no evidence to substantiate the claims. Greece, which is in charge of operations involving co-ordinating Frontex on its territory, has also denied reports of pushbacks by its border officers. Pushbacks are forcibly preventing people from entering a country when they might want to apply for asylum. They are contrary to refugee protection agreements, which say people shouldn’t be returned to a country where their life and safety might be in danger due to their race, religion, nationality or political views. They also contravene EU law and policy. The working group cleared Frontex of any wrongdoing in 8 cases, but said in five cases “it has not been possible to completely resolve the incidents beyond any reasonable doubt,” according to part of the restricted report, dated March 1 and seen by The Associated Press. Investigators could not determine whether the people involved in the five incidents were picked up by Turkish authorities or made it safely onto Greek soil. “There is no indication of anybody injured, reported missing or having died in connection with the respective incidents,” the report said. The probe, by experts from seven European countries and the European Commission, was set up weeks after reports of collective migrant expulsions were revealed in an October joint investigation by media outlets Bellingcat, Lighthouse Reports, Der Spiegel, ARD and TV Asahi. ___ Follow AP’s global migration coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/migration Lorne Cook, The Associated Press
RED DEER, Alta. — Some employees of a pork processing plant in central Alberta that shut down after a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility are afraid to go back to work, the union president says. Olymel's facility in Red Deer was shut down Feb. 15 because of the COVID-19 outbreak that claimed three lives and infected 515 workers. The company announced late Wednesday it had been given approval to gradually reopen by Alberta Health. Slaughter operations are scheduled to resume today and cutting room operations on Friday. The plant processes about 10,000 hogs per day. UFCW 401 president Thomas Hesse said he received no word from the company that the plant was reopening. "Obviously the bottom line for Olymel is they're just putting pigs ahead of people," Hesse in an interview Wednesday. "What you've got is a frightened workforce. There's this enormous amount of fear and anxiety, and now a layer of grief on top of that, and they expect employees to jump to attention and parade back to work." The union represents about 1,800 workers at the plant. Hesse said the union interviewed between 600 and 700 workers who indicated they were afraid to return to work. He said that wasn't done by Olymel, Alberta Health Services or Occupational Health and Safety. Hesse said he expects some workers will take advantage of their right to refuse unsafe work. "I have no confidence in the safety of the workplace," he said. Olymel said the reopening will come with a number of strict measures. Alberta Health experts will be on site when operations resume and will offer rapid testing. The company said 1,370 employees at the plant have been tested since Jan. 1. The company says it has added more space to the facility to enhance physical distancing. Additional staff have been assigned to monitor and enforce the updated measures, Olymel said. Employee groups have been recalled to take part in training sessions covering all implemented health measures, adjustments and the action plan developed for reopening. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. — By Bill Graveland in Calgary The Canadian Press
Chrystia Freeland seemed only too happy on Wednesday to mention some recent grumbling about the Liberal government's pandemic spending over last year. For most of 2020, the government was faced with questions about whether it was delivering financial supports fast enough and broadly enough. Now, some are wondering aloud whether the government spent too much. "I've been surprised to read some commentary suggesting that Canadians may be doing too well for their own good," the finance minister said. "Some have pointed to rising household disposable income in the first nine months of last year as evidence that our government acted too swiftly and too effectively to support Canadians." It will not surprise you to learn that Freeland disagrees with that take. And if Freeland is eager to note that criticism, surely it's because she and the government know how difficult it might be for any of their political opponents to campaign against any of the specific measures the Liberals took to support Canadian households over the past 12 months. But it remains to be seen how all that spending — and the historic deficit that resulted from it — will frame the political debate going forward. On Monday, Statistics Canada released estimates that suggest Canadian households ended up with more disposable income through the third quarter of 2020 because of the unprecedented sums the federal government transferred to individuals through various support programs. "Although households did experience notable declines both in wages and salaries and in self-employment income in the second quarter, the value of COVID-19 support measures provided by governments more than compensated for those losses," StatsCan said. The gains were highest in the second quarter and proportionally larger for those with the lowest amount of disposable income in 2019. Before April 2020 and June 2020, StatsCan estimates, the households that had less than $26,500 in disposable income for 2019 saw their disposable income increase by 33.6 per cent. For those households with more than $64,900 in disposable income in 2019, the increase in disposable income in the second quarter of 2020 is estimated at 7.1 per cent. A person walks through an almost deserted Yorkdale Shopping Centre as Toronto enters the first day of a renewed coronavirus lockdown on Nov. 23, 2020.(Carlos Osorio/Reuters) As of October 3, 2020, the federal government had paid out $81.6 billion through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which provided $2,000 per month to those who lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns. Beyond the CERB, the federal government also moved forward with a number of other supports, including a new student benefit (estimated to cost $3 billion) and a series of measures aimed at "vulnerable Canadians" (at an estimated cost of $14.9 billion). More analysis is needed to fully understand the distribution and impact of government spending last year, but the basic finding — that support exceeded income losses — has been put forward before. Tammy Schirle, a professor of economics at Wilfrid Laurier University, notes that some of those in the bottom quintile would not have been making money before the pandemic began — and so wouldn't have lost any income — but they still would have benefited from increases in the Canada Child Benefit and the GST credit, which could have helped with extra expenses. An 'acceptable compromise' Research conducted by Schirle and three co-authors also estimated that nearly half of the job losses that occurred between February and April 2020 were suffered by those in the lowest quarter of earners. "Generally, there was criticism at the time that some workers with the lowest earnings would have received more income than was lost," Schirle said in an email this week, referring to the CERB. "However, in the context that Canadians needed something rolled out quickly, and our current infrastructure for [employment insurance] would not suffice, this was an acceptable compromise in my view." In a global emergency, too much help is likely better than too little. But the federal government may have faced a choice between moving fast and moving with precision — between making sure that people who would need money got it quickly and making sure that people only got as much money as they absolutely needed. Social policy in a hurry "CERB payments were flat amounts because the government did not have the capacity [in information and technology] to income-test the benefit," said Jennifer Robson, a professor of political management at Carleton who has been consulted by the government on EI reform (full disclosure: Robson is a friend). "The choice was 'automatic' or 'income-tested.' But until and unless we build serious back-of-house capacity in our social programs, you can't have both for a crisis of this scale." Robson also suggested that if the CERB did end up overcompensating people, the question could be flipped around to ask whether that proves too many people in this country were being paid unreasonably low wages in the first place. The Liberal government has since transitioned away from the CERB and StatsCan's estimates show that the disposable income increases dropped off significantly in the third quarter. John Lester, a fellow at the University of Calgary's school of public policy and a former analyst at the Department of Finance, argued in December that the government should have been quicker to deal with the issue of "overcompensation." The threat of inflation In her fall economic statement, Freeland suggested that increased disposable income and savings could act as "preloaded stimulus" to spur economic growth once the Canadian economy reopens. Mikal Skuterud, a professor of economics at the University of Waterloo, said the risk is that excessive stimulus could trigger inflation, though he argues that the actual severity of that risk is a "million-dollar question that nobody knows the answer to." For now, the political criticism is muted. The Conservative Party has criticized the size of the deficit and Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole has noted that the Trudeau government spent more per capita than comparable countries. The Conservatives also have argued that the government should have moved faster to deliver a wage subsidy and have criticized the fact that some large, profitable companies were able to access the wage subsidy. But they do not seem eager to make the case that Canadians got more money than they deserved or truly needed — presumably because they know how well that would go over with those Canadians who received federal support. Ahead of a federal budget — and possibly a federal election — the larger question is how the spectre of a significant deficit will affect both fiscal policy and the political debate going forward. Canadians might be thankful for all the support that the federal government has provided, but will they come out of this pandemic with new worries about government debt? And if so, are Conservatives interested in trying to connect with that anxiety to build support for a much more fiscally restrained approach?
Apple supplier Foxconn said it expects first-quarter revenue to rise more than 15% from a year earlier, boosted by strong iPhone sales and robust demand for electronics during lockdowns worldwide to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. The world's largest contract electronics manufacturer has previously forecast strong demand for the new iPhone 12, saying its business will be supported by "stronger than expected" sales for smartphones and for telecommuting devices amid a coronavirus-induced work-from-home trend. Taiwan-based Foxconn, in a short statement on Thursday, said it expects consumer electronics revenue, which includes smartphones and smart watches, to rise more than 15% in the January-March quarter from a year earlier.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Newfoundland and Labrador announced Wednesday it was extending the interval between the first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to four months. Public health officials said the change will help them vaccinate 40,000 more people with a single dose by the end of March. Liberal Leader and incumbent Premier Andrew Furey said the decision is a game changer for the province's vaccination prospects. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. Nova Scotia will get 13,000 doses of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine the week of March 8. Health officials said March 3 the upcoming shipment must be used by April 2 and therefore all 13,000 doses will be administered to residents across the province aged 50 to 64 years starting March 15. The vaccine will be given out at 26 locations in Nova Scotia on a first come, first served basis. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario Ontario has given its first vaccines to people in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, some health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will include a service desk and online portal. It said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. Several regions in Ontario have moved ahead with their plans to vaccinate the general public using their own booking systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. The province has also said it will extend the interval between doses of COVID-19 vaccines to up to four months. Toronto began vaccinating police force members who respond to emergency calls on Monday and has also started offering vaccines to people experiencing homelessness. Solicitor General Sylvia Jones has said the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will go to residents between the ages of 60 and 64, but has not elaborated yet on how it will be distributed except to say it won't be through mass immunization sites. The province has said it will follow the advice of a national panel that has recommended against using the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot on people aged 65 and older. The health minister said the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot could be used in correctional facilities, but further details haven't been released. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. Like British Columbia, Manitoba has already indicated it would opt for a four-month interval between doses. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The province was also one of several Wednesday to say it would extend second doses of COVID-19 for up to four months, starting March 10. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
MOSCOW — The European Medicines Agency said it has started a rolling review of Sputnik V, many months after the vaccine was first approved for use in Russia and after dozens of countries around the world have authorized it. In a statement Thursday, the European regulator said the review is based on results from lab studies and research in adults, which suggests the vaccine may help protect against coronavirus. Despite skepticism about Russia’s hasty introduction of the vaccine, which was rolled out before it had completed late-stage trials, the vaccine appears to be safe and effective. According to a study published in the journal Lancet, Sputnik V was about 91% effective in preventing people from becoming severely ill with COVID-19. The EMA has not set a date for when its expert group might meet to assess Sputnik V data to decide if it should be approved across the European Union, but the rolling review process is meant to expedite the authorization process, which can typically take several months. The Associated Press
Buckingham Palace says Prince Philip has had a 'successful procedure for a pre-existing heart condition.' Meanwhile, Prince Harry's wife, Meghan, has accused Buckingham Palace of 'perpetuating falsehoods' about the couple.
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Thursday, March 4, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 77,572 new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,091,700 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 5,519.103 per 100,000. There were 129,330 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 2,611,680 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 80.09 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 4,472 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 24,757 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 47.279 per 1,000. There were 1,800 new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 35,620 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 966 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 12,596 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 79.405 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 14,715 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 9.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 85.6 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 6,054 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 35,291 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 36.163 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 61,980 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 56.94 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 7,424 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 33,741 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 43.255 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 46,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 72.13 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 17,382 new vaccinations administered for a total of 472,710 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 55.245 per 1,000. There were 100,620 new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 638,445 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 74.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 27,398 new vaccinations administered for a total of 754,419 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 51.359 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 903,285 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 83.52 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 1,966 new vaccinations administered for a total of 80,171 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 58.221 per 1,000. There were 8,190 new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 116,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 8.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 68.73 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 1,361 new vaccinations administered for a total of 81,597 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 69.20 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 74,605 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 109.4 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 10,229 new vaccinations administered for a total of 255,283 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 57.992 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 274,965 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 92.84 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 6,627 new vaccinations administered for a total of 289,809 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 56.476 per 1,000. There were 18,720 new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 382,740 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 75.72 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 990 new vaccinations administered for a total of 18,158 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 435.12 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 18,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 96.07 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 19,775 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 438.285 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 19,100 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 42 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 103.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 5,327 new vaccinations administered for a total of 13,393 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 345.84 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 23,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 62 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 56.04 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. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — Paramount+ debuts Thursday as the latest — and last — streaming option from a major media company, this time from ViacomCBS. It's betting that consumers are willing to add yet another paid streaming service in an increasingly crowded field. Its backers hope a smorgasbord of offerings — live sports and news, reboots of properties like “Frasier" and “Rugrats," original shows like “Star Trek: Discovery" and the ViacomCBS library — will entice viewers. But its relatively late entrance to a competitive landscape and a $4 price increase compared to its predecessor, CBS All Access, could make it a challenging sell. “Paramount+ has a mountain of challenges ahead of it," said Tim Hanlon, CEO of Vertere Group, playing off the Paramount+ tagline, “A mountain of entertainment." (The venerable Paramount logo features — you guessed it — a mountain, and the streamer's recent ad campaign featured a number of characters from its shows climbing a snowy peak.) Over the last year and a half more and more streaming services have debuted to challenge the reigning triumvirate of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Disney+ kicked things off in late 2019, followed by WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, NBCUniversal’s Peacock and Discovery+. In a way, ViacomCBS is a pioneer; CBS, then a separate company, debuted CBS All Access in 2014. The new service effectively rebrands All Access and adds other Viacom Properties channels including Comedy Central, BET, MTV and Nickelodeon. But Paramount+ could have a brand awareness problem, Hanlon said. Most people associate the name Paramount with the mountainous title card that appears before movies. “Most consumers have very little understanding that Viacom, Paramount and CBS have the same parent, so the marketing team has a big job in front of it," he said. Second, the pricing may leave some scratching their heads. The ad-free tier launching Thursday is $10 a month. That's $4 more than CBS All Access, although the new service will offer a lot more material, including live news and sports. A $5 monthly ad-supported version will launch in June, but it won't include the live local CBS stations that CBS All Access offered. Showtime and BET+, both owned by ViacomCBS, will remain separate subscription services. Still, the service also has some potential advantages over others. CBS All Access, Showtime and BET+ now have nearly 30 million subscribers, some of who will shift to Paramount+. ViacomCBS projects that those services will reach 65 million subscribers by 2024, with most of the growth coming from Paramount+. ViacomCBS plans to increase its investment in streaming, from $1 billion a year to at least $5 billion annually by 2024. It will introduce 36 original shows in 2021, including a spinoff of “60 Minutes" called “60 Minutes+," a documentary series about the making of “The Godfather," a reboot of MTV's “The Real World" that reunites the original New York City cast from 30 years ago, and series based on movies including “Fatal Attraction" and “Flashdance." “Viacom really has all assets they need to have a thriving business,” said Brian Wieser, GroupM global president of business intelligence. “A meaningful investment in original programming attracts people to the platform. And a deep library causes people to stay. Put those two together and you could have a viable successful service.” But they may not be taking bold enough steps to stand out, said Colin Gillis, director of research at Chatham Road Partners. ViacomCBS said some of the studio’s films, including “Mission: Impossible 7” and “A Quiet Place Part II,” will go to its fledgling streaming service, Paramount+, after 45 days in theatres. But that's not as bold a step as HBO Max has done, releasing 17 of their films on HBO Max the same day they're released in theatres. “That type of strategy, plus being late to the market, looks a lot like a ‘me too’ move'," Gillis said. “If they want to act like a second tier streaming service, they're doing a fantastic job." Mae Anderson, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — When will children be able to get COVID-19 vaccines? It depends on the child's age, but some teenagers could be rolling up their sleeves before too long. The Pfizer vaccine already is cleared for use starting at age 16. That means some high schoolers could get in line for those shots whenever they become eligible in their area, either because of a medical condition or once availability opens up. Pfizer and Moderna both have completed enrolment for studies of children ages 12 and older, and expect to release the data over the summer. If regulators clear the results, younger teens likewise could start getting vaccinated once supply allows. The Moderna vaccine is currently cleared for people 18 and older. Researchers started with older children because they tend to respond to vaccines most similarly to adults. Testing even younger groups is more complex, because they may require a different dose or have differing responses. “Children are not just small adults,” said pediatrician Dr. James Campbell of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “The younger you get, the higher the odds are that things could be different.” Children develop serious illness or die from COVID-19 at much lower rates than adults, but can still spread the virus. “There’s no question: we do want to immunize children,” said Drexel University pediatrics professor Dr. Sarah Long. Pfizer and Moderna expect to start studies in children 11 and younger later this year. “It’s unlikely we could get community protection without immunizing children,” Long added. “This is the lynchpin to getting everything back to some kind of normalcy.” __ The AP is answering your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Submit them at: FactCheck@AP.org. Read previous Viral Questions: How would COVID-19 vaccine makers adapt to variants? How do we know the COVID-19 vaccines are safe? How are experts tracking variants of the coronavirus? Marion Renault, The Associated Press
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — A Dutch court ruled Thursday that a deeply religious father who kept some of his children isolated from the outside world for years in a remote farmhouse can't stand trial on charges including child sexual abuse because he has been incapacitated by a stroke. The decision came after prosecutors last month asked the court in the northern city of Assen to drop the case because the 68-year-old suspect wasn't fit to stand trial. It brings to an end a case that made headlines around the world after one of the man's sons raised the alarm and authorities discovered the father had been living for years with six of his children in the farmhouse in the eastern Netherlands. At a preliminary hearing in January last year, prosecutors portrayed the father, identified only as Gerrit Jan van D., as a deeply religious man who saw his family as “chosen by God” and did everything in his power — including physical beatings and other punishments — to keep them from succumbing to what he considered malign outside influences. The court ruled Thursday that a 2016 stroke had so badly affected the father's ability to communicate that continuing with the case would breach his fair trial rights. “He doesn't sufficiently understand what is happening in the courtroom,” court spokesman Marcel Wolters said in a video statement. The six children who were kept on the farm are now all young adults. Three older siblings had earlier left the family’s isolated life. Their mother died in 2004. The Associated Press