A psychologist and sleep expert answer questions about how stress from the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting sleep and they provide some tools for improving it.
A psychologist and sleep expert answer questions about how stress from the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting sleep and they provide some tools for improving it.
Canada added a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine to its pandemic-fighting arsenal on Friday, approving Johnson & Johnson's product a week after it was authorized in the United States. That gives Canada four distinct vaccines — along with Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca — and it adds flexibility to the country's plan to immunize the majority of its residents by September. Health Canada includes a fifth vaccine, Covishield, which is a separate brand name for doses of the AstraZeneca product made at the Serum Institute of India. The U.S.-based Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for emergency use on Feb. 27. Canada has already secured 10 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine through previous negotiations with the company, with the option to buy another 28 million. The 10 million pre-purchased doses will be delivered before September, but they're not expected to start flowing into Canada until at least April. Here's what we know about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine: HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT? Johnson & Johnson announced promising results from its Phase 3 clinical trials at the end of January, suggesting its vaccine reduced severe COVID-19 disease by 85 per cent, and prevented 100 per cent of COVID-related hospitalization or death. The vaccine had a 72 per cent efficacy in preventing COVID infections after 28 days in the company's U.S. trials. The efficacy dropped to 66 per cent when averaging in results from other global trials, including a South African study that factored in more transmissible variants of the COVID virus. An FDA report last month said the vaccine was 64 per cent effective in preventing infection in South Africa about a month after the vaccines were administered. Pfizer and Moderna showed 95 per cent efficacy in their respective trials, but those were both tested against previous dominant strains of the virus and didn't account for the variants that have popped up since. Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca also had zero hospitalizations and deaths in their trials. The FDA report said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was similarly effective across age, race and people with comorbidities. The agency added that effectiveness appeared to be lower (42.3 per cent after one month) in people over 60 with comorbidities such as diabetes or heart disease. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THIS VACCINE? The potential ease of distribution offered by a one-and-done shot, and its ability to be stored in a regular fridge are among its biggest strengths. Vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca all require two doses. Johnson & Johnson's vaccine can be stored in a regular fridge for up to three months, the company says. Pfizer's vaccine initially required ultra-cold storage temperatures between -60 C and -80 C, though Health Canada said this week it could be stored in a regular freezer for up to 14 days. Moderna's vaccine can also be stored at regular freezer temperatures while AstraZeneca can be stored in a fridge. WHAT KIND OF VACCINE TECHNOLOGY IS USED? Unlike the mRNA technology used in Pfizer and Moderna's products, Johnson & Johnson is a non-replicating viral vector vaccine similar to AstraZeneca's. That means it uses a different harmless virus, which can't copy itself, as a vector to give our cells the instructions they need to make the coronavirus's spike protein. The immune system recognizes the protein and makes antibodies, which then allow us to fend off attack from the same virus if exposed in the future. WERE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS NOTED? No specific safety concerns were identified in participants of the trials, regardless of age, race and comorbidities. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said in a press conference Friday that almost 20 per cent of participants in the Johnson & Johnson trials were 65 years of age and older, and "no differences in safety or efficacy were seen compared to the younger groups." The FDA said the most common reported side effects were headache and fatigue, followed by muscle aches, nausea and fever. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
NASA's Mars rover Perseverance has taken its first, short drive on the surface of the red planet, two weeks after the robot science lab's picture-perfect touchdown on the floor of a massive crater, mission managers said on Friday. The six-wheeled, car-sized astrobiology probe put a total of 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) on its odometer on Thursday during a half-hour test spin within Jezero Crater, site of an ancient, long-vanished lake bed and river delta on Mars. Taking directions from mission managers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles, the rover rolled 4 meters (13.1 feet) forward, turned about 150 degrees to its left and then drove backward another 2.5 meters (8.2 feet).
PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said Friday she is issuing an executive order mandating that all K-12 public schools provide universal access to in-person learning by the month’s end for students up to fifth grade and by mid-April for older students. The state’s coronavirus case numbers have fallen significantly and Oregon put teachers ahead of older residents in the line for the COVID-19 vaccine — a decision that angered many people age 65 and up. As teachers get vaccinated, Brown has been under tremendous pressure from parents and local elected officials in many counties to reopen schools. Many teachers' unions nationally have balked at returning to in-person learning, putting them at odds with Democratic governors like Brown in some states. In neighbouring Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee has implored educators to return to the classroom, but most students there are in on-line classes and the Seattle teachers' union is defying a district plan to return special education students to schools. Under the Oregon order, students in K-5 must have an in-person learning option by March 29. Students in grades six through 12 must have one by April 19. Students who prefer to remain in online class will also have the option. “The science is very, very clear: with proper safety measures in place, there is a low risk of COVID-19 transmission in school. Oregon parents can be confident about sending their children back to a classroom learning environment," Brown said in a statement, after visiting a Portland school. Brown has previously said about 20% of Oregon public school students were back to in-person learning. Rylee Ahnen, spokesman for the Oregon Education Association, said in a statement teachers support returning to the classroom if it can be done safely. He said educators understand teachers' frustration. “We urge all our local school districts to continue to work in good faith with local educators,” Ahnen said. The union represents 44,000 K-12 teachers across Oregon. Most students in Oregon have been learning online for the better part of a year. Some school districts have returned to part-time in-person learning, mostly at the elementary level. Brown said all but six counties in the state currently meet or exceed the advisory metrics for a return to in-person, hybrid learning for all grade levels. Five of the counties that do not yet meet the guidelines for all grade levels do make the cut-off for a return to elementary school. After those dates, all public schools in Oregon will operate either on a full-day of in-person school or a hybrid model, in which students spend parts of the day or some days each week in a classroom setting and other parts of the day or week online. The approach that districts choose will be dictated by COVID-19 case numbers in their county and local decision-making, officials said. The Salem-Keizer School District, the states's second largest after Portland, announced Friday that it would welcome middle and high school students back to a hybrid model that combines in-person learning and distance learning starting April 13. Elementary students in the district have already been back in class on a hybrid model. Gillian Flaccus, The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — Dentists, teachers and bus drivers are among the essential workers who hope to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in British Columbia, as a provincial committee determines who should be prioritized for the shot. BC Teachers' Federation president Teri Mooring says her members should be included in the plan expected to be released by the B.C. Immunization Committee by March 18. Mooring says teachers have put in the second-highest number of COVID-19-related claims to WorkSafeBC, behind only health-care workers, and have faced difficult conditions in schools with some of the most lax mask policies in Canada. The BC Dental Association says dentists and their teams cannot treat patients remotely, they work in very close proximity to the mouth and often use aerosol-generating procedures. Balbir Mann, president of Unifor Local 111, which represents Metro Vancouver bus drivers, says his members should receive the vaccine because passengers come very close when they enter and exit the bus. BC Trucking Association president Dave Earle, meanwhile, says he represents both long-haul truckers and local drivers who return home every night, so he wants to hear from the province about where the COVID-19 hot spots are in the transportation system. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — While the Wyoming National Guard was sending more than 100 troops to Washington, D.C., to help with security around President Joe Biden's inauguration in January, Gov. Mark Gordon quietly mobilized dozens of Guard troops and others in case of violence at the state capitol in Cheyenne. The all-but-undisclosed local deployment Jan. 15-21, specifics of which came to light Friday after an inquiry by The Associated Press, stood in stark contrast with the state's contribution to U.S. Capitol security praised by Gordon and other top Wyoming officials. “Thank you to the @wyoguard members who are serving our country by providing support at today’s Presidential inauguration. Wyomingites are grateful for your service,” Gordon, a Republican, tweeted on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20. Wyoming's congressional delegation — Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis and Rep. Liz Cheney, all Republicans — likewise have posed in photos with and lauded the Wyoming troops at the U.S. Capitol but not those working similar duty back home. The governor didn't previously disclose details of the deployment of 60 Army National Guard and 13 Air National Guard members in the Cheyenne area because it was a “security operation,” Gordon spokesman Michael Pearlman said Friday. “They basically were prepared to do backup in case there was some sort of violent action at the Capitol,” Pearlman said. “They can’t perform law enforcement duties, so they were purely as support.” While other states such as Utah made high-profile increases to security after an FBI warning of “armed protests” in all 50 states that week, security in Cheyenne appeared light. In fact, the Guard troops weren't far away at an “undisclosed location," Pearlman said. Wyoming Highway Patrol, Laramie County Sheriff's Department, Cheyenne Police Department and Wyoming state park personnel also were on standby, Pearlman said. The Cheyenne deployment was announced in the vaguely worded last line of a Wyoming National Guard news release Jan. 14 that announced the troops headed to Washington, D.C., Pearlman added. “Additional National Guard Soldiers and Airmen will be made available to provide support to Wyoming authorities, should the need arise,” the release said without elaboration. The added security proved unnecessary. Hundreds of protesters prompted a lockdown of the Wyoming Capitol on Jan. 6, the same day a mob of President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, resulting in five deaths. Hundreds turned out again Jan. 28 to hear Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz rail from the Capitol steps against Cheney for voting to impeach Trump for the riot. Both gatherings were peaceful and no protests of note happened in Cheyenne between those dates. The extra use of Guard troops, Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers, local police and sheriff’s officers and state park personnel in Cheyenne came to light with an Associated Press request for costs associated with additional security at the state capitol this year. The extra security that week cost $163,531, including $128,815 incurred by the Wyoming Military Department. The military expenses included $70,179 for pay, $36,864 for lodging, $10,742 for equipment costs and $11,030 for food, according to the governor's office. The Wyoming Highway Patrol meanwhile spent an extra $29,374, the Cheyenne Police Department $4,000, the Laramie County Sheriff’s Office $645 and the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources $697 on extra security at the ready that week, Gordon's office said. Besides the National Guard troops, six sheriff's deputies were placed on standby for security in Cheyenne. Wyoming Highway Patrol and Cheyenne police officials didn't immediately respond to requests for comment Friday on how many of their officers were placed on standby for security. ___ Follow Mead Gruver at https://twitter.com/meadgruver Mead Gruver, The Associated Press
Saskatoon family doctor Marlys Misfeldt says wait-lists for psychiatric help have been an issue for a long time but recently, several of her referrals have been rejected outright. Dr. Misfeldt told CBC's Saskatoon Morning that she has been working with a patient who has depression and is not improving. "He's not doing well, so I requested a referral from the pooled psychiatry referral system and about three or four weeks later, I got a letter back saying, 'Specialist has decided this referral is not needed and has been cancelled,'" she said. "No discussion with my patient, no discussion with me, just a letter back saying … it is cancelled." She said she has received two or three other letters like this in the past year, where prior to that, she would receive a letter saying her patients were on a wait-list. Misfeldt was trying to access the pooled referral program, which is operated and directed by psychiatrists. The voluntary program includes 22 psychiatrists and the Saskatchewan Health Authority provides one staff member for the program, a triage nurse. Misfeldt said a psychiatrist she spoke to who deals with the pool system told her there are 300 people on that waiting list. Once you get on the waiting list, Misfeldt said it can take nine months to a year to see a psychiatrist. There are eight other psychiatrists who are not part of the program and who can, in theory, accept referrals, but Misfeldt said when she has tried reaching out to them, they've said they're not taking new patients. Global shortage of psychiatrists Psychiatrist Sara Dungavell, who works in Saskatoon and northern Saskatchewan communities, said what happened to Dr. Misfeldt is "not appropriate." "What Dr. Misfeldt got as a response is, frankly, wrong," Dr. Dungavell said. "If you aren't accepting patients or if the wait-list is going to be too long for you to see this person with an adequate amount of urgency, then at least you told the family doctor why you said no. You can't leave this blank." While the number of psychiatrists per capita in Saskatchewan compared to other provinces is low, Dungavell said there's actually a global shortage of psychiatrists. "We can't see people quickly because brains don't heal quickly, so it requires a lot of psychiatrists to provide adequate levels of care for folks, and we're not accepting people just staying in misery and untreated mental illness anymore." Dungavell said efforts have been made to provide more access to psychiatry in Saskatchewan, particularly for those who go to the emergency room. Even that, however, adds to the backlog, because there's no one to take those patients on once they leave the ER. "It's leaving family doctors in the situation of Dr. Misfeldt, where they are doing their absolute best to try and treat their patients but don't have access to the specialists who should be supporting them," she said. Saskatchewan needs to be a place psychiatrists want to work, which means creating a good continuum of care for patients, Dungavell said. "What most of us physicians want is to be able to provide good, quality, efficient care where we're doing what we do best," she said. "We count on community mental health nurses, social workers, on licensed psychiatric nurses and occupational therapists, rec therapists, to help our patients with those other very important areas of life that contribute to their mental health." Dr. Sara Dungavell splits her time between her Saskatoon clinic, where she provides support for members of the LGBT community, and northern Saskatchewan communities, including La Ronge, La Loche and Stony Rapids. (CBC) The north is particularly lacking the kinds of support people need to care for their mental health, Dungavell said. "The more the government actually pays for and supports this full team of people to work with each psychiatrist, the more efficient and effective we can be, the more psychiatrists will want to work here and the more we can stretch the limited resources that is psychiatry." Cancelled referrals uncommon: government, SHA The Saskatchewan Health Authority, the Psychiatry Referral Pool and the Ministry of Health sent a joint statement in response to questions about psychiatric referrals. "The capacity of pooled referral psychiatrists is significantly below the rate of incoming referrals," the statement said, but it's uncommon for psychiatrists to cancel referrals. While the statement said the departments can't comment on specific cases, they will "continue to look into the individual reasons why [cancellations] may occur in certain instances." Alternatives for family physicians include contacting the psychiatrist on call, contacting LINK — a provincial program that connects family physicians with psychiatrists — or contacting a psychiatrist who is not part of the referral pool. The statement said that in situations where a patient has been triaged and recommended for treatment other than psychiatry, "a letter always accompanies the return with information about the review and includes clear guidance on mental health access points as well as the phone number for the intake triage." 'Heartache and grief for the people of our province' Dr. Misfeldt said if this problem doesn't get solved, it will cause "more suicides, more marital breakup, more relationship deterioration, more heartache and grief for the people of our province." She's continuing to work with her patient who was denied access to the pooled referral program but she said it makes her feel "anxious and depressed" to hear about the long waits for psychiatric help. "These people are valuable people to our province and they are not functioning to their best ability and not participating in life." If you're experiencing suicidal thoughts or having a mental health crisis, help is available. For an emergency or crisis situation, call 911. You can also contact the Saskatchewan suicide prevention line toll-free, 24/7 by calling 1-833-456-4566, texting 45645, or chatting online. You can contact the Regina mobile crisis services suicide line at 306-525-5333 or Saskatoon mobile crisis line at 306-933-6200.
Some Northwest Territories residents have gone nearly a year without easy access to dental services since visits were suspended when the pandemic started. MLA for Nunakput Jackie Jacobson on Wednesday told the territory's Legislative Assembly it has been impossible for some of his constituents to see a dentist since last March. He said communities like Uluhaktok, Paulatuk and Sachs Harbour normally get two visits a year from dental teams, both of which were cancelled last year due to the pandemic. “People are needing dental assistance and there’s nothing happening,” said Jacobson. “They go to the health centre, they are given Tylenol or penicillin to help them with the pain. We need to get this sorted out.” Dental visits to six N.W.T. communities – Fort Simpson, Fort Resolution, Fort Providence, Sambaa K’e, Norman Wells and Aklavik – restarted in December. Private dentistry clinics in Yellowknife, Hay River, Fort Smith and Inuvik have kept services open throughout most of the pandemic. All non-urgent dental travel to smaller communities, however, was suspended by the federal government in March. In communities where dental services remain unavailable, federal agency Indigenous Services Canada supports travel for Non-Insured Health Benefits clients to receive services elsewhere. Julie Green, the N.W.T.'s health minister, said responsibility for restarting dental services in Nunakput communities lies with Indigenous Services Canada. The minister said a working group established to address concerns about dental services had devised a plan to fix "a number of issues, including safety concerns that went beyond COVID-19." “Where facilities were not meeting infection control and ventilation requirements, work could not be done in those facilities,” she said. “This is not a long-term ban on dental services in these communities, but it's my understanding that teams are now working through potential solutions.” Green said the six communities to have so far resumed services were part of the plan's first phase. Those communities have upgraded health centre facilities that meet air exchange and infection control requirements, she said. Phase two will see seven more communities' facilities reviewed by the end of June. The minister said Paulatuk and Ulukhaktok will be part of that assessment. “The residents of Ulukhaktok are going to wait longer for dental services to resume, but that is not because of a lack of money. It's because we want them to receive those services safely.” Green said. Lesa Semmler, the MLA for Inuvik Twin Lakes, told Green residents didn't always find it easy to follow the process for accessing dental services elsewhere. Semmler described the "really stringent travel criteria" set out by the Non-Insured Health Benefits program, and Green said she would raise that concern with the federal government. Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
LONDON — The timing couldn’t be worse for Harry and Meghan. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will finally get the chance to tell the story behind their departure from royal duties directly to the public on Sunday, when their two-hour interview with Oprah Winfrey is broadcast. But back home in Britain, events have conspired to overshadow the tale of a prince and his American bride. On top of the pandemic and record economic slump, Prince Philip, Harry’s 99-year-old grandfather is now recovering from a heart procedure. CBS announced the program Feb 15. The next day, Philip was admitted to hospital. “Harry and Meghan are hugely popular,’’ Pauline Maclaran, a professor of marketing and author of “Royal Fever: The British Monarchy in Consumer Culture,” told The Associated Press. “But I think that some people who might otherwise have supported them will find this just a little bit distasteful, that they’re drawing all this attention to themselves … just at this time when Prince Philip appears to be quite seriously ill.” Though it is the choice of CBS when to air its pre-recorded interview, critics are already lining up to deride it as a brand-building exercise by the pair, who left Britain saying they wanted to live a normal life but have been accused of continuing to use their royal status to open doors and make money. The sit-down with America’s queen of celebrity interviews is a chance for the couple to explain what led them to quit royal life, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. A book about their departure, “Finding Freedom,” also alleges that senior royals had little respect for Meghan, a biracial former actor, and that courtiers treated her badly. Pre-released clips have already shown Harry talking about his fears that history would repeat itself after his mother, Princess Diana, died in a car crash while pursued by paparazzi. In another clip from the interview, Winfrey asks Meghan how she feels about the palace “hearing you speak your truth today?” “I don’t know how they could expect that, after all of this time, we would still just be silent if there was an active role that the firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us,” the duchess replies. “The firm” is a nickname for the royal family, sometimes used with affection and sometimes with a note of criticism. In another pre-released clip, Meghan told Winfrey how “liberating” it was to have a conversation with the television host without the input of royal minders. Ahead of the broadcast, relations with the palace are increasingly strained. First there was Queen Elizabeth II’s decision to strip Harry and Meghan of the handful of royal patronages they had retained in the one-year trial period following their departure last year. The couple responded with a terse statement promising to live a life of service — a move many in the U.K. saw as disrespectful to the queen, as she usually has the final word. Then on Wednesday, the palace said it was launching a human resources investigation after a newspaper reported that a former aide had accused Meghan of bullying staff in 2018. One of the authors of “Finding Freedom,’’ Omid Scobie, compared the recent commentary about Harry and Meghan in the British media to the Salem Witch Trials, while noting Americans have had more sympathy them. His tweet linked to a discussion on the U.S. television program “The View,’’ including comments from Meghan McCain, a conservative columnist and daughter of the late U.S. Sen. John McCain. “I think we can’t ignore the elephant of the room that there’s probably a racial angle to this,’’ McCain said. “There’s a lot of racism directed at this woman, in a lot of different ways she threatens a lot of people in the patriarchy. ... It just looks like they are bullying her in the press.’’ It was all supposed to be so different. At the time Harry started dating Meghan, the British public seemed smitten with the beautiful young woman who starred for seven seasons on the U.S. television drama “Suits.” When they married in 2018, newspapers were filled with optimistic stories about how the energetic couple would help make the monarchy relevant for a new, multicultural Britain. But less than two years later they decamped to North America. After a brief stay in Canada, the couple settled in Meghan’s home state of California, buying a house in the exclusive Santa Barbara County enclave of Montecito that reportedly cost more than $14 million. Among their neighbours: Oprah Winfrey. Then came deals with Netflix and Spotifiy, reportedly worth millions. The commercial deals and headline-grabbing amounts are uncomfortable for the royal family, which has devoted itself to public service as a justification for its wealth and privilege. The queen, among the richest people in Britain, has spent her life supporting charities, cutting ribbons at hospitals and travelling the world to represent her country. “The main thing that the royal family is so good at is serving the nation, serving the nation and the Commonwealth, basically serving us rather than serving themselves,’’ royal historian Hugo Vickers told ITV News. “And I’m sorry, if you’re sitting in an $11 million mansion in California and making fantastic deals, that is trading in on your royal heritage. And it’s all wrong, frankly.” Others are concerned that the interview will include damaging revelations about the royal family. The royals rarely grant interviews, and when they do the questions are usually narrowly focused on specific issues. For instance, Harry and his brother, William, have tried to remove the stigma from mental health problems by talking about their own struggles after the death of their mother. More free-ranging interviews have often gone badly. Interviews with Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Harry and William’s parents, around the time of their divorce led to embarrassing revelations about infidelity. More damaging for the palace was the interview Prince Andrew, Harry’s uncle, did with the BBC in 2019. Andrew tried to address rumours about his links with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, but he was forced to give up royal duties after failing to show empathy for Epstein’s victims. “I think it’s a bigger danger than the Prince Andrew car-crash interview,’’ Maclaran said of the Oprah interview, “because I think that Meghan is going to get a lot of sympathy, particularly from American audiences, about her position being untenable.” Regardless of what’s actually said, the interview is a threat to the stature of the monarchy because it further blurs the line between celebrity and royalty — tarnishing the royal mystique, Maclaran said. Late night chat show host James Corden underscored the threat to the royal brand during a tongue-in-cheek segment with Harry broadcast last week in which Corden suggested the prince and his wife might move into the mansion that provided the backdrop for the 1990s sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” “If it was good enough for the Fresh Prince, it’s good enough for a real prince,” Corden said. The line put Harry, whose father and brother will be king one day, on the same footing as a TV character who fled west Philadelphia for a posh life in Southern California. Royal watchers wonder what could possibly be next. “It’s just such a mess,” said Penny Junor, who has written several books about the royals, including a biography of Harry. “I don’t think there are going to be any winners in it.” Danica Kirka, The Associated Press
The 2021 Pink Shirt Day campaign, organized by the Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters, closed the month of February on a positive and encouraging note. Pink Shirt day was celebrated on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, but the organizers say its message of inclusion and diversity is a part of the Boys and Girls Club programs every day of the year. "We are happy to say we have sold over 2,600 shirts this year, surpassing even previous years' sales," said Amanda Guarino, Supervisor, Community Engagement, Boys and Girls Club of Kingston & Area. "This is incredible amid the pandemic and really shows how Kingston is a giving, caring, and supportive community. All pink shirt sales fund our year-round anti-bullying and positive mentoring programs, adding healthy relationship components to our after-school, summer camps, and specific education programs." Guarino said they had over 700 community members interacting with them, and had spread their anti-bullying message to more than 4,000 people in Kingston. “We are especially thankful to our title sponsor, Terra Nova Truss, and the support received from annual partners like Kawartha Credit Union and McDonald’s,” Guarino added. “This allowed us to provide over 270 pink shirts to the children and youth we serve, making our members feel a special sense of belonging to their peers and to the campaign.” Proceeds of pink shirt sales are going straight into anti-bullying and positive mentoring programs for children and youth in Kingston. “On Pink Shirt Day, we ran a workshop with our youth members that had them reflect on their bullying experiences, and even got them to talk about instances when they themselves were unkind to others and what they learned,” said Devin Reynolds, Senior Manager at the West End Hub of the Boys and Girls Club. “We focused our programs with younger children on cyber-bullying, social media, and how to stay safe online,” Reynolds continued. “It really brings our campaign to life to hear kids saying ‘kindness means sticking up for people’ and ‘kindness means not being mean to someone else for liking different things’.” The funds raised will keep programs like these operating and reaching more than 400 children and youth in Kingston after-school everyday, throughout the year. “All of us had an important part in making the campaign have this transformative character,” Guarino said. “Thank you, Kingston, for standing with us against bullying and showing that our community leads with kindness.” “With your support, children are learning and growing into confident, supportive and inclusive leaders,” she said. To watch a brief video on the 2021 Pink Shirt Day campaign and to support year-round anti-bullying programs, please visit www.bgckingston.ca Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
No chemical contaminants were found in Kanesatake’s drinking water, according to a recently released report from Indigenous Services Canada (ISC). The Mohawk Council of Kanesatake disclosed the final study on February 17 on their Facebook page. The report stated that between September and October 2020, 17 sites in and out of the community were selected to have their water tested. “Routine chemical analyses were performed, to screen for the presence of different chemicals in the groundwater,” said Eugene Nicholas, director of Kanesatake’s environmental department in a statement. According to Leslie Michelson, the ISC spokesperson, the water assessment was conducted as a way to determine the presence of selenium, ammonia nitrogen, a variety of phenol compounds and lead that may have a negative impact on the surrounding environment. “In the spring of 2020, the Quebec Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MELCC) carried out surface water testing along the Gratton Creek towards Lac Deux-Montagnes,” said Michelson, explaining that those contaminants were found in the surface water. “The ISC testing was conducted in order to determine if there were any possible impacts on the groundwater.” Back in August 2020, an unknown leak was found in Gratton’s creek, a small body of water that flows from the G&R recycling site into the lake. The nature of the spill remains confidential but the Quebec government retracted G&R’s license a few months later in October, due to a breach of environmental regulations. “The question is to see if what they find in the water is related to G&R or not,” said the grand chief of Kanesatake Serge Otsi Simon. The ISC plan to have water testing was developed in collaboration with Kanesatake Health Centre (KHC), which selected a series of private wells, according to the documents. Community members along Etienne Road, Bonspille Road, the northern end of Mountain Road and the western end of Ste. Philomene granted permission to have their water wells sampled. According to KCH spokesperson Robert Bonspiel, the 17 houses were randomly selected within proximity to the creek. However, ISC wouldn’t confirm whether or not those sites followed the water flow from the recycling site. When asked if it was possible that other harmful contaminants that were not tested could be found in tap water, ISC’s response was unclear and didn’t mention the possible report’s oversight. “Based on the results, it is determined that at the time of analysis, there is no direct influence from the Gratton Creek on the groundwater of the sites analyzed,” said Michelson. The analysis comes at a time where the discussion surrounding drinkable water in Onkwehón:we communities has been at the forefront of Canadian media for the past few weeks. A joint collaboration between six media outlets coordinated by the Institute for Investigative Journalism revealed information regarding the water problem in communities across the country - despite the 2015 electoral promise by the Liberals to eliminate all long-term drinking water advisories in First Nations by March 1, 2021. The Liberal’s promise followed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the United Nations’s Human Right to Water recommendations demanding access to clean water in Onkwehón:we communities as a way to restore relationships impaired by years of colonial policies. While the ISC report revealed no toxic elements in Kanesatake, many sources told The Eastern Door that they do not trust their wells and prefer to opt for bottled water. “I haven’t drunk tap water in over 30 years,” said the grand chief. email@example.com Virginie Ann, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door
NEW YORK — A new national study adds strong evidence that mask mandates can slow the spread of the coronavirus, and that allowing dining at restaurants can increase cases and deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the study Friday. “All of this is very consistent,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing on Friday. “You have decreases in cases and deaths when you wear masks, and you have increases in cases and deaths when you have in-person restaurant dining.” The study was released just as some states are rescinding mask mandates and restaurant limits. Earlier this week, Texas became the biggest state to lift its mask rule, joining a movement by many governors to loosen COVID-19 restrictions despite pleas from health officials. “It’s a solid piece of work that makes the case quite strongly that in-person dining is one of the more important things that needs to be handled if you’re going to control the pandemic,” said William Hanage, a Harvard University expert on disease dynamics who was not involved in the study. The new research builds on smaller CDC studies, including one that found that people in 10 states who became infected in July were more likely to have dined at a restaurant and another that found mask mandates in 10 states were associated with reductions in hospitalizations. The CDC researchers looked at U.S. counties placed under state-issued mask mandates and at counties that allowed restaurant dining — both indoors and at tables outside. The study looked at data from March through December of last year. The scientists found that mask mandates were associated with reduced coronavirus transmission, and that improvements in new cases and deaths increased as time went on. The reductions in growth rates varied from half a percentage point to nearly 2 percentage points. That may sound small, but the large number of people involved means the impact grows with time, experts said. “Each day that growth rate is going down, the cumulative effect — in terms of cases and deaths — adds up to be quite substantial,” said Gery Guy Jr., a CDC scientist who was the study's lead author. Reopening restaurant dining was not followed by a significant increase in cases and deaths in the first 40 days after restrictions were lifted. But after that, there were increases of about 1 percentage point in the growth rate of cases and — later — 2 to 3 percentage points in the growth rate of deaths. The delay could be because restaurants didn't re-open immediately and because many customers may have been hesitant to dine in right after restrictions were lifted, Guy said. Also, there's always a lag between when people are infected and when they become ill, and longer to when they end up in the hospital and die. In the case of dining out, a delay in deaths can also be caused by the fact that the diners themselves may not die, but they could get infected and then spread it to others who get sick and die, Hanage said. “What happens in a restaurant doesn't stay in a restaurant,” he said. CDC officials stopped short of saying that on-premises dining needs to stop. But they said if restaurants do open, they should follow as many prevention measures as possible, like promoting outdoor dining, having adequate indoor ventilation, masking employees and calling on customers to wear masks whenever they aren't eating or drinking. The study had limitations. For example, the researchers tried to make calculations that accounted for other policies, such as bans on mass gatherings or bar closures, that might influence case and death rates. But the authors acknowledged that they couldn't account for all possible influences — such as school re-openings. “It's always very, very hard to thoroughly nail down the causal relationships,” Hanage said. “But when you take this gathered with all the other stuff we know about the virus, it supports the message” of the value of mask wearing and the peril of restaurant dining, he added. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Mike Stobbe, The Associated Press
These clothes will keep you cozy and free to move, whatever the weather.
While discussing the EU and Italy's decision to block an AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine shipment to Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison outlined his position on vaccine nationalism.
The New York Times’ track record on Canada is … not great.
UPDATE: Adds quotes from Councillor and MP, and info on how to attend online meeting. Local residents are upset over the city’s modular housing proposal at Trenton Avenue and Cedarvale Avenue citing concerns of appropriateness of the area and community safety regarding the future occupants of the building. The concerns have prompted an online community meeting on the evening of Monday, March 8. The project is part of the City of Toronto’s Housing Now initiative to make use of city-owned lands to address the lack of affordable housing. The modular housing proposal for Trenton and Cedarvale in East York aims to create a three-storey building with 64 studio apartments, self-contained with a private kitchen and bathroom each. It’s designed to help individuals who are exiting homelessness, and will be administered by a local non-profit housing provider under an agreement with the city. It’s not unlike the modular housing proposal at 11 Macey Ave. in southwest Scarborough that includes 56 studio apartments. That building – also designed to assist people exiting homelessness – opened on Dec. 19, 2020, eight months after city council approval. The “modular” part of the term essentially means pre-fabricated components of the building arrive onsite ready to construct. This allows the city to build the affordable units within the span of months, and not years. The Macey Avenue building had its own local opposition – several area residents, including the West Oakridge Neighbourhood Association wrote letters to the city, elected officials, planners, and media expressing concerns with “social problems associated with vagrancy and public intoxication” from people experiencing homelessness being moved into one area. With the Trenton Avenue site, a number of residents are also speaking in opposition. Global News was on the scene of a local protest at the parking lot near the Trenton site in late February, where residents referred to the lot as a community “hub.” Resident Steve Bland told Global News he’s not against providing affordable housing, but noted that increasing the population density in the area by adding the Trenton site “may not be the appropriate place” for “people going through the most troubling and difficult times of their lives with addiction and mental health issues.” The city-wide initiative to construct modular housing for people exiting homelessness is being released in phases. The Macey Avenue site was included in the project’s Phase 1, and now Trenton – which was approved just a few weeks ago – is part of Phase 2. In a letter to Beach Metro News, local resident Lars Bot, expressed concerns about the building’s proximity to Parkside Public School and Stan Wadlow Park, which are across the street. “The simple fact that a homeless shelter is planned across from a public school and park… shows how poor this program is planned,” he wrote. Local elected officials, including Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford and Beaches-East York MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith have also received a flurry of correspondence from residents. They both reminded residents that the modular housing buildings are housing and not shelters. “I want to acknowledge that the engagement with the community did not start well enough,” Bradford said regarding the Trenton site. “The proposed Phase 2 sites were announced with the positive and significance that it deserved for an effort like this to house our city’s most vulnerable.” “But the city was too slow to have information ready for residents to understand the process and what it all meant,” he added. Even the signs at the site informing residents of the project were delayed, Bradford said. It’s why a community meeting was scheduled for March 8, in addition to the March 17 meeting that was scheduled prior. “With the strong response, I quickly realized that was too far away,” Bradford said. “I’m encouraging anyone who has questions, concerns, and feedback to attend. There are lots of valid questions that need answering.” Bradford stressed he supports affordable housing but says there are real impacts regarding parking in the busy area and traffic congestion. The Trenton site was chosen from a list of 40 city-owned land plots. Bradford moved a motion at the most recent Planning and Housing Committee meeting that final recommendations come forward only after community consultations. He also asked a Community Liaison Committee to be set up to “improve lines of communication.” But he reminds residents that the city is in the midst of both a pandemic and a housing crisis. “We have to move ahead,” Bradford said. “We have people in encampments – we have people dying on our streets. We need to stop building shelters and start building housing.” Erskine-Smith has also responded publicly on Twitter to residents’ concerns. “I strongly support the city’s modular housing initiative,” he wrote. “Too many people are on the streets or in the shelter system. Permanent solutions require stable homes.” The federal government’s homelessness strategy includes $203 million coming to Toronto from its Rapid Housing Initiative. Erskine-Smith reiterated that these modular buildings are “real homes, not shelters.” In addition to the studio apartments, the building offers 24/7 support for its residents via administrative offices, program space, a common room, and a dining room. Erskine-Smith added that through his conversations with local charity The Neighbourhood Group, these modular sites “are a great model” and “many other experts have called for an expansion of these initiatives.” There will be two community meetings planned in March regarding the modular housing building at Trenton Avenue. The first meeting takes place March 8 at 7 p.m., residents are asked to register for the virtual meeting at https://bit.ly/38dRac5 Ali Raza, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Beach Metro News
Selling Girl Guide cookies is never hard, except during a global pandemic when Simcoe County is in lockdown. However, the Beeton Girl Guides are determined to continue their community outreach tradition of bringing a little brightness – and mint – into the lives of seniors at Simcoe Manor. “In the before times, we’d do a campfire sing-a-long,” said Guide leader Melissa Pasqua. “We were initially worried – how are we going to sell all these cookies?” When they received a large order for cookies, and had very little means to sell them, Pasqua and her Guide partner Shannon Morse looked to a B.C. group, which had raised funds by asking its community to donate a box of cookies to a local seniors’ home. The sale of Girl Guide cookies is each unit’s main fundraiser each year. A $5, $10 or $15 e-mail transfer donation to the Beeton guiding group will send boxes of mint cookies to Simcoe Manor, or into your kitchen, if you arrange pick up or delivery (on local orders). Email firstname.lastname@example.org for further Girl Guide cookie information. Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
VANCOUVER — Two people have been transported to hospital in serious but stable condition after a helicopter crash on Bowen Island, B.C. B.C. Emergency Health Services says in a statement that they received a call at about 10 a.m. Friday morning for reports of a downed helicopter on the island off the coast of West Vancouver. Ground paramedics as well as an air ambulance responded to the call. Emergency Health Services says two patients have been airlifted to hospital. Capt. Chelsea Dubeau with the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre says a helicopter was initially sent to help in the rescue, before the call was cancelled. She says the incident has been turned over to the RCMP for investigation and co-ordination. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
Tofino, BC - For the majority of Steve Howard’s life, he lived by the phrase, “real men don’t cry.” “Back in my day we were always taught not to cry,” he said. “We were always taught not to feel. So, we grew up kind of tough. Whatever we held in, we kept in.” It’s a mindset that the Tla-o-qui-aht man is trying to shift by encouraging his four sons to openly share their feelings. And yet, his past traumas of physical, mental and sexual abuse continue to hold him back. “We all have troubles and we all have flaws,” he said. “We don’t share our stories. Sexual abuse is a really big thing that happened to First Nations people – not just in Tla-o-qui-aht, but all over Canada and the United States. We as men don’t express that feeling of being raped, not just by a priest but by [our] own family members.” Noticing a gap in men’s support, Howard, Chris Seitcher, Dwayne Martin, Craig Devine and William Goodbird formed a men’s group and started hosting informal men’s circles in Ty-Histanis in the Fall of 2017. While they noticed options for women, youth and elders, there wasn’t a place for men to come together. For Howard, the men’s circle provided him a safe space to share his story without fear of judgement. In turn, he encouraged the men around him to “feel strong enough to express who they are.” “Everybody’s story helped my journey,” he said. “It’s the growth of knowing that I’m not alone in this world.” In those early stages, the men’s group struggled to host regular circles because they didn’t have a consistent space to gather in. The setback meant attendance was scarce and yet its impact started to pulse throughout the nation. “One of the key things that we noticed was it started a conversation in and around the community,” said Devine. “These men would [return] home from our men’s gathering and be totally high as a kite on the good vibe of everything. They brought that energy back home with them and their wives noticed it and their kids noticed it. We started really wanting to build on that.” Eventually, the group of volunteers secured a space within the nation’s health centre and three to 18 men started regularly attending. Through sweats, brushings, singing, drumming and talking circles, the group aimed to integrate a more ancestral approach to dealing with trauma. “We communicate our emotions in a different way, or the way that we were taught,” said Seitcher, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation cultural support worker. "Sometimes expressing them will come out through yelling, swearing or causing harm to another person.” While there is no excuse for that behaviour, Seitcher said the men’s group is trying to shift those forms of expression through connection and ceremony. “If we are able to truly work on ourselves and truly heal, we are able to be in the moment,” he said. “We are able to live for today. We’re able to see and be connected with the people that we meet and talk to – with our families and loved ones. We won’t sit with the things that were done in the past. We won’t sit with the hurts that have happened in the past. It will come up – those hurts and those pains – but we have to allow it to flow through our bodies so that we can let it go.” As momentum started to build, the First Nations Health Authority stepped in last year and provided a significant amount of funding for the group. Despite being unable to gather due to COVID-19 restrictions, Seitcher, Devine and Naomi Seitcher, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation community services manager, have been working to formalize the group, which has been named, ƛ̓iik̓pitap taqumł. Levi Martin offered the name, which means “to build a solid foundation for the community.” “It always makes me feel good when people are wanting to do something to make changes in themselves, in their families and communities,” he said. They landed on the name because the structure of a house cannot stand without the foundation, said Seitcher. “Each one of us in the community can be that foundation,” he said. “If one person heals, the hope is that the next person heals too. If we heal as a community, the next generation will be that much better off.” By letting go of the past, Seitcher said the community will be able to “move forward in a good way.” Looking ahead, ƛ̓iik̓pitap taqumł plans to provide an open, consistent space where Tla-o-qui-aht men can gather and grow through ceremony, health programming and cultural learning. By supporting men in their healing journey through connection, Howard said the men’s group is a tool “to speak your mind.” “A lot of us are too scared to speak,” he said. “But once you learn how to speak, then you learn how to stand. And once you learn how to stand, you learn how to walk. It’s learning how to move forward again.” Melissa Renwick, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Ha-Shilth-Sa
CALGARY — The Alberta Energy Regulator says it is suspending licences for thousands of wells and pipelines after an oil and gas producer failed to bring its operations into regulatory compliance. The regulator says it has ordered SanLing Energy Ltd. to suspend its 2,266 wells, 227 facilities and 2,170 pipelines and ensure they are left in a state that's safe for the public and the environment. It adds the company currently owes $67 million in security to the AER for its assets' end-of-life obligations. The company is being asked to comply with past orders to clean up historic spills and contamination, ensure its emergency response number is working and provide a detailed plan to maintain its assets while they are suspended. The AER says it issued an order to SanLing in September because of a poor compliance record and its outstanding security issues. It says it met with the company several times over the past five months to request a plan to come back into compliance but the company's responses proved to be inadequate. “If SanLing, or any company, wants to do business in Alberta, they must follow our rules,” said Blair Reilly, AEB director of enforcement and emergency management, in a news release. "We cannot allow a company that has ignored the rules continue to operate—that's not in Alberta's interest." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — As expected, Toronto FC will join the Raptors and Blue Jays in Florida for the start of the Major League Soccer season. Toronto will stay in the Orlando area, training at the Omni Resort at ChampionsGate some 35 kilometres southwest of Orlando Airport. The team said it can play home matches in both Orlando and Tampa. Orlando City SC plays at Exploria Stadium while the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the USL Championship play at the 7,500-seat Al Lang Stadium in nearby St. Petersburg, where CF Montreal has held its training camp in the past, The team said its stay in Florida will be contingent upon health and safety regulations as borders reopen in Canada. The Raptors are playing out of Amalie Arena in Tampa while the Blue Jays, who played in Buffalo, N.Y., last season, are holding their first two homestands in nearby Dunedin. TFC finished out the 2020 season in East Hartford, Conn., due to pandemic-related border restrictions. The team played just four games at BMO Field last season. The team is no stranger to ChampionsGate, having held part of its pre-season camp there in past years. A short walk across the hotel golf course leads to training fields. TFC is currently training under the bubble at the club's north Toronto training centre and at BMO Field, whose pitch has underground heating. The team was granted permission to open camp early, on Feb. 17, to prepare for the Canadian Championship final against Hamilton's Forge FC. The winner of that match advances to a two-legged Scotiabank Champions League round-of-16 tie against Mexico's Club Leon. The return leg is April 14. The MLS regular season is slated to kick off April 17. The date and venue of the Canadian Championship final have yet to be announced, although March 20 has been floated. Time is short given the March 22-30 FIFA international window features both World Cup and Olympic qualifying. --- Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021 Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press