Many who have recovered from COVID-19 say the virus can leave long-lasting effects. Caryn Lieberman follows up with a survivor who spent weeks on a ventilator in a Toronto hospital after contracting the illness.
Many who have recovered from COVID-19 say the virus can leave long-lasting effects. Caryn Lieberman follows up with a survivor who spent weeks on a ventilator in a Toronto hospital after contracting the illness.
In announcing a planned phone call on Friday between U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the White House's intended message was clear: Traditional allies are back in favour while despots, dictators and the killers of dissenters are on the outs. The way press secretary Jen Psaki announced the scheduled call with Trudeau was revealing, as it came in response to a question that had nothing at all to do with Canada's prime minister. She was asked about Vladimir Putin. Specifically, she was asked when Biden would speak with the Russian leader. Psaki replied that it wasn't an immediate priority. "[Biden's] first foreign leader call will be on Friday with Prime Minister Trudeau," she said. "I would expect his early calls will be with partners and allies. He feels it's important to rebuild those relationships." U.S. plans to investigate Russia Psaki elaborated on Putin in a separate news conference where she described Russia as "reckless" and "adversarial." She said Biden has tasked the intelligence community with reporting on a variety of alleged Russian transgressions: cyberattacks on U.S. companies, interference in U.S. politics, the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and Russian-paid bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Yet the goal of rebalancing relationships away from rivals toward like-minded countries has been tested already. Some Canadians, notably Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, want trade retaliation against the U.S. following the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline on Day 1 of the new administration. The decision undermines Canada's No. 1 export to the United States: oil. WATCH | The National's report on Keystone XL: Biden's foreign policy ambitions will keep being tested as international relationships undergo unwieldy twists on any given issue due to practical and political considerations. Here is what we already know about the Biden administration's approach to other countries after its first couple of days in office. The moves so far The administration will release a report on suspected Saudi government involvement in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, an issue the last administration showed little interest in pursuing. It is also threatening to cancel support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. It is willing to consider new NATO expansion on Russia's doorstep, into Georgia, and in fact is staunchly supportive of the international military alliance. And Biden has rejoined previous alliances the U.S. was either scheduled to exit (the World Health Organization) or had already left (the Paris climate accord). These activities are intended to signal a dramatic change in foreign policy from Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, who frequently bashed the leaders of democracies and international institutions while simultaneously cultivating friendly relationships with non-democratic leaders in the Middle East, Russia and North Korea. There will be contradictions in Biden's approach — as there were in Trump's. For example, while Trump often had kind words for dictators, he also sanctioned their countries on occasion, including Russia and China. Also, don't count on an ambitious foreign policy from Biden. Early on, the new administration will be busy juggling domestic crises, said Edward Alden, an expert on Canada-U.S. relations. "I think we are going to see an approach to alliances that looks a lot like [Barack] Obama's — engaged, respectful, but not overly ambitious," said Alden, a senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. "The United States has enormous problems at home, and those are going to take priority for some time." Alden said he does expect some new international initiatives, such as more active co-operation on global vaccine distribution. Biden wants changes on Canada-U.S. pandemic travel On COVID-19, Biden also wants to immediately connect with Canada and Mexico to establish new rules within 14 days for pandemic-related travel safety measures. Alden also expects an attempt to rework and revive the international nuclear deal with Iran, and establish greater co-ordination with other countries in confronting China. For example, Biden has proposed a summit of democracies where countries can share ideas for countering autocracies. Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told his confirmation hearing this week that the last administration had a point in reorienting policy toward Beijing. "President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China," Blinken said. "The basic principle was the right one, and I think that's actually helpful to our foreign policy." He got into a testy exchange at that hearing with Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-minded Republican who favours a hands-off approach on foreign affairs. When Blinken said he was open to expanding NATO membership to Russia's neighbour Georgia, Paul called that a recipe for war with Russia. Blinken argued the opposite is true. After years of Russian incursions in non-NATO Georgia and Ukraine, recent evidence suggests Russia is most belligerent with countries outside NATO's shield, he said. Keystone XL: The early irritant Biden and Trudeau are expected to discuss new travel measures to control the spread of COVID-19, as well as Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion that would run south from Alberta to Nebraska. So far, Trudeau has shown little desire to escalate the pipeline issue. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, on the other hand, has demanded retaliatory action, and some trade experts say potential legal avenues do exist. WATCH | Kenny on the fate of Keystone XL: But they're skeptical they will achieve much. Eric Miller of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, a cross-border consulting firm specializing in trade and government affairs, said the best that pipeline-backers can hope for is to sue the U.S. government for financial compensation for the cancelled project. He said the Alberta government and the project's developer, TC Energy, can try suing under the investor-state dispute chapter in the old NAFTA, which will remain in effect for two more years for existing investments. "[But] nothing is going to force the Biden administration to deliver the permit," Miller said. "One has to be clear that there is no world in which Joe Biden [retreats on this]." Canada-U.S. trade lawyer Dan Ujczo said he doubts complaints from Canada will make a difference. He said the most politically effective argument for the pipeline would come from Americans — from the companies and unions that would have serviced the project. The Ohio-based lawyer said challenges under U.S. laws, such as the Administrative Procedures Act, could potentially work, but he cautioned: "They're high hurdles."
Through an online petition a Vancouver Island teacher is imploring B.C. Premier John Horgan to close the borders of the the province for a month and quarantine travellers in a bid to control the spread of COVID-19 strains. Almost 8,000 others seem to agree with him. A week ago, Christian Stapff – a teacher with School District 84 (Vancouver Island West) – started the petition to close the border to non-essential air, ground and sea traffic in order to contain and stop the spread of the virus, “especially in light of more virulent strains already in B.C.” Stapff used the efficacy of such strict measures in Western Australia as an example to further advocate for provincial border closures. “We implore you to take this action to save the economy and lives not yet lost,” Stapff tells the premier in his petition. Of late calls have been mounting for the province to impose an inter-provincial travel ban after the surge of coronavirus variants in B.C. But the premier announced late Thursday afternoon that such a move was not going to happen. RELATED: Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options It was a decision hinted at by the the provincial Ministry of Health in an email statement earlier in the day. The Ministry of Health told the Mirror that what works elsewhere may not work here. “B.C. is not an island and we have many ports of entry,” said a ministry spokesperson. “Questions about inter-provincial travel have come up repeatedly so we are doing due diligence by seeking legal advice in order to put the matter to rest,” said the ministry, and added, “Of course we can’t put up walls at our provincial borders and essential travel critical to our economy must safely continue.” The ministry said that they are also considering economic impacts and the practicalities of such a policy, and are reaching out to key sectors of the economy to get feedback. It said that no steps will be taken without thoughtful consultation with communities and businesses affected by these decisions. “As we roll out the vaccine, the bottom line is that public health advice remains the same – now is not a time for non-essential travel.” Stapff had yet to respond to requests for an interview by the time of this posting. For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here. ALSO READ: Isolating provinces is a bad idea, says Canadian Chamber of Commerce ALSO READ: Vancouver Island smashes COVID-19 high: 47 new cases in a day Binny Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Campbell River Mirror
Alphabet Inc's Google said on Friday it would block its search engine in Australia if the government proceeds with a new code that would force it and Facebook Inc to pay media companies for the right to use their content. Google's threat escalates a battle with publishers such as News Corp that is being closely watched around the world. Australia is on course to pass laws that would make tech giants negotiate payments with local publishers and broadcasters for content included in search results or news feeds.
Alphabet Inc is shutting down Loon after concluding the business, which offers balloons as an alternative to cell towers, is not commercially viable, Google's parent company said on Thursday. Founded in 2011, Loon aimed to bring connectivity to areas of the world where building cell towers is too expensive or treacherous using balloons the length of tennis courts and solar-powered networking gear. But the wireless carriers which Loon saw as buyers questioned the technical and political viability of the idea.
Area families of residents in long-term-care are raising concerns about transparency as the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the sector continue to rise across the province. At a virtual town hall held by a group called Voices of LTC Thursday, family members from Hamilton and St. Catharines shared their stories and called for change. Hamilton resident Lainie Tessier spoke about her mother, a former resident of Shalom Village in Westdale, who became sick with COVID-19 and died in December. She previously told The Spectator the home didn’t wear PPE right away, despite warnings about her mother’s symptoms. Shalom Village is the city’s largest current outbreak. The outbreak at Grace Villa on east Mountain was declared over as of Jan. 19. Shalom has had 214 cases since Dec. 9 in its long-term-care and assisted-living units combined. Of those, 112 are resident cases and 97 are staff cases. The home reported Jan. 20 that there are nine active resident and 11 active staff cases. Twenty people have died with COVID-19 at Shalom, while Grace Villa had 44 deaths in less than two months. That doesn’t include people who died without COVID-19. Experts have previously warned about deaths from other outbreak-related conditions, such as not being attended to due to staffing shortages. Neither Grace Villa or Shalom Village have released those numbers, citing privacy. Tessier says it shows an absence of transparency. “They don’t want it to look as catastrophic as it is,” she said in the town hall. Public health says a total of 156 people have died with COVID-19 in long-term-care and retirement home outbreaks in Hamilton so far. Asked for the total number including those who died without COVID-19, spokesperson Jacqueline Durlov said public health does not have that information. “Each home holds this information and regulations about releasing it,” she said in an email. No new deaths were reported in Hamilton seniors’ homes Thursday. However, half of the four new outbreaks in the city were in seniors’ homes. Ridgeview Long Term Care Home in Stoney Creek and Amica Dundas are both in outbreak with one case each. Several ongoing outbreaks also saw new cases. Maxwell’s Retirement Home reported 13 new cases, for a total of 15. Macassa Lodge has 34 cases, including three new ones. That includes 20 resident and 14 staff cases. There was also a new case at Blackadar Continuing Care Centre, which now has 11 cases. The Meadows Long-Term Care Home reported a new death Jan. 20, its sixth so far. On Thursday, public health said all 27 long-term-care homes in the city have received COVID-19 vaccines. In addition, the mobile clinic was set to complete its final round to 12 retirement homes — up from the previous 10 — by the end of Jan. 21. Durlov said the mobile clinic administered about 4,594 doses of the vaccine by the end of Jan. 20, including mostly seniors’ home residents, along with “a handful” of staff and “possibly” essential caregivers. The city’s goal was to vaccinate 4,900 residents in seniors’ homes with the mobile clinic this week. Seniors’ mental health has also been a topic of concern during the pandemic, including in long-term-care homes. On Thursday, the province announced support for seniors’ mental health, including 46 mental health beds for 16 hospitals across the province. Four of the beds will go to Niagara Health System and two to Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington. No Hamilton hospitals were included. Maria Iqbal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
WASHINGTON — Seven Democratic senators on Thursday asked the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate the actions of Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley “to fully understand their role” in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump. Thousands had gathered that day as Congress voted to formally certify President Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in November. Hawley and Cruz led objections in the Senate to Biden’s victory, despite the widespread recognition that the effort would fail. In the end, Congress certified Biden’s Electoral College victory, but not before thousands marched to the Capitol at Trump’s urging, overwhelmed security and interrupted the proceedings. In the end, the violence led to five deaths, injured dozens of police officers and caused extensive damage to the Capitol. The Democratic senators said the question for the Senate to determine is not whether Cruz and Hawley had the right to object, but whether the senators failed to put loyalty “to the highest moral principles and to country above loyalty to persons, party, or Government department.” They also said the investigation should determine whether Cruz, of Texas, and Hawley, of Missouri, engaged in “improper conduct reflecting on the Senate.” “Until then, a cloud of uncertainty will hang over them and over this body,” the Democratic senators wrote in a letter to the leaders of the Senate Ethics Committee. The Democratic senators said Cruz and Hawley announced their intentions to object even though they knew that claims of election fraud were baseless and had led to threats of violence. “Their actions lend credence to the insurrectionists’ cause and set the stage for future violence. And both senators used their objections for political fundraising,” the Democratic senators said in their letter. Cruz and Hawley have condemned the violence on Jan. 6. Cruz called it a "despicable act of terrorism.” Hawley said those who attacked police and broke the law must be prosecuted. Cruz helped force a vote on Biden's victory in Arizona, while Hawley helped force one on Biden's victory in Pennsylvania. “Joe Biden and the Democrats talk about unity but are brazenly trying to silence dissent," Hawley said in a prepared statement. “This latest effort is a flagrant abuse of the Senate ethics process and a flagrant attempt to exact partisan revenge." Those Democrats requesting the investigation are Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Tina Smith of Minnesota, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Tim Kaine of Virginia and Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Kevin Freking, The Associated Press
Michelle Myers’ clean energy journey began back in 2016 when she attended a summit while she was a student in university. And now her Xeni Gwet’in First Nation in British Columbia will soon be reaping the benefits of her participation. While attending a clean energy summit five years ago in Waterloo, Ont., Myers, who was studying at the University of Alberta, was told about a new program offered by the Indigenous Clean Energy (ICE) Social Enterprise. Myers was convinced to join the first cohort for ICE’s 20/20 Catalysts, a national clean energy capacity building program for Indigenous individuals across Canada. Myers and several other current and former participants of the program were featured in a presentation on Wednesday, Jan. 20 during the Indigenous Clean Energy E-Gathering. Program participants discussed the various ventures they are now involved with in their communities. “I was in my third year of university for a Bachelor of Arts in Native Studies with a minor in Environmental Conservation,” Myers recalled of the time she discovered the Catalysts Program. While continuing her education, Myers simultaneously enrolled in the three-month program, which connects participants to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous clean energy project mentors. Those in the program learn about clean energy project developments, including information on energy efficiency, solar, wind, hydro, biomass, geothermal as well as on-grid and off-grid ventures. Myers was able to juggle her university studies with her Catalysts learning. “From there I was just immensely inspired by everybody that attended and inspired by the initiative and the directive,” Myers said. Upon graduation, Myers returned to her community and landed various contract jobs. Then, an opportunity to work on her First Nation’s clean energy plan arose. That led to her current responsibilities where she not only oversees clean energy projects in her community but has become the lands and resources manager for Xeni Gwet’in, located in central interior B.C. Her community is an off-grid remote one, which is not connected to the BC Hydro grid and is currently diesel powered. “My home right now is powered by an individual gas generator and I’m currently running off a battery that I charge with my generator at night,” Myers said. But plenty of positive changes are in store for her community. “We’re installing an underground line, extending from our microgrid in our central community to 28 homes,” Myers said. “The underground line idea comes from many years of community engagement around clean energy projects and clean energy development of our community not wanting to see power lines or power poles going right through our valley because we hold the esthetic value of our community and our territory very high.” Myers said Xeni Gwet’in has become a popular tourist destination, as well as a sought-after location for making movies. “We have a lot of opportunities for tourism,” she said. “We have a lot of people that come into our communities and want to utilize our territory for films.” And this helps explain why community members are not keen for many visible changes. “We also have a lot of ceremonial gatherings and traditional spots all the way from the central, middle of the community out to here and beyond that an overhead power line would kind of get in the way of and disturb if we went that route,” she said. George Colgate, the underground distribution line project manager for Xeni Gwet’in, explained there will soon be substantial savings for community members who currently operate their own generators for power. “Running a small generator probably works out to about $2 a kilowatt hour,” he said. “Once this is in, people are going to be paying BC Hydro rates out. That’s the idea. For Tier 2, I think that somewhere around 8-10 cents a kilowatt hour.” Another participant featured in Wednesday’s presentation was Alex Cook, the owner of a start-up business based in Iqaluit. His company has a vision of developing affordable, efficient and resilient housing for rapid deployment to remote Arctic communities. These houses will be partially built with shipping containers. “For as long as I can remember, Nunavut has struggled with a housing crisis,” Cook said. “The housing crisis has gotten so bad that right now across the territory there are people living outside in nothing more than tents and shacks.” With the contacts he made through the Catalysts Program, Cook believes he’ll be able to design Nunavut’s first accessible net zero home. The prototype will be built in his community of Baker Lake this fall. “Our people are strong,” Cook said. “We figured how to live here before. We’ll do it again.” Another program participant is Nathan Kaye, a finance student at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary. Kaye is also the co-chair of SevenGen, a virtual youth summit that will be held next month. “What we hope to accomplish there is to get youth to initiate renewable energy products in their communities by providing support, services and funding for those projects,” Kaye said. That summit has expanded and will feature an Indigenous youth mentorship program. Kaye is also involved in a food security initiative with Tsuut’ina Nation. “We built a community garden back in April and May,” he said. “And right now we’re working on building a geothermal greenhouse.” The Indigenous Clean Energy E-Gathering began on Monday and continues until Friday. Windspeaker.com By Sam Laskaris, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
Researchers at Ruhr University use designer protein brain injections to regenerate spinal nerves which allow paralyzed mice to walk again.
Oil prices fell to end the week little changed and the dollar index posted its largest weekly drop in five weeks. Technology stocks weighed the most on the S&P 500, with IBM and Intel posting 10% and 9% declines, respectively, after underwhelming earnings. Energy stocks also fell on Wall Street, alongside the price of crude.
TORONTO — Television personality Sid Seixeiro is leaving Sportsnet's "Tim & Sid" sports talk show to become the new co-host of "Breakfast Television" on Citytv. Seixeiro will make his final appearance as co-host on the show alongside longtime partner Tim Micallef on Feb. 26. Micallef will continue to host the show, which airs weekdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, with a rotating roster of co-hosts. The "Tim & Sid" show made its debut on Toronto radio station CJCL Sportsnet 590 The Fan on Dec. 12, 2011. He will make his Breakfast Television debut alongside co-host Dina Pugliese on March 10. The program was simulcast on television on The Score (now Sportsnet 360) starting in 2013, then was relaunched on Sportsnet as an afternoon television show in 2015. The show has been simulcast on The Fan since 2019 as its late afternoon drive program. “It’s been a dream to work 20 years in the sports industry, especially alongside Tim Micallef, and express my passion and love for sports on a daily basis,” Seixeiro said in a release. “I’ve always been curious to explore other areas of the business and this was a unique opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
For the second straight day, a truck became stuck under Moncton's subway underpass which crosses Main Street at Foundry Street. On Thursday at approximately 2:25 p.m., a transport truck that had been driving west on Main Street hit the CN Rail bridge, said Moncton Fire Department Platoon Chief Brian McDonald. Police were the first to respond as it is a motor vehicle incident, said McDonald, while the fire department came to assess the situation. "Codiac RCMP contained and secured the scene," said McDonald. Police cruisers blocked off Main Street in both directions, Codiac RCMP also called CN Rail to advise them of the collision so engineers can inspect the bridge, which belongs to CN, McDonald said, adding this was done as a precaution. No injuries were reported. Pulling the truck out from under the bridge was a loud affair, but the truck was removed successfully just before 4 p.m. While vehicles exceeding the posted height restrictions getting stuck under the bridge is not an uncommon occurrence, Wednesday's collision was the second in as many days. McDonald said a 5-tonne truck also got struck under the bridge on Wednesday. MFD and RCMP also attended that collision, he said, but it was determined the fire department were not needed early into the incident, and there was no fluid leak. Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal
BILLINGS, Mont. — The Biden administration announced Thursday a 60-day suspension of new oil and gas leasing and drilling permits for U.S. lands and waters, as officials moved quickly to reverse Trump administration policies on energy and the environment. The suspension, part of a broad review of programs at the Department of Interior, went into effect immediately under an order signed Wednesday by Acting Interior Secretary Scott de la Vega. It follows Democratic President Joe Biden’s campaign pledge to halt new drilling on federal lands and end the leasing of publicly owned energy reserves as part of his plan to address climate change. The order did not ban new drilling outright. It includes an exception giving a small number of senior Interior officials — the secretary, deputy secretary, solicitor and several assistant secretaries — authority to approve actions that otherwise would be suspended. The order also applies to coal leases and permits, and blocks the approval of new mining plans. Land sales and exchanges and the hiring of senior-level staff at the agency also were suspended. Under former President Donald Trump, federal agencies prioritized energy development and eased environmental rules to speed up drilling permits as part of the Republican's goal to boost fossil fuel production. Trump consistently downplayed the dangers of climate change, which Biden has made a top priority. On his first day in office Wednesday, Biden signed a series of executive orders that underscored his different approach — rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, revoking approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada and telling agencies to immediately review dozens of Trump-era rules on science, the environment and public health. The Interior Department order did not limit existing oil and gas operations under valid leases, meaning activity won't come to a sudden halt on the millions of acres of lands in the West and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico where much drilling is concentrated. Its effect could be further blunted by companies that stockpiled enough drilling permits in Trump's final months to allow them to keep pumping oil and gas for years. Erik Milito with the National Ocean Industries Association, which represents offshore energy firms, said he was optimistic companies still will be able to get new permits approved through the senior-level officials specified in the order. But Biden’s move could be the first step in an eventual goal to ban all leases and permits to drill on federal land. Mineral leasing laws state that federal lands are for many uses, including extracting oil and gas, but the Democrat could set out to rewrite those laws, said Kevin Book, managing director at Clearview Energy Partners. The administration's announcement drew outrage from Republicans and some industry trade groups. They said limiting access to publicly owned energy resources would mean more foreign oil imports, lost jobs and fewer tax revenues. Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming said the administration was “off to a divisive and disastrous start." He added that the government is legally obliged to act on all drilling permit applications it receives and that “staff memos” can't override the law. “Impeding American energy will only serve to hurt local communities and hamper America’s economic recovery,” American Petroleum Institute President Mike Sommers said in a statement. National Wildlife Federation Vice-President Tracy Stone-Manning said she expected Biden to make good on his campaign promise to end leasing altogether, or at least impose a long-term moratorium on any new issuances. “The Biden administration has made a commitment to driving down carbon emissions. It makes sense starting with the land that we all own,” she said. “We have 24 million acres already under lease. That should get us through." Oil and gas extracted from public lands and waters account for about a quarter of annual U.S. production. Extracting and burning those fuels generates the equivalent of almost 550 million tons (500 metric tons) of greenhouse gases annually, the U.S. Geological Survey said in a 2018 study. Under Trump, Interior officials approved almost 1,400 permits on federal lands, primarily in Wyoming and New Mexico, over a three-month period that included the election, according to an Associated Press analysis of government data. Those permits, which remain valid, will allow companies to continue drilling for years, potentially undercutting Biden’s climate agenda. But there are other ways an ambitious Biden administration could make it harder for permit holders to extract oil and gas. “The ability to get your resources out, to get right of way, to get roads, to get supporting infrastructure, not all of that is signed and sealed right now,” Clearview Energy's Book said. Under President Barack Obama, the Interior Department imposed a 2016 moratorium on federal coal leases while it investigated the coal program's climate effects and whether companies were paying a fair share for coal from public lands. Trump lifted the moratorium soon after taking office. __ AP writer Cathy Bussewitz contributed from New York. ___ Follow Matthew Brown on Twitter: @MatthewBrownAP Matthew Brown, The Associated Press
The first COVID-19 case in Prince Albert since schools re-opened on Jan. 18 was reported on Thursday morning as a case was connected to Ecole St. Anne School. The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) identified a positive COVID-19 case in an individual at Ecole St. Anne School in Prince Albert. In a news release by the Prince Albert Catholic School Division the division explained that communication has been shared with the specific classroom/cohort, as well as the school community. The case wasn’t acquired at the school. “The Saskatchewan Health Authority is proceeding with their assessment of the situation, and all individuals deemed to be close contacts will be communicated with.” As is the case in all cases in the division no further information will be made available citing privacy concerns. “We want to reassure families of Ecole St. Anne School that school will continue to operate for in-person classes while maintaining the safety protocols that are in place,” the release added. The cohort impacted by this cases being notified and provided instruction. The students and families will be receiving updates using the Edsby platform. “Our thoughts and prayers are with this member of our school community, and we hope they are doing well.” They emphasized that everyone has a shared responsibility to decrease the risk of COVID-19 entering schools. “Thank you to everyone for continuing to be diligent in performing daily health screening, staying home if ill, calling HealthLine 811 if exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, practicing proper hand hygiene, maintaining physical distancing as much as possible, wearing a mask when appropriate and doing everything we can to keep each other safe,” the release stated. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
On Christmas Day, Jess Lamb needed three injectable vials of naloxone to revive her partner from a fentanyl overdose in their home. The next day, when Patrick Evans experienced an overdose again, it took three nasal sprays and one injection by Lamb to save their life. “I was too scared to call 911 for the second overdose. I didn’t know what would happen to him,” said Lamb on the phone from the couple’s home in Cranbrook. She loses at least one friend a week to the overdose crisis, but Lamb “didn’t want paramedics to show up again and take him without me because of COVID.” The province’s expanded safer supply program is supposed to provide prescription drugs for people — heroin, hydromorphone and others — as an alternative to increasingly poisoned illicit supplies, preventing overdoses and deaths. But for Evans and others, the program has failed to deliver on its promise, advocates say. Evans had been in recovery and not using for over two years when they started using heroin again in the summer. In September, they went to their physician and was prescribed Dilaudid, an oral form of hydromorphone, as an opioid substitute. Like most participants in the program, they crushed and dissolved the pills and injected them. For Evans, safer supply meant being in control of their days and focusing on things beyond their substance use. “When I’ve put one foot in front of the other and tried, navigating substance use disorder is a full-time job,” they said. Lamb used substances including crystal methamphetamine and heroin until 2015 before stopping to only use cannabis. But when Evans began Dilaudid, “the drug of choice was in my house, and it got the best of me,” Lamb said. Under pandemic risk mitigation guidelines announced in March, the province allowed doctors to prescribe alternatives to people at dual risk of COVID-19 and drug overdose. Research from the BC Centre for Disease Control in 2012 estimates as many as 83,000 people in the province are opioid dependent. Between March and December, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions said the number of people being prescribed Dilaudid nearly quadrupled from 677 to 3,348 across the province. And by October, Lamb and Evans were among them. But what they first saw as relief quickly became a source of stress that put their lives at risk. Stigma and a lack of understanding from doctors have made safer supply difficult to obtain and even harder to keep, said Evans and Lamb, putting their lives at risk even as the province touts a growing number of people with access to Dilaudid. The couple said both their doctors were hesitant to begin prescribing alternatives at all and began pressuring them to taper off their doses almost as soon as they started. Evans said the challenges began immediately. “It was barely enough, and she was constantly pressuring me to taper down because she didn’t want to be prescribing narcotics,” said Evans. “We had difficulties at the pharmacy too, and there was just so much stigma.” Lamb said her doctor was worried she would be at fault if Lamb injected a prescribed substance meant to be taken orally and overdosed or developed an embolism as a result of air in the needle. “If I’m getting Dilaudid, that’s reducing my risk of an overdose, not increasing it,” said Lamb. Lamb, who works in harm reduction at Ankors AIDS Outreach Centre and Support Society in Cranbrook, has been advocating for people to get on safer supply since March’s risk mitigation guidance came out. But it has been an uphill battle in her work as well as her personal life, Lamb said — even after provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced in September that safe supply programs would be expanded and registered nurses would be allowed to prescribe drug alternatives. Four months later, there are few details on plans to expand supply, and nurses still can’t prescribe prescription alternatives to illicit drugs. Lamb and Evans said that as it became difficult to access adequate prescribed alternatives under safer supply programs, they began rationing the pills they did have in the late fall. Their prescription supply dwindled, and Evans began turning to the illicit supply, which led to their back-to-back overdoses during the holidays. The couple says their struggles to access and maintain safer supply won’t be alleviated by allowing nurses to prescribe if the stigma and hesitance of doctors and nurses remains. Lamb said substance users and their peers need to be involved in addictions medicine training for doctors and nurses to ensure they understand the gravity of the problem, Lamb said. The colleges representing and regulating nurses, doctors and pharmacists in B.C. have publicly supported the new expansion plan. But Jordan Westfall, president of the Canadian Association for Safer Supply, says physicians’ concerns about prescribing safer options need to be addressed by the college, particularly around any potential disciplinary issues. “Individual doctors can, and they always have been able to, prescribe safer supply. But running into problems with their college, that’s a huge chilling factor,” said Westfall. “So allowing nurses to prescribe too doesn’t address the root cause.” Hydromorphone tablets were initially chosen as the option because of their portability. Now Westfall wants the government to use the Fair PharmaCare program to make injectable alternatives more widely available. That would increase support from the regulatory colleges, he said, by reducing concerns that people are crushing and injecting pills under the current program. A spokesperson for the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, responsible for rolling out the expanded program, said the plan isn’t complete. But the first cohort of trained nurses are expected to begin prescribing suboxone, an opioid substitute, in February. “This means there will soon be more health-care practitioners available to prevent overdoses, and reach more people and provide more options, especially in underserved areas,” he said in an email. In the last two weeks, both Lamb and Evans have been able to begin accessing opioid substitute treatment through a weekly clinic offered by a visiting doctor. They are now both taking Kadian, a slow-release oral form of morphine, and a reduced dose of Dilaudid, with the intention of transitioning to either methadone or suboxone. While Lamb is grateful to have access to this potential solution, she feels they both had to “play ball” with their doctors to stay on any form of treatment at all. She would have preferred to stay on Dilaudid, because now she worries about how she will get off of Kadian, particularly if methadone or suboxone don’t work for her. And in a place like Cranbrook with limited support and options for accessing health care for substance use, Lamb worries about the people who don’t have the knowledge or the energy to advocate for what they need. Lamb has to call colleagues and contacts in Vancouver to convince her doctor to give her a prescription, she said. “I have to fight for my life,” she said. “When you’re using drugs and trying not to die, you don’t have much time to do other things, and one of those things is advocating for your health care.” Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
Peterborough County councillors have agreed to send a request to the province to deploy rapid COVID-19 testing into long-term care facilities across the province to test residents and staff. The motion brought forward by Sherry Senis, deputy mayor of Selwyn Township, will be sent to both the federal and provincial governments and health officials further requesting they commit to vaccinating all long-term care residents, retirement and other congregate senior living facilities by Feb. 15. While the province has already made the Feb. 15 commitment, Senis said council members would be reiterating that commitment by supporting the motion. “Health Canada has yet to approve the rapid COVID testing for widespread use. Once this is done, we ask the province to deploy the testing into long term care facilities. At this time, Fairhaven is on a pilot project for the testing,” she said. During their special virtual council meeting held on Thursday, Senis said the pandemic has put a spotlight on long-term care homes across the province with devastating results for family members. “As of this week, over 3,000 (Ontario long-term care) residents have died, along with 10 staff. Every day we hear about another outbreak in a long-term care home,” she said. “As I’m a board member of Fairhaven, I felt it appropriate to bring forward this motion with the executive director, Lionel Towns supports.” The motion also requests the federal and provincial governments provide sufficient emergency funds to hire adequate staff, provide training and continue to enhance long term care wages, similar to what Quebec has done. “Quebec has done a massive hiring of staff and trained them for their long-term care homes and their numbers have decreased substantially as a result. In Ontario, we should be following suit and pay the staff accordingly,” Senis said. The Peterborough census metropolitan area has the second largest proportion of seniors living in Canada’s 34 census metropolitan areas, she said. “Many of them are vulnerable and cannot speak for themselves. County council represents a large swath in Peterborough County and I feel it would be appropriate for us to support the recommendations and send them forward. We have a voice and I can’t think of a better reason than this to use it,” Senis said. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef, Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MP Jamie Schmale, Northumberland-Peterborough South MPP Phillip Lawrence, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliot, Premier Doug Ford, Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith, Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP Laurie Scott, Northumberland-Peterborough South MPP David Piccini, Long-Term Care Minister Merilee Fullerton, the City of Peterborough, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus will all receive a copy of the motion. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
TORONTO — Canadian record producer Bob Rock is joining a chorus of musicians selling off rights to their past work, reaching a deal with a U.K. investment firm for more than 40 songs from Michael Buble and Metallica. The agreement between Rock and Hipgnosis Songs Fund, announced Thursday, will give the London-based operation Rock's full producer rights to a raft of prominent tracks. Among them is Rock's stake in Metallica's self-titled 1991 album, often called "The Black Album," which includes the metal band's hits "Enter Sandman," "The Unforgiven" and "Nothing Else Matters." He's also sold his rights to Buble's album "To Be Loved" in its entirety and his work on "Call Me Irresponsible," "Crazy Love" and "Christmas." Rock, who was born in Winnipeg, is one of Canada's most prolific rock music producers, having worked with the Tragically Hip, Aerosmith, Bryan Adams and Bon Jovi. The Hipgnosis deal, which encompasses 43 songs, comes as the fund moves quickly to build its library of rights holdings. Last week, Hipgnosis picked up the publisher and songwriter rights to Shakira's entire catalogue of 145 songs, and earlier this month acquired a 50 per cent stake in Neil Young's catalogue of 1,180 songs. Rights deals have become a hot commodity in the pandemic as artists look to monetize their assets while the touring industry remains at a standstill and listening moves increasingly to streaming platforms over record sales. Each transaction can be slightly different than the next, depending on what rights the creator is selling. Rock is selling off his royalty percentage of sound recording copyrights, or "points" as they're called in music industry. That covers his share in revenues for his contribution to studio recordings, such as mixing or production. His points share could vary by each track, but would ultimately determine how much money funnels back to him — from album sales and streaming, to licensing for commercials and TV shows. Those rights are now owned by Hipgnosis. Other artists have recently sold their publishing rights, which cover anything earned for the musical work that's committed to paper. Typically that means a slice of revenues from live performances as well as licensing fees from covers recorded by other artists. Bob Dylan recently sold publishing rights to more than 600 songs to the Universal Music Publishing Group for estimates that were priced between $300 million and half a billion dollars. Stevie Nicks sold an 80 per cent stake in her music to Primary Wave for a reported $100 million. — Follow @dfriend on Twitter. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — Nothing illustrates the political passions of a television network's audience quite like ratings for a presidential inaugural. The 6.53 million people who watched President Joe Biden take the oath of office and deliver his inaugural address on MSNBC Wednesday was a whopping 338% bigger than its audience for Donald Trump's swearing in four years ago, the Nielsen company said. On the flip side, Fox News Channel's audience of 2.74 million for Biden on Wednesday represented a nearly 77% drop from its viewership for Trump in 2017, Nielsen said. A preliminary Nielsen estimate shows Biden's inaugural viewership on the top six networks beat Trump by 4%. Nielsen said it doesn't have a complete estimate for inaugural viewing because it is still counting people who watched on other networks or outside their homes. CNN, with 10 million viewers, easily beat ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and Fox during Biden's big moment, Nielsen said. That's 196% more than watched Trump four years ago. CNN, which has been on a hot streak in the ratings since Biden's victory, also topped all the others for its coverage of the primetime inaugural celebration. MSNBC, meanwhile, said it recorded the highest daytime ratings of the network's nearly 25-year history on Wednesday. ABC had 7.66 million viewers for the oath-taking (up 10% from 2017), NBC had 6.89 million (down 12%) and CBS had 6.07 million (down 13%), Nielsen said. David Bauder, The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — British Columbia's Liberal party took the first steps Thursday towards selecting a new leader while also addressing a constitutional technicality that still has Andrew Wilkinson as party leader. The party appointed former cabinet minister Colin Hansen as co-chair of an organizing committee to oversee the campaign. A date hasn't been set yet to choose a new leader. Hansen, known as a stalwart in the governments of former premier Gordon Campbell, will co-chair the seven-member committee with Victoria lawyer Roxanne Helme. Interim Liberal Leader Shirley Bond said she is energized by the formation of the campaign oversight committee and downplayed the fact Wilkinson hasn't followed the protocol to resign under the party's constitution. "I just have to say this, that British Columbians this morning didn't wake up and worry about whether or not there was constitutionally a technical issue with who's the leader of the B.C. Liberal Party," she said at a news conference. Wilkinson announced his resignation after the Liberals lost the election last fall and dropped seats that were once considered safe for the party. In the days following the Oct. 24 election, Wilkinson held a brief news conference where he said he planned to resign, but would remain leader until a replacement is chosen. About one month later he posted on Facebook: "It is now time for me to leave the role as Opposition leader as voters in B.C. have made their preference clear." Although Wilkinson hasn't official resigned, Bond said she is leading the Liberals. "I'm speaking to you today as the leader of the Opposition, make no mistake about that," she said. Wilkinson is not receiving any leadership benefits from the party and he has no leadership responsibilities, Bond said. "I can assure you this, Andrew Wilkinson is focusing on his role as an MLA," she said. "He has no responsibilities, no stipend, nothing like that related to the B.C. Liberal Party. We certainly expect a letter of resignation at some point in the next few weeks, but the fact of the matter is I lead the official Opposition." Wilkinson was not immediately available for comment. Bond, who has already ruled herself out of the Liberal leadership race, said 2021 will be a year of reflection, renewal and rebuilding for the party. "In the meantime, the party will continue to create and unveil the leadership contest rules and how it will work," she said. "I'm quite energized looking at what candidates might emerge and eventually they will transition to take on the role that I have now." Other members of the organizing committee to help pick a leader include legislature members Jackie Tegart, Derek Lew, Sarah Sidhu, Don Silversides and Cameron Stolz. The committee's mandate includes determining the timeline for the leadership election, establishing the campaign's rules and implementing the election process for party members. — By Dirk Meissner in Victoria This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
New projections by the province's COVID-19 Science Advisory Table suggest if Ontario were to accelerate its immunization rollout and vaccinate all long-term care home residents by the end of January, as many as 580 lives could be saved. The report, conducted by Science Table and released on Thursday, outlines the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths that could be averted if the government gets needles into the arms of all residents by various target dates. According to the report, administering the first dose of the vaccine to all long-term care patients by the end of January would prevent a projected 600 COVID-19 cases by March. 31, in comparison to the province's current plan to vaccinate all LTC residents by Feb. 15. Dr. Nathan Stall, a geriatrician at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital and one of the authors of the report, is critical of the province for failing to immunize every long-term care home resident in Ontario by now. "I consider this honestly to be a breathtaking failure," said Stall. "We're approaching five weeks. We have vaccinated about 55,000 long-term care workers, 15,000 retirement home workers and about 15,000 retirement home residents," he said. "But the number one priority all along ought to have been vaccinating long-term care residents." According to the report, had the province provided the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to all Ontario LTC residents by Jan. 21, around 530 deaths would be prevented, with the worst-case scenario at 120 deaths and the best case at 900. If it provided the first dose to all residents by Jan. 31, around 340 deaths linked to COVID-19 would have been avoidable with the worst case at 100 and the best case at 580. Under the province's current plan, if it administers the first dose to all residents by Feb. 15, the number of deaths prevented is projected to be 225, with the worst case at 100 and best at 340. Without vaccination, the report projected a total of 12,200 COVID-19 cases among LTC residents between Jan. 13, and March 31. Critics of the Ford government's approach have argued the first 72,000 of the 240,000 vaccine doses delivered thus far should have solely gone into the arms of LTC residents as quickly as possible, as they have the highest likelihood of mortality in comparison to others. As of Thursday, the province's total COVID-19 death toll has reached 3,256 residents and 10 staff. There are currently 251 homes dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks. Stall told CBC News that the approach Ontario has taken in vaccine distribution will likely cost more lives in the long run, given the province's closures during December and its slow start. The province began administering COVID-19 vaccines on Dec. 14, and identified early on its approximately 70,000 LTC home residents as a priority group to receive the initial doses. "If vaccine supply is limited, the early provision of first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to LTC home residents is likely to be more beneficial than the on-schedule provision of second doses to health-care workers outside of LTC homes," the report reads. The province had enough doses to vaccinate all LTC residents, Stall said, but instead health-care workers outside of LTC homes got their shots before some residents. Now that there is a shortage of vaccines, residents are left vulnerable, he said. "They actually put the needles in the wrong arms," Stall said. "They put the needles in the arms of people who are much less likely to die and now they've hit the situation where they have an unexpected supply shortage for the next couple of weeks. "The fact that we are now delaying until Feb. 15 and possibly later, as indicated during yesterday's press conference, to vaccinate the remaining long term care residents — it just defies logic," Stall added. Jennifer Penney's 81-year-old mother died of COVID-19 on Boxing Day, but Penney says had her mother received the shot before that date— she could've lived. "[My] mother wasn't in the best of health but I don't believe she would have passed if she hadn't contracted COVID-19. She would have been here longer," Penney said. Penney cared for her mother for several years before she was placed in a long-term care home in 2019, she said. "I look back and think if I'd just been able to for a couple more months hold back ... she would still be here." The provincial government said in a statement to CBC Toronto Thursday that recent changes to vaccine transporting conditions has allowed them to immunize more long-term care residents than it initially planned. "Recently, the manufacturer has advised that the Pfizer vaccine can be transported under specific conditions. After a successful pilot in the Ottawa area, the government has expanded the transport of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to other long-term care homes across the province for the immunization of staff, residents and essential caregivers," a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said. "The province continues to determine the impact the delay in shipments from the federal government will have on the province's vaccine rollout," the statement reads. "We continue to vaccinate our most vulnerable and remain committed to prioritizing long-term care and high-risk retirement home residents based on availability of supply provided by the federal government." Ontario will have "baseline capacity to vaccinate nearly 40,000 people a day in the coming weeks, and we have the ability to triple or quadruple this capacity with notice," the spokesperson said.
Health PEI says the province's two intensive care units are operating at reduced capacity, all as a result of a nurse staffing crunch. According to the agency, only four of the six ICU beds at Summerside's Prince County Hospital are operational. That's because 9.6 of the 15.6 ICU nurse positions there are vacant. At Charlottetown's Queen Elizabeth Hospital, just eight of the 10 ICU beds are open. The agency says between the ICU and the critical care unit, which share staff, there are 5.9 vacant nursing positions. 'It's huge when you get a loss from the ICU' The P.E.I. Nurses' Union says while many areas of health care continue to face staffing shortages, recruiting and training ICU nurses has proven particularly challenging. "When you get vacancies in areas like ICU, you can't just train an ICU nurse in two weeks," said Barbara Brookin, the union's president. "It's six months minimum before you get a nurse that works in ICU able to work as a second, or take charge of patients and not just supporting the other nurses. So it's huge when you get a loss from ICU." According to the union president, nurses from other departments have been shuffled around to cover some ICU shifts. Health PEI says while the staffing crunch has been manageable to date, it would become more challenging if P.E.I. saw a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases, and increased demand for ICU beds and ventilators. "We could have a certain number of ventilators at Prince County Hospital. But if we don't have the nursing level to safely look after them, we wouldn't be able to receive that ventilated patient," said Arlene Gallant-Bernard, the hospital's chief administrative officer. "They probably would look at going to QEH, or on some occasions, we'd have to send them off-Island." Bubble closure hurting recruitment Gallant-Bernard said Health PEI is advertising the ICU nursing positions across Canada. The agency's also offering a $5,000 signing bonus, plus $10,000 to cover moving expenses. But she said the pandemic and closure of the Atlantic bubble have made finding nurses more challenging. Normally, she said, there are nurses living in New Brunswick or Nova Scotia, willing to travel here to work during the week. "People have been in those arrangements. But it's getting harder now to make that look appealing because of all the guidelines. And every province's guidelines are a bit different," said Gallant-Bernard. "So when we had the bubble, we had a much broader group to draw from. But now we don't have that." Though one aspect of the pandemic is giving the hospital CAO some recruitment hope. She said the fact P.E.I. has had relatively few COVID-19 cases, restrictions, and health-care pressures should make it a more attractive place for nurses. "It's a very appealing place to come to right now," she said. "So I think if we can recruit, now is the time." More P.E.I. news