Here's an adorable clip to brighten your day. Enjoy! Credit: luxepom
Here's an adorable clip to brighten your day. Enjoy! Credit: luxepom
A Vancouver couple who allegedly flouted COVID-19 rules and flew to Yukon to get the first doses of a vaccine will have to wait their turn for their second doses, says B.C.'s Ministry of Health. Rodney Baker, 55, the now former president and CEO of the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, and Ekaterina Baker, a 32-year-old aspiring actress, are accused of breaking Yukon COVID-19 rules by chartering a plane to the small community of Beaver Creek, a community roughly 450 kilometres northwest of Whitehorse near the Alaska border There, they took advantage of a mobile vaccination clinic that was administering the first doses of the Moderna vaccine to locals, claiming they were new employees at an area motel, according to Yukon Community Services Minister John Streicker. Many in Yukon's rural communities have been prioritized to receive vaccinations because they are hours away from medical care. In a statement to CBC News, B.C.'s Ministry of Health said the couple will have to wait — like everyone else — until their eligible age category before receiving their second dose of the vaccine. "There is no room in BC's COVID-19 Immunization plan for people who deliberately put vulnerable populations at risk in order to receive their vaccine before the start of their eligibility group," the statement read. "As we move towards immunizing the general public … there will be clear processes in place to ensure people can verify their age and that they are currently living in BC. "The pre-registration process will help ensure people wait their turn. The system will not allow people to book an appointment until their age category is eligible to pre-register for an appointment for the dose that they should be receiving." B.C.'s vaccine plan, which was announced on Friday, will focus on vaccinating high-risk and most elderly populations by April before reaching younger adults in the summer. The goal is to vaccinate four million members of the general public against COVID-19 by September. Currently, the Public Health Agency of Canada recommends getting the second dose of the Moderna vaccine within 42 days of the first. According to current plan, those aged between 59 and 30 — like the Bakers — will receive vaccines between July to September, well after 42 days from their first doses.
The speed limit on Ferguson Road will be lowered to 30 kilometres per hour following approval at last night’s city council meeting. The stretch of road is on Sea Island, near the airport-adjacent Canada Post and UPS locations. The Iona Island Wastewater Treatment Plant is also accessed via Ferguson Road. In a report, city staff noted that tens of thousands of cyclists use the road yearly, and due to its length and lack of traffic signals it is often used by competitive cyclists for training. However, some parts of the road are so narrow that cyclists and vehicles must share the same lane. The stretch between McDonald and Shannon roads is within the city’s jurisdiction, and will have its speed limit changed following amendment of the relevant traffic bylaw. The west-most side of the road is within the jurisdictions of Vancouver Airport Authority and Metro Vancouver, who have also agreed to implement the same 30 kilometres per hour speed limit on their sections of the road. Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021.There are 757,022 confirmed cases in Canada._ Canada: 757,022 confirmed cases (59,551 active, 678,068 resolved, 19,403 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.There were 4,011 new cases Tuesday from 34,572 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 12 per cent. The rate of active cases is 158.43 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 37,271 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 5,324.There were 165 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 1,137 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 162. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.43 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 51.62 per 100,000 people. There have been 17,120,912 tests completed._ Newfoundland and Labrador: 398 confirmed cases (six active, 388 resolved, four deaths).There were zero new cases Tuesday from 158 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.15 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 78,477 tests completed._ Prince Edward Island: 110 confirmed cases (six active, 104 resolved, zero deaths).There were zero new cases Tuesday from 267 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 3.82 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 88,900 tests completed._ Nova Scotia: 1,572 confirmed cases (11 active, 1,496 resolved, 65 deaths).There was one new case Tuesday from 934 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.11 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.13 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 11 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 201,358 tests completed._ New Brunswick: 1,161 confirmed cases (340 active, 807 resolved, 14 deaths).There were 10 new cases Tuesday from 1,048 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.95 per cent. The rate of active cases is 43.77 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 157 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 22.There were zero new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.02 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.8 per 100,000 people. There have been 137,228 tests completed._ Quebec: 256,002 confirmed cases (15,622 active, 230,803 resolved, 9,577 deaths).There were 1,166 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 184.11 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 10,268 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,467.There were 56 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 435 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 62. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.73 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 112.87 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,695,925 tests completed._ Ontario: 258,700 confirmed cases (23,036 active, 229,755 resolved, 5,909 deaths).There were 1,740 new cases Tuesday from 29,712 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 158.14 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 16,423 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,346.There were 63 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 430 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 61. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.42 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 40.57 per 100,000 people. There have been 9,007,713 tests completed._ Manitoba: 28,902 confirmed cases (3,492 active, 24,601 resolved, 809 deaths).There were 92 new cases Tuesday from 1,556 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 254.99 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,162 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 166.There were five new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 26 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.27 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 59.07 per 100,000 people. There have been 450,194 tests completed._ Saskatchewan: 22,646 confirmed cases (2,649 active, 19,729 resolved, 268 deaths).There were 230 new cases Tuesday from 897 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 26 per cent. The rate of active cases is 225.55 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,775 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 254.There were 14 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 43 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is six. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.52 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 22.82 per 100,000 people. There have been 331,591 tests completed._ Alberta: 121,901 confirmed cases (8,652 active, 111,662 resolved, 1,587 deaths).There were 366 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 197.93 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,134 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 591.There were 13 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 124 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 18. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.41 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 36.3 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,061,844 tests completed._ British Columbia: 65,234 confirmed cases (5,714 active, 58,352 resolved, 1,168 deaths).There were 406 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 112.67 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,322 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 475.There were 14 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 78 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 11. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.22 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 23.03 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,044,931 tests completed._ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (zero active, 69 resolved, one deaths).There were zero new cases Tuesday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,229 tests completed._ Northwest Territories: 31 confirmed cases (six active, 25 resolved, zero deaths).There were zero new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 13.39 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of one new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 9,064 tests completed._ Nunavut: 282 confirmed cases (17 active, 264 resolved, one deaths).There were zero new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 43.84 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 16 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 7,382 tests completed.This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
A weekly book club promoting early literacy is launching tomorrow on Family Literacy Day. The three EarlyON centres in Timmins have partnered to offer a free virtual storytime session for children and their families and caregivers. The book club will take place every Wednesday, starting Jan. 27, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Three different stories — in English, in French, and about Indigenous culture — will be read by a representative from each of the centre via Zoom. The three EarlyON centres are the Timmins Native Friendship Centre, Timmins NEOFACS and Timmins YMCA. “This way, we’ll help families engage in literacy with their children and read books,” said Julie Nowlan, Timmins YMCA's early years co-ordinator. “Sometimes, they may not know which books to read or they may not have books at home either, so at least having the program every week, they have three books read to them.” All of the books can be counted toward the Timmins 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten (B4K) program. It is an early literacy program that encourages families and caregivers to read 1,000 books with their children before they go to kindergarten. “If you read three books a day for three years, you can get to 1,000 books before your child reaches kindergarten,” Nowlan said. "Literacy is always a big component in all our of our centres, so it’s nice to be able to offer that.” For each hit milestone, such as reading 100, 250, 500 and 750 books, children will receive a certificate and a prize. Once they read 1,000 books, they get a bigger prize and can start the program again. The program was launched last year in partnership with the Timmins Public Library. So far, there are 326 children registered for the Timmins 1,000 B4K program. “We had people hit their milestones of reaching 1,000 books,” said Gabriella Desmarais, Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board (CDSSAB) program manager for EarlyON Child and Family Centre Quality Assurance. Once someone registers for the 1,000 Books B4K program, they will receive a literacy kit that contains a reading log, a book and all the information needed for the program. “We’re definitely going to continue it for sure,” Nowlan said about the virtual book club. “I assume it will continue until virtual programming is no longer. And if not, it will continue in our centre, so we’ll definitely read books when they come in and visit us.” The Zoom link for Jan. 27 book club meeting can be found here. Registration is not required to join the event. For more information about the Timmins 1000 Books B4K program, click here. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
UPEI's writer-in-residence is not in residence this year, but because of COVID-19 travel restrictions will be offering readings and workshops online from his home in B.C. Jay Ruzesky, a professor of creative writing, Canadian literature and film studies at Vancouver Island University, is a novelist and poet who also writes travel stories and memoirs. His focus at UPEI will be non-fiction writing. "In the same way that I think everybody is essentially creative, you know, we are creative as human beings, I also think everybody has a story," he said in an interview with Mainstreet P.E.I. host Matt Rainnie. Everybody has a story. — Jay Ruzesky "And creative non-fiction can be a lot of different things, everything from, you know, travel writing to restaurant reviews and all kinds of things." His workshops will focus on two streams, one being more personal — stories about the writer's own experiences — and the other more outward, stories about what the writer observes and collects about another person's experience. "Both things, in order to tell a story really well, it depends on literary techniques. It depends on the language. It depends on, you know, narrative and story and the kind of imagery and the kind of things that all good stories are made of." 'It's so beautiful' Ruzesky said he wishes he could be at UPEI in person, but hosting virtual workshops has become the norm during the COVID-19 pandemic. "It's where we are, right. I've been to Prince Edward Island, to Charlottetown and to the Island many times, and I love it there. It's so beautiful. And I have friends there, but it's just not something we can do right now." The workshops are on Feb. 6 and Feb. 13. There will be a reading, open to anyone through Facebook Live, on Feb. 9. More information is available on the Winter's Tales Facebook page. More from CBC P.E.I.
Out of 99 new positive cases discovered in the Simcoe Muskoka Region, health officials say 97 are linked to a long-term care home in Barrie and all of those people are likely affected by the fast-spreading U.K. variant. There are concerns the highly contagious strain of the virus is more widespread than initially thought. Miranda Anthistle has the details.
Ice coverage on the Great Lakes hit record lows in January and is well below the seasonal average, prompting concerns from experts about the environmental impact caused by a lack of ice. As of Jan. 25, 7.7 per cent of the Great Lakes have frozen over, based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a U.S. science agency. Ice levels were as low as 1.8 per cent on Jan. 15, a record-low for the mid-January period. The abnormally low levels in 2021 reflect a longstanding trend of Great Lakes ice coverage declining by about 5 per cent per decade since the 1970s. “The downward trend is a trend by global warming,” said Jia Wang, an ice climatologist with U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But this year’s significant low is the result of local weather patterns, which have the biggest impact on ice formation on the lakes. “On the Great Lakes, our local climate, like surface air temperature, is the main determinant of if the ice is severe or mild,” Wang said. He projects the maximum ice coverage this year will be 30 per cent, sometime in February or early March. The long-term average is 53 per cent. Lake Huron is hovering around 15 per cent ice coverage. The late-January long-term average is about 35 per cent. Erie, one of the shallowest lakes, is sitting at 8.8 per cent ice coverage as of Jan. 25, and that figure had been less than 1 per cent as early as last week, a far cry from the almost 50 per cent average. Wang said low ice levels bring a “negative impact more than a positive impact.” Save for a potential boon for lake freight shipping, which would be less reliant on ice breakers, lack of ice can devastate the Great Lakes environment. “What’s worrisome is this higher frequency of lower ice,” said Michael McKay, executive director of the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research at the University of Windsor, adding years with abnormally low ice are becoming more common. Since 2000, 14 of the last 21 years have had ice coverage levels below the 53 per cent average. McKay said ice cover on the Great Lakes has dropped 70 to 75 per cent in the past 40 to 50 years. “It has really run parallel to what we’re seeing the arctic and Antarctic,” he said. The effects of low ice on the Great Lakes can be felt throughout Southwestern Ontario. “This is going to exacerbate other problems we find in the lakes,” McKay said. One major challenge is the increased risk of shoreline erosion without the protection of ice coverage. “Ice cover in the winter can help protect coastal communities from erosion,” McKay said. “In Southwestern Ontario, we’ve seen regions on the Lake Erie coast that have caved in … in part because it no longer has had that protection because of ice cover and waves just keep slamming.” The runoff effects extend to inland communities too, like London and Huron and Perth Counties, which often are hit by lake effect snowstorms. Without ice on the lakes, prevailing winds pick up more precipitation and dump it in communities downwind. “We’ll continue to get hit by large snowfall when lakes remain ice-free,” McKay said. Blooms of cyanobacteria which have plagued the Great Lakes in recent years, also can be made worse by a lack of ice. Ice cover calms lake water in the winter and allows some runoff nutrients and contaminants to settle in the sediment. Without ice cover, more resuspension events occur, reintroducing the contaminates into the water, which contributes to cyanobacteria blooms. Fish too are impacted, with some species, like white fish, spawning in winter months and needing still waters so their eggs are not disturbed. And beyond the environmental impacts, McKay said less ice on the Great Lakes means losing a “cultural identified” for Canadians. “It's part of our identity, certainly in Canada, to have outdoor skating and ice fishing,” he said. While McKay said it may be past the point where actions to slow climate change could yield visible results within our lifetime, he said attention should still be paid to mitigating the effects that are indirectly related to the declines in Great Lakes ice cover. The good news, he said, is the waters are resilient. “Time and again, we’ve seen the lakes assaulted by various pressures, usually human-induced, things ranging from containments to invasive species, the (cyanobacteria) blooms,” McKay said. “It may not be exactly the same as it was before, but there’s a lot of resiliency in the lakes and they seem to bounce back and still be intact and important ecosystems.” (AS OF JAN. 25, 2021) Superior: 4 per cent Michigan: 6.7 per cent Huron: 15.3 per cent Erie: 8.8 per cent Ontario: 1.1 per cent St. Clair*: 33.8 per cent Great Lakes average: 7.7 per cent *Lake St. Clair is not technically a Great Lake email@example.com Twitter.com/MaxatLFPress Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
NEW YORK — The first inaugurations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama were the only ones to exceed Joe Biden's in popularity among television viewers over the past 40 years. The Nielsen company said that 33.8 million people watched Biden's inauguration over 17 television networks between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. last Wednesday. Reagan's festivities in 1981 drew 41.8 million viewers, and Obama's 2009 inaugural reached 37.8 million, Nielsen said. Perhaps most important to a former president known to watch television ratings closely: Biden exceeded the 30.6 million who watched Donald Trump take office in 2017, Nielsen said. CNN was the most popular network for inaugural viewers, Nielsen said. Meanwhile, Fox News' audience for Biden's oath of office and inaugural address was down 77% from the network's viewership for Trump. Meanwhile, the pro football conference championship games gathered people around televisions in big numbers Sunday. Nielsen said 44.8 million people saw Tom Brady and his Tampa Bay Bucs qualify for the Super Bowl, while 41.8 million watched Kansas City beat Buffalo. With the prime-time game, CBS easily won the week in the ratings, averaging 10.4 million viewers. ABC had 3.4 million, Fox had 2.7 million, NBC had 2.5 million, Univision had 1.2 million, while Ion Television and Telemundo each averaged 1.1 million viewers. CNN led the cable networks, averaging 2.76 million viewers in prime time. MSNBC had 2.67 million, Fox News Channel had 2.56 million, TNT had 1.19 million and HGTV had 1.1 million. ABC's “World News Tonight” won the evening news ratings race, hitting 10.1 million people. NBC's “Nightly News” had 8.3 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 6.2 million. For the week of Jan. 18-24, the top 20 prime-time programs, their networks and viewerships: 1. AFC Championship: Buffalo at Kansas City, CBS, 41.85 million. 2. “NFL Post-Game,” CBS, 17.88 million. 3. “NCIS” (Tuesday, 8 p.m.), CBS, 9.64 million. 4. “FBI,” CBS, 8.99 million. 5. “NCIS” (Tuesday, 9 p.m.), CBS, 8.75 million. 6. “Young Sheldon,” CBS, 7.39 million. 7. “911,” Fox, 7.2 million. 8. “Presidential Inauguration" (9 p.m.), CNN, 7.08 million. 9. “Blue Bloods,” CBS, 6.73 million. 10. “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune,” ABC, 6.3 million. 11. “Presidential Inauguration” (8 p.m.), CNN, 6.24 million. 12. “The Neighborhood,” CBS, 6.09 million. 13. “911: Lone Star,” Fox, 6.03 million. 14. "Magnum, P.I., CBS, 5.86 million. 15. “FBI: Most Wanted,” CBS, 5.81 million. 16. “Bob Hearts Abishola,” CBS, 5.56 million. 17. “Presidential Inauguration” (10 p.m.), CNN, 5.31 million. 18. “B Positive,” CBS, 5.06 million. 19. “Mom,” CBS, 5.03 million. 20. “The Bachelor,” ABC, 5.02 million. David Bauder, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he remains confident in Canada's vaccine supplies despite threats from Europe that it might impose export controls on vaccines produced on that continent. Speaking to reporters outside his Ottawa residence Tuesday morning, Trudeau said the situation in Europe is worrisome but he is "very confident" Canada is going to get all the COVID-19 vaccine doses promised by the end of March. And despite the sharp decline in deliveries of a vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech this month, he said Canada will still vaccinate all Canadians who want shots by the end of September. "We will continue to work closely with Europe to ensure that we are sourcing, that we are receiving the vaccines that we have signed for, that we are due," Trudeau said. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a video statement posted to Twitter Tuesday that Europe will set up a "vaccine export transparency mechanism" so Europe knows exactly how many doses are being produced in the world's largest trading bloc and where they are being shipped. "Europe invested billions to help develop the world‘s first COVID-19 vaccines to create a truly global common good," she said. "And now the companies must deliver." Europe is also getting smaller shipments from Pfizer than promised, because the company temporarily slowed production at its plant in Belgium so it can be expanded. AstraZeneca has also warned Europe its first shipments of vaccine will be smaller than expected because of production problems. But Europe, which invested more than C$4 billion in vaccine development, is demanding the companies fulfil their contracts on time. "Europe is determined to contribute to this global common good but it also means business," said von der Leyen. International Trade Minister Mary Ng said she had spoken to her European counterpart, Valdis Dombrovskis, about the situation and will keep working with Europe to keep the supply chain open. "There is not a restriction on the export of vaccines to Canada," Ng said in question period. Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel Garner accused Ng of playing games with her response, noting the issue isn't that there is an export ban now, but that Europe is threatening to impose one. With all of Canada's current vaccine doses coming from Europe, "that's a concern," Rempel Garner said. "If the Europeans ban exports of vaccines, what's Plan B for Canada?" she asked. Both Pfizer and Moderna are making doses of their vaccine in the U.S. and in Europe, but all U.S.-made doses are currently only shipped within the U.S. Former U.S. president Donald Trump invoked the Defence Production Act last year to prevent export of personal protection equipment. He then signed an executive order in December demanding U.S.-produced vaccines be prioritized for Americans only and threatened to use the act to halt vaccine exports as well. President Joe Biden has already invoked the act to push for faster production of PPE and vaccines. Though he has not specifically mentioned exports, Biden has promised 100 million Americans will be vaccinated within his first 100 days of office, making the prospects the U.S. shares any of its vaccine supply unlikely. Canada has contracts with five other vaccine makers, but only two are on the verge of approval here. AstraZeneca, which has guaranteed Canada 20 million doses, needs to finish a big U.S. trial before Health Canada decides whether to authorize it. Johnson and Johnson is to report results from its Phase 3 trial next week, one of the final things needed before Health Canada can make a decision about it. Canada is to get 10 million doses from Johnson and Johnson, but it is the one vaccine that so far is administered as only a single dose. Trudeau said AstraZeneca isn't supplying Canada from its European production lines. A spokeswoman for Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Canada will not say where the other vaccines are coming from because of the concerns about security of supplies. AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson have set up multiple production lines in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, India, Australia and Africa. Canada has no current ability to produce either those vaccines or the ones from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. It is entirely reliant on foreign production at the moment. More than 113,000 people in Canada have received two full doses of either the Moderna or BioNTech vaccine. Another 752,000 have received a single dose. But the reduction in Pfizer shipments to Canada forced most provinces to slow the pace of injections. Europe, Mexico, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia also have slowed their vaccination campaigns because of the supply limits. Trudeau said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla assured him the full shipments will resume in mid-February, and that Canada will get its contracted four million doses by the end of March. He said he spoke to Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel Tuesday morning and was promised Moderna's shipments of two million doses by March 31 are also on track. MPs were scheduled to have an emergency debate on Canada's vaccine program Tuesday night. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
JASPER, Alta. — The Jasper Park Lodge has been booked out from the end of February until the end of April, but hotel management isn't disclosing who will be staying at the well-known Rocky Mountain retreat during the nine-week block. All 446 rooms at the sprawling Alberta hotel are unavailable to book online between Feb. 23 and April 29. A hotel spokesperson says there is a private booking, but could not comment further for privacy reasons. Guests who previously made bookings for that time have had their reservations cancelled, fuelling speculation online that the hotel could be soon be a filming site. Steve Young, a spokesman for Jasper National Park, says officials have not received a request for a film permit. He says one would be required if any commercial filming was being done in the park. Asked about the possibility of a film crew coming up to Alberta, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the chief medical officer of health, said her team is working on a framework to decide whether to give such crews exemptions to COVID-19 restrictions. She said the Alberta framework would consider two issues when deciding on exemptions. "Number 1 is whether or not there's any risk to the public, whether any of the activities could potentially cause (COVID-19) spread," Hinshaw said Tuesday. "Number 2: As we consider any potential request for exemptions, we also consider the broader public interest." She said if the crew comes from beyond Canada's border, it would need federal approval. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. -- With files from CTV Edmonton. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy was taken to a hospital Tuesday evening after not feeling well and later sent home after tests, a spokesman said, hours after the 80-year-old Democrat began presiding over the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. Leahy, who'd been in his Capitol office, was taken to George Washington University Hospital “out of an abundance of caution" after being examined by Congress' attending physician, Leahy spokesman David Carle said. The senator underwent an evaluation before his release from the hospital and looks forward to returning to work, Carle said. Leahy had commenced his role of overseeing Trump's latest impeachment trial by swearing in his fellow lawmakers. The actual trial will begin next month. Leahy is presiding because he is the Senate's president pro tempore, a largely ceremonial post. Chief Justice John Roberts presided over Trump's first impeachment trial a year ago when Trump was still president. The Senate president pro tempore job normally goes to the longest-serving member of the Senate's majority party. Leahy was first elected in 1974, making him the longest-serving current senator of either party. Leahy will be chairman once again this year of the Senate Appropriations Committee, a panel that controls a large chunk of the federal budget and will be in the middle of President Joe Biden's effort to provide more spending to combat the pandemic and recharge the economy. Leahy is the fifth-oldest current senator. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., 87, is the oldest. Alan Fram, The Associated Press
Yukon Premier Sandy Silver says the federal government should not have rejected an environmental assessment prepared by territorial officials. The Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board released its recommendations for BMC Minerals' proposed Kudz Ze Kayah lead-zinc-copper-gold mine in October. It stated there could significant adverse effects from the mine, located 115 kilometres south of Ross River in southeast Yukon, but the effects could be mitigated by following 30 recommendations in its assessment. Officials with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Natural Resources Canada, however, referred the assessment back to the board for reconsideration. In a letter to the assessment board, the federal government officials said the board's review needs more detail about how the effects will be mitigated. Those effects include water quality, wildlife, particularly the Finlayson Caribou Herd, and traditional land use by Kaska citizens. The federal officials say the assessment board also failed to properly address concerns from the Ross River Dena Council and the Liard First Nation. They also want to know how Aboriginal rights were incorporated into the board's recommendations. "The Screening Report and Recommendation does not expressly delineate whether and how First Nation interests, including from a (Indigenous) rights perspective, have been considered within the assessment," the officials' letter to the Yukon assessment board says. The letter noted the Ross River Dena want more discussions on how the recommendations will be implemented. And the Liard First Nation does not believe the mitigation measures will protect its members' right to hunt the Finlayson Caribou Herd. Liard First Nation chief Stephen Charlie said Tuesday the recommendations should not be approved until they're acceptable to the Kaska people. Premier Sandy Silver, however, said in a written statement that the assessment board's review was comprehensive and the recommendations reasonable. The decision by the federal government, "creates unreasonable and unnecessary uncertainty for the proponent and sends a troubling signal," Silver said. "The government of Canada absolutely needs to take steps to streamline these processes going forward to ensure greater clarity and certainty for the mining industry." Silver said the territorial government was prepared to issue a decision accepting the recommendations.
The snow carvings will be back, but the "sourdough" has been cut. Organizers of Whitehorse's annual winter festival say the event is set to go ahead next month, with some pandemic precautions, and a new name — the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous is now simply the Yukon Rendezvous. Festival president Tyson Hickman said that after 57 years, it was time for a re-branding. The festival got some money last year to do it. "A lot of Yukoners have a lot of very fond memories about Rendezvous past, a lot of Yukoners don't. There is some negative connotation surrounding the term 'sourdough,' and Yukon's history in general," Hickman said. "So what better time to refresh the brand and move forward?" Souring on sourdough Sourdough was a staple for many who came north during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898, allowing them to make bread without the use of baker's yeast or baking soda. It became so closely associated with stampeders that any of them who stayed in Yukon or Alaska through at least one winter came to be called "sourdoughs." Robert Service's classic 1907 book of Gold Rush-era poems was titled, Songs of a Sourdough. Hickman says the festival has been getting feedback in recent years that suggests some people have soured on the idea of a "sourdough festival," seeing it as a throwback to a colonial era. The name change is a way to make it more inclusive, said executive director Saskrita Shresthra. "We did decide that, moving forward, 'Yukon Rendezvous' represents us a little bit better," Shresthra said. "[The festival]'s definitely evolved and changed a lot over the last 57 years. And I think that it will continue to change and evolve as, you know, as Whitehorse does." The festival's old logo featured a comic drawing of a burly, bearded "Sourdough Sam" in boots and a parka. The new logo, pictured on the festival website, has replaced Sam with some stylized mountains and trees. More fencing, and other pandemic precautions The festival has had to make some other significant changes this year in response to the pandemic. Many events are going online, and others will have limits on the number of spectators or participants. "You can expect to see a lot more fencing than normal," said Hickman. "And wherever possible, for inside events like our performance stage, we're asking people to register ahead of time so that we know you're coming and we can have a seat for you." Hickman says another big change this year will be the return of two of the more popular events from past festivals — the snow-carving competition and the fireworks show. "We wanted to do something for the community, and we knew that fireworks and snow carving could be done in a COVID[-19]-safe manner. And those were two items that were high on the list from the outset, for us," Hickman said. The festival has had financial struggles in recent years, but Hickman says it's hanging on thanks to volunteers and some strong local support. He says it was important to make sure there was some sort of festival this year — even if it was going to be a lot different because of the pandemic. "When the board of directors sat down after the last festival, we knew that by the time February 2021 came around, the community would be in desperate need of something," he said. "This year is probably more important than most." The Yukon Rendezvous runs from Feb. 12 to 28 in Whitehorse.
Oil prices were little changed as demand concerns were mostly offset by a large drop in U.S. crude inventories. Stocks in the United States added to losses after the Federal Reserve left its key rate near zero and made no change to its monthly bond purchases, while flagging a potential slowdown in the pace of the economic recovery. "Fears are circulating that some investment funds might be quickly closing out positions as a way of shoring up their cash," said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK.
PRAGUE, Czech Republic — Jozef Venglos, a Slovak coach who was the first manager born outside Britain and Ireland to take charge of a top-tier club in England, has died. He was 84. Slovakia’s soccer association said Venglos died Tuesday surrounded by his family. No details about the cause of death were given. The association described him as “the greatest personality of Slovak soccer.” Venglos was a respected, experienced coach when he arrived in Birmingham in 1990 to take charge of Aston Villa in the first division for what was the toughest job of his illustrious career. “You have to have a joy from football, even as manager,” Venglos told The Associated Press in a 2016 interview at his house in the Slovak capital of Bratislava. “There’s a specific feature of English football, that it’s inspirational in all aspects: for the managers, players and of course fans.” The Premier League has since had a number of star-studded coaches from overseas, such as Juergen Klopp at Liverpool, Jose Mourinho at Chelsea and Tottenham, and Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. Venglos, who was not a household name in Britain when he arrived, became the “First One.” “It was a surprise to me,” Venglos said. “But also an appreciation of what I had done. It was a well-managed and controlled club.” When Venglos was introduced as the Villa manager, the media at the news conference remained silent when they were asked: “Hands up those of you who know this man.” Prior to his job at Villa, Venglos’ biggest successes came in international football. He was an assistant coach to Vaclav Jezek when Czechoslovakia won the European Championship in 1976. Four years later, he was in sole charge as he led his national team to third place at Euro 1980. At the 1990 World Cup, he led the team to the quarterfinals. After his spell in England, Venglos moved to Fenerbahce in Turkey and later to Celtic in Scotland. The coach with a degree in physical education and known as Dr. Jo — or the Doctor — also led the national teams of Australia, Malaysia, Oman and Slovakia. In 1995, he became the president of the European Coaches Union and led European and World select teams on several occasions. In his homeland, he was named the coach of the 20th century. Coming from behind the Iron Curtain just a year after it collapsed, Venglos’ appointment by Villa chairman Doug Ellis looked revolutionary. Taking over from Graham Taylor, Venglos was ready and eager to move the team from the traditional English physical style and apply new methods, starting with a more passing approach, pre-match warmups and new diets. Venglos had playmaker David Platt, but many in his squad didn’t seem ready to adopt the changes he was making. And with expectations high and the media critical, the coach himself had a hard time adapting. No bitter memories, though. “The players were true professionals,” Venglos said. “I would say there was a mutual respect between us and that kept us moving forward. I think we understood each other. And that’s important that the team follows the coach, respects him, and the results follow. The results are key, in any country.” At times, it worked, namely in a 2-0 victory at Villa Park over Inter Milan in the UEFA Cup. But victories were not as frequent as hoped. Villa ended the season in 17th place, a significant drop from the second-place finish the previous season. Venglos developed high blood pressure during the season and continued to face criticism from the media, finally resigning despite an offer from Ellis to continue. Ron Atkinson replaced him. “I learned a lot,” said Venglos, who closely followed the results of the team after his departure. “I watch Aston Villa. I feel joy when things go well for the club.” In 2016, Venglos said he would never forget Alex Ferguson’s gesture when Villa played Manchester United for the first time. “Alex Ferguson came to welcome me and said, ‘If you need anything, don’t hesitate to call me, I’m happy to help,’” Venglos said. “It was a sign of real professionalism and attitude to football.” In 2014, Venglos received the highest honour by FIFA, the Order of Merit, for the development of the game. He is survived by his wife Eva and his sons, Jozef and Juraj. “Mr. Venglos, we will never forget you,” the association said. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Karel Janicek, The Associated Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan's top doctor says he believes there are limits to where people can protest after a handful of demonstrators unhappy with COVID-19 restrictions showed up outside his home. Chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab says while people can go to public spaces like legislatures to stage their frustration, he doesn't believe they have the right to protest at someone's private residence. Premier Scott Moe says his government has offered security to Shahab after police were called to his house on the weekend to respond to protesters who had gathered nearby. Moe says it's up to police in Regina to investigate and decide whether to lay any charges. The premier says the demonstration crossed a line between protesting government decisions around COVID-19 and the privacy of a person, his family and his neighbours. He says his Saskatchewan Party government is looking at what options exist to address protests at the homes of public servants. "We have been starting to look at what other jurisdictions have in place with respect to some of the laws that they have, and looking at whether or not we should consider those here," he said during a briefing Tuesday. Moe said he wasn't sure what options the government has to address what happened, since streets and sidewalks are public property. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021 Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
The mittens worn by American Senator Bernie Sanders to the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden have garnered considerable attention online, and generated humorous images that place a hunched-against-the-cold Sanders everywhere from a scene in Forrest Gump to downtown Saint John. They also caught the attention of a New Brunswick foundation which has been making mittens for charity for the past 15 years. Katie Tower, executive director of the Pedvac Foundation in Port Elgin, said when they saw Sanders’ mittens all over the internet, they thought, “Hey those look like Pedvac mittens!” The organization decided to point out the similarity on their Facebook for anyone trying to create their own Bernie look, Tower said. The post was shared many times and retailers who carry their mittens have started calling asking for more, she said. "The great thing about our mitts is it is a social enterprise," said Tower, “We pay people in our community of Port Elgin to make them.” They aren’t, however, copying the Bernie mittens pattern. “We came up with our own pattern many years ago," Tower said. "We have revised it a bit, but the pattern in the Bernie mittens just happens to be similar enough to ours.” The teacher who originally made the mittens as a gift for Sanders spoke about using recycled or donated wool, and Pedvac mittens are also made from wool that is "second hand or donated too,” said Darcie Kingswell, coordinator of Pedvac's "Wools to Wishes". “We use a variety of different wool, different fleece,” said Kingswell, adding that it could come from a sweater or another knitted item. Buying Pedvac mittens “goes to support our programs including mental health workshops, food programs in school or free income tax preparation programs,” said Tower. Pedvac’s mittens are currently available at Starving Artist Gallery in Moncton, Wheaton's locations in the Maritimes, Happenstance in Antigonish, Threadwork in Almonte, Ont. and at the Pedvac boutique in Port Elgin, although that location is closed while Zone 1 is in red, said Kingswell. The most common similarity between these New Brunswick-made mitts and Bernie Sanders’ mitts is a lot simpler. “It looked like Bernie Sanders was just trying to stay warm," Tower said. "Ours help you do that too.” Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal
Some Tiny council members want some serious action being taken against big corporations that threaten the township's water supply. "We need to stop playing by the rules," said Coun. Gibb Wishart, addressing the question to appeal or not to appeal in the case of the renewal of the permit to take water (PTTW) for the Teedon Pit. "The reason the dump (Site 41) got stopped is that an old couple got arrested; First Nations were there and set up camp, nobody played by the rules. "I think if we play the game the ministry...," he was saying, when Mayor George Cornell cut him off to remind him that even at that time the council played by the rules. Even though Cornell was cautious about siding an appeal process in the matter, Coun. Tony Mintoff spoke his mind clearly. "Anything I’ve heard is overwhelmingly against any kind of operation there," he said. "I encourage council to put their concerns ahead of the province’s unwillingness to allow municipalities to decide what’s best for them within their boundary. "As members of council, it’s our obligation to represent the interests of our residents," added Mintoff. "My suggestion would be we clearly appeal every step." Another member of council, however, was a bit cautious about going the appeal route. "Maybe," said Deputy Mayor Steffen Walma.said, "the right course of action would be to break out some of our concerns around the EBR (Environmental Bill of Rights) process reform and how we work with the MOECP (Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks) in future to make sure the municipality and adjacent landowners are notified of big decisions like this one. "Maybe this goes back to our flaws in the first appeal or commenting process with regards to monitoring water quality." Walma also suggested that if the council does plan on appealing the renewal, it should hold further discussions in-camera. "We have a community member that has made significant upgrades and worked with the township on our comments to date," he added. "There was no need for them to install that many wells. They could have gotten away with a lot less. I think that’s something we want to maintain. It’s a good working relationship so in the future we can share our concerns with them. I think going the legal route potentially cuts those options down." The discussion came forth after council had heard the united plea -- save our water --- from various residents of Tiny and beyond that made deputations to elected officials at Tuesday's special council meeting. Council had convened a special session after it became aware of the Jan. 14 decision by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks to renew a 10-year PTTW for CRH Canada Group Inc., which operates the aggregate quarry. "The approval of the water taking permit may compromise the quality of this water," said Tiny resident Bonnie Pauzé. "As elected officials, we, the taxpayers are putting it all on your shoulder to stop this potential disaster. Every single voter drinks water. Do we want to go down in history as heroes that protected and saved one of the world's purest aquifers? Please don't disappoint us. We need you to step up to the plate. Protect the water." Similar messages were presented by others as well. "Our water needs are being undermined for the sake of a global business," said Erik Schomann, another Tiny resident. "The cost business analysis as I have been able to tell is incomplete. There was no announcement regarding the permit, no civilian insight." Even residents of Guelph had joined in the fight. "Matters of groundwater protection are of extreme concern to people across the province," said Karen Rathwell. "The community is asking for a pause; time to study this phenomenon. Once the overburden is scraped away and the digging eats away through the layers of protection, the groundwater is exposed to pollution." According to the township's legal counsel, Sarah Hahn, if the township decides to appeal, it has to clear a two-part test to seek leave to appeal. "First, you look at whether granting of the permit or any conditions within are unreasonable," she said, explaining that this means, "No reasonable person having regard for law and policies have issued the permit. It’s a pretty high test to have to reach. Secondly, could it result to significant harm to the environment. "It’s not a will, it’s a could, so I think there’s some grounds there," added Hahn. "The test for reasonableness is quite high. Having some evidence that what the ministry did was unreasonable is certainly something we would want to put forward if an appeal was brought." The township said they were satisfied with the conclusion drawn by the professional hydrogeologist, who said the ministry had addressed the municipality's concerns laid out in a 2018 letter to the ministry. "Staff’s opinion is that we rely on our experts and in this case it’s Burnside," said Shawn Persaud, director of planning and development. "Based on their letter, we recommend the township not file an appeal relative to the permit to take water." In his Jan. 25 letter, Dave Hopkins, senior hydrogeologist with R. J. Burnside and Associates Ltd., states that ministry has met and addressed the requests laid out by the township in 2018. "The new PTTW has a much more robust monitoring program than the original PTTW and addresses the Township’s request for additional wells," reads his conclusion. "The monitoring program will be completed, and the annual report is to be prepared by a qualified person (P. Geo. or equivalent). "The Permit requires that an annual report documenting the monitoring well results be submitted to the MECP (MOECP). This will allow the MECP to evaluate the impacts of pumping and make any necessary additions to the monitoring program/permitted rates as required. The PTTW also requires the monitoring of specific domestic wells, which is unusual. "Residents, who feel that their wells may have been impacted, may wish to contact CRH to have their well added to the monitoring program. It is Burnside’s opinion, that all of the Township comments have been addressed by the MECP and the conditions included in the new PTTW." Wishart, however, felt all concerns had not been addressed. "I think the major issue that the township is up against the wall with is that we’re talking about water quality, not the serviceability of a gravel pit," he said. "The province doesn’t seem to address that at all. They dance around saying that the various authorities, namely the gravel pit operators, operate within the guidelines that they’re given. "They’ve answered all the questions we had, but we’re talking about water quality and the potential," added Wishart. "We have no proof at all. All we have is the wish they not take away the filtering medium between the sky and the water." Based on that, he asked, does the province even want to hear us if we conclude that they’re not answering our questions? Mintoff didn't seem to think so. "The MOECP didn’t inform us," he said, "and gave us only 15 days to prepare with documented support, so clearly in their mind they didn’t want an appeal. I think they gave us scant time to prepare for these appeals because they’re not welcoming." Mintoff said he would like to see council adopt the two principles that it doesn’t support the taking of aggregate or washing it in an environmentally sensitive area. Further, he said, the municipality also asked that no further licences be issued until a water study by Dr. John Cherry, professor emeritus at University of Waterloo, has produced its findings. "One of the basic risk management principles is to weigh the risks and rewards," said Mintoff. "In my opinion, CRH gets all the rewards and the township and residents assume all the risks. If their experts are wrong, what are the consequences and who is going to live with them? I don’t think it’s going to be CRH." He said he was tired of hearing that ministries are understaffed or under-resourced and don’t have the wherewithal to operate effectively. "They cannot be, in my opinion, entrusted to protect our most valuable resource," said Mintoff. "We need to err on the side of caution. There’s nothing in it for us, only serious potential for impact on water quality and other environmental components." He also offered a somewhat long-term solution to the situation. "Perhaps it’s time for us to offer the purchase of these specific properties at fair market value and once rehabilitated by the current owners, we could create public-private partnerships to use this land to create more affordable housing," said Mintoff. "And if they choose to decline our offer, then we should look at the practicality of the legal feasibility of expropriating that property in order to do so." Unable to decide whether to appeal or not, council moved into an in-camera session around other matters, promising to reconvene at 1 p.m. Wednesday to further discuss the issue. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
After a lengthy delay, the Lauren Lafleche second-degree-murder trial has resumed in Edmonton. The judge-alone proceeding was supposed to continue two weeks ago, but was put on hold after Lafleche tested positive for COVID-19. She is not in custody. Lafleche is accused of causing a severe head injury that led to the death of her daughter Shalaina Arcand. The 34-year-old mother who has two other children is also accused of assaulting Shalaina with a belt and a spatula and failing to provide her with the necessaries of life. Shalaina was in care at a number of different foster homes for four years, but was returned to her mother six months prior to her death. In October 2015, the five-year-old was rushed unconscious to the Stollery Children's hospital in the middle of the night. The trial has already heard that Lafleche delayed calling 911 while she and her oldest daughter gave Shalaina a warm bath to try and wake her up. "She was already in grave condition and critically ill," pediatrician Dr. Melanie Lewis testified on Tuesday. "Shortly after arrival, she had a cardiac arrest." Lewis did not treat Shalaina, but reviewed all medical reports to testify as an expert witness for the Crown about physical abuse, head trauma and neglect. "She suffered a devastating severe brain injury that ultimately led to her death," Lewis testified. "This would have taken an incredible amount of force to cause this head injury." Court of Queen's Bench Justice Avril Inglis was told during the trial last November that the accused explained to her other daughter that Shalaina's injury was caused by a fall out of bed. Lewis rejected that explanation. "The injury that ultimately led to Shalaina's demise cannot be explained by a fall of two-and-a-half feet," the pediatrician said. "A fatal injury due to a fall in general must be more than four storeys." Lewis testified Shalaina's head injury would be the type doctors typically see following a high-speed motor-vehicle collision. Lewis also noted other non-fatal injuries that Shalaina had suffered including unusual wounds to her neck, old injuries to her liver and kidney and bruises on her chest and abdomen. She thought they could have been an indication of long-standing maltreatment and neglect. During cross-examination, Lewis also rejected the idea that Shalaina's fatal head injury could have been caused by a fall from playground monkey bars a few days before she was rushed to hospital. "Within seconds, she would have been symptomatic with this brain injury," Lewis told defence lawyer Peter Royal. Royal noted that Lafleche had complained about changes in her daughter's behaviour after the playground incident, including headaches and loss of appetite. "That could be a sign of a concussion," Lewis testified. "This was likely the result of an inflicted head injury [caused by] hitting her head against a fixed surface." 'We have a desperately-ill child' Dr. Keith Aronyk also testified Tuesday as an expert witness for the Crown. The pediatric neurosurgeon performed emergency brain surgery on Shalaina soon after she was admitted to hospital. As he recalled the rushed decision to try to save the little girl's life, Aronyk testified, "We have a desperately-ill child." She was no longer breathing on her own and had to be intubated soon after she was admitted to hospital, he said. Her heart was stopping, but she survived the surgery. During surgery, Aronyk found a clot of blood inside her head that he believed fit into the window of being three days old. He told the trial that in his clinical opinion, the clot was likely one day old, indicating that the injury had occurred within the last day. After the surgery was completed, Aronyk told another doctor he didn't expect Shalaina to live and noted that if she did, she would likely suffer irreversible brain damage. The little girl died in hospital three days later without regaining consciousness. The trial continues.
Over the past 10 years, the Yukon government has collected a mere 0.3 per cent of the value of placer and quartz resources on behalf of all Yukoners, the rightful owners of those minerals. An independent panel appointed by the government to review the territory’s mining legislation found that, during this period, miners extracted minerals worth an average of $335 million per year yet only paid an average of $100,000 per year in royalties. The two laws predominantly responsible for mining in the territory, the Placer Mining Act and the Quartz Mining Act, were established in the late 1800s during the Klondike Gold Rush era and are in serious need of modernization, according to the panel’s recent strategy report, which is based on years of public engagement and is intended to inform the Yukon government’s efforts to bring Yukon’s mineral development legislation into the 21st century. Yukon’s antiquated royalty rates for gold — set into law in 1906 — are famously low at just 37.5 cents per ounce of gold, based on a per-ounce price of $15. In today’s market, one ounce of gold is worth more than $2,300. “The royalty regime is very old, and it has not been updated in a significant period of time,” Math’ieya Alatini, a member of the independent panel, told The Narwhal. “We have to bring the royalty regime up to date and make it commensurate with the value of the minerals that are being removed.” Low royalties are something of a sore spot for many in Yukon, including members of the public, First Nations and miners themselves, who argue their industry provides the territory with a cascade of economic benefits not necessarily reflected by royalties. In order for mining to remain sustainable and profitable and continue to have social buy-in, the panel recommends the Yukon government make some key changes to ensure the benefits of mining are more equally distributed through changes to the royalty regime and, potentially, through new taxes. Over the past decade, Yukon has seen a resurgence of mining interest, especially for gold extracted through placer mining operations. According to the Yukon Geological Survey’s latest comprehensive report on placer mining, published in 2018, there are 25,219 placer claims in the territory, the highest number dating back to 1973. Placer mining involves removing rocks and gravel from streams and wetlands in search of gold and can cause disturbances in water quality that can impair the feeding and reproduction of fish. Over many years, placer mining can destroy irreplaceable wetlands, disrupt waterways and harm unique riparian ecosystems that connect land and water. And although placer mining occurs exclusively in streams and Yukon’s wetlands, there are no specific protections in place to protect these unique ecosystems from this kind of activity. Yukon’s modern gold rush, popularized in reality TV shows like Gold Rush and Yukon Gold, has been facilitated by new technologies, machinery and industrial techniques that are a far cry from the humble gold pan of the 1890s. And while the pace and scale of placer mining operations has evolved in recent years, the royalty scheme has not. “There are going to be detrimental effects [from mining],” Alatini said, noting the resources being harvested are fundamentally nonrenewable. “These minerals are not going to be returned to the ground. … How do we adequately compensate this generation and future generations for the loss of use?” The panel suggests the government act on recommendations first made by the Yukon Financial Advisory Panel in 2017 to carry out a comprehensive review of mining policies “with a particular emphasis on ensuring fair and efficient royalty rates.” Based on the findings of that review, the Yukon government should modernize mining legislation “to ensure all Yukoners receive fair and meaningful financial returns from mining activities while also ensuring competitiveness with other Canadian jurisdictions,” the panel said. One of the primary ways the panel recommends altering the royalty system is by adjusting royalties based on the profitability of individual mining operations. A profit-based placer gold royalty would require higher royalties from more profitable operators, while “placer operations that are truly marginal in terms of profitability will continue to pay essentially no royalties.” The panel also suggests the Yukon government consider charging more royalties from non-Yukoners — miners who might simply show up to cash in on high market gold prices — than from local operators who are there for the long haul. Royalties don’t represent the only way Yukoners and Yukon First Nations might benefit from mines, however. The panel points to new forms of taxation that could improve mining standards, provide social benefits to local communities and generate greater rewards for local mine workers over itinerant workers at mines. Currently, Yukon does not charge mine operators anything for the use of water. An industrial water charge, similar to that introduced in British Columbia in 2016, could be used to generate revenue from mines and also create incentives for miners to keep water clean. The panel recommends the government introduce a rolling water tax that rewards operators for maintaining high water quality. Tyler Hooper, a spokesperson with the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, recently told The Narwhal that all licensed surface water and groundwater users are required to pay annual water rents. The rental rates are variable and can exclude small-scale placer mining operations. But according to a B.C. provincial government list of example rates, a mine that uses 1.2 million cubic metres of water per year would be charged $2,500 annually or $2.08 per 1,000 cubic metres. Lewis Rifkind, mining analyst for the Yukon Conservation Society, previously told The Narwhal the recommendation to roll out a water tax was welcome, but added he would need more detail to understand how such a fee would work in Yukon. “How will it be applied? Will it be different for quartz exploration to a quartz mine to placer mining?” The panel’s report does not go into any detail regarding these matters nor the particulars of how a water tax could be applied to various mining operations in Yukon. Water licences for mines are issued by the Yukon Water Board and there are more than 100 granted to placer miners in the Indian River watershed directly south of Dawson City, Yukon, alone. Rifkind expressed concern that a water tax could simply be added to the general cost of doing business rather than act as a true incentive to improve mining practices and keep water clean. The panel also recommends applying a payroll tax to people who work but don’t live in Yukon. Right now, personal income tax corresponds with the jurisdiction in which out-of-territory workers live. “It would allow a sort of prorated amount to be transferred back to the Yukon,” she said, adding that a large portion of Yukon’s workforce is made up of people from other jurisdictions. “We want to make sure some of that money stays in the Yukon to act as a multiplier for the economy.” The payroll tax would be deductible for Yukon residents, the strategy states. Taken together, the water and payroll taxes could help buoy a heritage fund — money that would be held in trust to benefit future generations. Alatini said the creation of a heritage fund would not only recognize the value of the resources extracted from Yukon, but also capture some of that value for Yukoners “that translates from the work that’s being done in their backyard to something that can benefit everyone that is here.” “A Yukon heritage fund would provide a visible link between mining activity, royalty revenues from mining and long-term prosperity in Yukon, thereby enhancing sustainability and the industry’s social licence to operate,” the strategy states. Through Yukon’s modern treaties, self-governing Yukon First Nations are able to receive royalties collected by the Yukon government. But because the territorial government receives such low royalties to begin with, only a “negligible amount” is actually making its way to First Nations, the panel found. Alatini said the creators of Yukon’s Umbrella Final Agreement — a political agreement struck between Yukon First Nations and the Yukon and federal governments — “had contemplated First Nations receiving a portion of the benefits of the resources that are being taken from their traditional territories — full stop,” Alatini said. The average royalty cheque received by First Nations during the past decade ranged between $6 and $24, Alatini added. Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation, on whose territory the vast amount of Yukon’s placer mining takes place along the Indian River, reported receiving a royalties cheque from the government for $65 in 2017. That same year, placer mining along the Indian River accounted for 50 per cent of total placer gold mined in Yukon, according to the Yukon Geological Survey, amounting to more than 350,000 crude ounces of gold. The panel recommends that “Yukon First Nations receive a fair financial and social return from mining and exploration within traditional territories by strengthening the connection between revenue flows and Indigenous interests in the land itself.” Recommendations from the panel also include allowing First Nations, under their final agreements, to charge companies directly for water use or land rental fees, instituting a statute-based template for benefit agreements with affected First Nations and requiring both impact and benefit agreements in advance of quartz mine development, construction, production and decommissioning. Carl Schulze, secretary treasurer for the Yukon Prospectors Association, told The Narwhal industry isn’t thrilled about the idea of paying more taxes, noting that Yukon’s economy is stimulated just by virtue of mines being located in the territory. “What you’ve got to think about is there’s still the supply chain, service chain, all the employees, all the distribution,” Schulze said. “If you took just payroll for Yukoners, and what you paid your contractors, you know, whoever trucks the ore, whoever supplies geological services, local legal services, anything like that, I mean, it’s an enormous amount of money.” The Klondike Placer Miners’ Association has also been a vocal opponent of increased royalty rates for years, with former association president Mike McDougall suggesting increased royalties would undercut the profitability of placer mining operations, which he likened to the “family farm.” But in addition to industry opposition, there are other potential challenges to introducing new and increased revenue generators from mines in Yukon, most notably the territory’s transfer payment from Ottawa. Under the territorial formula financing arrangement, Yukon receives federal funding every year to pay for public services. But in order to maintain this funding arrangement, the Yukon government can only collect and keep $6 million worth in resource revenues each year. “For every dollar above that $6 million amount, a dollar is deducted from Yukon’s [territorial formula financing] grant,” Eric Clement, director of communications with the Yukon government’s Department of Finance, told The Narwhal in an email. That $6 million ceiling may present challenges to Yukon moving forward with some of the most ambitious recommendations of the independent panel, including the creation of a heritage fund. Six million dollars in resource revenues is simply “too low to capitalize a Yukon heritage fund,” the panel noted in its report. Other arrangements could alleviate Yukon’s $6 million limit, however. The panel suggests Yukon look to the Northwest Territories’ arrangement with the federal government, which allows that territory to keep up to 50 per cent of its resource revenues without a specific cap. If implemented in Yukon, this arrangement would allow the territory to receive roughly $54 million in resource revenues without being forced to forego federal support, the panel found. Alatini said new arrangements might be necessary to re-envision how Yukon generates and holds onto resource wealth. A new agreement would require “that the Yukon government and Canada come to the table,” she said. “We need to have consistently producing mines in order for this to even be an option.” Julien Gignac, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Narwhal