In Ontario, 3,328 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Thursday. As Erica Vella reports, this increase continues to raise concerns around capacity in hospitals across the province.
In Ontario, 3,328 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Thursday. As Erica Vella reports, this increase continues to raise concerns around capacity in hospitals across the province.
The A-list is back. How A-list? Try Lady Gaga and J. Lo. Inauguration officials announced on Thursday that the glittery duo would appear in person on Jan. 20, with Gaga singing the national anthem as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, and Jennifer Lopez giving a musical performance. Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen will offer remote performances, and Eva Longoria and and Kerry Washington will introduce segments of the event. Later that day, Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating Biden’s inauguration. Other performers include Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Ant Clemons. Despite a raging pandemic that is forcing most inaugural events online, it was a sign that Hollywood was back and eager to embrace the new president-elect four years after many big names stayed away from the inauguration of President Donald Trump, hugely unpopular in Hollywood. The question: How would the star wattage play across the country as Biden seeks to unite a bruised nation? Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant and former Reagan administration official, predicted reaction would fall “along tribal lines.” “I think it all comes down to the reinforcement of pre-existing beliefs,” Dezenhall said. “If you’re a Biden supporter, it’s nice to see Lady Gaga perform.” But, he added, “what rallied Trump supporters was the notion of an uber-elite that had nothing to do at all with them and that they couldn’t relate to.” Presidential historian Tevi Troy quipped that the starry Gaga-J. Lo lineup was not A-list, but D-list — "for Democratic.” "When Democrats win you get the more standard celebrities,” said Troy, author of “What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House.” “With Republicans you tend to get country music stars and race-car drivers." Referring to Lady Gaga’s outspoken support for the Biden-Harris ticket, he said he was nostalgic for the days when celebrities were not so political. “Call me a hopeless romantic, but I liked the old days when Bob Hope or Frank Sinatra would come to these events and they were not overtly political,” he said. Still, he said, Biden’s unity message won’t be derailed. “In the end, I don’t think having Lady Gaga or J. Lo is all that divisive,” he said. Attendance at the inauguration will be severely limited, due to both the pandemic and fears of continued violence, following last week’s storming of the Capitol. Outside the official events, one of the more prominent galas each inauguration is The Creative Coalition's quadrennial ball, a benefit for arts education. This year, the ball is entirely virtual. But it is star-studded nonetheless: The event, which will involve food being delivered simultaneously to attendees in multiple cities, will boast celebrity hosts including Jason Alexander, David Arquette, Matt Bomer, Christopher Jackson, Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Keegan Michael-Key, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Patinkin and many others. Robin Bronk, CEO of the non-partisan arts advocacy group, said she's been deluged with celebrities eager to participate in some way. The event typically brings in anywhere from $500,000 to $2.5 million, and this year the arts community is struggling like never before. Bronk noted that planning has been a challenge, given not only the recent political upheaval in the country but also the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic. Given all that, did a celebration make sense? “I was thinking about this when we were trying to phrase the invitation,” Bronk said. “Do we celebrate? This is the most serious time of our lives.” But, she said, especially at a time when the arts community is suffering, it’s crucial to shine a spotlight and recognize that “the right to bear arts is not a red or blue issue. One of the reasons we have this ball is that we have to ensure the arts are not forgotten." The Presidential Inaugural Committee also announced Thursday that the invocation will be given by the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia. There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware. On the same platform, Biden sat in 2013 behind pop star Beyoncé as she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama's second inauguration. James Taylor sang “America the Beautiful,” and Kelly Clarkson sang “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.” At Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the anthem was performed by 16-year-old singer Jackie Evancho. A number of top artists declined the opportunity to perform at the festivities, and one Broadway star, Jennifer Holliday, even said she’d received death threats before she pulled out of her planned appearance. There was indeed star power in 2017, but most of it was centred at the Women’s March on Washington, where attendees included Madonna, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Emma Watson and many others. This year, signs are that Obama-era celebrities are returning. Dezenhall said that in the end, it's logical for organizers to go with the biggest talent. “Lady Gaga is as big as you can get, and she is very talented,” he said. “If I were being inaugurated and I could have Lady Gaga, I would take it.” Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
The Magnetawan First Nation, north of Parry Sound, was recently declared COVID-free, but the territory’s chief said he really wants to see the vaccine given to his community members as soon as possible. Chief William Diabo said that the Magnetawan First Nation was declared free of the coronavirus on New Year’s Eve. Nine members had been diagnosed with COVID-19 during December and all recovered, the last one being declared free of the virus and out of isolation on Dec. 31. That number represents almost 10 per cent of the community’s population of about 115 residents. Diabo had imposed a voluntary lockdown and a state of emergency when the virus first hit the territory in December. He said those orders have been lifted; however, he added that the territory is now covered by the Ontario-wide, province-imposed state of emergency and the restrictions that come with it, including a stay-at-home order. Diabo said that he is expecting a COVID vaccine rollout in the territory in the coming weeks. But he added that he understands they will have to wait their turn as front-line health-care workers, and residents of seniors’ residences, are vaccinated first. He added that he is still frustrated by some community members who are refusing the follow the COVID protocols. “I have a couple of people on my First Nation who are still not complying. One of them posted the damn thing on social media during the lockdown that they were having a gathering with people from four other households who were coming for breakfast over the holidays,” Diabo said. “That’s the worst thing, when you are a small community of 50 homes. You are best to stay in your own home. Don’t go to someone else’s — don’t let them come to yours.” Diabo said he is also frustrated by what he thinks is a lack of will by some police services to enforce the lockdown on First Nations territories. He said there are jurisdictional issues whereby he feels OPP and RCMP are reluctant to come onto the territory to issue tickets. The chief added that even if a person gets a ticket for having too many people in their home, there are no measures in place to keep them from repeating the infraction. As far as the vaccine rollout is concerned, Diabo believes Indigenous communities should follow seniors’ homes on the priority list. “That’s what I’ve been told. It’s a matter of getting the vaccine distributed. It’ll happen — I hope no later than the end of February but I hope sooner than that,” Diabo said. He added that the pace at which the vaccine is being rolled out is a concern, but he said that only when, and if, it appears the territory is not being given the priority it was promised will he begin to kick up dust and complain to officials. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in December that Indigenous communities would be given priority for vaccination after front-line health-care workers and other vulnerable people, including seniors. In an email, Parry Sound Muskoka MPP Norm Miller said he can understand the concerns of Indigenous leaders like Diabo. “Adults in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit populations where infections can have disproportionate consequences, including those living in remote or isolated areas, will be among the first to be offered the COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks,” Miller stated. “Given the previous case numbers in certain First Nation communities within the riding, I agree actions need to be taken as quickly as possible, and I have shared these concerns with the ministry. It is an unfortunate reality that the vaccine is now a finite resource which is why it is important to prioritize high risk areas first. I will continue to advocate on behalf of all high-risk populations in Parry Sound-Muskoka as we move forward.” John McFadden is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering Indigenous issues for MuskokaRegion.com, ParrySound.com and Simcoe.com. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.John McFadden, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A partnership with the Trump administration has reduced disparities in Alaska Native access to COVID-19 testing, treatment and protective equipment, tribal health care leaders said. The administration’s coronavirus initiative has treated Indigenous tribes as sovereign governments and set aside special vaccine shipments, Alaska Public Media reported Thursday. Operation Warp Speed, as the initiative is known, designated vaccine doses for tribes in the same manner as for the Department of Defence, Veterans Health Administration and Bureau of Prisons. The federal government distributed more than 35,000 doses to Alaska tribes, in addition to 78,000 doses to Alaska’s state government. More than 250,000 doses were dedicated to tribes nationwide through the Indian Health Service. “It’s something to celebrate,” Alaska Native Health Board CEO Verné Boerner. “When you embrace tribes and tribal sovereignty, you can bring so much more to the state.” Tribal shipments have afforded broad vaccine access for rural and Indigenous Alaskans and expanded availability of doses beyond older people. Providers acknowledge part of their ability to offer expanded access is because about a third of health care workers and older residents have declined to immediately take vaccines. While tribal providers are vaccinating Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, state and Native leaders said there is a legal basis for separate shipments because of longstanding recognition of tribes as sovereign governments. Officials said the decision also is appropriate from a scientific and medical standpoint because of the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on Alaska Native people and the dynamics in many rural communities that make the virus difficult to control. Factors include crowded, multi-generational homes, lack of running water and sewer and distance from advanced medical care. “It’s never been about equal distribution of the vaccine. It’s about equitable distribution,” said Dr. Ellen Hodges, Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. chief of staff. “The congregate living settings that exist in most of our villages are a setup for the virus to just spread like wildfire, and there’s no defence against that.” For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The Associated Press
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his entire Cabinet resigned Friday to take political responsibility for a scandal involving investigations into child welfare payments that wrongly labeled thousands of parents as fraudsters. In a nationally televised speech, Rutte said he had informed King Willem-Alexander of his decision and pledged that his government would continue work to compensate affected parents as quickly as possible and to battle the coronavirus. “We are of one mind that if the whole system has failed, we all must take responsibility, and that has led to the conclusion that I have just offered the king, the resignation of the entire Cabinet,” Rutte said. The move was seen as largely symbolic; Rutte’s government will remain in office in a caretaker mode until a new coalition is formed after a March 17 election in the Netherlands. The resignation brings to an end a decade in office for Rutte, although his party is expected to win the election, putting him first in line to begin talks to form the next government. If he succeeds in forming a new coalition, Rutte would most likely again become prime minister. The Netherlands is the third European country thrown into political uncertainty this week in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. In Estonia, the government resigned over a corruption scandal, while Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte’s governing coalition is at risk of collapse after a small partner party withdrew its support. Rutte said earlier this week that his government would be able to keep taking tough policy decisions in the battle against the coronavirus even if it were in caretaker mode. The Netherlands is in a tough lockdown until at least Feb. 9, and the government is considering imposing an overnight curfew amid fears about new, more contagious variants of the virus. “To the Netherlands I say: Our struggle against the coronavirus will continue,” Rutte said. On Thursday, the leader of the Dutch opposition Labor Party stepped down because he was minister of social affairs in a governing coalition led by Rutte when the country’s tax office implemented a tough policy of tracking down fraud with child welfare. Lodewijk Asscher’s decision put further pressure on Rutte ahead of Friday's Cabinet meeting. Ministers were to decide on their reaction to a scathing report issued last month, titled “Unprecedented Injustice,” that said the tax office policies violated “fundamental principles of the rule of law.” The report also criticized the government for the way it provided information to parliament about the scandal. Many wrongfully accused parents were plunged into debt when tax officials demanded repayment of payments. The government has in the past apologized for the tax office’s methods and in March earmarked 500 million euros ($607 million) to compensate more than 20,000 parents. One of those parents waited near parliament as the Cabinet met and said she wanted it to resign. “It's important for me because it is the government acknowledging, ‘We have made a mistake and we are taking responsibility,’ because it's quite something what happened to us,” Janet Ramesar told The Associated Press. Rutte plans to lead his conservative People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy into the March election, and polls suggest it will win the most seats. That would put Rutte, who has been in office for a decade at the head of three different coalitions, first in line to attempt to form the next ruling coalition. Deputy Prime Minister Kajsa Ollongren, who serves as interior minister, said as she entered Friday's meeting that “it is very important to be accountable and also to show responsibility in the political sense, and we are going to talk about that in the Council of Ministers today.” Mike Corder, The Associated Press
ISTANBUL — Turkey’s president has criticized the United States for kicking his country out of the F-35 stealth jet program after Ankara purchased a Russian missile defence system, a move that also triggered U.S. sanctions. Speaking after Friday prayers in Istanbul, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey paid “very serious money” for the F-35 fighters but hasn't received them. “This is a very serious mistake that America, as an allied country, has done to us,” Erdogan said. “I hope with Mr. Biden assuming office and with discussions, he will take more positive steps and we can straighten this out,” he added. Turkey was removed from the F-35 program even though it produced some parts for the jets. The U.S. said the Russian system could jeopardize the safety of the F-35s. The U.S. halted the training of Turkish pilots and said Turkey would not be allowed to take final possession of the four aircraft it bought. Erdogan remained defiant, saying the country was in continued dialogue with Russia about a “second package” of the S-400 surface-to-air missile system and would discuss details at the end of the month. Turkey received the first batch of the system in 2019 and tested it in the fall. Washington also sanctioned four Turkish defence officials last month under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, a U.S. law aimed at thwarting Russian influence. The sanctions, which included a ban on issuing export licenses to Turkey’s Presidency of Defence Industries, were the first time the law was used to punish a NATO ally. “No country can decide on the steps we will take for our defence industry,” Erdogan said. The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped nine of her most trusted allies in the House to argue the case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats, all of whom are lawyers and many of whom have deep experience investigating the president, face the arduous task of convincing skeptical Senate Republicans to convict Trump. A single article of impeachment — for “incitement of insurrection” — was approved by the House on Wednesday, one week after a violent mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. At the time, lawmakers were counting the votes that cemented Trump’s election defeat. As members of the House who were in the Capitol when it was attacked — several hiding under seats as rioters beat on the doors of the chamber — the Democrats are also witnesses to what they charge is a crime. So are the Senate jurors. “This is a case where the jurors were also victims, and so whether it was those who voted in the House last night or those in the Senate who will have to weigh in on this, you don’t have to tell anyone who was in the building twice what it was like to be terrorized,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the managers. It is unclear when the trial will start. Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. It could be as soon as next week, on President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office. The managers plan to argue at trial that Trump incited the riot, delaying the congressional certification of the electoral vote count by inciting an angry mob to harm members of Congress. Some of the rioters were recorded saying they wanted to find Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the count. Others had zip ties that could be used as handcuffs hanging on their clothes. “The American people witnessed that,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the managers. “That amounts to high crimes and misdemeanours.” None of the impeachment managers argued the case in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when the Senate acquitted the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 after he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family while withholding military aid to the country. Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, another manager, says the nine prosecutors plan to present a serious case and “finish the job” that the House started. A look at Pelosi’s prosecution team in Trump’s historic second impeachment: REP. JAMIE RASKIN, MARYLAND Pelosi appointed Raskin, a former constitutional law professor and prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, as lead manager. In a week of dramatic events and stories, Raskin’s stands out: The day before the Capitol riots, Raskin buried his 25-year-old son, Tommy, after he killed himself on New Year’s Eve. “You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in the Congress” than Raskin, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead manager during Trump’s first trial. He worked closely with Raskin on that impeachment investigation. “I know that part of what gives him strength to take on this burden that he now carries is knowing that this is something that would be enormously meaningful to his son.” REP. DIANA DEGETTE, COLORADO DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to to control the passions on the floor.” She says she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” she says. REP. DAVID CICILLINE, RHODE ISLAND Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence and public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the Judiciary panel. He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of three original authors of the article that the House approved on Wednesday. He and California Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning, writing that “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.” REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, TEXAS Castro is a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs panels, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump's handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and came to Congress, where he is in his fifth term. Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, is the former mayor of San Antonio and served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development. Julian Castro ran in the Democratic primary for president last year. REP. ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA Swalwell also serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary panels and was deeply involved in congressional probes of Trump’s Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019. “The case that I think resonates the most with the American people and hopefully the Senate is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said. REP. TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs panels. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. DEL. STACEY PLASKETT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Because she represents a U.S. territory, not a state, Plaskett does not have voting rights and was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her legal experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the Justice Department — and as one of Raskin's former law students. “As an African American, as a woman, seeing individuals storming our most sacred place of democracy, wearing anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy logos on their bodies and wreaking the most vile and hateful things left not just those people of colour who were in the room traumatized, but so many people of colour around this country," she said Friday. REP. JOE NEGUSE, COLORADO Neguse, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House Judiciary Committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office. “This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said Thursday. “Clearly the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.” REP. MADELEINE DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA Like Neguse, Dean was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is a former lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment" with a conviction. “I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma," Dean said. "And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.” Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
The Township of Seguin and the other six municipalities that make up west Parry Sound have signed off on a letter, dated Dec. 1, to Ontario’s minister of the environment, conservation and parks. The letter states that they would like the ministry to reconsider the transition of the blue box from 2025 to 2024. What exactly is the blue box transition program? The Blue Box Transition program is being legislated by the Province of Ontario and means the responsibility of collecting and processing recyclable products will be on the manufacturers who make the items. What that means is the duty of recycling is being shifted to the manufacturers who produce the material rather than society. Will this effect how I put out my recycling? The government says there shouldn’t be any change of service. You may have to go to a different location to drop off your recycling, if rural, or you may have a new company that picks up your curbside blue box materials. When is this supposed to come into effect? For the municipalities that make up west Parry Sound — Parry Sound, Archipelago, Seguin, McKellar, McDougall, Carling and Whitestone — the change is supposed to come into effect in 2025; however, all seven municipalities have signed a letter to Minister Jeff Yurek requesting the transition take place in 2024. Why? The District of Muskoka is transitioning in 2024 and, currently, the west Parry Sound municipalities process blue box materials in Bracebridge. They are concerned about issues that may happen if the transition happens at a different time than Muskoka. Another concern is the fact the Greater Toronto Area is transitioning in 2023 and the expanded list of recyclables there will differ from what is offered in west Parry Sound for a time. Residents who migrate north for the summer may expect to recycle the same list of items, which may cause contamination in waste systems. Will this transition raise my taxes? Once the producers and manufacturers take over the recycling process, it’s going to save the taxpayers; however, prices for products may go up to pay for the manufacturers’ cost of processing the recycling. The Township of Seguin said at its Jan. 11 council meeting that the mayors from the seven municipalities would follow up on the letter once a response was received. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
Regina– On Jan. 14, the Saskatchewan Health Authority provided an update on its COVID-19 immunization campaign and delivery plan, as part of the regular COVID-19 update delivered from the Legislature in Regina. Derrick Miller, Executive Director of Infrastructure Management with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, said by phone, “Our immunization campaign goals include minimizing serious illness and death, protecting those that are most vulnerable, protecting our healthcare capacity, minimizing spread and also protecting our critical infrastructure. There really guide us in what we're trying to achieve with our overall campaign.” He noted, “Our supply limitations that are being experienced with the COVID-19 vaccine require us to take a very diligent approach to sequencing the vaccine rollout.” This requires establishing priority populations, which are based on the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommendations. In Phase 1, there are approximately 109,000 in that group. “And based on federal allocations that have been identified, so far, going to the end of March this year, that’ well have enough vaccines to vaccinate approximately 50 per cent of this group. That’s short about half, obviously, of immunizing all of the priority populations approved in this framework.” On Jan. 13, there were 1,393 doses of the vaccines delivered, the highest to date. The average per day, so far, as been just over 1,000 doses per day. He said they anticipate running out of doses before the next allocations, as the speed of delivery means they get it out as quickly as possible and wait for the arrival of the next delivery. Miller said there are “three key planks to our strategy as part of our vaccine campaign.” “The first one is faster. Speed really maters in this. Every day counts to save lives and reduced the overall impact of COVID-19.” They are establishing distribution hubs throughout for the different type of vaccines. “We're adopting an all-hands-on-deck approach to delivery, leveraging all of our appropriate health care providers that can deliver vaccines, as well as looking for and seeking support from external resources to really bring all resources to bear, as part of this strategy,” he said. This includes mobile immunization teams to go to places like long-term care and personal care homes. Locally, they are testing different delivery methods. He said, “Being able to forecast vaccine distribution, with more accuracy will help us be more prepared for rapid distribution. And we know a stable, predictable and large volume allocations will really enable us for rapid delivery.” Every corner of the province is ready, in a posture of readiness, to administer the vaccine as it is received. “The second plank of our strategy is ‘smarter,’ Miller said. “Learning matters. Using improvement is already resulting in more rapid delivery and we can see that just by the results over the last week. The health system is very experienced in delivering the influenza vaccine and other vaccinations. And we're going to leverage that as we go forward, because we know how to do this. “However, we also recognize that this is different. And there are pretty significant differences that are impacting this campaign. We do have limited variable and unpredictable allocations. They vary from week to week, and the timing varies as well. We need to sequence priority populations, based on that. We’re not able to offer a mass immunization right off the start.” This includes multiple vaccines with different logistical challenges across a geographically dispersed province. Transportation changes allow them to move vaccines in a more efficient manner. Being a single health authority makes it easier, he noted. Miller said we are learning from our partners, including Metis and First Nations partners. The third plank is safety. “Safety matters. High uptake requires strong communications to ensure the public knows the vaccine is safe. We know the COVID vaccine is safe. It is Health Canada-approved and has gone through the various regulatory reviews, and approval processes. We also know that it's effective, or 90 per cent effective, in reducing the risk of infection. And it's simple. It's just like getting a flu shot for Saskatchewan residents, our health care workers are highly experienced and have many years of successfully delivering flu vaccine to the residents of Saskatchewan, and ensuring that all safety requirements are achieved.” Challenges include delivery to high-risk populations in remote areas. The Pfizer vaccine has temperature constraints and special handling needs. The consent process can be time-intensive, especially in long-term care homes. Unpredictable allocations should hopefully be resolved in coming weeks. Adverse weather can be an issue. “At the same time, we are preparing for widespread immunization in Phase 2, or we will open up access to the general population and conduct Saskatchewan’s largest-ever immunization campaign. One of our key tasks is to ensure that our teams are ready to deliver the vaccine as soon as possible on arrival, and enhance speed of delivery. This is true in Phase 1, as we're focusing on those priority populations, and it will also be true when we go into Phase 2, and get to the point where we’re vaccinating the general public,” Miller said. He added that “Currently, our health system is at its most fragile point yet for their highest hospitalization rate, and a high case count.” Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingston added, “We want to make sure we're getting the vaccine out as quickly as we can to those vulnerable populations and get vaccine in arm as quickly as possible. So, it won't be in the freezer as long. As the vaccines come in, we will get them out and they will go and get administered as fast as we can in the arms of those who need it very most.” He pointed out that limited supplied are limiting their capabilities, but they are focussing on the most vulnerable. Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
Codiac RCMP say 22 people were arrested when a massive police operation disrupted an illicit drug network this week. Drugs, cash and handguns were seized in the raids Thursday at seven locations in Moncton, one in Dieppe and one in Riverview, Superintendent Tom Critchlow said. "We target those that, based on our intelligence, are causing the most harm to our communities," Critchlow told the Codiac Regional Policing Authority on Thursday night. "That has to be the focus. A lot of the property crimes and the drivers of crime in this area is because of dependency on illicit drugs and feeding that habit." Five women and six men are to appear in court in July, but the RCMP would not say what charges they're facing. They have been released from custody. The other 11 who were arrested are still being interviewed. Critchlow said the arrests are all related to one organization, but he would not be specific. Critchlow said more needs to be done to address addiction as a social issue, and that he's concerned about the of firearms found during recent drug enforcement operations. The raids followed the seizure earlier in the week of a kilogram of methamphetamine. A woman is facing drug and firearms charges.
Amazon Inc's cloud computing division opened its first office in Greece on Friday to support what it said was a growing number of companies and public sector agencies using its cloud services. The move by Amazon Web Services (AWS) comes as Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis's conservative government has stepped up efforts to attract foreign investment and draw high tech companies to Greece. "We have seen increased customer adoption of AWS in the country and decided to open an office in Athens to better support new customers," Przemek Szuder, the head of AWS operations in central and eastern Europe said in a statement.
WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden is nominating New York emergency department commissioner Deanne Criswell to serve as the Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator and has tapped former CIA deputy director David Cohen to return to the agency in the same role he served during the Obama administration. The picks, along with a trio of other new nominations confirmed to The Associated Press by the Biden team, come as the president-elect is putting a premium on experience, and perhaps familiarity, as he looks to fill out top positions at federal agencies with less than a week to go before his inauguration. Biden also is tapping former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler to help lead the COVID-19 vaccine drive. Kessler has been advising Biden as a co-chair of his advisory board on the coronavirus pandemic. The pick of Kessler comes after Biden on Thursday called the Trump administration’s rollout of coronavirus vaccines a “dismal failure” and says he will unveil his own plans on Friday to speed up inoculations. Criswell, who also spent more than five years in top posts at FEMA during the Obama administration, is the first woman nominated to head the agency, whose primary responsibility is to co-ordinate responses to major disasters inside the United States that require federal attention. Nancy Ward served as the agency's acting administrator in the early months of the Obama administration before his pick, Craig Fugate, could be confirmed. Cohen, who was deputy CIA director from 2015 to 2017, has travelled the world for years tracking money flowing to terror groups, such as the Islamic State group, and other bad actors on the international stage. His work directing the Treasury Department’s intelligence unit earlier in his career earned him the nicknames of “financial batman” and “sanctions guru.” In 2019, Cohen, who has been leading the financial and business integrity group at the law firm WilmerHale, made a cameo appearance on the HBO series “Game of Thrones.” Nominees are required to disclose details of their finances and complete ethics agreements as part of the confirmation process. Once confirmed, federal ethics laws can require the officials to recuse themselves from working on issues that could impact their previous business interests. Biden throughout the 2020 campaign lashed at President Donald Trump, saying he eroded public trust in government. Biden pledged his team will abide by “the highest ethical standards.” Cohen is not a registered lobbyist, but his firm does millions of dollars in lobbying work each year on behalf of clients that include the Beer Institute, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Walgreens and American Financial Group. The president-elect is also nominating Shalanda Young, the top staff aide for the House Appropriations Committee, to serve as deputy director at the Office of Management and Budget and Jason Miller, who was deputy director of the White House National Economic Council in Obama's administration, to serve as deputy director for management at the agency. Young brings a wealth of Capitol Hill experience in budget policy — and politics — to the budget office, along with close relationships with powerful House Democrats like Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Miller was steeped in manufacturing policy in the Obama administration, including an update of automobile fuel efficiency standards. Biden is tapping Janet McCabe, an environmental law and policy expert who spent more than seven years as a top official at the Environmental Protection Agency during the Obama administration to return to the agency as deputy administrator. “Each of them brings a deep respect for the civil servants who keep our republic running, as well as a keen understanding of how the government can and should work for all Americans,” Biden said of his picks in a statement. “I am confident that they will hit the ground running on day one with determination and bold thinking to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.” Criswell has served as New York City’s emergency management commissioner since June 2019. In her earlier work at FEMA, Criswell served as the leader of one of the agency’s National Incident Management Assistance Teams and as a federal co-ordinating officer. In New York, part of her duties included leading the co-ordination of the city’s emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Between her stints at FEMA and in New York, Criswell was a principal at Cadmus Group, a firm that provides homeland security management consulting and training services for federal, state and local government agencies and private sector companies. The company made about $68 million between the time she joined the firm in 2017 and when she left in June 2019, according to a tabulation of contract spending data from the site USASpending.gov. She also served as the head of the Office of Emergency Management for the city of Aurora, Colorado. Criswell also served in the Colorado Air National Guard, including 21 years as a firefighter and deputy fire chief with deployments to Qatar, Afghanistan and Iraq. ___ Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann and Andrew Taylor contributed to this report. Aamer Madhani And Brian Slodysko, The Associated Press
Max Meighen admits to being one of the more fortunate small business owners around. The Avling Kitchen and Brewery he opened in Toronto's Leslieville neighbourhood back in July 2019 has spent more of its young life in COVID-19 lockdown than out of it, but is still making decent income from takeout beer sales and some limited food options. The “whole animal” kitchen already had a butcher on-site to prepare its typical weekly order of a side of beef and a pig, who was quickly put to work selling cuts of meat and sausages out of the same retail store its customers already frequented to buy bottles and cans of Avling's beer before the lockdowns came. A bookkeeper has made it easier to navigate various government relief packages, including the federal wage subsidy that meant they could hire for two specific roles in September, one for a retail manager and another in communications, to respond to the changed circumstances. Apart from a brief opening in the summer, the pub has effectively been closed since March, but with nine months of interruptions, it still made around 60 per cent of the sales he’d expected in 2020, Meighen said. That's not to say the pandemic and the response to it has not brought pain and frustration to the young business owner. The restaurant has had to lay off around 35 mostly full-time kitchen and service staff, while two kitchen workers from the original team provide takeout service and donations to two local community groups. But Meighen has the latitude to hunker down and plan for better days ahead. “We want to represent a post-pandemic possibility,” he told Canada's National Observer. “Not playing catch-up, but trying our best to be leading the way.” After using marigolds planted in the rooftop garden to control pests, make oil infusions for the kitchen and adding them to an upcoming all-Ontario grain beer, Meighen is hoping to find funding for a project to add wastewater treatment or aquaculture to build out an even more circular urban agricultural ecosystem. He has also worked out a deal with his pig farmer to use barley and wheat planted in his fallow fields for another experimental brew, and wonders about whether his own spent grain could go back to the farm. “For my own sanity, maintaining my own optimism, looking forward to these projects and continuing to develop them is important,” Meighen said. “I’m trying to focus more on the possibilities of the future rather than the grim reality of the present.” Meighen says that while nothing could have prepared a restaurant owner for the last year, he has learned that governments can, when they want to, provide much more support for individuals and businesses, and he's hoping the country's political leaders are also looking ahead. “The real question for me is to what degree they take advantage of the months and year following the pandemic to initiate a rebound or a rebuild in a way that I hope looks towards greater equity, a more complete integration of green policy,” he said of the federal Liberal government that has bankrolled most emergency pandemic relief efforts. That could mean heavy funding and policy efforts to help Alberta’s oil and gas workers thrive in a less carbon-intensive world, for example, as the pandemic accelerates problematic trends “people could ignore at their own peril up until February of 2020, but now are completely here to stay,” Meighen said. Unlike many small businesses along the strip of Queen Street East from the railway bridge and Jimmy Simpson Park to Greenwood Avenue, Avling pays a mortgage rather than rent. Meighen said the bank had expected business-as-usual terms after an initial six-month deferral of payment (but not interest). “They were not as understanding as I would have liked nor expected,” he said, noting major lenders talk about being there to support small business. Meighen says Avling's beer sales bumped higher in the early days of the pandemic as customers prepared for some extended time at home, “but as things dragged on and it became apparent that it wasn't just an enforced vacation, a short temporary hiatus, but something much more long term, all of our sales pulled back.” The brief respite of the summer's looser rules and the city's CafeTO program, which made more sidewalk space available for dining, did help get weekly sales to around 85 per cent of typical, with Avling's 40-seat pavement patio replacing an inside space that used to regularly serve 100 people. About a third of Leslieville storefronts are either restaurants, cafés or bars, and the head of the area's BIA (business improvement area) Dominic Cobran credits CafeTO with keeping many of those hospitality businesses afloat through the summer. “It really was a lifeline for the participating restaurants,” he said of the program, which made extra pavement space available for al fresco dining and “helped them out to the point where it could take them through when they closed indoor dining” in October. “It took them through a very difficult period into an even more difficult period,” Cobran said, referring to the tighter restrictions introduced this winter.Alastair Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
South River and Machar residents should have a better idea over the next few weeks what will happen to the ice at their arena in the wake of the province's 28-day stay-at-home order. South River council will discuss the issue at its Jan. 25 meeting. South River clerk-administrator Don McArthur says the municipality developed COVID-19 protocols for the arena's four user groups that were working prior to the latest lockdown. The arena was used by the Junior A Spartans, boys' minor hockey, girls' minor hockey and figure skating. The protocols were explained to the users last fall and McArthur says when the arena opened in October, everything “worked wonderfully. “We really felt comfortable with the protocols and with the cooperation of the groups where they took on a lot of the responsibilities,” McArthur says. “They looked after their own contact tracing and what we did was buy disinfectant and sanitized the equipment.” This approach worked well, he says, and the municipality didn't have to put any extra staff at the arena. It would have been a different story had council opened the arena to public skating. “If we allowed public skating, protocols like who's coming and going would have to have been done by us,” McArthur says. “So the staffing level would have gone up considerably in order to police and look after all that information flow.” That would have become too expensive for the municipality, he says. The protocols the municipality has in place are good and “everyone feels confident that we can operate safely. “But we don't have that option (to operate) under the lockdown,” McArthur says. The South River-Machar Community Centre and Arena has been closed since Dec. 21. Assuming there's a reopening in the near future, the user groups will operate under the same protocols in place prior to Dec. 21. McArthur says staff and council are looking at various scenarios depending on when the latest lockdown ends. In the best-case scenario, the lockdown could be lifted earlier in the North, in which case “if we're delayed only two to four weeks then maybe we can add that time and run the season a little later into March or to the end of March. “Council's challenge is we don't know if or when we'll get a green light,” McArthur says. “So at what point does it become too late or no longer economically feasible for us and the user groups?” This is now a waiting game and it's not easy as options are weighed. “The big cost, beyond wages, at the arena is maintaining the ice,” he says. “If there isn't going to be anyone using it and no revenue coming in, then how long do we maintain that ice for?” McArthur adds the arena isn't only used for winter activities. It's also used for a hockey opportunity camp during the summer. In fact, the arena is at its busiest during the eight to 10 weeks of the hockey camp. The facility is only without ice from mid April to mid June. When the lockdowns first started last March, McArthur says the hockey camp “was one of the first (activities) to take a direct hit.” With the arena in shutdown mode, staff were able to carry out considerable maintenance at the site that normally would not be achievable. But with the arena down for the entire summer, it meant no revenue to the municipality. McArthur says 2020 saw the arena lose about $40,000 over and above its normal expenses. McArthur says the province's safe restart agreement helped offset part of the arena loss and council is grateful for that. Council also was able to offset the remainder of the loss by reducing the number of capital projects it had scheduled for 2020. One of those projects involved a compressor rebuild at the arena. So, while the village will still have a balanced budget for 2020, it comes at a cost because it now has to delay some of the scheduled capital projects into the future, McArthur says. Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget
After 11 years in the trades – from scaffolding and metal work, to her current role in concrete forming – Mulisius Joe has also become skilled at navigating the male-dominated construction industry. “I've worked with a few men who didn’t think I should be there,” she said, citing times when empty reasons were given to exclude her from contributing to a job. “It’s never said out loud but you could feel it…where you don't know if it’s racist or it’s sexist, but you know it's something.” Calls for equity among construction labourers in the GTA were made decades ago, with African-Canadian carpenters and their allies protesting the exclusion of Black workers from trades unions and construction companies in the early ‘70s. Trade union programs are now slowly helping to change that. Joe said she has seen a shift in how journeypersons, or mentors for trade apprentices, are increasingly focused on the treatment of women and visible minorities on site, and are better prepared to foster an equitable environment. These changes make her hopeful the industry will develop a similar awareness around issues of discrimination and equity, especially after the racist incidents this past summer, when five nooses were found tied onto scaffolding or hanging in view at GTA construction sites. Despite police and union investigations – and the firing of at least one worker – another two nooses were found at Michael Garron Hospital in East York in late September. “It didn't just go away because we said how we feel,” said Brampton resident Chris Campbell, of the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario. In November, Campbell became the union’s first Equity and Diversity Representative. He will work to include racism in the scope of “toolbox talk” – trades-speak for frank discussions about safety issues – in an attempt to change the culture of silence around workplace discrimination in the construction industry. The Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario represents more than 30,000 workers across 16 affiliated trades unions. Campbell completed his apprenticeship in the early ‘90s, and became a project supervisor at various sites across the GTA before teaching at the College of Carpenters and Allied Trades, based in Woodbridge. An active member in the Jamaican Canadian Association and other Black community organizations, Campbell went on to become a Local 27 Toronto Carpenters’ Union rep prior to his current appointment. Following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last spring, Black Lives Matter demonstrations underscored the urgent need to confront anti-Black racism in the workplace. Campbell said he and other union representatives marched in the downtown Toronto protests in June, sporting the union flag. Mulisius joined the marches, and commended the union for making their presence visible. “It feels good, because as a woman on site, and also as a Black person, I’m always the minority. To see our union jump behind this, it makes me feel so much prouder to be a Local 27 member,” she said. But later that month, the first noose was found at the Eglinton Crosstown LRT job site. Campbell said one of the union’s members admitted to tying it and was fired, had his union membership revoked and was banned from working on projects operated by Crosslinx Transit Solutions. “It’s not just a noose for some people. It’s a health issue, because they’re traumatized, they can’t mentally handle it,” Johnson said, adding that there were Black workers at the site. “Some people, they become emotional and they cannot go back to work because to them, it symbolizes an extreme aggression. To them, it symbolizes what their grandparents went through a few decades ago.” According to 2016 Census data, close to one-fifth of Brampton’s workforce was in the trades, transport and equipment operations industry, compared to about 12 percent in Mississauga. Peel Region also has the highest proportion of immigrants compared to its bordering regions – at about 52 percent of the population – and the highest proportion of visible minorities, at 62 percent, compared to 51 percent in Toronto, and the GTA average of 48 percent. The booming construction industry holds the potential to dramatically improve the employment prospects of Peel’s large visible minority communities. Many of these residents have not been well represented in the trades, traditionally. The BOLT (Building Opportunities for Life Today) program was launched by construction giant Tridel in 2009, and in 2013 it was established as a charitable foundation aimed at introducing career opportunities to marginalized and other “under-resourced” youth across the GTA. It has provided more than 400 post-secondary scholarships for construction-related programs, in an effort to help young people from all backgrounds pursue a career in the trades. Opening up one of Ontario’s largest industries to reflect the province’s population, is a challenge the unions are now taking up as well. Whether it’s because of cultural issues, for example the view among some South Asian-Canadian communities that trades jobs are not traditionally socially acceptable, or because of discriminatory dynamics within the industry, the lack of representation means many Peel residents are being cut off from highly lucrative careers. In 2018, the average wage of workers in the construction industry across the country was almost $32 an hour, according to Statistics Canada. The average minimum wage in the country (which is what many newcomers earn) at the time sat at about $12 an hour. A 2016 Peel-Halton Workforce Characteristics Report notes that women, racialized minorities and newcomers face disadvantages when holding precarious positions in Peel, with the largest proportions of people earning lower incomes located in Brampton and Mississauga compared to Halton municipalities. In the construction and industrial sectors, about 97 percent of Peel and Halton journeypersons and apprentices are male, though there is no race-based data provided or notes on discrimination trends in the workplace. The recent rash of racist incidents raises questions about what the industry is doing to confront discrimination. At the large LRT construction site where the Fairbank Station in Toronto, near Dufferin Street and Eglinton Avenue will open in 2022, Campbell said the union interviewed people on site and had a “toolbox talk” after a noose was tied there. The union has partnered with the Toronto and York Region Labour Council to create a charter document and establish standards for an inclusive workplace that rejects racism, xenophobia and discrimination. The document is now posted at some construction sites, Campbell said, adding that the union is planning to address racism in the workplace through new educational initiatives and training for members and senior leadership. In his new role, Campbell will be notified and involved in the complaints resolution process related to racism in the workplace, and encourages workers to report these incidents. “It’s a health and safety issue,” he said. With the work of craft and trade unions based in skill development, at the forefront of efforts to address racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination is the question of whose skills are being recognized, said Tania Das Gupta, a professor in the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at York University. As part of her research into racism in the labour movement, Das Gupta interviewed visible minority workers in leadership roles within larger unions, who expressed feeling obstructed in their work. “In other words, you could have diversity, but sometimes it becomes tokenism and the [union] structures are not conducive to inclusion,” she said. Education is integral to making anti-racism programs a success, she added. “If the workers are prepared, and they’re educated on why these changes are happening, then they're likely not to feel threatened.” Professional associations and developers such as Tridel and Ellis Don have launched anti-racism campaigns in response to the incidents this past summer, including quarterly roundtable discussions with 21 industry partners, spearheaded by the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON). The group is meeting for the second time this month. “These incidents didn’t happen in isolation, and it wasn’t just one incident…so we realized that this is an issue that we need to dive deeper into combatting,” said Amina Dibe, manager of government and stakeholder relations at RESCON. The collective launched the Construction Against Racism Everyone (CARE) Campaign, distributing more than 2,000 hardhat stickers for workers to show their solidarity, while launching educational webinars and subcommittees to tackle education, communication and training within the industry. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @LaVjosa COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you.Vjosa Isai, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
Some Niagarians were stocking up on groceries on Wednesday in advance of an impending stay-at-home order, recently announced by the provincial government. On Jan. 12, Ontario declared a 28-day state of emergency as COVID-19 cases continue to rise aggressively, having already filled more than 400 intensive care unit beds across the province. With the goal of preventing movement and contacts between people, Premier Doug Ford issued a stay-at-home order, which came into effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday. Dave Mace made a point of visiting the Niagara Falls Costco to stock up because he wasn’t sure what exactly the stay-at-home order would involve. “It’s necessary,” he said of the order, adding that he believes the Ford government made the right move. Regardless of what decisions were made, people would still criticize, he said. Complying with the order won’t be a challenge for him and his partner, Mace said — there’s plenty to keep them occupied at home with computers, TVs and books. Under the new rules, people are expected to stay home with exceptions for things like grocery shopping, accessing medical services, including pharmacies, exercise or for work. Social gathering limits have also increased, and non-essential businesses are required to close by 8 p.m.. Robert Howieson and Christina Lancaster also made a trip out for groceries at the Costco location on Wednesday, predicting that reduced shopping hours would result in longer lineups. “I expect that there will be large crowds,” Howieson said of the days ahead, noting that he was surprised there weren’t more people out. Howieson supports the order but said it “should have been done sooner.” His impression of the Ford administration’s handling of the pandemic was positive before the second wave, but Howieson’s views have since changed. “He’s too beholden to business,” he said. “What do you want, happy businesses or people dying?” Others spoken with on Wednesday said they would support more stringent government measures, like a curfew, to bring an end to COIVD-19 sooner. “Let’s get on with life because this is ridiculous, it’s been going on too long,” said Tracy McIntee, as she loaded groceries into her vehicle. She’s in favour of a full-on lockdown instead of what she said are incremental steps. She was expecting more from Tuesday's announcement, saying that the new rules look much like what people are already doing. “In a sense, I don’t think the government is doing enough,” she said. “I wish they would have done more yesterday.” Jordan Snobelen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara this Week
Canadians are reporting feeling frustrated, anxious and depressed after months of COVID-19 restrictions. Registered psychologist Christine Purdon answers audience questions about the mental health impacts of the pandemic.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte worked the phones on Friday, trying to secure enough votes in parliament to allow him to stay in power after a junior ally quit the cabinet this week. There was growing confidence within the coalition that the government could stay afloat as a new, pro-government group formed in the Senate and the head of the country's influential bishops' association appealed for stability. Conte is due to address the lower house on Monday and the upper house Senate on Tuesday about the political chaos which was triggered by former premier Matteo Renzi in a row over the coalition's handling of the coronavirus and economic crises.
A carbon monoxide leak from a boiler in a Saskatoon apartment building sent 29 people to hospital Thursday. It all began when an emergency room doctor at Royal University Hospital became concerned when assessing a patient Thursday night. "It was a very close call," acting battalion chief Matthew Murray said in an interview Friday. "We're very thankful for the doctor at RUH who made that extra effort to just follow through in the situation." Murray said the doctor suspected carbon monoxide poisoning and contacted the fire department, which sent a team to an apartment building at 12 Bateman Cres. "When the captain and crew went inside with detectors, the field levels went up to 300 parts per million," he said. "At that point, they started shouting for people to evacuate while they backed out and put on their self-contained breathing apparatus." People from the building were taken to City Hospital and Royal University Hospital. There were no fatalities. Fire Chief Morgan Hackl said the evacuation involved 50 people, including some children. He confirmed the building did not have a carbon monoxide detector. Fire crews found the highest levels of carbon monoxide were in the building's boiler room, where they were at 400 parts part million. Typically the department evacuates a building when it's at 50 parts per million. Hackl said with levels that high, people can die within two to three hours of exposure. Troy Davies with Medavie Health Service West said that paramedics were called to the east-side building just after 6 p.m. CST. Given the number of patients, it used a special transport to get patients to the two hospitals — 25 to City Hospital and four to RUH. The Saskatoon Fire Department also assisted. "Paramedics would like to personally thank Dr. [Mark] Wahba for his quick response that could have turned out much worse," Davies said in a news release. Carbon monoxide, a colourless and tasteless gas, is produced when natural gas is burned in a furnace. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include nausea, dizziness, confusion and vision or hearing loss. A second building in the complex was evacuated Friday morning after the fire department completed it's inspection. The second building was also not equipped with carbon monoxide detectors. There is no timeline for when residents will be allowed back inside, but the department says the buildings will remain evacuated at least until tomorrow.
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):9:56 a.m.Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says Canada is on track to hit 10,000 new daily infections of COVID-19 by the end of January.New modelling shows the total number of cases could reach 796,630 by Jan. 24 and another 2,000 people could die.Tam says there is rapid and widespread community spread of COVID-19, and governments and individuals need to do everything they can to reduce contacts.She says measures to reduce contacts must be kept in place long enough to prevent an immediate resurgence of infections as soon as the lockdown measures are lifted.---9:40 a.m.U.S. drug-maker Pfizer is temporarily cutting back vaccine deliveries to Canada because of issues with its European production lines.Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Pfizer thinks it will still be able to deliver four million doses by the end of March, but it's no longer guaranteed.Canada has received about 380,000 doses of the vaccine so far, and was supposed to get another 400,000 this month, followed by almost two million doses in February. There is no update yet on what the new deliveries will be.---This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
MAMUJU, Indonesia — A strong, shallow earthquake shook Indonesia's Sulawesi island just after midnight Friday, toppling homes and buildings, triggering landslides and killing at least 42 people. More than 600 people were injured by the magnitude 6.2 quake, which sent people fleeing their homes in the darkness. Authorities were still collecting information about the full scale of casualties and damage in the affected areas. There were reports of many people trapped in the rubble of collapsed homes and buildings. In a video released by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, a girl stuck in the wreckage of a house cried out for help and said she heard the sound of other family members also trapped. “Please help me, it hurts,” the girl told rescuers, who replied that they desperately wanted to help her. The rescuers said an excavator was needed to save the girl and others trapped in collapsed buildings. Other images showed a severed bridge and damaged and flattened houses. The earthquake damaged part of a hospital and patients were moved to an emergency tent outside. Rescuers struggled to extract seven patients and staff who were trapped under tons of rubble. After several hours, an excavator came to help and the rescuers eventually retrieved four survivors and three bodies. Another video showed a father crying, asking for help to save his children buried under their toppled house. “They are trapped inside, please help,” he cried. Thousands of displaced people were evacuated to temporary shelters. The quake was centred 36 kilometres (22 miles) south of West Sulawesi province’s Mamuju district, at a depth of 18 kilometres (11 miles), the U.S. Geological Survey said. The Indonesian disaster agency said the death toll climbed to 42 as rescuers in Mamuju retrieved 34 bodies trapped in the rubble of collapsed homes and buildings. The agency said in a statement that eight people were killed and 637 others were injured in Mamuju's neighbouring district of Majene. It said at least 300 houses and a health clinic were damaged and about 15,000 people were being housed in temporary shelters in the district. Power and phones were down in many areas. West Sulawesi Administration Secretary Muhammad Idris told TVOne that the governor's office building was among those that collapsed in Mamuju, the provincial capital, and many people there remained trapped. Rescuer Saidar Rahmanjaya said a lack of heavy equipment was hampering efforts to clear the rubble from collapsed houses and buildings. He said his team was working to save dozens of people trapped in eight buildings, including in the governor's office, a hospital and a hotel. “We are racing against time to rescue them,” he said. Relatives wailed as they watched rescuers pull a body of a loved one from a damaged home in devastated Mamuju. It was placed in an orange body bag and taken away for burial. “Oh my God, why did we have to go through this?” cried Rina, who uses one name. “I can’t save my dear sister ... forgive me, sister, forgive us, God!” President Joko Widodo said in a televised address that he had ordered his social minister and the chiefs of the military, police and disaster agency to carry out emergency response measures and search and rescue operations as quickly as possible. “I, on behalf of the Government and all Indonesian people, would like to express my deep condolences to families of the victims,” Widodo said. The National Search and Rescue Agency’s chief, Bagus Puruhito, said rescuers from the cities of Palu, Makassar, Balikpapan and Jakarta were being deployed to help in Mamuju and Majene. Two ships were heading to the affected areas from Makassar and Balikpapan carrying rescuers and search and rescue equipment, while a Hercules plane carrying supplies was on its way from Jakarta. Puruhito is already leading more than 4,100 rescue personnel in a separate massive search operation for victims of the crash of a Sriwijaya Air jet into the Java Sea last Saturday. Among the dead in Majene were three people killed when their homes were flattened by the quake while they were sleeping, said Sirajuddin, the district’s disaster agency chief. Sirajuddin, who goes by one name, said although the inland earthquake did not have the potential to cause a tsunami, people along coastal areas ran to higher ground in fear one might occur. Landslides were set off in three locations and blocked a main road connecting Mamuju to the Majene district, said Raditya Jati, the disaster agency’s spokesperson. On Thursday, a magnitude 5.9 undersea quake hit the same region, damaging several homes but causing no apparent casualties. Indonesia’s meteorology, climatology and geophysical agency, known by its Indonesian acronym BMKG, warned of the dangers of aftershocks and the potential for a tsunami. Its chairwoman urged people in coastal areas to move to higher ground as a precaution. Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 260 million people, is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin. In 2018, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in Palu on Sulawesi island set off a tsunami and caused soil to collapse in a phenomenon called liquefaction. More than 4,000 people died, many of the victims buried when whole neighbourhoods were swallowed in the falling ground. A powerful Indian Ocean quake and tsunami in 2004 killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries, most of them in Indonesia. ___ Karmini reported from Jakarta, Indonesia. Niniek Karmini And Yusuf Wahil, The Associated Press