Meteorologist Nadine Powell tells us how long the squalls will last and the roads to be careful on.
Meteorologist Nadine Powell tells us how long the squalls will last and the roads to be careful on.
Ottawa will not license any Indigenous "moderate livelihood" fishery in Atlantic Canada unless it operates within the commercial season, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said Wednesday, siding with a key demand from the region's commercial fishing industry, while angering Indigenous leaders. The statement is a major development in the dispute over treaty rights-based fishing that sparked violence last fall when the Sipekne'katik band launched its own self-regulated 'moderate livelihood' lobster fishery. The fishery in St. Marys Bay in southwest Nova Scotia took place outside the commercial season, angering other fishermen who said it was both unfair and bad for conservation. "Seasons ensure that stocks are harvested sustainably and they are necessary for an orderly, predictable, and well-managed fishery," Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan said in a statement, confirming a CBC News report earlier in the day. "In effort-based fisheries such as lobster, seasons are part of the overall management structure that conserves the resource, ensures there isn't overfishing, and distributes economic benefits across Atlantic Canada." WATCH | The history of the Mi'kmaw fishery: DFO indicated a willingness to discuss other details with affected First Nation communities. But Sipekne'katik Chief Mike Sack urged Mi'kmaw bands in Atlantic Canada to reject the federal government's position and told reporters his First Nation will continue to operate its fishery outside DFO seasons in 2021. "They're trying to divide and conquer and throw a carrot to a band or two and have them sign and just hurt everybody's case. So I hope that no other communities do sign. They don't take that low hanging fruit," he said. Sack restated his position that the treaty right was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada's Marshall decision, and accused DFO of trying to divide and conquer the Mi'kmaq. In 1999, the court affirmed the Mi'kmaw treaty right to fish in pursuit of a "moderate livelihood," but under federal government regulations for conservation. Ottawa spent half a billion dollars integrating Indigenous bands into the commercial fishery through licence buy-backs and training, but it never defined "moderate livelihood." Jordan cited part of the Marshall ruling to justify her authority. She noted the Supreme Court said "treaty rights are subject to regulation provided such regulation is shown by the Crown to be justified on conservation or other grounds of public importance." "That is what we are implementing," Jordan said in her statement. The department is offering Indigenous fishermen in Nova Scotia a pathway to sell lobster harvested in a moderate livelihood fishery. Right now, that catch does not have DFO's stamp of approval. Without authorization, they can't legally sell their catch to licenced buyers, such as lobster pounds and processors. Bands that accept DFO's position will receive a moderate livelihood licence that will allow them to sell the catch in 2021. Under provincial rules, only fish products harvested under federal commercial licences can be purchased by shore processors. The federal government "will balance additional First Nations access through already available licences and a willing buyer-willing seller approach, protecting our stocks and preserving the industry for generations to come," Jordan's statement said. Sipekne'katik First Nation Chief Michael Sack, right, halted talks with the federal Fisheries Department in December after reaching an impasse.(Paul Withers/CBC) The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaw Chiefs called the government's conditions "unacceptable" and condemned them as part of a "colonial approach" to the rights-based fishery recognized by the Supreme Court. "DFO continues to dictate and impose their rules on a fishery that is outside of their scope and mandate," said Chief Gerald Toney, the assembly's fisheries lead, in a statement. The right to a livelihood fishery isn't, and shouldn't be, driven by industry or the federal government, he said. "It is something that needs to come from the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia. Imposing restrictions independently, without input of the Mi'kmaq, on our implementation of Rights is an approach that must stop." Mi'kmaw leaders and some academics have insisted the fishery in St. Marys Bay poses no risk to stocks because it is too small. It's a claim the commercial industry rejects. One organization representing commercial fishermen said the DFO has made public what it had been telling the industry in private. "This position needs to come from them and they need to come out publicly, more often," said Martin Mallet, executive director of the Maritime Fishermen's Union. Mallet said commercial fishermen expect the DFO to enforce its rules if bands operate out of season, including pulling traps and "potentially arresting individuals that are not keeping up with the law." A group representing harvesters in southwestern Nova Scotia said the government's position "can provide certainty" for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishermen. "However, lasting and consistent enforcement that is fair to all harvesters will be critical," the Unified Fisheries Conservation Alliance said in a statement. The ambiguity over moderate livelihood led to violence last year when several bands launched self-regulated lobster fisheries — all taking place outside of commercial lobster seasons. In October, two facilities storing Mi'kmaw catches were vandalized, including one that was later burned to the ground. Indigenous harvesters also said hundreds of their traps were pulled by non-Indigenous commercial fishermen. After tensions abated, the DFO pulled hundreds of Mi'kmaw traps out of the water, many bearing band moderate livelihood tags. On Wednesday, the DFO returned to Sipekne'katik more than 200 traps it had seized last fall. Sipekne'katik First Nation Chief Mike Sack, shown in October, said Wednesday his band will continue to operate its moderate livelihood fishery outside DFO seasons in 2021.(Pat Callaghan/CBC) When defending the self-regulated fisheries, the Mi'kmaq point to the huge number of commercial traps in the water compared to those from bands. The Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance, which represents shore buyers, said that is misleading. Stewart Lamont of Tangier Lobster said he accepts the treaty right but maintains the fisheries must take place within commercial seasons. "The lobster biomass is extremely vulnerable during certain months of the year, most particularly late July, August, September, October, when lobsters are going through their annual molt," said Lamont. "They're literally hungrier than normal. They've taken on a new shell. They are far more readily embraced into a trap." He said hauling lobster at that time is short-sighted. "By the same token, they are of far lesser quality. They tend to be soft and medium shell. It's not a premium product." Commercial lobster fishing season varies across Nova Scotia, in part to maintain a steady supply to the market, and to protect stocks when they are vulnerable. MORE TOP STORIES
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The Defence Department took more than three hours to dispatch the National Guard to the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol despite a frantic request for reinforcement from police, according to testimony Wednesday that added to the finger-pointing about the government response. Maj. Gen. William Walker, commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard, told senators that the then-chief of the Capitol Police requested military support in a 1:49 p.m. call, but the Defence Department's approval for that support was not relayed to him until after 5 p.m., according to prepared testimony. Guard troops who had been waiting on buses were then rushed to the Capitol. That delay stood in contrast to the immediate approval for National Guard support granted in response to the civil unrest that roiled American cities last spring as an outgrowth of racial justice protests, Walker said. As local officials pleaded for help, Army officials raised concerns about the optics of a substantial National Guard presence at the Capitol, he said. “The Army senior leadership” expressed to officials on the call “that it would not be their best military advice to have uniformed Guardsmen on the Capitol,” Walker said. The Senate hearing is the second about what went wrong on Jan. 6, with national security officials face questions about missed intelligence and botched efforts to quickly gather National Guard troops that day as a violent mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol. Even as Walker detailed the National Guard delay, another military official noted that local officials in Washington had said days earlier that no such support was needed. Senators were eager to grill officials from the Pentagon, the National Guard and the Justice and Homeland Security departments about their preparations for that day. Supporters of then-President Donald Trump had talked online, in some cases openly, about gathering in Washington that day and interrupting the electoral count. At a hearing last week, officials who were in charge of security at the Capitol blamed one another as well as federal law enforcement for their own lack of preparation as hundreds of rioters descended on the building, easily breached the security perimeter and eventually broke into the Capitol. Five people died as a result of the rioting. So far, lawmakers conducting investigations have focused on failed efforts to gather and share intelligence about the insurrectionists’ planning before Jan. 6 and on the deliberations among officials about whether and when to call National Guard troops to protect Congress. The officials at the hearing last week, including ousted Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, gave conflicting accounts of those negotiations. Robert Contee, the acting chief of police for the Metropolitan Police Department, told senators he was “stunned” over the delayed response and said Sund was pleading with Army officials to deploy National Guard troops as the rioting rapidly escalated. Senate Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar, one of two Democratic senators who will preside over Wednesday's hearing, said in an interview Tuesday that she believes every moment counted as the National Guard decision was delayed and police officers outside the Capitol were beaten and injured by the rioters. “Any minute that we lost, I need to know why,” Klobuchar said. The hearing comes as thousands of National Guard troops are still patrolling the fenced-in Capitol and as multiple committees across Congress are launching investigations into mistakes made on Jan. 6. The probes are largely focused on security missteps and the origins of the extremism that led hundreds of Trump supporters to break through the doors and windows of the Capitol, hunt for lawmakers and temporarily stop the counting of electoral votes. Congress has, for now, abandoned any examination of Trump’s role in the attack after the Senate acquitted him last month of inciting the riot by telling the supporters that morning to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat. As the Senate hears from the federal officials, acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman will testify before a House panel that is also looking into how security failed. In a hearing last week before the same subcommittee, she conceded there were multiple levels of failures but denied that law enforcement failed to take seriously warnings of violence before the insurrection. In the Senate, Klobuchar said there is particular interest in hearing from Walker, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, who was on the phone with Sund and the Department of the Army as the rioters first broke into the building. Contee, the D.C. police chief, was also on the call and told senators that the Army was initially reluctant to send troops. “While I certainly understand the importance of both planning and public perception — the factors cited by the staff on the call — these issues become secondary when you are watching your employees, vastly outnumbered by a mob, being physically assaulted,” Contee said. He said he had quickly deployed his own officers and he was “shocked” that the National Guard “could not — or would not — do the same." Contee said that Army staff said they were not refusing to send troops, but “did not like the optics of boots on the ground” at the Capitol. Also testifying at the joint hearing of the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees are Robert Salesses of the Defence Department, Melissa Smislova of the Department of Homeland Security and Jill Sanborn of the FBI, all officials who oversee aspects of intelligence and security operations. Lawmakers have grilled law enforcement officials about missed intelligence ahead of the attack, including a report from an FBI field office in Virginia that warned of online posts foreshadowing a “war” in Washington. Capitol Police leaders have said they were unaware of the report at the time, even though the FBI had forwarded it to the department. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the report was disseminated though the FBI’s joint terrorism task force, discussed at a command post in Washington and posted on an internet portal available to other law enforcement agencies. Though the information was raw and unverified and appeared aspirational in nature, Wray said, it was specific and concerning enough that “the smartest thing to do, the most prudent thing to do, was just push it to the people who needed to get it.” Mary Clare Jalonick And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
Britain will modernise its listing rules to attract more high-growth company and so-called blank cheque flotations, Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said after a government-backed review said London was on the back foot after Brexit. The London Stock Exchange is facing tougher competition from NYSE and Nasdaq in New York, and from Euronext in Amsterdam since Britain fully left the European Union on Dec. 31.
Nestled in a steep rocky hillside among the remote mountains of northern Iraq, the Rabban Hormizd Monastery has watched invaders come and go through Christianity's tumultuous history in this corner of ancient Mesopotamia. Mongols, Persians, Arabs, Kurds and Ottomans have sacked, surrounded or occupied the seventh century monastery and the Christian town of Alqosh, above which it perches, near the borders with Turkey, Syria and Iran. But Christians there survived the latest onslaught, this time by Islamic State militants who took over one third of Iraq between 2014 and 2017, including the city of Mosul just 20 miles (32 km) to the south.
Jon Stanfield has about 300,000 medical gowns to help in the battle against COVID-19, but they're sitting unused in his Nova Scotia factory after the federal government decided to stop buying personal protective equipment from his company. Last spring, Stanfield's Ltd. of Truro quickly retrained its staff and retooled its factory at the start of the pandemic and pumped out PPE for front-line workers. That $27.9-million contract ended in October and Stanfield bid for a second contract. "The message from government was that they're going to invest in domestic capacity to make PPE across the country," Stanfield told CBC News on Tuesday. The company paid its PPE workers $1.8 million to keep them employed from October to last week. They produced a few hundred thousand isolation gowns, which are used to protect against the transfer of microorganisms and body fluids. The company thought since Ottawa said it wanted to build domestic capacity for manufacturing PPE, it would give some of 2021's work to Stanfield's, as well. Stanfield's posted this photo of the gowns to social media last month. (Stanfield's) "We're probably the oldest manufacturer of apparel in the country, we have 300,000 square feet, we have training, we bought equipment, we retooled the factory to participate in round two," said Stanfield. "I thought we'd have a level of it. I didn't think it would be zero." But the government accepted different bids, leaving Stanfield's out in the cold. The company laid off 150 workers last week. It still employs about 225 people in its regular clothing business. "This is just disappointing because I think our people — who put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into round one — also thought that we would have a level of work. Because this is what we do." 'We are no longer facing a PPE shortage' Stanfield disputed a Feb. 26 Facebook post by Liberal MP Lenore Zann, who said her government "invested $27.9 million into the initiative in order to enable Stanfield's to switch their factory from making underwear to creating disposable gowns for front-line workers." "They invested zero dollars," said Stanfield. "We negotiated a contract to make gowns for the federal government." Money from the contract went into training and paying workers as well as buying equipment, fabrics and other items to start making PPE. Stanfield said his company did apply for funding to retool the factory, but was rejected. Zann, whose riding of Cumberland-Colchester includes Truro, said Tuesday that she'd spoken to the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the trade union confirmed what Stanfield said: the government did not pay his, or any other company, to retool to produce PPE. "Since the very beginning of the pandemic, Canadian businesses across the country have come forward to offer their services and pitch in to provide life-saving equipment ... at a time of great need," Zann told CBC News. "Because of their efforts, we are no longer facing a PPE shortage." Zann said the government is now taking the time to use competitive bids "while continuing to focus on Canadian-made supplies." She said all nine contracts went to Canadian manufacturers. Stanfield said even part of an order — say for one or two million gowns — would have been enough to keep people working. Now, he's talking to provincial health-care providers to see if they want to work with his company to ensure a domestic supply of PPE. He said if Canada wants to have a domestic capability to make PPE, it should look to companies like his, which has made apparel for 150 years and will continue making it deep into the future. "So Canada wouldn't get into the position that we were in last spring," he said. "Because it's not a matter of if, but probably when, it occurs again." MORE TOP STORIES
The euro zone economy is almost certainly in a double-dip recession as COVID-19 lockdowns continue to hammer the services industry, but hopes for a wider vaccine rollout has driven optimism to a three-year peak, a survey showed on Wednesday. "The small upward revision to the euro zone's Composite PMI for February still leaves it consistent with another contraction in GDP in Q1," said Jessica Hinds at Capital Economics. The euro zone economy contracted in the first two quarters of 2020 and a Reuters poll of economists last month forecast it would do so again in Q4 and the current quarter, saying risks to the already weak outlook were skewed to the downside.
The union that represents cargo ship crews in Canada says its members are in desperate need to be vaccinated for COVID-19. The Seafarers International Union of Canada says that is because of the potential danger of an outbreak onboard a vessel and a shortage of workers to replace crew members who get sick. There is limited space to physically distance on a ship and there are few medical resources on a vessel to deal with a COVID-19 outbreak should it occur. "We don't want to interrupt the vaccinations right now of those front-line workers and our elderly that are absolutely in dire need, but we're in dire need as well," said union president Jim Given. The union represents seafarers who work inside Canada and abroad. Jim Given is president of the Seafarers International Union of Canada. (Submitted by Seafarers International Union of Canada) Given wants his crews to be given the vaccine after health-care workers and seniors get their shots. Many seafarers spend three months aboard ship, with one month off, but some crews spend up to nine months on a vessel. Some workers have stayed on board even longer during the pandemic. There have only been a handful of COVID-19 outbreaks on ships so far, and one seafarer has died as a result, said Given. He's worried that could get worse if his members aren't vaccinated soon. It's incredibly difficult to cope with a COVID-19 outbreak on a ship, according to Desai Shan, an assistant professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland. She has been studying COVID-19's impact on seafarers. "They are extremely vulnerable in this pandemic," she said. "Considering they are important, and also vulnerable …seafarers getting priority for the vaccine is a fair request. "The medical resources and support seafarers would get on board are far, far limited compared to land-based working environments." Athaide waves to seafarers onboard bulk carriers in B.C.(Ben Nelms/CBC) Shan said countries like China and Singapore have already started vaccinating their seafarers because they recognize the importance of keeping their supply chains moving. "We carry most of the goods people use everyday, whether it be the raw materials to make the product or the product itself. We carry about 90 per cent of everything you touch and see everyday," said Given. A seafarer's job is so important it is considered essential. Given said the union wants to sit down with provincial and federal officials to come up with a plan to get its members vaccinated soon. Each individual province and territory decides how it will roll out its vaccinations. No province or territory has given seafarers priority, said Given. The CMA CGM Libra is the largest container ship ever to stop in Halifax. The vessel holds approximately 11,400 shipping containers.(Port of Halifax) Nova Scotia has taken an age-based approach. "We recognize there is interest from Nova Scotians who want to be prioritized to receive the vaccine, but we know the single biggest risk to COVID-19 patients is age," Marla MacInnis, a spokesperson for Nova Scotia's Department of Health, said in an email. She said eventually all Nova Scotians who want to get vaccinated will have the opportunity. Transport Canada had no comment on whether seafarers should be prioritized for vaccination. But spokesperson Sau Sau Liu said in an email that "Canada remains a strong advocate for the safety and welfare of seafarers and maritime workers." A truck passes by some of the many containers that it tows on a daily basis at Vancouver's port.(David Horemans/CBC) Liu said Transport Canada officials participate on a national seafarers' welfare board that advises the federal government on issues related to the well-being of seafarers. Given said that's not good enough. "It spreads so quickly and if we end up in a situation where we do get outbreaks on these ships the other aspect of it is there is nobody to replace the people to get the cargo moving again," he said. There is a shortage of seafarers in Canada right now, and with few people to replace them if they get sick, that could mean huge delays in the movement of goods and a slowdown in the Canadian economy, said Given. There are about 30,000 people across Canada employed as seafarers who directly or indirectly support 260,000 jobs and put $36 billion into the Canadian economy, he said. Many seafarers spend three months at a time on cargo ships like this one, but some can spend nine months aboard a vessel. That time onboard ship has been stretched out even further for some during the pandemic. (Steve Farmer/Port of Halifax) The country can't afford a slow down in the shipping industry, he said, especially with the busy season set to start in the spring when the Great Lakes thaw and ship traffic picks up. "We've got to find a way to get seafarers vaccinated so they have the mobility and the safety to do their jobs," said Given. MORE TOP STORIES
Federal and provincial health officials are planning to extend the time between two-dose COVID-19 vaccines to four months. Here are some of the factors they're weighing and why it matters. Why do provinces want to space out the doses beyond official recommendations? More vaccines are arriving and the provinces aim to get them into the arms of willing Canadians as quickly as possible. But demand exceeds supply, so researchers in British Columbia and Quebec are studying what happens when the interval between doses is extended. That way they can use the supply to vaccinate more people with a first shot sooner. Late last year, Quebec decided to vaccinate more quickly and more widely by allowing a 90-day delay between doses. But British Columbia went further on Monday, moving to a four-month interval for doses of the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada's deputy chief public health officer, pointed to advances since Health Canada approved those vaccines. A health-care worker prepares to administer a dose of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, in Santiago, Dominican Republic, in February. (Ricardo Rojas/Reuters) "What's happening is, I think, very encouraging," Njoo said in a briefing on Tuesday. "We have real-world data, the actual experience of what's happening with the vaccination, for example in British Columbia and in Quebec, as they're vaccinating seniors in long-term care facilities. We're seeing quite a high level of protection." Njoo said experts are balancing vaccinating a large number of Canadians to achieve a good level of protection without compromising the effectiveness of the vaccines. On Wednesday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) said it "recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the interval for the second dose of vaccine to four months." Doing so creates opportunities to protect all of Canada's adult population more quickly, NACI said. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, told CBC Radio's The Current on Wednesday that all provinces are looking at waiting longer to give second doses. Health officials in Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador announced they're moving to a four-month interval. Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious diseases physician in Mississauga, Ont., says the top priority is to protect older individuals and those who are at highest risk of severe consequences, hospitalizations and death. Chakrabarti said the principle of getting as many people covered with one dose is a good one. WATCH | Delaying 2nd doses defensible, expert says: "We do know from other vaccines that increase in the interval between two shots doesn't have any major consequence in decreasing efficacy and in some situations might actually make it better," he said. "But keeping that in mind, we do have to be careful. I think that we don't want to stray too far away." What's the basis for the recommended dosing schedule? Vaccine-makers tested their shots in clinical trials with certain times between doses. Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine is meant to be given as two doses, 21 days apart, while Moderna recommends 28 days. For AstraZeneca-Oxford's, the interval is eight to 12 weeks. Health Canada approved the vaccines based on that clinical trial data. Both Pfizer and Moderna acknowledge that, in a pandemic, health authorities will make their own recommendations. What's the scientific basis for delaying? Chakrabarti says there's evidence, for example, to support delaying the second dose of the Hepatitis A vaccine by six to 36 months, and that's true for other vaccines, too. But the COVID-19 vaccines haven't existed long enough to know. Efficacy for Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine was around 95 per cent after both doses and 52 per cent after the first, according to clinical data. For Moderna's it was about 80 per cent after one dose and 94 per cent following the second. WATCH | Stop confusing vaccine messaging, expert says: The benefits of a second dose include longer-lasting protection, says Tania Watts, a professor of immunology at the University of Toronto who is studying immune responses to COVID-19 vaccines in Canadians. She says everyone should eventually get a second dose. But "as we go to the broader population, yes, I think we will still get the benefit if you delay the second dose," Watts said. Watts noted that when the mRNA vaccines were developed, the four-week interval for the "prime-boost effect" in the clinical trials was done for practical purposes. WATCH | Why B.C. plans to get 1st doses to as many people as possible quickly: "All things being perfect, we could stick to the protocol," from the clinical trials, Watt said. "But, if you can save a lot more lives by not giving everyone the second dose at three weeks, but giving a lot more people the first, I think this is where the rationale comes, and I think it makes complete sense." What's unknown? The variants of concern that are more transmissible than the original coronavirus could throw a wrench into the works for some combinations of vaccines. Watts said neutralizing antibodies that block the coronavirus from attaching and infecting cells dropped to almost nil in lab tests of those who received the Pfizer-BioNTech shot against the B1351 variant that first appeared in South Africa. "After two doses, which gives you stronger antibodies, you still had some partial protection," she said. Watts says Canada is at a critical juncture, watching to see if the variants will take off among partially vaccinated people. Epidemiological or population-level studies are also needed to figure out how many antibodies are needed to prevent infection as well as the details of immune system memory. As scientific understanding grows, NACI said it will update its guideline.
A judge has declared that the man responsible for Toronto's deadly van attack in 2018 is guilty of 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. In rendering her decision, which was broadcast on YouTube Wednesday morning, Justice Anne Molloy said Alek Minassian's rampage was "the act of a reasoning mind," and noted that the 28 year old has "no remorse for it and no empathy for his victims." "He freely chose the option that was morally wrong, knowing what the consequences would be for himself, and for everybody else," Molloy said in her decision. "It does not matter that he does not have remorse, nor empathize with the victims. "Lack of empathy for the suffering of victims, even an incapacity to empathize for whatever reason, does not constitute a defence." The man had pleaded not guilty at the judge-alone trial, which was held virtually at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Canada, a first-degree murder conviction carries an automatic life sentence without the possibility of parole for 25 years. Justice rejected defence's autism argument Defence lawyer Boris Bytensky said in his closing arguments that his client's autism disorder left him without the ability to develop empathy, arguing that his client had no idea how horrific his actions were to his victims, his family and the community. Molloy outright rejected that notion in her decision, which you can read in full at the bottom of this story. "He considered the impact it would have on his family, and deliberately set those thoughts aside, ignoring them, because he did not want them to deter him from achieving this important goal," she said, noting that he had been fantasizing about a crime like this for over a decade. "He was capable of understanding the impact it would have on his victims. "He knew death would be irreversible. He knew their families would grieve." WATCH | Remembering the victims of the Toronto van attack: Elwood Delaney, who lost his 80-year-old grandmother Dorothy Sewell in the attack, told CBC News that watching the judge give her decision was extremely emotional for his family. "I don't want to say happy, but we were relieved," he said. "I've held a lot of anger towards him this whole entire time. Knowing that he's going to be locked up for a very long time … is a relief." Delaney said his grandmother was one of Canada's biggest sports fans, and was a fervent follower of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Blue Jays. "Every time I watch sports … I constantly think of her," he said. "I miss her a lot. We all do." WATCH | Man remembers grandmother who was killed in Toronto attack: Crown lawyer praises everyday people at scene Speaking outside the courthouse after the decision was read, Crown attorney Joe Callaghan lauded the actions of the first responders who attended the scene, and read off the names of everyone killed in the attack. "In addition, a neighbourhood was attacked, leaving its residents fearful and traumatized," he said. Callaghan also commended the actions of everyday people who were on the street that day, who tried to help victims who had been struck and comforted the dying. "They demonstrated a remarkable level of selflessness and empathy, reflecting the true community spirit of this city," he said. Cathy Riddell, who was badly injured in the attack, also told reporters outside the courthouse that she feels justice has been done. "I probably will sleep tonight for the first time in a while," she said. "He can spend the rest of his life in jail, because he deserves it … he took lives, and he didn't care." WATCH | Family members, victim and Crown attorney react to judge's decision: Police say on the afternoon of April 23, 2018, the killer drove a rented van down Yonge Street near Finch Avenue, veering onto the busy sidewalk and hitting one person after another. After a brief standoff with a police officer, he was arrested. His victims included Sewell, who was killed, and another woman who survived but had both of her legs amputated as a result of injuries suffered in the attack. Molloy made sure to say the name and age of each of the victims in her decision. She also listed the serious, and in some cases life-changing injuries suffered by those who survived, including broken bones, bleeding on the brain and a collapsed lung. The judge also said she would not be naming the killer in her decision and referred to him instead as "John Doe," noting that notoriety was a driving force in his crimes. "I am acutely aware that all of this attention and media coverage is exactly what this man sought from the start," she said. CBC News will continue to use his name, in some instances, for clarity. Toronto van attack victim Cathy Riddell speaks with the media outside the Superior Court of Justice on March 3, 2021. She says she has no memory of the incident itself.(Evan Mitsui/CBC) Autism group relieved at verdict In a statement issued Wednesday morning, the Ontario Autism Coalition said it was relieved at Molloy's decision, and said it was a "firm rejection" of the use of autism as a defence. "Violent traits have no connection to autism; in fact, people on the autism spectrum are far more likely to be victims as opposed to perpetrators of violence," the statement reads. "The court's decision makes it clear this was never a case of autism causing mass murder, but rather a case where someone who committed mass murder happened to have autism. "An autism diagnosis does not predispose one to commit acts of violence." The killer told police his rampage was a mission for the incel movement, an online subculture of so-called "involuntarily celibate" men who direct their misogynistic rage at women. But Molloy noted in her decision that he also made mention in interviews of making that connection purely to upgrade the notoriety of his actions. Molloy said the killer has never shown any pleasure or sense of satisfaction to have killed or injured women, apart from the notoriety his crimes have brought to him. "Accordingly, I agree with the assessors that [the killer's] story to the police about the attack being an 'incel rebellion' was a lie," the judge wrote.
Starting Thursday, non-essential travellers who are already required to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test on the Windsor side of the land border must participate in on-site testing at the Ambassador Bridge or Windsor-Detroit Tunnel. Trailers in the duty-free parking lots of both the Ambassador Bridge and Windsor-Detroit Tunnel, set up by the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Red Cross, will be used for tests of non-essential, Canadian travellers coming back into Canada — as well as those who have landed from out of the country. Testing will begin Thursday at 7 a.m. at both the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel and Ambassador Bridge. An onsite testing trailer can be seen in the duty free store parking lot at the Ambassador Bridge. (Sanjay Maru/CBC) "This won't affect [essential workers]. They'll pull up to the customs lanes. They'll say they're an essential worker and they'll do what they've done for the past year," said Chris Tremblay, general manager for Windsor Detroit Borderlink, the company which operates the tunnel. Melanie Soler, vice president of emergency management response operations for the Canadian Red Cross, said individuals who partake in on-site testing at the land border will be given two testing kits. The first kit will be self-administered by the traveller inside the testing trailer. "Our personnel will observe them administering their own sample and packaging their own sample," said Soler. "Once the traveler deposits that sample in a safe and sanitary spot, our personnel will put that in a refrigeration package to make sure it gets to the lab for testing." It's not mandatory for individuals to be supervised by Red Cross staff when they self-administer their "day one" test, but the option is there in case they have any questions about it or need assistance, she added. In fact, a non-essential traveller can self-administer the "day one" swab in their personal quarantine location, if desired, according to PHAC. The general manager of the Ambassador Bridge says while it may seem redundant to come to the border with proof a COVID-19 test result only to be swabbed again on site, it's an added measure to keep people safe.(Sanjay Maru/CBC) After the first test is done, the traveller will be given a second testing kit which they will self-administer on "day 10" of quarantine. "The Public Health Agency of Canada is leading the collection of samples from travellers at land borders in coordination with federal partners including Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Canada Border Services Agency," said PHAC in a statement. In all instances of on-site testing, travellers will be pulled away from the flow of essential traffic to ensure border flow keeps moving. 'A lot can happen within 72 hours' Since Feb. 15, non-essential travellers entering Canada through the land border have been required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test conducted 72 hours before arrival. According to the Public Health of Agency of Canada, this on-site testing effort will help travellers "meet day one arrival requirements." But that doesn't mean on-site testing will replace the need for a pre-arrival test. Non-essential travellers will still have to show up to the border with proof of a negative result even if they participate in on-site testing. In fact, travellers without that pre-arrival test result may be directed to a designated quarantine facility by PHAC officials, according to the CBSA. COVID-19 testing trailers like these have been setup near Windsor's two international land border crossings. (Sanjay Maru/CBC) "From our level, is it redundant? Sounds like it's redundant," said Ambassador Bridge general manager Randy Spader. "I'm going to give you a negative test — and you're going to test me?" He adds, however, that "a lot can happen within 72 hours," and the federal government is seemingly doing whatever it can to prevent the cross-border spread of COVID-19. "Somebody who takes a test on Thursday, they're at the border on Sunday. What were they doing for those three days?" he said. "I think it's just a precaution to ensure the testing ramps us and Canada has the most information available to them for people wanting to get home." An invalid or inconclusive "day 10" test result will result in another test being mailed out to the traveller. The federal governments adds that failure to complete either of the self-administered swabs "could lead to fines of up to $750,000 or imprisonment."
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. There are 872,747 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 872,747 confirmed cases (30,252 active, 820,450 resolved, 22,045 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 2,457 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 79.6 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20,449 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,921. There were 28 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 284 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 41. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.11 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 58.01 per 100,000 people. There have been 24,620,804 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 994 confirmed cases (207 active, 781 resolved, six deaths). There were five new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 39.65 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 40 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is six. There were no new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.05 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 198,862 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 136 confirmed cases (22 active, 114 resolved, zero deaths). There were four new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 13.78 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 21 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 104,715 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,643 confirmed cases (29 active, 1,549 resolved, 65 deaths). There was one new case Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 2.96 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 30 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.64 per 100,000 people. There have been 338,114 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,435 confirmed cases (37 active, 1,370 resolved, 28 deaths). There were four new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 4.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There was one new reported death Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.04 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 3.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 237,782 tests completed. _ Quebec: 288,941 confirmed cases (7,378 active, 271,156 resolved, 10,407 deaths). There were 588 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 86.05 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,275 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 754. There were eight 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 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 121.37 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,320,910 tests completed. _ Ontario: 302,805 confirmed cases (10,546 active, 285,262 resolved, 6,997 deaths). There were 966 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 71.58 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 7,686 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,098. There were 11 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 113 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 16. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.11 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.49 per 100,000 people. There have been 10,933,714 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 31,950 confirmed cases (1,151 active, 29,901 resolved, 898 deaths). There were 56 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 83.45 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 405 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 58. There were two new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 12 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 65.11 per 100,000 people. There have been 533,840 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 28,938 confirmed cases (1,492 active, 27,059 resolved, 387 deaths). There were 137 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 126.58 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,015 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 145. There were two new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 11 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 32.83 per 100,000 people. There have been 577,151 tests completed. _ Alberta: 134,052 confirmed cases (4,631 active, 127,531 resolved, 1,890 deaths). There were 257 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 104.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,449 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 350. There were two new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 37 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 42.74 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,409,039 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 81,367 confirmed cases (4,747 active, 75,255 resolved, 1,365 deaths). There were 438 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 92.22 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,509 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 501. There were two new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 29 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.08 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.52 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,935,174 tests completed. _ Yukon: 72 confirmed cases (zero active, 71 resolved, one death). There were no 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 2.38 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,172 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 42 confirmed cases (three active, 39 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 6.64 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 14,559 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 359 confirmed cases (nine active, 349 resolved, one death). There was one new case Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 22.87 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been eight new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,696 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
The number of charging points for electric vehicles in Germany has increased by more than 10% in the past three months to reach 39,538, energy industry association BDEW said on Wednesday. Policymakers in Europe's biggest economy aim to cut emissions from transport by expanding the use of electric vehicles. "The expansion of public charging points continues unabated," BDEW said, adding that government efforts to boost demand for electric vehicles and equipment were bearing fruit.
Orban announced the decision in a letter to the chairman of the EPP, Manfred Weber, on Wednesday, making good on his threat to leave the grouping over changes to its rules.View on euronews
It was 11:30 on a night in early May when Louisa Mussells Pires first walked into a long-term care home in Lachine and learned some hard truths about the health-care system in one of the richest countries in the world. Pires, 31, had almost finished nursing school. There was a crying need for extra staff in Quebec's long-term care network, which had been decimated by COVID-19 infections. So she volunteered to help and readily agreed to grab a night shift at the CHSLD Nazaire-Piché. Pires can still recall in vivid detail what it was like to walk through its halls for the first time. It was dark. The common areas were roped off. At a nursing station, a television blared news about the dizzying death toll at CHSLDs across the province. She eventually found the only other person working on the floor, a tired-looking nurse. "Tell me what needs to be done," Pires said to her. The nurse replied: "Make sure everyone is breathing. And then come back and we'll take things from there." Scattered throughout the ward were large piles of pink plastic bags that held the final possessions of the residents who had succumbed to COVID-19. An inside view of CHSLD Nazaire-Piché in Lachine.(Myriam Fimbry/CBC) Over the next few weeks, until military reinforcements arrived, Pires and the rest of the skeleton staff were able to offer a minimum level of care. The residents were cleaned, fed and given medication; little else. When an infected resident began to hyperventilate, Pires knew the end was near and provided what comfort she could. But make no mistake, she said, these were lonely deaths, away from family and friends, away from those who loved them the most. "It was a reminder that even in a high-income country, that is supposed to be well off, you can have a humanitarian crisis of this scale," Pires said in a recent interview. "It might be quickly forgotten. But it happened. I mean, how can you have people dying of dehydration in Canada?" Last spring, 5,000 people in the province died of COVID-19, more than anywhere else in Canada. And the sense that Quebec's health-care system failed is as widespread among many frontline workers as it is among the families of the dead. But it is less clear how the system's administrators could have acted differently, faced with an unprecedented situation. CBC News conducted a series of interviews with both frontline workers and managers to get a better understanding of how one part of the system — the health authority covering Montreal's West Island — responded at the outset of the pandemic. What emerged was a portrait of a system under severe strain, exposing some to uncommon horrors while others had to make ethically fraught, complex decisions. WATCH: One year later, front-line workers reflect on how they responded in the first weeks of the pandemic 'We had to improvise' The top officials in the West Island health authority — the Integrated University Health and Social Services Centre (CIUSSS) — began planning for a pandemic in January of 2020, as evidence began to accumulate that a novel coronavirus was spreading around the world. In those early plans, any West Island cases of COVID-19 were to be transferred to the Jewish General Hospital, which has several negative pressure rooms, ideal for treating infectious diseases. The lone hospital in the West Island, Lakeshore General, was built in 1965 and doesn't have the same up-to-date equipment. It also has one of the city's busiest emergency rooms. Louisa Mussells Pires, 31, worked at CHSLD Nazaire-Piché during the first wave of the pandemic. (Simon Nakonechny/CBC) By mid-March it was apparent that Quebec was seeing more cases than initially anticipated. The West Island CIUSSS leadership began meeting every morning in a large boardroom on the fifth floor of Lakeshore General Hospital. They were carefully monitoring the hospital's capacity. The hospital serves a territory dotted with homes for the elderly and long-term care centres, and suspected COVID cases kept coming into the ER. When the Jewish General hit capacity in the third week of March, those cases could no longer be transferred downtown. "We had no choice. Somebody had to take those patients," said Dr. Guy Bisson, Lakeshore's medical co-ordinator. Plastic dividers were thrown up and a makeshift COVID ward was fashioned out of a short-term stay ward. "We couldn't close the door. We had to improvise," said Bisson. Herron and the CHSLD disaster On Sunday, March 29, the morning meeting of the CIUSSS West Island's leadership was interrupted by a call from CHSLD Herron. They needed staff, urgently. It was unclear, at first, how bad the situation was, said Najia Hachimi-Idrissi, the associate CEO of the CIUSSS. Two colleagues were dispatched to investigate. "The conditions were disgusting. The patients were drenched in urine and feces," Loredana Mule, a nurse who was assigned to help at Herron that night, told CBC News last April. "It was quite appalling." A body is removed from CHSLD Herron on Saturday, April 11, 2020.(Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press) The health authority placed Herron under trusteeship on March 29. But that was not enough to prevent at least 47 residents from dying last spring — deaths that will be the subject of a coroner's inquiry this fall. "It was very difficult emotionally for everybody," Hachimi-Idrissi said. "In a society like ours, we would like to be more organized. Nobody knew the virus could be that destructive." The situation at Herron prefigured similar staffing situations at CHSLDs elsewhere in the province. Underpaid staff were getting sick; others were too frightened to show up to work. Their managers, meanwhile, were overstretched, racing to different locations, said Anne-Marie Chiquette, who works for an organization, APER, that represents health-care managers. In 2015, Health Minister Gaétan Barrette amalgamated dozens of local medical establishments into a handful of super-agencies. At the same time, he eliminated around 1,300 management positions in the health-care system. Chiquette said those reforms — which left fewer managers responsible for larger areas — contributed to the scale of the tragedy in the CHSLD network. "When you have a pandemic, you need to have a link with employees to reassure them, because they are scared. But in this case the managers couldn't be there," Chiquette said. At one point while Pires was working at CHSLD Nazaire-Piché, the building ran out of apple juice. The staff spent several hours trying to identify who was responsible for replenishing their stock. Eventually they gave up. "There was no clear person in charge," she said. ""There was a lack of leadership. I don't think it was due to personal shortcomings. It was due to the structure of the system." As the virus continued to spread within the long-term care network, the ER at Lakeshore went through periods when it was effectively overwhelmed. Nathan Friedland, an ER nurse at the hospital, recalled one day in early May when in the span of 15 minutes five ambulances arrived, each carrying ailing patients from long-term care homes. The ER was already jammed. The incoming stretchers were placed in a waiting area. Among them was a woman in severe respiratory distress. All he could do was get her a blanket. "I had a line of patients, five in a row, with this woman dying in front of me and I had to go to the next patient," he said in a recent interview. The hospital's morgue eventually filled up and the dead had to be stored in a refrigerated truck parked behind the hospital. "It was deeply disturbing," Friedland said. At the height of the first wave, nearly half of the Lakeshore's 265 beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients. After the first wave, staff at Lakeshore Hospital undertook renovations aimed at decreasing transmission of COVID-19.(Jaela Bernstien/CBC ) That required making difficult decisions about who received the limited amount of personal protective equipment available. They also had to choose which non-urgent surgeries would be cancelled and which patients would be transferred to other hospitals. Hachimi-Idrissi rejected the suggestion that the health-care system in the West Island collapsed in the spring. "But we did have to make choices about where we concentrated the resources that we had," she said. "It was risk management everyday." Is anyone to blame? The staggering death toll from those first critical months of the pandemic has left many of those who had to witness it up close demanding accountability. Frontline health-care workers have complained for years about staffing shortages, ramshackle long-term care homes and overcrowded ERs. They feel that if only their warnings had been heeded, the outcome could have been different. "The virus made a mockery of our health-care system," said Friedland. Legault has also called for accountability, though he denies any of his government's decisions contributed to the scale of the disaster. In recent interviews marking the anniversary of the first case, Legault has suggested there were major shortcomings in the management of the health-care system. At one point in the pandemic, Legault mused about firing half of the health authority CEOs in Montreal, according to a new book by Alec Castonguay. But the eagerness to lay blame may also obscure the unprecedented nature of the crisis that Quebec confronted last year. Those who administer the province's large, complex health-care system have difficulty identifying what they could have done differently, given what they knew at the time and the resources they had available. "The problem is not the hospitals. It's not the CHSLDs," said Bisson. "The problem is COVID. That's the true culprit. We have to remember that."
The Red Shores racetrack in Charlottetown is in a complete lockdown in an effort to control an outbreak of strangles. About 200 horses at the track were tested late last week, and officials are now awaiting those results before deciding on further actions. "We decided that to get a better understanding of what we're dealing with, and for heightened precautionary measures, that we would go into a lockdown for the grounds, which essentially means no horses coming or going for a time period," said Lee Drake, manager of racing, brands and broadcast divisions at Red Shores. "We've only had two confirmed cases of strangles on Prince Edward Island. Those horses were removed from the barns and are undergoing isolation at this point, and we are conducting screening tests for all the horses that are currently on the grounds." Red Shores Racetrack has taken measures to prevent the spread of strangles, including adding security and restricting who can enter the barns.(Shane Hennessey/CBC) The cost of the mandatory testing is being covered by Red Shores, the P.E.I. Harness Racing Industry Association and the Atlantic Provinces Harness Racing Commission. Highly contagious Red Shores says only essential workers will be allowed into each barn, as identified by each trainer, and they must now follow strict biosecurity measures. That means foot baths, brushes and disinfectant have been supplied to each barn. (Red Shores Racetrack)Strangles is an upper-respiratory illness that can cause swollen lymph nodes, nasal discharge and fevers in horses, donkeys and mules. While the illness can be fatal, most animals do survive. It is highly contagious and spreads easily through nose to nose contact between horses, or even contact with people. If handlers get the bacteria from one horse on their hands, feet or clothing, they can pass it on to another horse. A meeting was held on February 23 that included the Atlantic Veterinary College, Charlottetown Veterinary Clinic, Prince Edward Island Harness Racing Industry Association, Atlantic Provinces Harness Racing Commission and Red Shores. The lockdown took effect two days later, with no additional horses allowed on the grounds until further notice. "The next step is to to consult with the veterinarians — they are, of course, guiding us through this — and just get a better understanding of those results, the next steps," Drake said. "I should say that's confidential, like a doctor-patient privilege, if you will, between them and their client [the horse owner]. And so they'll be guiding them, and updating us, on the next steps that are going to be taken." Lockdown rules Under the lockdown rules, horses will be allowed to leave the track property only if they have a clearance letter from a veterinarian. During the lockdown, Red Shores says only essential workers will be allowed into each barn, and they must now follow strict biosecurity measures, including foot baths, brushes and disinfectant supplied to each barn. About 200 horses at the track were tested late last week and officials are now awaiting those results before deciding on further actions.(CBC) Owners and trainers are also being encouraged to take their horses' temperature daily and log the results, and consult a veterinarian if they see any symptoms. Drake said he can't confirm stories of strangles in other horses on P.E.I., outside of the racetrack. "Whether you're based on track, or you're on a farm, you have a heightened awareness of what's happening," Drake said. A medical laboratory technician in the AVC Diagnostic Services bacteriology lab examines bacterial growth on culture plates. (Anna MacDonald/AVC) "Until we know more of what we're dealing with, every stable — whether you're either on the grounds here or off the grounds — should be doing the measures that the veterinarians have asked. And that is, keeping a close watch on your horses and doing daily temperature checks." Meanwhile, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario says it has been informed that three additional horses tested positive for strangles in a barn at Shamrock Training Centre. Restrictions were put in place there after a horse shipped from Prince Edward Island tested positive. It had just been transported from Red Shores on Sunday, Feb. 14. No horses will be allowed to ship in for training until further notice.(Shane Hennessey/CBC) Also, Truro Raceway has issued a statement saying that it will be restricting horses from P.E.I. because of the strangles outbreak. "Any individual seeking to move a horse from P.E.I. to Truro will need the horse to have two negative strangles tests, conducted one week apart, prior to being permitted to enter the property," Truro officials said in the statement. "We will continue to monitor the situation, and this will be our policy until further notice." More from CBC P.E.I.
Another socially-distanced legislative session kicked off this week, this one marked by COVID-related issues, a two-month delay of the provincial budget, and an Opposition bench tasked with holding a majority government in check during a pandemic. “Our job as the Official Opposition is to hold the government to account,” said Interim BC Liberal Opposition Leader Shirley Bond on Feb. 26. “That's going to be a challenging job with a significant majority in the legislature, but we have a skilled team.” One immediate challenge will be the delayed provincial budget. The legislative session will run from Mar. 1 to June 17, with some breaks, and the budget will be presented on Apr. 20. Typically tabled every year in mid-February, governments were legally bound to present a budget by the end of March. However, the Finance Statutes Amendment Act 2020, passed last December, extends the deadline to Apr. 30 when a budget follows an October election, as it does this year. “British Columbians deserve to know the financial state of our province,” said Bond. “We should have had that discussion. The budget should have been tabled by now.” Back in December, the Liberals voted against the legislation containing the extension. “We really don't see a need why it had to happen,” said BC Liberal House Leader Peter Milobar last week. “We said this would create uncertainty with groups. It was brushed off by government.” Now, as session begins two weeks after a budget would normally have been introduced, agencies, businesses and associations are starting to get worried, he said. “I've spent this week on a lot of Zoom calls with agencies and organizations that don't know what the budget delay will, or won't, mean to them,” said Milobar who represents the riding of Kamloops-North Thompson. “It's incumbent on the government, they're the ones that have delayed this budget, to provide that certainty.” The December legislation also included a provision to extend special warrant spending authority to keep essential funds flowing if the budget and estimates are presented after the beginning of the new fiscal year – Apr.1 for most businesses and institutions – which will be the case this spring. “It is not intended to provide for new program spending but, rather, to provide for continuation of the operations of government until a supply act can be passed by the Legislative Assembly,” Finance Minister Selina Robinson told the legislature on Dec. 9. “Any enhanced or expanded programming cannot happen until a new budget is introduced,” Milobar said. Meanwhile, the government will have four weeks to introduce legislation prior to the Throne speech, which occurs one week before the budget. “I'm assuming the government will have work for legislators to do. We'll have to wait and see what that agenda looks like,” said Bond, who is MLA for Prince George-Valemount, and will be attending the session in person for the first time since the pandemic began. Previously, she attended by Zoom, as do the majority MLAs due to public health restrictions. The top priority is the pandemic and the health and well-being of British Columbians, but people are also concerned about economic issues, said Bond. “How is British Columbia going to emerge as we move ahead? Sectors, like the tourism sector, that have been decimated by COVID, what will the government do to support and energize that sector?” Last year, the Province announced $105 million in funding for the sector, along with the creation of a task force made up of tourism and hospitality industry representatives to disperse the funding. “We're going to be highlighting the challenges that the Horgan government has created for small businesses and for British Columbians – a quarter of a billion dollars sitting on the sidelines, because the government couldn't manage the to get it out the door,” said Bond, referencing the $280 million or so in COVID-19 relief funding still not disbursed from $300 million designated for small and medium-sized businesses. The program is set to expire mar. 31, when any remaining funding will be rolled back into the provincial government coffers, Premier John Horgan confirmed in February. “They've made lots of commitments, and many of them they've yet to deliver,” said Bond. “There's going to be no shortage of questionable situations around how the premier and his ministers have been handling their files,” said Milobar. “We're all very focused on wanting to shine a light on the shortcomings of the government's response to a wide range of issues.” Additional priorities for the Opposition will include scrutiny of the vaccination roll out and continued calls for rapid testing in long term care and schools, said Bond, who is also the opposition critic for seniors services and long-term care. “There will be lots of debate and dialogue,” said Bond. “It's going to be a very intense session.” Fran@thegoatnews.ca / @FranYanor Fran Yanor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Rocky Mountain Goat
The real estate development company that now owns Ottawa's former Greyhound bus terminal land says it's committed to consulting the community before developing the land. "Everything is on the table," said Jessy Desjardins, Brigil's vice-president of development and design, adding that the company is still working on how it will receive feedback from stakeholders. The sale of the land was finalized Monday. Last month, Brigil said the one-hectare Ottawa Central Station site on Catherine Street is "a prime location for a prestigious project promoting urban densification." Greyhound bus services remain suspended across Canada and the transportation company has not announced a new terminal location in Ottawa. Plans were said to be underway to build a multi-use space featuring apartments, luxury rental condos, office space, hotel buildings, restaurants and retail stores. This week, Brigil fine-tuned that vision. Desjardins, son of founder Gilles Desjardins, says the company is looking to Copenhagen for inspiration. Desjardins said the company will invite designs from architectural firms in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto. The best concepts will be presented to stakeholder groups including politicians, merchants and citizens. At the centre of Brigil's vision is the concept of "the 15-minute walkable neighbourhood," where cars would be unnecessary. To that end, lower levels of a building that might be as tall as 27 storeys would be clad in brick at street level, and house a mixture of office and retail space. Upper stories would blend townhouse style condominiums along with rental accommodations, including some priced affordably, said Desjardins. Brigil says construction will begin at their newly-acquired Catherine street land in 2023.(Brian Morris/CBC) "We're not a big fan of just creating affordable housing on its own. We like to see it as a mixture in the building." It was the COVID-19 pandemic that killed the business model of Greyhound, the iconic bus company that offered affordable, long-distance travel and operated on the land since 1994. Desjardins says his company believes the migration of people and businesses out of the inner core is temporary and that Brigil's acquisition of the bus station lands is not a gamble. "Urban cores are the centre of everything," said Desjardins. "Once everything resumes, people are going to want to see each other, see shows, music festivals." Desjardins said the first phase of construction would likely not start until 2023. 'Long time coming' "It's been a long time coming," said Ray Sullivan, executive director of Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation which owns and operates over 50 properties in the city. "I'm all in favour of intensification, especially close to transit and road corridors, as that site is." Sullivan said there was a long history of groups like his calling for more affordable housing in Centretown and that the city should act on its commitment to affordable housing now. "When the city increases the zoning on a site like that, up to 27 storeys, they're literally creating value, they're creating wealth, out of thin air for that owner," he said. "What are we going to get as a neighborhood in return for that value the city created?" Mindy Sichel, president of the Centretown Community Association, said news that the bus station was gone forever had initially saddened her. "I think it's a big loss for the downtown area," she said. She hopes a design competition would lead to a building that's "more interesting and not boring" compared to others recently constructed in Centretown.
Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon on Wednesday defended her handling of sexual harassment complaints against her predecessor Alex Salmond in high-stakes testimony on an issue that threatens to scupper her dream of leading Scotland to independence. Describing the feud with Salmond as "one of the most invidious political and personal situations" she had ever faced, Sturgeon denied Salmond's accusations that she had plotted against him and misled the Scottish parliament. The feud between the pair, once close friends and powerful allies in the cause of Scottish independence, has reached fever pitch in recent weeks, threatening the electoral prospects of the Scottish National Party (SNP) at a crucial time.
The rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations in Ontario is happening at 34 different speeds, with each public health unit taking its own approach. The pace in the province's largest public health unit is notably slower than average. Officials in Toronto can't say when people aged 80 and up will be eligible to get vaccinated and are urging people not to call the public health hotline with questions about the timeline. Meanwhile, several public health units covering large urban areas have already started giving shots to that age group. York Region and Windsor-Essex both began their vaccinations of 80-plus-year-olds on Monday. In York Region, 20,000 of the roughly 45,000 people eligible have already booked appointments. People aged 80 and older line up outside a sports centre in Richmond Hill, Ont. on Monday to be among the first participants in York Region's mass vaccination program against COVID-19.(Evan Mitsui/CBC) During a City of Toronto news conference on Monday, officials were asked specifically when people in this age group in can expect to get the shot. There was no clear answer. Medical officer of health Dr Eileen de Villa spoke for two and a half minutes without addressing the question. WATCH | Questions and concerns continue around the timeline for Ontario's COVID-19 vaccine rollout: Next, Fire Chief Matthew Pegg, leading Toronto's COVID-19 emergency response, said bookings would begin once the province's appointment system launches (slated for March 15), and added that vaccinations would begin in "early April." De Villa then jumped in to say that vaccinations of some sub-groups of people in this age group could begin this month, but added, "We need supply to be more readily available to get into the large-scale administration of vaccine for that 80-plus population." Given that all of Ontario's public health units are facing the same supply constraints, why is Ontario's largest city weeks behind other major population centres in the province? Ontario's timeline for vaccinating people against COVID-19 puts 2.1 million people in its Phase 1 priority group, including long-term care residents, health-care workers and people aged 80 and older.(Ontario Ministry of Health) The chair of Toronto's board of health, Coun. Joe Cressy, blames a vaccine allocation mismatch: the province is distributing doses to each public health unit based solely on its total population, not based on its population in the high-priority groups. In short, the argument is that Toronto is hampered from moving on to vaccinate seniors aged 80 and older because it has yet to receive enough doses to vaccinate those who were first in line -- such as hospital workers. "We have a disproportionately large number of people who qualify in phase 1 because they are more vulnerable," Cressy told the news conference. That leads to a question: why didn't the province provide a larger number of vaccines to places with a larger number of people in priority groups? Solicitor-General Sylvia Jones acknowledged Tuesday that Toronto's explanation for its slower pace "makes sense." But when asked whether the province should have distributed doses on an as-needed basis instead of a per-capita basis, she didn't directly answer. Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa, left, gives Ontario Premier Doug Ford, centre, and Toronto Mayor John Tory, right, a tour of a vaccination clinic for health-care workers in January. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press) "The focus on the over 80 (age group) is critical," Jones told a news conference. "We'd love to have more vaccines to give to our public health units." Just don't ask the provincial government how many vaccine doses it has actually given to its public health units. The Ministry of Health refused CBC's request for this data on Tuesday, citing security concerns. The government also refused to provide a breakdown of how many vaccine doses have been administered by each public health unit, even though the ministry reports a province-wide total every day. The lack of disclosure makes it challenging to prove or disprove the claim that the distribution of vaccines has been unfair to Toronto. However, some figures disclosed by health units allow for rough math. The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit says it has received 12,285 doses of vaccine, while Toronto has received 195,440 doses. Using population data from Public Health Ontario, those shipments are enough to give one dose to 10.8 per cent of people living in Haldimand-Norfolk, but just 6.3 per cent of the population of Toronto. Toronto Public Health estimates that 325,000 people are eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19 under Phase 1 of Ontario's vaccine rollout. (Evan Mitsui/CBC) What is less clear is the evidence for Toronto's claim of being home to a disproportionate number of people in the priority groups for vaccination. People aged 80 and over are part of phase 1 of Ontario's vaccination timeline. But before getting to them, public health units were told to target the province's top-priority categories: long-term care residents and staff, other front-line health-care workers and Indigenous people. Ontario estimates 1.15 million people belong to those highest-priority groups. That is roughly eight per cent of the province's total population. Toronto Public Health could not provide an estimate Tuesday of how many people in the city are in those top-priority groups. But for Toronto to have a disproportionate burden, the number would need to be more than 240,000. Another comparison stick is the number of people eligible for vaccination through the whole of phase 1. Toronto Public Health says it's 325,000 people in the city, roughly 11 per cent of Toronto's population. That is no higher that the proportion of Ontario's population eligible in phase 1. Toronto Public Health COVID-19 vaccination numbers 195,440 doses of vaccine have been shipped to Toronto around 325,000 people are eligible to be vaccinated in phase 1 around 135,000 of them are aged 80 and above, including some 10,000 residents of long-term care