Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce says information on further school reopenings in the province will be announced on Wednesday. Travis Dhanraj reports.
Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce says information on further school reopenings in the province will be announced on Wednesday. Travis Dhanraj reports.
Canada's health officials spoke about the recent change in guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on the time between two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and how that may contribute to vaccine hesitancy in Canada.
LIVERPOOL, England — Liverpool’s woeful home form is developing into a full-blown crisis after Chelsea’s 1-0 victory on Thursday inflicted a fifth straight league loss at Anfield on the Premier League champions — the worst run in the club’s 128-year history. With Liverpool's title defence already over, this was billed as a battle for a Champions League place and Mason Mount’s 42nd-minute goal lifted Chelsea back into the top four. Chelsea’s previous win at Anfield, in 2014, effectively ended the title hopes of Brendan Rodgers’ side. This one was a blow to Liverpool’s chances of a top-four finish under Jurgen Klopp. Klopp’s side is four points adrift of Chelsea and with Everton and West Ham also ahead. Liverpool has now gone more than 10 hours without a goal from open play at Anfield. The hosts failed to register an effort on target until the 85th minute and Georginio Wijnaldum’s weak header was never going to beat Edouard Mendy. They have taken one point from the last 21 on offer at home since Christmas and scored just two goals, one of which was a penalty. None of Liverpool's established front three — Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino — impressed but the sight of Salah, the Premier League’s leading scorer, being substituted just past the hour mark was baffling. The Egypt international certainly thought so as he sat shaking his head, having been replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Chelsea, by contrast, looked full of threat with Timo Werner — a player Liverpool was interested in but decided it could not afford last summer — a constant problem. Despite one goal in his previous 17 league outings, he caused problems with his movement, drifting out to the left then popping into the middle to give Fabinho a real headache on his return to the side. The Brazil midfielder, replacing Nat Phillips after he became the latest centre back to pick up an injury, was partnering Ozan Kabak in Liverpool’s 15th different central-defensive starting partnership in 27 league matches. Faced with a statistic like that, it is perhaps understandable why there was a lack of cohesion at the back and Werner should really have profited. He fired one early shot over and then failed to lift his effort over Alisson Becker, back in goal after the death of his father in Brazil last week. Even when Werner did beat Alisson, VAR ruled the Germany international’s arm had been offside 20 yards earlier in the build-up. Liverpool’s one chance fell to Mane but Salah’s first-time ball over the top got caught under his feet and Mane missed his shot with only Mendy to beat. Chelsea was still controlling the game and caught Liverpool on the counterattack when N’Golo Kante quickly sent a loose ball out to the left wing, from where Mount cut inside to beat Alisson having been given far too much time to pick his spot. All five of Mount’s league goals have come away from home. Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel spent the first five minutes of the second half screaming at his players to press harder and play higher up the pitch but Liverpool’s players were equally vocal when Firmino’s cross hit the raised arm of Kante from close range. No penalty was awarded. Andy Robertson cleared off the line from Hakim Ziyech after Alisson parried Ben Chilwell’s shot as Chelsea continued to look more dangerous. Klopp’s attempt to change the direction of the game saw him send on Diogo Jota for his first appearance in three months, along with Oxlade-Chamberlain. Jota’s first touch was a half-chance from a deep cross but he was not sharp enough to take it. Werner, meanwhile, was doing everything but score as Alisson’s leg saved another shot as he bore down on goal. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
A large parking lot that's become a canvas for graffiti in Halifax's North End is being converted into a pair of low-rise buildings that will provide 57 affordable apartment units. But it will take two years or longer before people can move in, according to the housing co-op that acquired the land from the federal government through a national housing initiative. The project will be constructed in an underutilized parking lot on Maitland Street near Portland Place, and it's expected that ground breaking will begin in early 2022 with occupancy about 12 to 18 months later, said Karen Brodeur, president of Compass Nova Scotia Co-operative Homes. She participated in a virtual news conference with Halifax MP Andy Fillmore on Thursday. Dubbed the North-End Neighbourhood Development, the property is located behind a bakery, a restaurant and a pub on Gottingen Street, and across the street from townhouses. The project will build two six-storey apartment buildings with one-, two- and three-bedroom units. "This will mean that the development is accessible to a huge range of household types, something that we desperately need in the HRM," said Brodeur. The parking lot is a popular spot for graffiti artists.(Dave Laughlin/CBC) The federal government is providing Compass with $1.5 million in funding through the National Housing Strategy Federal Lands Initiative to purchase the property, while the Nova Scotia government is committing $3 million toward the development. The city also provided rebates on some fees to help move the project forward. Fillmore praised the project for turning the usually empty parking lot that's "kind of a blight" in the neighbourhood into homes. Jim Graham, executive director of the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia, welcomed the announcement, but said it's not a silver bullet to fix the city's affordable housing crunch. "Every little bit helps, it's just a shame that things take as long as they do," he said, citing the challenges of navigating federal, provincial and municipal agencies to make affordable housing proposals a reality. He added the 57 units will barely make a dent in the demand for affordable housing. Graham said some European cities have achieved a balanced housing market in which 12 to 15 per cent or more of rentals are non-profit compared to market-priced units. In Halifax, non-profit rentals are running at about two per cent of the overall rental housing stock, he said. Graham is the executive director of the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia. The non-profit's website says 'decent, affordable and sustainable housing is a basic human right and the first step toward personal, social, economic and cultural well-being and empowerment.'(Jim Graham) "It's very small. So there's a long hill to climb here," said Graham. He said the city's affordable housing supply is low because successive provincial governments haven't built a public housing project since the 90s. This project is being developed under a housing co-operative model, in which residents are members of the co-op and vote on decisions. Brodeur said Compass wishes to draw upon the co-operative's values of "sustainability, inclusion and collaboration" from the project's construction right through to occupancy. She said individual housing charges have not been determined, but Compass is "committed to maintaining average rents at 75 per cent of the median market rent for the area and time." Currently, the median monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in north-end Halifax is $1,100, a two-bedroom is $1,195 and a three-bedroom is $1,200. Under its lands initiative, Ottawa will spend $200 million over 10 years to offload surplus federal properties at discounted or no-cost rates to encourage development of affordable, sustainable, accessible and socially inclusive housing. The parking lot is surrounded by a new development and townhouses.(Dave Laughlin/CBC) MORE TOP STORIES
YELLOWKNIFE — Residents of the Northwest Territories who are from Norman Wells and Fort Simpson can now self-isolate at home if they leave the territory. A previous public-health order required anyone who left N.W.T. to isolate for 14 days in Yellowknife, Fort Smith, Hay River or Inuvik. The territory's chief public health officer, Dr. Kami Kandola, says the order was changed because Norman Wells and Fort Simpson both have a wastewater surveillance program to test for COVID-19. The two communities also have adequate medical resources to support new infections. Kandola says only residents of Normal Wells and Fort Simpson will be allowed to self-isolate there. They must also submit a self-isolation plan to the territory's public-health office. There are currently two active cases of COVID-19 in the territory. The Canadian Press
One of Canada's top public health officials sought to reassure Canadians today that a recommendation from a federal vaccine advisory committee to stretch out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses is a sound one. Yesterday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended that the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months due to limited supplies. Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said the advice is based on real-world data that shows doing so would lead to more people being protected from COVID-19 in a shorter time period. "This recommendation is based on clinical trial reports and emerging real-world evidence from around the world. Data shows that several weeks after being administered, first doses of vaccines provide highly effective protection against symptomatic disease, hospitalization and death," Njoo told a technical briefing today. Confusion over conflicting advice Njoo's comments appeared to be addressing the confusion created by the fact that NACI's recommendation conflicts with those issued by Health Canada when it granted regulatory approvals for the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines. Regulatory documents provided by Health Canada upon approval of each vaccine state that the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech should be taken three weeks after the first, the second Moderna shot should come four weeks after the first, and the second AstraZeneca dose should be delivered between four and 12 weeks after the first. All of those recommendations are in line with the product monograph provided by the manufacturers. Adding to the confusion, NACI recommended on Monday against giving the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to people 65 and older, although Health Canada has authorized it for use in adults of all ages. But Njoo said the discrepancies can be explained by the fact that Health Canada is a regulator and NACI is an advisory body made up of medical experts. "You have likely noticed that NACI's recommendations are sometimes different, possibly broader or narrower than the conditions of vaccine use that Health Canada has authorized. As the regulator, Health Canada authorizes each vaccine for use in Canada according to factors based on clinical trial evidence, whereas NACI bases its guidance on the available and evolving evidence in a real-world context, including the availability of other vaccines," Njoo said. "What we expect is that NACI recommendations will complement — not mirror — those of Health Canada." WATCH: Njoo comments on NACI recommendation to delay second COVID-19 vaccine doses The issue burst into the open on Monday when B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Some medical experts questioned that decision. Canada's chief science adviser, Mona Nemer, said doing so without proper clinical trials amounts to a "population level experiment." Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the U.S., told the Washington Post that the science doesn't support delaying a second dose for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. He said there isn't enough evidence to determine how much protection is provided by one dose of those vaccines, and how long it lasts. Despite those warnings, several provinces followed Henry's lead and even more have indicated they intend to stretch the dosage interval. While it appeared to some at the time that Henry was moving faster than the science, Njoo said that NACI's experts briefed provincial medical officers of health over the weekend on the results of their analysis before releasing their recommendations publicly. NACI concluded that stretching the dosing interval to four months would allow up to 80 per cent of Canadians over the age of 16 to receive a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of June, without compromising vaccine effectiveness. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. As for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, Njoo said it is safe and that evidence shows it provides protection against very serious disease and death in people of all ages. He said Health Canada has a rigorous scientific review process and only approves vaccines that meet high standards for safety, efficacy and quality. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said expert advice will continue to change as more data becomes available from ongoing mass vaccination campaigns, and she urged provinces and territories to consider recommendations and evidence from both bodies when making decisions about their vaccine strategies. "The messaging would be simpler if we had one set of data and we had one message and it never changed, but that's not what science does," said Sharma. Decision on Johnson and Johnson imminent At today's briefing, health officials also indicated that a regulatory decision on whether to approve Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine is expected soon. "The review of the Johnson & Johnson submission is going very well, it's progressing, and we're expecting to have that completed and a decision in the next few days. I would say in the next seven days or so," said Sharma. The company has said its vaccine is 66 per cent effective at preventing moderate to severe illness in a global clinical trial, and much more effective — 85 per cent — against the most serious symptoms. Canada has agreed to purchase up to 38 million doses if it is approved. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it for use in that country last Saturday. The approval of a fourth vaccine would give a significant boost to Canada's vaccine rollout. Johnson and Johnson's vaccine is widely seen as one of the easiest to administer because it requires only one dose and can be stored for long periods of time at regular refrigerator temperatures. Njoo said additional vaccines, coupled with the NACI recommendation on dosage intervals, could allow Canada to meet the goal of inoculating all adults who want a vaccine "several weeks" before the current target date of the end of September. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading Canada's COVID-19 vaccine logistics, said that while more vaccines would be good news, the current target remains the end of September.
L’appui de Développement économique pour les régions du Québec (DEC) permettra aux entreprises Annexair et Les Biotechnologies Ulysse de développer des projets en technologies propres, contribuant ainsi à la création de 24 emplois. L’annonce a été faite par le ministre de l’Innovation, des Sciences et de l’Industrie, François-Philippe Champagne, au nom de Mélanie Joly, ministre du Développement économique et des Langues officielles, responsable de DEC. « Il est primordial d’encourager les entreprises de chez nous à développer des procédés et des produits plus environnementaux, tout en améliorant leurs avantages concurrentiels et leurs perspectives d’avenir », a-t-il souligné. La contribution remboursable de 2 M$ destinée à Annexair lui permettra de « réduire l’empreinte carbone de sa nouvelle usine intelligente et de compléter son parc manufacturier d’inspiration allemande en acquérant des équipements numériques » selon un communiqué. Il s’agit par exemple d’un lamineur, des unités de manutention autonomes, des stations de montage et des logiciels de gestion de la production qui pourront améliorer la productivité de l’entreprise de Drummondville en suscitant la création d’une vingtaine de postes hautement spécialisés. Les Biotechnologies Ulysse n’en créeront que 4 avec l’aide de 224 000 $ selon la même source. Le coup de pouce devrait permettre à l’entreprise de Trois Rivières d’acquérir et d’installer des équipements de production numérique pour augmenter sa capacité de production dans de nouveaux locaux. « En misant sur un virage vert, on va pouvoir créer de bons emplois dans des secteurs d’avenir payants, en plus de lutter contre les changements climatiques. On ne laissera pas tomber les familles d’ici », a promis le lieutenant du Québec et leader du gouvernement à la Chambre des communes. Le secteur des technologies propres représente 3,2 % du PIB du Canada où on compte 317 000 emplois. Plus de 850 entreprises de technologies propres contribuent à hisser le drapeau canadien en tête parmi les pays du G20 sur l’indice mondial de l’innovation dans les technologies propres et au quatrième rang mondial. DEC a investi 42 M$ dans 161 projets visant l’utilisation de technologies moins énergivores et la réduction de l’empreinte environnementale des entreprises, dépassant ainsi la cible de 25 millions qu’il s’était fixée pour les technologies propres pour l’année 2019-2020. Godlove Kamwa, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Canada Français
Vancouver's parks board is taking action to control the increasing numbers of messy and aggressive Canada geese. A statement from the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation says it is developing a management plan to reduce the number of geese in city parks, beaches and on the seawall. The board is particularly concerned about humans feeding the birds, saying it brings flocks of geese to high-traffic areas such as Stanley Park and the beaches of English Bay and Sunset Beach. A key part of the management plan asks residents to identify Canada goose nests on private property so they can be removed or the eggs can be addled, and left in the nest so adults continue to brood, rather than lay again. The board estimates Vancouver's population of more than 3,500 Canada geese grows every year because the habitat is ideal and the birds have no natural predators. Several Okanagan cities are asking permission to cull growing flocks of Canada geese that foul area beaches and parks, but Vancouver's board says egg addling, a measure supported by the SPCA, is its only control measure. In addition to calling for public help in identifying nests, which can be on roofs, balconies or in tall, topped trees, the park board is urging people not to feed Canada geese. “Supplemental feeding by humans can also contribute to geese being able to lay more than one clutch of eight eggs per season; meaning that if one clutch does not hatch, they can replace it," the statement says. "In nature, without food from humans, this wouldn’t happen." Canada geese have inefficient digestive systems and the parks board says the birds produce more excrement for their size than most other species. The park board says it hopes to step up egg addling, saying wildlife specialists believe the practice must be tripled in order to cut Vancouver's goose populations. A web page has been created on the City of Vancouver website to report the location of nests so they can be removed or the eggs can be addled. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
Two months have now passed since nominations for candidacy have been open to those interested in running for local government. The Lethbridge library recently ran a program leading up to Women’s History month in March, called ‘So You Want to Run for Office: Women in Local Government’ in which interested participants could ask questions of women currently serving in local government position; Jennifer Handley (Mayor of Nanton), Heather Caldwell (Councillor in Coalhurst), Tanya Thorn (Councillor in Okotoks). Another free presentation is coming up with the Lethbridge Library called ‘So You Want to Run for Office: Experiences in Local Government’ which will involve panelists who have served even closer to home, including Trevor Lewington (Mayor of Stirling, CEO of Economic Development Lethbridge), Lance Tailfeathers (Former Councillor, Blood Tribe), and Julie Friesen (Councillor in Medicine Hat). The presentation takes place on March 9, 2021 at 7:00pm on zoom, and features Dr. Paul Fairie from the University of Calgary, and Lisa Lambert (University of Lethbridge). This session will cover a variety of topics surrounding running for office, including campaigning and the Municipal Governments Act and where to find more information on doing so. Interested parties can find information on the Lethbridge Public Library webpage and follow the steps to register. Elizabeth Thompson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temple City Star
Les 7000 pi2 du 425, rue Robinson Sud qu’occupait jadis la Lumen, permettent à la compagnie de prendre ses aises et de doubler ses effectifs. Dix personnes travaillent aujourd’hui pour cette entreprise qui se spécialise dans l’usinage, la découpe, le pliage, l’assemblage et la soudure des métaux. Parmi ses clients, Blue Solutions du groupe français Bolloré, les alumineries Alouette et Arcelor Métal, de même qu’Ecotuned laquelle se spécialise dans la conversion de véhicules thermiques en véhicules électriques. Industries Romy vient aussi de lancer sa propre gamme de boîtes sécurisées de réception de colis sous sa nouvelle bannière de RomyTek. L’entreprise souhaite la déployer sur le marché canadien, même si elle est déjà présente aux États-Unis et au Royaume-Uni. «On est en train de développer ces produits pour les grandes surfaces, les quincailleries», ajoute Robin Langlois, président et seul actionnaire des Industries Romy. «Notre plan de match est de continuer à développer nos boîtes sécurisées et des produits connexes. On est en train de négocier avec des partenaires potentiels.» Originaire de Baie-Comeau, Robin Langlois a fait ses études à Sherbrooke. Il s’installe à Granby en 2013 lorsqu’il dégote un poste d’enseignant au département des techniques industrielles et mécaniques du Cégep de Granby. Il lancera les Industries Romy quelques années plus tard. Pour y arriver, une seule manière de faire. «On fonce», affirme M. Langlois. «On travaille très fort. On ne fait jamais ça tout seul.» M. Langlois affirme pouvoir et devoir compter sur son équipe, d’autant qu’il ne travaille pas lui-même à l’usine. «J’ai choisi les bonnes personnes comme Frédérick Gougeon, mon directeur d’opérations, natif de Granby et qui joue un rôle extrêmement important. Et des copains de longue date avec qui j’ai travaillé dans le domaine de l’aéronautique, comme Nancy Pickering et Alain Massé. Ils ont les idées, moi je les soutiens.» Des machinistes et une diversité d’opérateurs ont gonflé les rangs de l’entreprise. Une progression prudente et réfléchie Les Industries Romy souhaitent investir plus avant tout dans la filière des énergies renouvelables et de l’environnement et travailler pour des clients qui ont un effet positif sur la société au niveau du développement durable, espère M. Langlois. «On comble un besoin pour des produits qui étaient souvent fabriqués à l’étranger. On ramène des emplois qui étaient perdus. On voudrait consolider nos acquis et poursuivre notre diversification sur le moyen terme.» Boris Chassagne, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix du Sud
Ontario’s police watchdog has found that a Peel Regional police officer acted lawfully in the November 2019 shooting of a teen police say was in the process of robbing a Mississauga bank. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) ruled that there is no reasonable grounds to believe that the officer committed a criminal offence when he shot the armed 16-year-old in the lower back. According to the SIU, the teen had demanded cash from staff at an HSBC location on Dundas Street East, and the officer confronted him while he was masked, armed with a firearm and carrying a backpack full of cash. “I am unable to reasonably conclude that the (subject officer’s) resort to lethal force fell outside the limits of legal justification,” SIU director Joseph Martino wrote. The suspect suffered significant internal injuries in the incident. According to the SIU account, the officer and three other officers were in the area shortly before 4 p.m. on Nov. 26, 2016, when a motorist alerted them to the robbery nearby inside the Chinese Centre. The SIU states the teenager, donning a hooded-jacket over his head and his face covered with a black t-shirt had walked into the bank brandishing a semi-automatic pistol. A bank employee offered up some cash and coins to the teen, who took the money and demanded more, states the SIU’s report. The officers entered the bank with their firearms drawn, prompting the teen to run toward the west wall of the bank. The subject officer fired a single shot striking the teen in the lower mid-back. Still standing after being shot, the teen dropped his firearm, then was taken to the floor and handcuffed. Police later discovered that the weapon was not loaded, “which is of no consequence,” Martino wrote. “It was an actual firearm which the subject officer would have had every reason to believe was loaded and ready to be fired in the hands of the (teenager).” Martino made special note of the fact that although the gunshot wound to the teen’s back could suggest he was facing away from the officers, he had ignored police commands to remain still and posed an immediate risk to people in the bank. The subject officer declined to interview with the SIU or authorize the release of his notes, as is his legal right. Jason Miller is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering crime and justice in the Peel Region. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him on email: email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @millermotionpic Jason Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
Kelly McLeod has been elected the new president of Inuvik's Nihtat Gwich'in Council, according to preliminary results published Thursday morning. McLeod defeated acting president Robert Charlie 108 votes to 64. According to a post on McLeod's Facebook page, official results will be posted in five days, as per the council's election policy. "Just want to say Mahsi Cho to everyone that was able to vote in the Nihtat Election. Very great turn out of 174 voters, a significant increase from 65 in the last election," he wrote on Facebook Thursday morning. "Extremely excited here, very humbled by the amount of support from membership. Truly thankful for that.... Very excited to get started working with the newly elected council and create a positive future for the Nihtat Gwichin Membership!" Elections were also held for eight council positions on Wednesday, with the preliminary results as follows: Chris Smith: 147 votes (elected) Michael Francis: 132 votes (elected) Mary Ann Villeneuve: 125 votes (elected) Lenora McLeod: 111 votes (elected) Wanda McDonald: 101 votes (elected) Tony McDonald: 100 votes (elected) Barry Greenland: 86 votes (elected) Richard Ross: 83 votes (elected) Bobby Ross: 82 votes Sallie Ross: 76 votes
Nova Scotia may be facing a massive pandemic-related deficit but when Finance Minister Labi Kousoulis tables his first budget later this month, it will include no program cuts or staff layoffs. Although a date has not been finalized for the budget introduction, Kousoulis told reporters on Thursday he's aiming for the week of March 22. Just before leaving office, former premier Stephen McNeil told reporters the provincial deficit had decreased to about $500 million. While he wouldn't provide details about where things are now, Kousoulis said he's pleased with the province's financial position. "I'm actually very comfortable with the budget and I'm comfortable with the future of Nova Scotia," he said. "When you compare us to other provinces across the country, I think many of them would much rather be in the position we're in versus the one they are in." Cuts would send the wrong message Kousoulis said the province's strong financial position going into the pandemic has helped it respond better than some areas. Noting that the deficit is not structural, the minister said the upcoming budget would not include program cuts or staff layoffs because it would "push the economy down even further." "If we started cutting our spending, then that exacerbates the problem we're facing and it sends the wrong message to the private sector," he said. "We are funding departments to move their programs forward. We're not sitting back and pushing against programs and items that are important to Nova Scotia." The budget process usually takes two months, but Kousoulis, Premier Iain Rankin and the rest of their team have only had two weeks since being sworn in to put their stamp on the document. Despite the quick turnaround, the minister said they've been able to incorporate priorities from Rankin's Liberal leadership campaign platform into the budget. Rankin and his leadership rivals, Kousoulis and Randy Delorey, each met with Finance Department officials during the campaign to broadly outline their hopes for the budget, should they become leader and premier. The budget document will be finalized Friday before going to the office of the auditor general for review, said Kousoulis. MORE TOP STORIES
CALGARY — The move by U.S. President Joe Biden to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline in January continues to plague Canadian oil companies, with Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. forced to digest a related $143-million charge on its fourth-quarter results on Thursday. If not for the blemish on its earnings in the last three months of 2020, analysts said the company would have registered a solid beat on expectations driven by strong oilsands mining production and operating cost cuts. "In 2020, we were nimble, quickly lowering our capital," said president Tim McKay told a conference call, referring to Canadian Natural's move to cut its 2020 budget to $2.68 billion last May from its original $4.05 billion in view of plunging oil prices. "With our long-life, low-decline and high-quality asset base, we still achieved record annual corporate boe (barrels of oil equivalent) production of 1.16 million boe per day, or an approximately 65,000 boe/d increase over 2019 levels." McKay said the company's production of synthetic crude from its oilsands mining and upgrading operations reached a record of 490,800 barrels per day in December due to high utilization rates and ongoing incremental production growth projects. Meanwhile, he added, 2020 operating costs fell by $2.10 to $20.46 per barrel of synthetic crude. Last month, oilsands rivals Cenovus Energy Inc. and Suncor Energy Inc. reported $100 million and $142 million charges against fourth-quarter earnings, respectively, related to their roles as Keystone XL backers. Pipeline builder TC Energy has warned it expects to take a "substantive'' charge on the Keystone XL pipeline project when it reports first-quarter results. Canadian Natural reiterated its 2021 capital budget of about $3.2 billion, which is expected to add about 61,000 boe/d of production over 2020 levels. On the call, McKay said he's confident that export capacity into the United States will continue to improve with Enbridge Inc.'s Line 3 replacement pipeline project starting up late this year and the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion set to be in service by the end of 2022. Canadian Natural says it has 94,000 bpd of committed capacity on the latter. The company announced it is increasing its quarterly dividend for the 21st consecutive year by 11 per cent to 47 cents per share after resisting calls last year to lower it as oil prices fell. It also plans to buy back shares this year as a way to provide returns to shareholders. Any other excess cash will be applied to debt repayment, McKay said, adding he would "never say never" in response to a question about more acquisitions following the $111-million buyout of Painted Pony Energy Ltd. which closed in October. Canadian Natural reported fourth-quarter net earnings of $749 million or 63 cents per share on sales of $5.2 billion, up from $597 million or 50 cents per share in the year-earlier period on sales of $6.3 billion. In reports, analysts said Canadian Natural matched their expectations with production of 1.2 million barrels of oil equivalent per day in the quarter, up from 1.16 million boe/d in the fourth quarter of 2019. "Of note, excluding a provision for the cancellation of Keystone XL (something other companies also recorded), cash flow per share would have been a nice beat," pointed out analyst Phil Skolnick of Eight Capital in a report to shareholders. National Bank analyst Travis Wood said the company is well-funded for its 2021 programs. "With an abundance of free cash flow, Canadian Natural has significant optionality for free cash flow allocation across debt reduction, returns to shareholders, organic growth, and opportunistic acquisitions," he said in a report. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:CNQ, TSX:CVE, TSX:SU) Dan Healing, The Canadian Press
New pandemic data suggests nearly as many alcohol users are scaling back as drinking more, but that heavy drinking overall has increased. Statistics Canada released survey results Thursday that found 24 per cent of alcohol users said they drank more after COVID-19 emerged, but that's nearly matched by the 22 per cent of people who said they drank less. Many who drank more pointed to increased stress, boredom and loneliness, with 36 per cent reporting five or more drinks at a time at least once a week in the previous 30 days – the equivalent of a bottle of wine, says StatCan. Most who cut back said it was because of fewer opportunities to socialize, and many cited the desire to lose weight and improve their health. But six per cent still reported five or more drinks at a time at least once a week. "The pandemic has been a source of significant stress and concern for many Canadians because of the social and economic upheavals it has caused," notes the study, conducted Jan. 25 to 31. "Some may have had more free time to consume alcohol and non-medical cannabis, while others may have increased their consumption in an effort to relieve boredom or fight loneliness." Overall, 66 per cent of respondents said they imbibed in the previous 30 days and 18 per cent of those had five or more drinks at a time. That's up from 2017, when 11 per cent of Canadians reported five or more drinks in a similar StatCan study. The data comes from the latest in a series of online surveys on how Canadians are reacting to the pandemic. It included 3,941 respondents aged 15 to 90. The survey also found 34 per cent of cannabis users increased their habit, and like alcohol users, they cited increased stress, boredom and loneliness as factors. Of this group, 35 per cent consumed cannabis five or more days per week. About 12 per cent of cannabis users said they scaled back their habit. Overall, 54 per cent of respondents who used alcohol and 54 per cent who used cannabis reported no change in usage. For many it was already significant – 12 per cent of those drinkers said they had five or more drinks at a time at least once a week, and one quarter of cannabis users said they consumed daily or near-daily. Younger people appeared more likely to cut back on drinking – 33 per cent of those aged 15 to 29 reported drinking less compared to 18 per cent of those aged 30 to 64. However, young people were most likely to consume cannabis and more likely to use more – 43 per cent reported an increase compared to 20 per cent of those aged 50 to 64, and 22 per cent of those aged 65 or older. "Increased social acceptance of cannabis, and the increased number of outlets and range of products available were among factors thought to have led to increased consumption over the past year," said the report. Nearly two-thirds of those who reduced cannabis use said it was because of personal choice, such as their dislike of its effects, while 28 per cent cited fewer opportunities to socialize. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press
A Brampton man has been charged with the first-degree murder of his estranged girlfriend more than seven months after he allegedly shot and killed her, then shot himself. Peel Regional Police on Wednesday confirmed Darnell Reid, 27, has been formally charged in the killing of Darian Hailey Henderson-Bellman after spending several months in hospital in critical condition. Henderson-Bellman’s mother told the Star she learned of the charges this week. “I waited so long but it still hit me hard. It kicked me in the gut,” Michelle Jones said. “I just hope he doesn’t get to walk like all the other times that he walked.” Police notified Jones that Reid, who was hospitalized in critical condition following the July 28 shooting, had improved enough for police to inform him that he was being charged. Jones said police told her that Reid is now awake and able to talk. Family members told the Star that the two were in a rocky on-and-off-again relationship when Henderson-Bellman, 25, was fatally shot. Court records obtained by the Star show Reid had been charged three times for violating court orders not to be in contact with Henderson-Bellman in the year leading up to her death. At the time of the shooting, he was on bail following an unrelated arrest on charges of possessing an illegal firearm. “He had a no-contact order, so he was not supposed to be around her,” Henderson-Bellman’s mother told the Star shortly after her death. “She still wasn’t protected.” Reid’s lawyer, Gavin Holder, declined to comment on the case. On Wednesday, Reid was also charged with possession of a loaded prohibited or restricted firearm, and two counts of failing to comply with release order. Peel police Const. Heather Cannon said Reid is being held under police guard in hospital remand. Police found Henderson-Bellman dead in a Brampton home at Fairglen Avenue and Deerpark Crescent at about 2:30 p.m. on July 28. Reid was also found in the home suffering from gunshot wounds. In the days following the shooting, Peel Region police chief Nishan Duraiappah lashed out at what he called a “complete failure of our justice system.” “This represents a tragic outcome for a young person who carried a bright future,” Duraiappah said in a statement. “In this incident, the sadness I feel for the victim and her family is mixed with frustration for a complete failure of our justice system to protect her . . . The family and police struggled to keep her safe.” Jason Miller is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering crime and justice in the Peel Region. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him on email: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @millermotionpic Jason Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
La Chine, qui a enregistré une croissance positive en 2020, mobilise un certain nombre d’atouts pour tenter d’atteindre le statut de première économie mondiale.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has found the combination of a pilot with limited experience, and deteriorating weather conditions, were the cause of an airplane crash in November 2019 that claimed the lives of seven people. The Piper PA-32-260 crashed into a field between Highway 401 and Creekford Road, in the west end of Kingston, shortly after 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019 while attempting an temporary stopover at Kingston airport due to weather conditions. According to the release from the TSB, the incident highlights some of the risks of flying at night under visual flight rules (VFR), particularly when weather conditions are poor and over areas with little lighting. Visual flight rules refers to flying an aircraft without the use of electronic instrumentation, as opposed to Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), which is typically used to fly at night or in inclement weather and requires additional pilot training and certification. "While the aircraft departed during daylight hours, the majority of the flight was to take place during the hours of darkness," the TSB stated in the release. "As the weather deteriorated throughout the flight and the aircraft neared the Kingston Airport, Ontario, the pilot contacted the Kingston flight service station and stated his intention to land there. Shortly after, the aircraft struck terrain approximately 3.5 nautical miles north of Kingston Airport. All seven occupants were fatally injured and the aircraft was destroyed." The crash took the lives of a family of five from Texas, and a Toronto area couple. The investigation found that the pilot departed Toronto/Buttonville Municipal Airport when the weather conditions for the intended flight were below the limits required for a night VFR flight. The TSB said that the flight was planned over some areas that had very little cultural lighting, leading to the pilot having little or no visual reference to the surface during portions of the flight. "Cultural lighting is concentrated lighting around areas such as towns and cities," they said. "Given the pilot’s limited flying experience, it is likely that he did not recognize the hazards associated with a night VFR flight into poor weather conditions," TSB continued. "While approaching the Kingston Airport, the pilot likely lost visual reference to the surface, became spatially disoriented, and lost control of the aircraft." Read the full report here. Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has continued to send stunning images of the red planet back to Earth. In this moment, an incredible shot of the Sun from the Martian surface was captured. Credit to "NASA/JPL-Caltech".
WASHINGTON — A U.S. program created after the 2003 anthrax attacks to help detect biological weapons provided protection in less than half the states and couldn't detect many of the known threats, according to a report released Thursday. The program known as BioWatch, which described itself in a mission statement as a nationwide early warning system, was capable of detecting only six of 14 biological agents known to be potential threats. It also left detection equipment exposed and unguarded, the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security found. “Without implementing changes to address BioWatch’s challenges, the United States’ ability to prepare for, detect, and respond to a potential bioterrorism attack is impeded, which could result in significant loss of human life,” the inspector general concluded. BioWatch, which is run by a component of Homeland Security, was created in 2003 in response to the deadly mailing of anthrax-laced envelopes to news media and government offices two years earlier. It has faced criticism for years. Intended to supplement existing surveillance programs, BioWatch consists of air sampling equipment and lab facilities around the nation. It was meant to reduce the time it takes to recognize an attack by monitoring for known biological agents. It costs about $80 million per year to run, according to previous government reports. The inspector general noted, however, that it has detection capability in just 22 of the 50 states. Contrary to billing, “BioWatch does not operate a nationwide early warning system,” the report said. Previous reviews in recent years have faulted the program's computer network security and said it lacked reliable data about its capabilities for detecting an attack, among other problems. The Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office, which runs BioWatch, in 2019 ranked lowest across 420 government agencies, for employee satisfaction and commitment, according to a report by the General Accountability Office. The new report, based on an audit of the program conducted last year, found that BioWatch no longer carries out routine full-scale exercises, which in previous years had uncovered a range of problems with preparedness for a possible attack. The Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office generally concurred with the findings in the report and said it is working to address problems raised in the audit. But its director also defended the overall value of the program. BioWatch is integral to the office's mission "and serves as the department's best tool to effectively prepare for, detect and respond to bioterrorism threats,” David Richardson, an assistant secretary at DHS who runs the office, wrote in a letter accompanying the report. To address its coverage of the U.S., the office said it plans to work with the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which conducted the 2003 assessment upon which the office based the deployment of its monitoring equipment. The list of which states have the equipment, and which do not, was redacted from the report. It does note, however, that inspectors found security deficiencies at six of 17 locations in three states: Massachusetts, Illinois and Florida. The report included photos showing the portable equipment without any kind of security around the sensor or the power source. It said the equipment could be “unplugged, tampered with, vandalized, or stolen." In 34 out of 35 jurisdictions, inspectors found BioWatch equipment could not always collect air samples to test because of security breaches or unplugging. The Homeland Security office said it would work with the organizations that host the equipment to improve security and planned to “enhance” biological detection capabilities. It also scheduled a full-scale exercise for late last month and said it would share the information with other involved organizations by April. Ben Fox, The Associated Press
A nearly $4 million investment into Newmarket-Aurora will help victims of human trafficking access the services and supports they need to recover. On Friday, Jill Dunlop, Ontario’s Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, announced an infusion of $3.8 million over the next five years to two Newmarket-based organizations: BridgeNorth and Cedar Centre. Their community-based programs will help the organizations create two new programs “to provide more young victims and survivors of human trafficking in York Region with access to the supports they need.” “These new programs will help more people who have experienced sexual exploitation heal and rebuild their lives,” said Minister Dunlop in a statement following the virtual announcement. “Victims and survivors of human trafficking need specialized, trauma-informed supports to help them recover. Providing more dedicated services for children and youth will help address critical needs in this Region.” With their share of the pot, BridgeNorth will provide a survivor-led peer mentoring and day program for children and youth, providing supports from early intervention through to stabilization, transition and reintegration. Cedar Centre will provide trauma-specific, rapid-response therapy to help children and youth who have experienced sexual exploitation. “Our government has made it a priority to end human trafficking and protect our most vulnerable from this terrible crime,” said Newmarket-Aurora MPP Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier of Ontario and Minister of Health. “We are proud that this investment will create new critical programs in Newmarket to provide victims and survivors of human trafficking with the help they deserve and support their recovery.” Last week’s announcement is part of Ontario’s $46 million investment to increase supports, with a special emphasis on survivor-led programming. “Voices of survivors and those with lived experiences are being heard,” says Cassandra Diamond, Survivor and Founder of BridgeNorth. “For years, we have been asking to have peer-led services, and today, because of our government’s strong and wise leadership, it is a reality.” Added Alison Peck, Executive Director of Cedar Centre: “We are very excited by this opportunity and humbled by the trust in us to work in partnership with the government to provide this critically-needed service for children and youth who are at risk of, or have experienced human trafficking in York Region.” More than 70 per cent of known human trafficking victims identified by police Ontario-wide are under the age of 25 and 28 per cent are under the age of 18, according to the Ministry. Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran