Doctors for Justice in LTC co-founder and palliative care physician Dr. Amit Arya talks about the humanitarian crisis in long-term care homes on The Morning Show.
Doctors for Justice in LTC co-founder and palliative care physician Dr. Amit Arya talks about the humanitarian crisis in long-term care homes on The Morning Show.
(Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press - image credit) Health Canada's approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India's version to prevent COVID-19 in adults follows similar green lights from regulators in the United Kingdom, Europe Union, Mexico and India. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, called ChAdOx1, was approved for use in Canada on Friday following clinical trials in the United Kingdom and Brazil that showed a 62.1 per cent efficacy in reducing symptomatic cases of COVID-19 cases among those given the vaccine. Experts have said any vaccine with an efficacy rate of over 50 per cent could help stop outbreaks. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said the key number across all of the clinical trials for those who received AstraZeneca's product was zero — no deaths, no hospitalizations for serious COVID-19 and no deaths because of an adverse effect of the vaccine. "I think Canada is hungry for vaccines," Sharma said in a briefing. "We're putting more on the buffet table to be used." Specifically, 64 of 5,258 in the vaccination group got COVID-19 with symptoms compared with people in the control group given injections (154 of 5,210 got COVID-19 with symptoms). Dr. Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at Toronto's University Health Network, called it a positive move to have AstraZeneca's vaccines added to Canada's options. "Even though the final efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine appears lower than what we have with the mRNA vaccines, it's still reasonably good," Hota said. "What we need to be focusing on is trying to get as many people as possible vaccinated so we can prevent the harms from this." Canada has an agreement with AstraZeneca to buy 20 million doses as well as between 1.9 million and 3.2 million doses through the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as COVAX. WATCH | AstraZeneca vaccine safety: Canada will also receive 2 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, the government announced Friday. Here's a look at some common questions about the vaccine, how it works, in whom and how it could be rolled out. What's different about this shot? The Oxford-AstraZeneca is cheaper and easier to handle than the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which need to be stored at ultracold temperatures to protect the fragile genetic material. AstraZeneca says its vaccine can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions (2 to 8 C) for at least six months. (Moderna's product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures for 30 days after thawing.) The ease of handling could make it easier to administer AstraZeneca's vaccine in rural and remote areas of Canada and the world. "There are definitely some advantages to having multiple vaccine candidates available to get to as many Canadians as possible," Hota said. Sharma said while the product monograph notes that evidence for people over age 65 is limited, real-world data from countries already using AstraZeneca's vaccine suggest it is safe and effective among older age groups. "We have real-world evidence from Scotland and the U.K. for people that have been dosed that would have been over 80 and that has shown significant drop in hospitalizations to the tune of 84 per cent," Sharma said. Data from clinical trials is more limited compared with in real-world settings that reflect people from different age groups, medical conditions and other factors. How does it work? Vaccines work by training our immune system to recognize an invader. The first two vaccines to protect against COVID-19 that were approved for use in Canada deliver RNA that encodes the spike protein on the surface of the pandemic coronavirus. Health-care workers Diego Feitosa Ferreira, right, and Clemilton Lopes de Oliveira travel on a boat in the state of Amazonas in Brazil, on Feb. 12, to vaccinate residents with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures, which facilitates its use in remote areas. In contrast, the AstraZeneca vaccine packs the genetic information for the spike protein in the shell of a virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees. Vaccine makers altered the adenovirus so it can't grow in humans. Viral vector vaccines mimic viral infection more closely than some other kinds of vaccines. One disadvantage of viral vectors is that if a person has immunity toward a particular vector, the vaccine won't work as well. But people are unlikely to have been exposed to a chimpanzee adenovirus. How and where could it be used? Virologist Eric Arts at Western University in London, Ont., said vaccines from Oxford-AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, which is also under review by Health Canada, and Russian Sputnik-V vaccines all have some similarities. "I do like the fact that AstraZeneca has decided to continue trials, to work with the Russians on the Sputnik-V vaccine combination," said Arts, who holds the Canada Research Chair in HIV pathogenesis and viral control. Boxes with AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at St. Mary's Hospital in Dublin, Ireland. Health Canada says the vaccine is given by two separate injections of 0.5 millilitres each into the muscle of the arm. "The reason why I'm encouraged by it is I think there might be greater opportunity to administer those vaccines in low- to middle-income countries. We need that. I think our high-income countries have somewhat ignored the situation that is more significant globally." Researchers reported on Feb. 2 in the journal Lancet that in a Phase 3 clinical trial involving about 20,000 people in Russia, the two-dose Sputnik-V vaccine was about 91 per cent effective and appears to prevent inoculated individuals from becoming severely ill with COVID-19. There were 16 COVID-19 cases in the vaccine group (0.1 per cent or 16/14,964) and 62 cases (1.3 per cent or [62/4,902 ) in the control group. No serious adverse events were associated with vaccination. Most adverse events were mild, such as flu-like symptoms, pain at injection site and weakness or low energy. An analysis of results from 2,000 adults older than 60 years suggested the vaccine was similarly effective and well tolerated in this age group. Arts and other scientists acknowledged the speed and lack of transparency of the Russian vaccination program. But British scientists Ian Jones and Polly Roy wrote in an accompanying commentary that the results are clear and add another vaccine option to reduce the incidence of COVID-19.
ALGONQUIN PARK, Ont. — Ontario Parks says that reservations for its campsites have nearly doubled since the same time last year.The provincial government agency says that bookings made between Jan. 1 and Feb. 5 have increased almost 100 per cent.They say that campers have made 58,475 reservations in that span this year, up from 29,504 reservations in the same period in 2020.The agency recommends that campers do their research well in advance of their reservation date becoming available on its website so they can book as early as possible.They also suggest camping at a less popular park to ensure greater availability for sites.Algonquin, Killbear, Pinery, Sandbanks and Bon Echo are Ontario's five busiest provincial parks.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Walter Strong/CBC - image credit) Justice Louise Charbonneau sentenced Tariq St Croix Thursday to five years in jail and three years probation for "brutally" stabbing his ex-wife on New Year's Eve two years ago. St Croix pleaded guilty to breaking and entering and aggravated assault in N.W.T. Supreme Court. The Crown prosecutor and defence lawyers jointly recommended a five-year sentence. "It is luck that St Croix isn't facing a homicide trial," Charbonneau told the courtroom. Tariq St. Croix, covering his face with a garment, has been charged with aggravated assault and breaking and entering. Tariq has one year, nine months, and one week remaining in his sentence. Upon his release, he is required to leave the N.W.T. On the evening of the attack, Marina St Croix was with her kids on their balcony waiting for fireworks to begin, when Tariq St Croix appeared outside of their residence. Tariq was on probation for previously assaulting her and was legally prohibited from visiting Marina unless she permitted him. Marina, who was pregnant at the time, told Tariq to go away, but he broke into the house by smashing a window, then armed himself with a steak knife. Marina was holding her 18-month-old infant in her bedroom when Tariq stabbed her in the face, neck and torso in the presence of her two kids. The eldest child grabbed the infant for protection. Tariq repeatedly yelled "you don't love me" before the steak knife broke, lodged in her stomach. Marina tried to flee to the balcony to call for help when Tariq dragged her back in, kicked her face, then fled. Marina asked that the publication ban on her name be lifted, as she no longer wanted the violence perpetrated against Indigenous women and children to be hidden from sight. Mistrust of the system Marina gave a victim impact statement before sentencing. With her sister standing next to her, and Tariq merely meters away, she described how the crime has changed her life. "On the Sunday before the week of my fate, I watched a video on highway 16. Trudeau's words were that Canada failed Indigenous women and that the MMIWG report would not be shelved. Yet, I stand ready to flee, when my only protection between him and me is three years probation." "We live in a society that would rather have my race live in a boat that no longer floats," she continued. "Life is easy for those who fail to see, so society covers their eyes with coins to let the violence breathe. "I see too many dead women and children that the RCMP fail to find. So I must admit I cannot trust the broken system, this time. "Welcome to court in Canada when you are Indigenous," Marina concluded. Marina said she cannot trust a broken legal system that fails to protect Indigenous women and children from their abusers. Justice Charbonneau told the court she "can understand that a court order would not appear adequate, given the crime took place when two probation orders were in force." Judge 'bound' by joint submission Tariq St Croix was initially charged with attempted murder in addition to the crime he was convicted of, but the greater charge was withdrawn when he pleaded guilty to breaking and entering and aggravated assault. In a previous court appearance, Charbonneau acknowledged that the five-year sentence was on the "very, very low end." Judges are bound by a Supreme Court of Canada ruling to accept joint submissions unless they can prove that the sentence is "unhinged" from the circumstances of the crime. "The question I have to answer is not to see if a five year sentence is fit," but if the sentence would break down the administration of justice, she said Thursday. Despite her reservations,Charbonneau said she was certain that Crown and the defense lawyers gave careful consideration to their submission. Deportation possible Tariq has one year, nine months and one week remaining in his sentence. Upon his release, he is required to leave the N.W.T. The court heard that Tariq had been the victim of an "extremely" violent upbringing. As a child growing up in St Lucia, his father had abused his mother repeatedly. Tariq's mother assaulted him and his siblings, which was described as torture at times. "Miraculously," Tariq has rekindled his relationship with his mother, the judge told the court. However, the circumstances of his difficult upbringing "cannot excuse the extreme violence of the crime," Charbonneau said. He is likely to face deportation, given the severity of the crime along with his existing criminal record. Originally from St Lucia, Tariq has permanent residency in Canada. He is qualified as a protected person, which means an additional step is required for deportation. Whether he will be deported depends on if the danger he poses in Canada outweighs the risk he may face if he returns to his home country. However, he is likely to lose permanent residency status.
En l’absence d’activités organisées par les organismes et municipalités, que pourront faire les familles de la Haute-Côte-Nord pendant la semaine de relâche du 1erau 5 mars? Gino Jean, enseignant en éducation physique à l’école St-Luc ainsi qu’au Cégep de Forestville et impliqué dans le sport jeunesse, a quelques suggestions. 1. Soyez créatifs! La pandémie apporte son lot de conséquences, mais Gino Jean rappelle qu’on peut y trouver du positif. « La crise que l’on vit présentement nous permet de passer plus de temps en famille. Il faut profiter de la relâche pour créer des jeux avec nos enfants et laisser aller notre imagination. Construire un fort, aménager une glissade dans la cour ou partir à la recherche des plus belles buttes…» 2. Du plein air, 1 heure par jour, sans cellulaire. L’enseignant est un fervent du plein air hivernal. Il conseille à ses élèves et à leurs parents de prendre l’air au moins une heure par jour. « Même si tu ne fais pas d’activité précise, tu peux t’asseoir et lire un livre, si tu veux, mais au moins tu respireras l’air frais. Et surtout, laissez le cellulaire dans la maison, sinon on est tenté de le regarder », soutient-il. 3. Apprendre les rudiments de la survie en forêt. « Une belle activité à laquelle toute la famille trouvera son compte est sans aucun doute la marche en forêt pour apprendre quelques notions de survie. Faire une cabane en sapin, amasser du bois pour faire un feu, tant les adolescents que les plus jeunes seront amusés. La famille passera du bon temps à l’extérieur », suggère M. Jean qui a déjà fait cette activité avec son fil Clovis. 4. Randonnée en ski de fond. Le ski de fond est très accessible en Haute-Côte-Nord. « Plus particulièrement à Forestville, il est possible d’effectuer une randonnée de 1,2 kilomètre du stationnement du club de ski de fond au relais. On peut apporter une petite collation, se faire un feu pour se réchauffer et ce sera un bel avant-midi ou après-midi en famille », affirme l’amateur de ce sport d’hiver, précisant qu’il peut prêter des paires de skis aux enfants de l’école St-Luc. 5. Essayer le fatbike. Le vélo à pneus surdimensionnés (fatbike) est de plus en plus populaire partout au Québec. Gino Jean conseille les familles de l’essayer, surtout qu’une nouvelle piste est ouverte au golf Le Méandre à Forestville. « La Municipalité de Portneuf-sur-Mer en a deux à prêter pour les intéressés », dévoile-t-il. 6. Profiter des sentiers de raquettes. « Partout en Haute-Côte-Nord la forêt est à proximité, rappelle l’enseignant. Pourquoi ne pas en profiter pour sortir nos raquettes et partir en randonnée familiale? À Forestville, un magnifique sentier se rend au lac Forest et offre une merveilleuse vue. Le club de ski de fond offre également des pistes pour faire de la raquette. » 7. Marcher dans les rues. « Une simple marche dans les rues de notre municipalité peut être une belle activité parents-enfants. Certains trottoirs sont même déblayés pour les marcheurs. En plus, la température sera de notre côté pendant cette semaine de repos, selon les prévisions météos », de mentionner le papa de trois enfants. 8. L’important, c’est de lâcher les écrans et de se relâcher. Finalement, comme l’indique M. Jean, l’important est de reposer son cerveau et de relâcher de tout. « Et surtout de lâcher les écrans, que ce soit les cellulaires, les tablettes, les jeux vidéos, la télévision. Oui, un film un soir ça peut être bien, mais ne pas passer nos journées collé là-dessus », conclut-il. Johannie Gaudreault, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Haute-Côte-Nord
Les statues grecques, les guerres napoléoniennes et l’avènement de la photographie ont tous joué un rôle dans l’obsession des hommes pour des abdominaux parfaits.
Court found government was entitled to use an emergency law to introduce the measures forcing residents indoors from 9 pm to 4:30 amView on euronews
The European Union will consider potential lessons from the recent frenzied trading by retail investors on Wall Street in its broad review of consumer protection in markets, a senior European Commission official said on Friday. The rise of retail investors in share trading is a trend that cannot be prevented but it has to be managed, said John Berrigan, head of the EU executive's financial services unit. Online trading came to the fore last month after retail investors following the Reddit forum WallStreetBets piled into GameStop Corp share via the Robinhood platform, sending the retailer's stock rocketing more than 1,000% at the expense of prominent investors who had bet against the stock.
BERLIN — A Bavarian radio station apologized Friday for a host's comments comparing popular South Korean K-pop band BTS to the coronavirus, saying his choice of words had gone too far but was in no way meant to be “hurtful or racist.” The statement came after legions of fans accused the station's Matthias Matuschik of racism for his comments on the band's cover of Coldplay's “Fix You,” taking to social media using the hashtags #Bayern3Racist, #Bayern3Apologize and #RassismusBeiBayern3 which translates as “racism at Bayern3.” “Racism is not an option,” wrote one user, @Vroseeeee1 in a blunt tweet in English, German, Korean and Spanish. The uproar came after a live show Wednesday, in which Matuschik derided BTS's version of “Fix You” as “blasphemy” and compared the band to COVID-19, describing them as “some crappy virus that hopefully there will be a vaccine for soon as well.” He then dug his hole deeper as he tried to roll back the comment somewhat, saying “I have nothing against South Korea, you can’t accuse me of xenophobia only because this boyband is from South Korea... I have a car from South Korea. I have the coolest car around.” Then he went on to say that in penance for the cover, BTS “will be vacationing in North Korea for the next 20 years.” BTS, which debuted in 2013, became the biggest boy band in the world, selling out stadiums worldwide and delivering a video message at the U.N. General Assembly this year. Their songs, filled with intimate, socially conscious lyrics, are credited for their success. Unlike other K-pop bands that carefully maintain the personas created by their labels, BTS is known for its active engagement with fans — known as ARMY — through social media. BTS has over 33.1 million followers on Twitter. Offence at the comments didn't only come from South Korea, with many social media users in Germany and elsewhere immediately condemning them. “I know which radio station I won't be listening to anymore, bye @Bayern3,” wrote user @fairesvmns in a German-language post that included audio of Matuschik's comments. “I really don't need racism of this shape and form in 2021.” Many South Koreans living abroad expressed concerns that the remarks could incite anti-Asian violence, already on the rise in many places. “This is not just about #BTS, it is about so many Asian people who are dealing with extreme racism especially due to pandemic,” Hansl Chang, a South Korean who lives in Germany, tweeted. In the station's apology, it said that while Matuschik was “presenting his opinion in an ironic, exaggerated way and with exaggerated excitement, his words went too far and hurt the feelings of BTS fans. “But he — and he has assured us of this — in no way intended this. He just wanted to express his displeasure over the aforementioned cover version.” It noted that Matuschik has been involved in helping raise aid for refugees and has a “constant campaign against right-wing extremism” and has shown he is against xenophobia or racism in any form. “That does not change the fact that many of you found his statements to be hurtful or racist,” Bayern3 said. “We apologize for this in every way possible. We will work on the matter with Matthias and the team in detail again in the next few days.” ___ Juwon Park in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report. David Rising, The Associated Press
Edmonton Police are warning the public that Clint Carifelle, 30, is a dangerous offender who has removed the monitoring ankle bracelet that was placed on him due to his violent tendencies. Police say he has ties to Saskatchewan and may be making his way to this province. He was last seen Wednesday at a residence in the area of 119 Ave and 101 Street. Carifelle is 6-foot-3 and 214 pounds, with brown hair, brown eyes and full face tattoos that he is known to cover with makeup. He is known to carry weapons and should not be approached. Anyone who encounters him should contact police immediately by calling 911. firstname.lastname@example.org Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
A typical winter in Bala can be isolating. Far away from the hustle and bustle of tourism season, Bala doesn't see visitors often in the winter unless they're attending a sporting event at the Bala Arena, now closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Across from the arena, there was one place where locals and visitors could gather and socialize, despite the chilly weather: the Bala legion, where people could grab a hot meal and a beer, whether it was an average Friday night or they were in town to catch their child's hockey game. Today, Robert Healey, the legion's sergeant-at-arms, said he’s disappointed to see it reduced to a large building sitting idle in the middle of town. “I’m very discouraged and I think a lot of people are,” he said. For Dennis Mills, the Bala legion's president, what they did went beyond providing a place to get a drink. “We were a place where people could mentally exercise,” he said. “Social interaction is the most important ingredient for a person’s mental health.” With the Bala Arena closed, the legion has taken a hard hit, closing entirely for the winter months. They're cut off from the revenue they'd get from selling food and drinks, and its membership has nowhere to congregate. “This year is our 75th anniversary,” Healey said. “We're trying to plan a big dinner, but we don't know whether we're going to be able to do anything.” However, there's hope the legion can weather this lockdown, at least until patios can reopen in the spring. “We feel the camaraderie during COVID,” Mills said. “The spirit for the Bala legion, it’s certainly been the strongest that I’ve experienced in my 16 years.” On an average evening before the pandemic, Healey said, 20 to 50 people might attend the legion and stay for around 3-4 hours for a meal while socializing. “I enjoyed it,” he said. “It gave me something to do, it gave my wife something to do. You'd have companionship and you'd meet new people ... it was just a good community thing.” During the pandemic, they only allowed 10 people inside the building at a time, and they weren’t serving anything. “We felt that was part of our mission and part of our mandate to serve the community,” Mills said. When the province reinstated the lockdown at the onset of the second wave, the legion was closed to the public entirely. Mills said he, legion member Jack Durante and membership chair Kibby Ham have been reaching out to legion members, four or five a day, to keep in touch and chat. Other legions in Muskoka Lakes have made some adjustments. The Port Carling legion is selling its food for curbside pickup. Legion treasurer Sherri Snider said in lieu of their normal winter patronage of people at the arena and curling club, they’ve seen an influx of contractors ordering food from them. “I wouldn’t say we’re doing tons of money with our expenses and labour, but we are certainly making a profit and the town is appreciative that we are here,” she said. According to Mills, the legion incurs $3,500 of fixed costs a month for heating, electricity, cleaning and paying a bookkeeper. Right now, they’re relying on donations from the supporters they’ve accumulated over the last four years. “We’re in a very tough situation with COVID … but we have a tremendous amount of goodwill,” he said. Mayor Phil Harding said he recognizes the legion's closure leaves a hole in the community. “With a full lockdown and winter, it really compounds the problem,” he said. “It's certainly on our radar as municipal council.” STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Legions are a cornerstone of connection in many of Muskoka's communities, for veterans and other locals. Our reporter wanted to see how the Bala legion was faring in a town hit hard by the decrease in winter tourism. Zahraa Hmood is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering the municipalities of Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Zahraa Hmood, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Two U.S. Navy warships operating in the Mideast have been struck by coronavirus outbreaks, authorities said Friday, with both returning to port in Bahrain. A dozen troops aboard the USS San Diego, an amphibious transport dock, tested positive for COVID-19, said Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman for the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet. The guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea also has “confirmed several cases of COVID-19," she said. “All positive cases have been isolated on board, and the (ships) remains in a restricted COVID bubble,” Rebarich told The Associated Press. “The port visit and medical support have been co-ordinated with the host nation government and Bahrain Ministry of Health.” The San Diego sails with nearly 600 sailors and Marines aboard, while the Philippine Sea carries some 380 sailors. The 5th Fleet patrols the waterways of the Mideast. Its vessels often have tense encounters with Iran in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Gulf through which 20% of all oil traded worldwide passes. The Navy’s largest outbreak so far in the pandemic was aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, which had to be sidelined in Guam for nearly two months last year. More than 1,000 sailors tested positive and one died. Eventually all of the 4,800 crew members were sent ashore in Guam for weeks of quarantine, in a systematic progression that kept enough sailors on the ship to keep it secure and running. The failure of the ship’s leaders to properly handle the outbreak exploded into one of the biggest military leadership crises in recent years. The ship’s captain, who pleaded for faster action to protect his crew from the rapidly spreading virus, was fired and the one-star admiral on the ship had his promotion delayed. Earlier this month, three sailors tested positive as the aircraft carrier was conducting operations in the Pacific. The sailors and those exposed to them were isolated, and the Navy said it is “following an aggressive mitigation strategy,” including masks, social distancing, and proper handwashing and hygiene measures. Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press
(Paul Taillon/Office of the Premier - image credit) This column is an opinion from Graham Thomson, an award-winning journalist who has covered Alberta politics for more than 30 years. Before delivering the new provincial budget Thursday, Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews bought himself new cowboy boots. A pair of ballet shoes would have been more appropriate. Toews's budget does a lot of dancing, much of it on eggshells. This is a budget that is afraid of suffering another embarrassing pratfall like the one performed last year when Toews tabled an overly optimistic budget in February that predicted solid economic growth, higher employment and a balanced budget by 2023 — and was quickly rendered obsolete with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. "When I was actually presenting the budget, it felt like Rome was burning behind me," said a slightly traumatized Toews at the time. This year's budget might be entitled, "Protecting lives and livelihoods" but, "Once burned, twice shy" would work, too. It's a conservative document, not in terms of spending and deficits, but in terms of predictions. The budget uses the word "uncertainty" so often it's like a nervous twitch, as in, "A great deal of uncertainty remains about vaccination roll-outs and the speed and breadth of global economic recovery." WATCH | Finance minister, Opposition leader discuss 2021 budget: "Uncertainty" is the word of the day. And it's going to be the word of the year as we continue to muddle through the minefield that is COVID 2021. The government learned an important lesson last year: don't raise expectations. Toews's economic outlook this year includes an $18 billion deficit, in addition to last year's $20 billion shortfall caused in part by a price of oil that went negative at one point. The accumulated debt will hit $115 billion this year and reach an astronomical $132 billion in two years. That's not including the $1.3 billion at risk in the Keystone XL pipeline gamble. The debt is climbing so high, so fast, the government is starting to couch the debt in terms of its relationship to the total provincial economy. This is called the net-debt-to-GDP ratio and it's a term beloved by pernickety economists — and by politicians trying to mask the size of their government's record debt. Right now Alberta's ratio is 24.5 per cent, which is pretty good compared to Ontario, for example, at 50 per cent. But just two years ago, our ratio was 11 per cent. Yes, there are few encouraging numbers in this budget. The government is spending four per cent more on health care and is setting up a $1.25-billion contingency fund to fight the pandemic. Premier Kenney is not slashing spending or cutting services as he seemed to suggest much of last year with his warning of a "fiscal reckoning" to come. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney promised there would be no new taxes in the budget. This is not a fiscal-reckoning budget or even an austerity budget. It is not the fiscal plan of a self-assured government. This is the keep-your-head-down-budget of a government under siege from COVID-19 and an unhappy public that seems to be increasingly dissatisfied with the UCP. The fiscal outlook is so uncertain that Toews doesn't even pretend to have a plan to balance the budget, unlike last year when he confidently predicted no more deficits starting in 2022, right before he felt the flames of COVID setting his prognostications on fire. 'Right-sizing' But if Toews is not outright slashing, he is planning to do some whittling and that has public-sector unions nervous. "One area where we can no longer delay is addressing a public -ector salary structure in Alberta that has for decades been an outlier compared to other provinces," said Toews, who has previously warned unions that if they don't accept concessions, they'll face more job cuts. Toews calls this "right-sizing" public-sector compensation, a term sure to infuriate workers and do nothing to quell labour unrest. "Perhaps if governments had shown more restraint in previous years, we would not have had to confront this issue," added Toews, who might be taking a jab at the former NDP government but really should be aiming at a succession of previous Conservative governments. True to form, Toews also pointed the finger of blame at the federal Liberal government: "The biggest obstacle to recovery may be our own national government, which has layered on regulatory requirements, created investment uncertainty, chased away the investment that maintains family-supporting jobs, and is now increasing the costs for our most vital national economic drivers." What the Kenney government tends to gloss over is that after the pandemic hit, most of the financial aid delivered to beleaguered Albertans came from Ottawa. Not only did the federal government deliver $11 billion in direct transfers to the Alberta treasury last year, it sent an additional $23 billion to individual Albertans and businesses via programs such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. Albertans are no doubt relieved that, as Kenney promised, there are no new taxes in the budget. But you have to wonder if that's just a matter of time. The pandemic might have forced the government into spending record amounts of money but our fiscal problems didn't begin and end there. COVID's rampage through our economy demonstrated once again how over-reliant we are on the capricious price of fossil fuels. There will be a "fiscal reckoning" in our future, sooner or later.
(Dan Taekema/CBC - image credit) Mayor Drew Dilkens says Windsor's chief of police has made the decision to provide naloxone to all officers. In an interview with CBC Radio's Windsor Morning Friday, Dilkens said the decision was connected to the opening of the aquatic centre as a shelter for COVID-19-positive people who are experiencing homelessness. The emergency shelter has 24-hour policing which is being carried out by officers from various units, not just the divisions that were previously equipped with the overdose-reversing drug. "So I know she's going to make the decision to arm all of the officers at Windsor Police Service with Naloxone, and we've always said this will be a data-driven decision and that these changes will happen as the facts change, and guess what — the facts are changing." Dilkens, who is chair of the Windsor's police services board, said chief Pam Mizuno is doing "the right thing." CBC News reached out to Windsor police for an interview, but Mizuno was did not provide comment. There is no information available from police about the cost or timing of the naloxone rollout. In October, CBC News looked at Windsor police reports that showed officers were first to respond to an opioid overdose in at least 14 cases over a 13 month span. This meant that officers had to sometimes wait for paramedics before naloxone could be administered. On one occasion, officers waited 39 minutes for paramedics to arrive at a scene and administer naloxone to a woman, who then became conscious and responsive. 'Unfortunate that it took this long' In recent months, calls for emergency responders to carry naloxone have mounted amid the opioid overdose crisis. Among those advocating for officers to carry the drug included president of the Windsor Police Association Shawn McCurdy. He told CBC News Friday that he's pleased with the decision. "It's unfortunate that it took this long, but the right decision has been made now," he said. "It's a peace of mind now that we have this tool with us that hopefully we don't ever have to use but if we do, it's there." The Windsor Police Service is one of the last major units in the province to get approval to carry naloxone, he said. Currently, Windsor police have officers with three units — detention, city centre patrol and problem-oriented policing — that had access to the drug. City council unanimously voted earlier this year to direct the fire service to start carrying naloxone nasal spray kits. Lisa Valente, a member of Families Stop the Harm, says police having naloxone is the difference between life and death for many who overdose on opioids. There were 29 emergency room visits related to opioid overdoses in Windsor-Essex last month alone, according to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. In 2019, 47 opioid overdose deaths in Windsor-Essex were reported by the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario. A member of a local harm reduction group, Family Stop the Harm, Lisa Valente said she was "happy" to hear the news, but notes that this was a long time coming. "I think it should have been approved a long time ago. We lost a lot of lives this year, we lost a lot of lives just in the past few weeks," she said. "The police having naloxone kits is the difference between living and dying ... When you call 911 police, ambulance, fire chances are police may be the first person there and if police have the kit and they have the opportunity to save somebody's life, that's huge... a lot of people are dying."
The tattoo industry, like many others, have been hit hard during COVID. Obviously not being an essential service, the pandemic has shutdown thousands of tattooers’ livelihoods. Tattooing has grown to become a $3 billion industry worldwide, with 38% of Canadians having at least one tattoo. Revenue growth for the Tattoo Artists industry is expected to decline 9.5% as a result of the pandemic and overall economic downturn. All tattooers have been forced to close up shop during the lockdowns as their work requires close contact and sitting with people for prolonged periods. Sjeli Pearse, a local tattoo artist who is currently living and working in Toronto, shares her experience with SaultOnline as she is currently closing up her studio. “We recently made the hard decision to let go of our location,” Pearse shares that for more than half of her lease she has not been able to work in her rented space due to the pandemic, “it’s hit the community really hard in Toronto especially because the lockdowns have been so much longer.” “At this point we really can’t trust that we will open, or that we will be allowed to stay open, or that clients will even have money to get tattooed.” Although the tattoo industry usually weathers economic downturns well, COVID has stopped them from providing their services. They already have to maintain sterilized work spaces and be extremely aware of their shop environment. Adapting their practice to COVID safety measures will be a necessity in order for tattooers to reopen and return to business. Follow SaultOnline as we follow this industry going forward. Josie Fiegehen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, SaultOnline.com
From the United States to Germany and Australia, government borrowing costs on Friday were set to end February with their biggest monthly rises in years as expectations for a post-pandemic ignition of inflation gained a life of their own. Australia's 10-year bond yield and Britain's 30-year yields were set for their biggest monthly jump since the 2009 global financial crisis. Even after a Friday respite from this week's brutal drubbing, Australia's 10-year yield is up 70 basis points in February and New Zealand's 10-year yield is up almost 77 bps.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has announced a $7-million satellite program to locate and track people who are fishing illegally near Ecuador's Galapagos Islands. “Illegal fishing threatens the health of our fish stocks and takes resources away from hard-working, law-abiding fishers,” said Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan in a press release. “We're investing in one of the leading, most innovative systems on the planet to ensure our fish stocks are protected, our fisheries remain lucrative, and the law is upheld at sea.” The Dark Vessel Detection program uses satellite technology to detect “dark vessels,” ones that have turned off their location transmitting devices in order to avoid being caught, according to DFO. It’s estimated that illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing accounts for about 30 per cent of all fishing activity worldwide, representing up to 26 million tonnes of fish caught annually at a cost to the global economy of $10 billion to $23 billion a year, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. DFO awarded Ontario-based space technology company MDA — the maker of the Canadarm — with a three-year contract to supply the technology for the program. It will provide data and analysis to officials in Ecuador and the Forum Fisheries Agency, which represents 15 small island nations in the Pacific region, so they can spend their resources on enforcement to protect their fish stocks, DFO says. MDA says the program will combine data from multiple satellite missions, including the Canadian Space Agency Earth observation satellite, RADARSAT-2. The Dark Vessel Detection program is part of the $11.6 million Canada committed to ocean health at the 2018 G7 meeting. DFO kicked off a smaller-scale program in June to track vessels in the Bahamas and Costa Rica, which saw “significant” fines to five foreign vessels, according to the department. Canada has been under fire for having illegal seafood in its supply chains. Oceana Canada says the country has “inadequate traceability standards” to monitor its seafood supply chain. As a result, the Canadian economy is losing up to $93.8 million in tax revenue each year due to illegal and unreported fishing, according to an Oceana Canada report released in November. Meanwhile, Canadian fishers are missing out on up to $379 million in lost revenue, per the report. The ocean conservation organization has been calling on the feds to develop a boat-to-plate traceability system that would track information about seafood products and disseminate it throughout supply chains. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tasked Jordan and Health Minister Patty Hajdu to tackle it in their 2019 mandate letters, but no timeline for this plan has been released. This task, however, wasn’t included in Jordan’s or Hajdu’s subsequent 2021 letters. Yasmine Ghania, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Giorgio Armani is taking fashionistas back to the 1980s for his fall Emporio Armani line, nodding to the era's bright colours in his latest creations at Milan Fashion Week. The veteran designer, affectionately called "King Giorgio" in his native Italy, presented plenty of hot pink and purple creations, high-waisted trousers and chunky jewellery in the autumn/winter 2021-2022 collection called "In the mood for pop". In a video presented at the virtual Milan Fashion Week on Thursday, models wore wide-leg trousers with suspenders, velvet jumpsuits and round-shouldered jackets and coats, some with boule buttons, others with shiny patterns.
OTTAWA — Health Canada has approved the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca, the third to be given the green light for national use. Details of the approval and when Canadians might see doses begin arriving are due at a technical briefing later this morning in Ottawa. Canada has pre-ordered 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was co-developed by researchers at the University of Oxford. It will also receive up to 1.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as COVAX by the end of June. Vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna had already been approved by Health Canada. Approximately 1.7 million doses of those formulas have been administered in Canada. Health Canada is also reviewing two other vaccines. Approval of Johnson and Johnson's vaccine will likely not come until early March and Novavax is not expected until April. The European Union has also approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca formulas. AstraZeneca's vaccine, like Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna's formulations, requires refrigeration and takes two doses for maximum efficacy. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
LIVERPOOL, England — Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson faces a long spell on the sidelines after undergoing an operation on the groin injury he sustained in last weekend’s Merseyside derby loss against Everton. Liverpool has not put a timescale on the midfielder's recovery but said he will be out until at least April in another blow to its fading Premier League title defence. “Henderson has successfully had a corrective procedure carried out on the adductor injury," Liverpool said in a statement on Friday. “He will begin a rehabilitation program immediately.” Liverpool is in sixth place, 19 points behind leader Manchester City but the six-time European champions remain in the Champions League. Henderson, who has been playing as an emergency centre back, joins a lengthy injury list. The three senior central defenders, Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, have all had their seasons ended prematurely while backup Fabinho is still out, having played just one of the last seven matches because of a muscle injury. James Milner is still sidelined by a hamstring problem and fellow midfielder Naby Keita only returned to the squad last weekend for the first time since mid-December. Forward Diogo Jota began full training this week after three months out with a knee problem. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
(Trevor Wilson/CBC - image credit) The Alberta Teachers' Association says the devil will be in the details for education funding in the 2021-22 school year. ATA president Jason Schilling says documents usually released on budget day, including school funding manuals and school jurisdiction funding profiles, weren't made available Thursday and aren't expected to be released until next month. Overall funding for K-12 education in Alberta will go from $8.32 billion in 2020-21 to $8.24 billion for 2021-22, and stay that way for the following two years. "The exact impacts of this budget for the next school year are unclear, because the government is not releasing details of funding for school boards until the end of March," Schilling said. "We are concerned that the government may be obscuring the reality of school board funding by conflating government fiscal years with school board fiscal years, while delaying the release of the details by over a month." Calgary Catholic School District chair Mary Martin said school boards need those documents to understand how unique packets of money — like grants and specialized learning supports — are being divvied up. "The funding manual is like the recipe book for funding jurisdictions," she said. "We need to see the details that are forthcoming to understand what this budget's going to mean for Calgary Catholic." Martin said school boards have been told that Alberta Education is looking at adjusting some of those unique packets of money, but they haven't been given any further details. In an interview with CBC News on Friday, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said that while those documents are forthcoming, she wants to ensure school divisions that none of them will see their funding go down compared with the current school year. "But they will receive their funding profiles by the end of March, and in the meantime we've shared data, you know, the formula so that they can look at their weighted moving average and that they can kind of use the current funding model to to project out while they are waiting for the new funding model," she said. LaGrange said the government has moved significant dollars in the education budget into the learning supports envelope, which covers the costs of things like the Program Unit Funding (PUF) grant and the school nutrition grant. "We really felt strongly because of the fact that we've been in a COVID environment, as well as what we've been hearing from school divisions, that we wanted to re-look at that whole envelope and as such there's an additional $40 million in that overall funding envelope," she said. "Which is quite significant, when you think that the overall funding in that envelope is going to be at $1.35 billion." Schilling said the ATA is also concerned that the budget shows $27 million less in spending on instruction, while private school funding sees an increase of $20 million. "When you see a decrease in the basic instructional grant, we need to know how that's reflected in the school board's funding manuals," he said. "When you don't have those funding manuals right away, it's difficult to see what that impact will be on schools and students and teachers." LaGrange said that because this is the first year utilizing this funding model, there were still a few things in the funding manual and funding profiles they needed to iron out. "We had committed all along that we would review it and ensure that we had all the right points. And we want to make sure that the new funding model reflects what we are hearing from school divisions," she said.