Boots isn't too happy to hear the news that his owner has eaten all of his Halloween candy while he was sleeping. Check out his hilarious reaction!
Boots isn't too happy to hear the news that his owner has eaten all of his Halloween candy while he was sleeping. Check out his hilarious reaction!
Alberta reported 1,799 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and four new deaths. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 2,123 Albertans have lost their lives to the disease. Alberta labs completed 17,534 tests for COVID-19 on Tuesday, with a positivity rate around 10.4 per cent. In hospitals across the province, 737 people are being treated for COVID-19 — an increase of 32 from the previous day. Included in that number are 169 patients in intensive care. Deaths reported Wednesday included a woman in her 70s in the Edmonton zone who died April 20, a man in his 40s in the Calgary zone who died April 29, a woman in her 50s in North zone who died Monday, and a woman in her 60s in Central zone, who also died Monday. The province is getting closer to the two-million mark for COVID-19 vaccine doses administered. As of end of day Tuesday, 1,975,341 doses had been administered, an increase of 28,337 from Monday's total. Premier Jason Kenney said Tuesday the province expects to hit the 2 million milestone on Wednesday. Although active cases dropped slightly on Wednesday, Alberta continues to have the highest active case rate of COVID-19 in Canada and the United States. Here's how Alberta's active cases break down regionally: Calgary zone: 11,611 Edmonton zone: 5,606 North zone: 3,675 Central zone: 2,742 South zone: 1,311 Unknown: 17
The battle that has been waged between the Métis National Council and Métis Nation-Saskatchewan is now being fought in the trenches as MNC President Clem Chartier is among those challenging MN-S incumbent Glen McCallum for the position of president. Chartier holds that the direction McCallum is taking the MN-S, particularly with the formation of a tri-council with the Métis Nation of Alberta and Métis Nation of Ontario, will send the MNC back to the days when it served as a pan-Aboriginal organization. He contends that the MNO, with the support from MN-S, has extended its membership to include people well beyond the Métis homeland who do not fit the definition of Métis adopted by MNC and its five provincial governments, which includes MN-S. “It’s jeopardizing the future of the Métis Nation in terms of the successes that we’ve gained and, in particular, it affects the Métis National Council, which is the governance infrastructure of the Métis Nation,” said Chartier. “This election is going to be very critical as to the future of the Métis National Council and that is one of the major reasons I’m running because I want to protect the integrity of the Métis Nation, its homeland and its citizenship,” Chartier added. He continues to serve as president of MNC. He will resign that position should he be successful in his bid to become president of MN-S, he tells Windspeaker.com. As far as McCallum is concerned the MN-S has stuck by the resolution passed by the MNC defining who is Métis and he has joined with his fellow presidents of the MNO and MNA in calling the MNC “increasingly dysfunctional.” McCallum also says there has been benefits to MN-S collaborating with MNO and MNA and he considers that relationship one of his accomplishments this past term. In June 2019, the three Métis governments in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario joined forces to collaboratively advance the Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreements that each signed with the federal government. The following year, they met with Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett to continue to advance those agreements. “If it wasn’t for the tri-council signing that core governance agreement, I don’t believe we’ll ever get to the point of legislation,” said McCallum. Presidential candidate Mary Ann Morin also sees a value in the relationship between the MN-S, MNO and MNA, although she refuses to call them a tri-council because “Do they have letterhead?,” she asks. “That’s only three provinces that are working together to move forward despite the paralysis of the Métis National Council not calling a board meeting in the past two years. So they’re moving forward to ensure that it's in the best interest of the citizens,” said Morin. She adds she would be willing to work with the MNC if it “wants to bring us all back together as a group and work through these issues. I'm all-in again dependent on what my citizens want.” Morin was elected as treasurer for MN-S in 2017, but her term was not without controversy. Four months after being elected, she was removed because she claimed a lack of transparency in financial dealings. She was reinstated by a court ruling in May 2020. Morin says that if she is elected president she will change the structure of the organization, which is now “unhealthy for not only the people at the work environment, it's also unhealthy for the citizens of the whole.” Fourth presidential contender Karen LaRocque says work needs to be undertaken to “bring the organization back to the people because it's the people that lead not me.” “In order for us to build and to be able to sit at the table with any level of government, we have to ensure that we’ve got our people behind us. I think if we had that strength behind us again, I think we’d see a lot of things turning when it comes to those government negotiations,” said LaRocque. LaRocque unsuccessfully challenged McCallum in 2017. Since that time she says she has gained confidence as CEO of Les Filles de Madeleine, a provincial organization with the mandate to provide a voice for Métis Nation women across the province of Saskatchewan. LaRocque says she’s gained a reputation as a strong leader. “The big push right now between MN-S and MNC is this tri-council and the definition of who we are and trying to push the national approach and trying to push the nationalist agenda. Make no mistake, I’m a nationalist through and through … but we’re fighting over a definition instead of dealing with what could have been a very lucrative term for us in developing our governance framework, developing our frameworks for the benefits our people deserve,” said LaRocque. Morin says many opportunities have bypassed the citizens of the MN-S because of the “very unsettled period” of the last four years. “You look out into Métis Nation Alberta and Manitoba Metis Federation and you can see the growth in those areas of education and health and tourism opportunities for economic development, and within Saskatchewan we've been … kind of staying status quo all these years,” she said. Chartier says the opportunities are here now with the Liberal government. “We have a window of opportunity and I don't know if it's closing or not. If the Trudeau government gets re-elected they will have another four-year opportunity to pursue real and substantive Métis rights. That's what I'm hoping happens,” said Chartier, who points out that acquiring land is one of his priorities. McCallum also sees opportunities with the Trudeau government. “I know what I want for this province. I want the best. We’ve been left behind so long. With the relationship we built with the federal government, I love what they’re doing; the open door that they have and to be able to sign agreements and those agreements are in the best interest of the Métis people in Saskatchewan,” said McCallum. “For me, I only answer the questions of what’s right for the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan.” Voting runs from May 14 to May 21, with the exception of Sunday, in the 12 regions. Advanced polling is held May 22 and general election day is May 29. Only those who are registered Saskatchewan Métis or have letters of registry, and are at least 16 years of age, may vote. Chief Electoral Officer Gwen Lafond estimates 16,000 people are eligible. Ballots will be cast for the positions of president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer. Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
(Reuters) -COVID-19 vaccine developers are making ever bolder assertions that the world will need yearly booster shots, or new vaccines to tackle concerning coronavirus variants, but some scientists question when, or whether, such shots will be needed. In interviews with Reuters, more than a dozen influential infectious disease and vaccine development experts said there is growing evidence that a first round of global vaccinations may offer enduring protection against the coronavirus and its most worrisome variants discovered to date. Some of these scientists expressed concern that public expectations around COVID-19 boosters are being set by pharmaceutical executives rather than health specialists, although many agreed that preparing for such a need as a precaution was prudent.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. There are 1,305,770 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 1,305,770 confirmed cases (76,676 active, 1,204,328 resolved, 24,766 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 6,189 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 201.75 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 48,431 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,919. There were 53 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 316 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 45. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 65.16 per 100,000 people. There have been 33,001,128 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 1,166 confirmed cases (85 active, 1,075 resolved, six deaths). There were 10 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 16.28 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 52 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is seven. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 1.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 251,097 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 187 confirmed cases (eight active, 179 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 5.01 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of four new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 151,226 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 4,301 confirmed cases (1,621 active, 2,609 resolved, 71 deaths). There were 149 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 165.52 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,119 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 160. There were zero new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.03 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 7.25 per 100,000 people. There have been 685,984 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 2,024 confirmed cases (124 active, 1,859 resolved, 41 deaths). There were nine new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 15.87 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 55 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is eight. There were zero new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.04 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 5.25 per 100,000 people. There have been 317,271 tests completed. _ Quebec: 360,201 confirmed cases (7,756 active, 341,433 resolved, 11,012 deaths). There were 745 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 90.45 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,811 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 830. There were 11 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 48 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is seven. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.08 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 128.43 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,694,189 tests completed. _ Ontario: 499,412 confirmed cases (29,962 active, 461,076 resolved, 8,374 deaths). There were 2,320 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 203.35 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 19,779 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,826. There were 32 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 187 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 27. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.18 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 56.83 per 100,000 people. There have been 14,406,591 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 43,143 confirmed cases (3,940 active, 38,203 resolved, 1,000 deaths). There were 364 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 285.66 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,064 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 438. There were three new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 18 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.19 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 72.5 per 100,000 people. There have been 725,948 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 43,673 confirmed cases (2,016 active, 41,149 resolved, 508 deaths). There were 183 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 171.04 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,453 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 208. There were two new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of seven new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is one. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.08 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 43.1 per 100,000 people. There have been 803,830 tests completed. _ Alberta: 213,635 confirmed cases (24,962 active, 186,550 resolved, 2,123 deaths). There were 1,799 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 564.51 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,711 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,816. There were four new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 21 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.07 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 48.01 per 100,000 people. There have been 4,332,160 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 137,223 confirmed cases (6,074 active, 129,524 resolved, 1,625 deaths). There were 600 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 117.99 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,298 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 614. There was one new reported death Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 31 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.09 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 31.57 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,589,096 tests completed. _ Yukon: 84 confirmed cases (two active, 80 resolved, two deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 4.76 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 4.76 per 100,000 people. There have been 9,129 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 114 confirmed cases (57 active, 57 resolved, zero deaths). There were two new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 126.22 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 29 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 20,946 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 594 confirmed cases (69 active, 521 resolved, four deaths). There were eight new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 175.34 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 54 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is eight. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 10.16 per 100,000 people. There have been 13,585 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published May 12, 2021. The Canadian Press
Ottawa's medical officer of health and the city's mayor say if local COVID-19 indicators keep declining, there's a chance the province could allow students to return to in-person classes by the end of May. At a news conference Wednesday, Dr. Vera Etches and Mayor Jim Watson called for a regional approach to reopening, noting that indicators in the city's wastewater and the recent downward trend in hospitalizations are encouraging. They said they'd shared those positive trends with the Ontario government. "It's looking positive to be able to open schools toward the end of May if the rate of COVID continues to come down in our community," she said. WATCH | The likelihood of schools reopening this month: However, she warned the current infection rate — about 75 per 100,000 people — is about twice what the rate was when schools reopened in February. High levels of COVID-19 in the community, Etches said, increases the risk of it getting into schools. "We have to continue to be cautious. The level of protection from vaccines isn't enough to stop a resurgence at this point," she said. "The stay-at-home order is what's working right now to bring levels down." 'Makes good sense' Ottawa may be in a better position to open schools sooner than other hard-hit places like Peel Region and Toronto, said Mayor Jim Watson. "Opening the schools on a regional basis makes good sense," Watson said. "The first priority for all of us here is to get our school system back up and running at least so the kids can have at least a month of in-class learning." City public health officials have also said schools will likely provide an important venue for vaccinating children against the virus. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only one Health Canada has authorized for use in children as young as 12 so far. Ontario schools were moved to remote learning following the delayed spring break in April 2021.
Next week, Ontario will stop sending 50 per cent of its COVID-19 vaccine supply to hot spot neighbourhoods, instead allocating doses evenly across the province. But Toronto officials say the hot-spot strategy is a success story that needs to continue. In April, the provincial government began targeting communities with high rates of COVID-19 infections — the majority in Toronto — by supplying them with 25 per cent of doses. It ramped up that effort in the first two weeks of May to 50 per cent of doses. By May 10, 53.2 per cent of people over 18 years of age in hot spots had received at least one dose, compared to 46.9 per cent of people in lower risk neighbourhoods, according to provincial data released Wednesday. Toronto has administered more than 1.5 million vaccine doses and at least 70 per cent of residents over 50 have been vaccinated, Mayor John Tory said. The city has also seen double-digit increases in hot-spot vaccination rates. For example, in 13 postal codes, the rate for all adults jumped from less than 14 per cent to more than 48 per cent. "We have been consistently advocating for continuation of extra supply allocated to hot spots," said Tory Wednesday. "It's best to hit the hardest where it is hitting people the hardest and we can produce the results to justify the allocation." The province said it increased the supply of vaccines to those areas by one million doses as a "time-limited response to reduce COVID-19 case, hospitalizations and deaths." It will return to allocating doses by population in the last two weeks of May, as it opens eligibility to people aged 30 and up May 17 and all adults over 18 on May 24. Ontario expecting influx of doses The province is expecting an influx of doses from the federal government, which will translate to more supply at the city level. For May, Ontario will receive close to four million doses. Health Minister Christine Elliott said Wednesday that while the hot-spot approach is working, the increased vaccine supply "will continue to make it easier than ever for those who are most at risk of COVID-19 to receive a vaccine." Toronto's Fire Chief Matthew Peg, head of emergency management, said this week clinics are administering 90,000 doses with the extra hot spot supply. Next week that will drop to 60,000 doses, he said. "Pop-up and mobile vaccine clinics have emerged as a real success story," said Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa. "Putting resources in the hot-spot communities actually not only benefits those communities directly but it's frankly a big benefit for the entire province of Ontario." The province's own science advisory table has recommended allocating 50 per cent of doses to hot spots for the entire month of May. Toronto's Board of Health passed a motion May 10 calling for the province to follow this advice. Toronto reported 814 new cases and 1,081 hospitalizations. More than 260 patients are in intensive care, and 20 more people have died. Toronto is opening up an additional 5,000 appointments for next week as residents over 40 will be allowed to get their dose at the city's mass vaccination sites. Almost all other spots are nearly fully booked. It is also adding five more postal codes as hot spots to target with pop-up and mobile clinics.
As a lengthy, bitter fight over mask requirements for students neared its conclusion, the chairperson of a Florida school board announced that she would agree to lift a mandate that had been in place since September even though she preferred leaving it in place until the end of the academic year. Parents hurled insults in response. “Communist! Democrat!,” opponents of making children wear masks in school shouted as Ueberschaer and the district superintendent said at a May 3 meeting that they still considered masks advisable. “This is Santa Rosa County, America, not China!” Moments later, the Santa Rosa school board voted unanimously to make masks optional for all grades effective immediately, joining dozens of other U.S, communities in declaring that masks were or would soon no longer be mandatory for students. The debates have been emotional and highly divisive around the country, in some cases leading to the involvement of police. A few beleaguered school boards, caught between the demands of anti-mask parents and the appeals of employee unions, eliminated student mask rules only to reverse or revise the decisions. Where many see a continued need to protect children who aren't vaccinated against COVID-19, opponents argue that masks make students uncomfortable and mandates impinge on freedom. “The mask is a personal choice, and I wore it at the beginning, but I just decided that it wasn’t about the mask anymore,” said Cynthia Licharowicz, a Milton, Florida, parent who opposed Santa Rosa County’s rule. "So I decided to take it off, and I wanted my child to have the same choice.” The dustups highlight competing risk narratives 14 months into the pandemic: Even as a number of U.S. schools remain closed to minimize infections, districts in states from Alabama to Wyoming decided to ditch student mask mandates. Many more are likely to do the same before the next school year starts, despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidance that schools “should prioritize universal and correct use of masks and physical distancing.” Some public health experts are alarmed. While the Food and Drug Administration this week approved Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as 12, it’s unlikely that many young adolescents will be vaccinated before the end of the academic year. Data from the CDC shows infection rates among U.S. residents ages 14-17 are now higher than for Americans, while the rates among children 6-13 are getting closer to the national average. “We know that masks work to reduce transmission,” Gigi Gronvall, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said. “This is really not the time to remove one of the best tools we have to reduce transmission.” Many parents in school districts where masks have become voluntary also are concerned. School districts in the South, Midwest and West have done away with mandatory masks. In Arkansas, a law will make it illegal by the end of the summer for schools, or any government entity to require masks. “I am so frustrated....I don’t see any harm in wearing masks, and there is potential harm in not wearing a mask,” said Christie Black, the mother of a kindergartner and a third grader in Mesa, Arizona, who was puzzled by the decision of the state's largest school district to make masks optional indoors starting earlier this month. There’s little U.S. data about the spread of the coronavirus in schools where students didn't wears masks since most reopened schools required them, said Adam Hersh, a professor of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah. Mask supporters point to worrying examples, including high transmission at a maskless summer camp in Georgia. Evidence from earlier in the pandemic found children less likely than adults to be infected with the coronavirus and less likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19. The CDC has said that while schools haven't been associated with substantial spread, outbreaks in schools not following infection-prevention measures “tend to result in increased transmission among teachers and school staff rather than among students.” Black continues to send her two children to school with masks but says “they flung their masks off” as soon as they saw classmates no longer covering their faces. “I feel like because the governor and the school board caved to peer pressure, it’s now up to my children not to cave to peer pressure,” Black said. “It just feels like we're more concerned with our own freedom and rights than doing what’s best for the most vulnerable.” In Santa Rosa, east of Pensacola, mask opponents dominated public debate even though surveys of parents and teachers showed divided opinions in the 28,000-student district. A small majority of teachers wanted to require masks at least through the end of the school year, while a small majority of parents wanted the requirement lifted immediately. The school board’s April 20 discussion about the issue nonetheless grew so heated that sheriff’s deputies escorted multiple attendees out of the meeting, including at least one who was shouting profanities at board members. Jennifer Hensley, a Santa Rosa County parent and middle school teacher, was the only member of the public at the meeting who spoke in favor of keeping the mask mandate versus the 18 who spoke against the requirement. She said she was worried about the health of her fellow teachers and of her 15-year-old daughter, who has an autoimmune disorder. “The atmosphere was so charged,” Hensley recalled later. “I don't think they were expecting that level of emotion to be involved.” Critics of the mask policy started organizing months earlier. Hailei Smead, a mother of three students, runs a Facebook group called Santa Rosa County Parents SPEAK UP that was created in September to oppose mask requirements and has nearly 900 members registered. Smead said her fifth-grade daughter was repeatedly isolated in the school office for refusing to wear a mask and eventually obtained a medical exception allowing her to forego a face covering. Smead declined to state the medical reason. “It’s not society’s job to protect every other individual,” Smead said. “It’s your own job to protect yourself and your own family.” Santa Rosa County district leaders emphasized they were following public health guidance, but state officials undercut that position even as public pressure built locally. Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran on April 14 urged local superintendents to make masks optional for the 2021-2022 school year. On April 29, Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees rolled back a series of health advisories that had been cited by the Santa Rosa district. So the school board called the May 3 meeting at which its five members voted to revoke the mask mandate. “I still strongly recommend the use of facemasks, especially for those who are not fully vaccinated,” board chair Ueberschaer said before the vote, raising her voice to be heard over shouting parents. “My hope is that the families will have a conversation with their children that face masks are now a personal choice, and that students should respect the choice of their peers.” Some of the insults hurled at Ueberschaer, a longtime school volunteer who is of Asian descent. included references to China. “It truly does make me sad that face masks have morphed from a virus-prevention strategy to a political statement," she said. Jeff Amy And Lindsay Whitehurst, The Associated Press
A national coalition of groups that support drug decriminalization say the plan put forward by Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart known as the "Vancouver Model" is deeply flawed because the people it is meant to help were never consulted as promised. "The mayor said that we'd be involved all the way through the design process. He said, this is my personal guarantee. So, the question is — and I have asked him this — why aren't we?" said Garth Mullins of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU). The groups say if Vancouver — which is seeking to be the first Canadian jurisdiction to decriminalize possession of small amounts of illicit drugs — gets it wrong, it could set a terrible precedent for jurisdictions that follow. In November 2020, Vancouver city council unanimously approved a motion to ask the federal government for an exemption from Criminal Code provisions on simple drug possession, laying the groundwork for what is now the Vancouver Model. The move was meant to recognize drug use as a public health issue instead of a criminal matter, and was triggered by the increasingly poisonous drug supply that is currently killing more than five British Columbians daily. On Tuesday, VANDU and its partners held a rally to bring attention to their concerns over the Vancouver Model. Chief among them is the threshold the model lays out for possession — in other words, the quantity of drugs a person can be caught with and not trigger arrest or confiscation. According to the coalition, the threshold levels are far too low, meaning a substantial number of drug users would still be criminalized if the Vancouver Model comes into effect in its current form. A woman holds a sign during a protest against the proposed Vancouver Model for illicit drug decriminalization in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver on Tuesday. Advocates say police have an oversized role in developing the model and that the thresholds that define simple possession are too low in the latest submission to Ottawa.(Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press) "This is a serious question," said Dr. Thomas Kerr, senior scientist at the B.C. Centre on Substance Use. "If you're really concerned about addressing the harms of criminalization and you're wanting to advance a model for decriminalization, you're wasting your time setting the thresholds this low." Kerr said data used to set the drug thresholds in the Vancouver Model were collected in 2018, before the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. "Just like more people are probably buying bulk at Costco to avoid having to go shopping every week, I think people who use drugs are doing similar things. They're buying larger quantities, they're buying for friends and partners and others to limit contact," he said. 'Thresholds are a starting point,' mayor says Mayor Kennedy Stewart said officials "respect the views of VANDU and other groups.'' "The proposed thresholds are a starting point and will be monitored and evaluated as more data become available,'' Stewart said in a statement. He said the city's application to Health Canada is grounded in local data — though VANDU argues the figures are outdated — and aimed at reducing stigma to achieve a "fully health-focused approach to substance use.'' "As with many pioneering projects, efforts must be made to find consensus between a variety of groups with often vastly differing opinions,'' Stewart added. The coalition is also highly critical of the involvement of the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) in the creation of the Vancouver Model. It said the goal of decriminalization should be to remove police from a policy initiative, not give them "considerable input." Mullins said the VPD was consulted on decriminalization thresholds, while his group was only consulted after thresholds were already established. The groups are asking that the police participation be completely cut out from any decriminalization planning. They also say it's not too late for the mayor and city to engage in meaningful consultation with the constituents that decriminalization will most affect. "Nothing about us without us," Mullins said. "It's not too late. We can fix this, but it's on the wrong track."
Preliminary results of an ongoing study in the United Kingdom suggest alternating the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines causes more frequent mild to moderate symptoms, but there are no other safety concerns from mixing those vaccines. However, researchers at the University of Oxford have not yet determined how a combination of shots would affect the immune system's response compared with sticking with the same COVID-19 vaccine for both the prime and booster shots. They say in a peer-reviewed letter published in The Lancet on Wednesday that an increase in short-term adverse reactions occurred after the Pfizer vaccine was followed four weeks later by AstraZeneca, or vice versa, as part of the study that began earlier this year. Chief investigator Matthew Snape, associate professor in pediatrics and vaccinology at Oxford, said initial data are being released to inform people about symptoms as several countries consider mixing vaccines. "The results from this study suggest that mixed dose schedules could result in an increase in work absences the day after immunization, and this is important to consider when planning immunization of health-care workers," Snape said in a EurekAlert! statement issued by the service, which provides science-related releases. Researchers also noted that while the study participants were aged 50 and over, it's possible that adverse reactions may be more prevalent in younger people, though they did not provide any details. Results on whether immune response to mixed doses would be affected are expected to be released by the Oxford team in the coming months. Snape said they've adapted the ongoing study to assess if early and regular use of acetaminophen in Tylenol, for example, reduced the frequency of fever and mild to moderate pain. The study recruited 830 people to evaluate four combinations of vaccination: a first dose of AstraZeneca followed by either a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine or another dose of AstraZeneca, or the Pfizer vaccine followed by a second shot of either AstraZeneca or Pfizer. Research was expanded last month for a new study with 1,050 volunteers who received either the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine before randomly getting either the same vaccine for their second dose or the Moderna or Novavax vaccine. Horacio Bach, an infectious diseases expert at the University of British Columbia, said the small size of the initial study does not make it possible to know whether some people would get severe reactions from mixing the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines. AstraZeneca, for example, was tested in about 32,000 people but rare blood clots were not detected until millions of people received the vaccine, which a national vaccine panel in Canada has suggested should be sidelined in favour of the "preferred" Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Bach said it's possible that knowing about an increase in adverse reactions from mixing vaccines could deter some people from getting a second dose, though symptoms following vaccination from even the seasonal flu shot vary widely. Three Canadians — in Alberta, New Brunswick and Quebec — have died from a rare blood clot associated with AstraZeneca. On Wednesday, even as the federal government announced it's expecting to receive hundreds of thousands of doses of the vaccine, Nova Scotia and Manitoba said they would limit its use to second doses after similar restrictions on Tuesday in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec. Some of the provinces have used up their AstraZeneca supply. B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said Wednesday the province is expecting to use some of its forthcoming supply of AstraZeneca for second doses and more doses had been distributed to pharmacies in the Island and Interior health regions. This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 12, 2021. Camille Bains, The Canadian Press
The number of active COVID-19 cases has dropped dramatically in Banff after having had the highest per capita rate in the province. At the end of last month, the mountain town had a rate of more than 1,070 active cases for every 100,000 people. As of May 12, however, the town has only the 60th highest rate in the province, says the town's director of emergency management. Silvio Adamo says hard work, ample testing and creating isolation rooms led to the significant drop in cases. "Our tactic was to identify people in our community as quickly as possible with COVID and get them in isolation so that they didn't spread the virus. And I think we were pretty successful with that," he said. Because many of Banff's hospitality and service industry workers live communally, achieving isolation can be a challenge. Adamo says the town was able to create 143 isolation rooms, which helped flatten the curve in Banff. He says only 11 people now remain in quarantine.
After seeing the impact of flooding in Fort Simpson and Jean Marie River, N.W.T, the next communities along the Mackenzie River are preparing for a flood year like no other. Last fall, the river froze with unprecedented high water levels, which is now making for a very unpredictable breakup. Half of Fort Simpson was partly under water and hundreds of residents had to be evacuated. Meanwhile, Jean Marie River, a community of about 100 people, was practically abandoned over the weekend as houses filled with water. The school and buildings will need major repairs. The smell of fuel still lingers in the air after the powerful flood water and ice blocks uprooted fuel tanks over the weekend. WATCH | A view of the flooding in N.W.T. from above: Now, communities downstream are readying themselves for what could come. Mayor Frank Pope in Norman Wells, N.W.T., said the amount of flooding took most by surprise. "It is far worse than I thought it could ever be," Pope said. Though the community does not usually flood, the mayor says they are ready to act as an evacuation site for others. "The Heritage Hotel has told us they will make 20 rooms available in case of emergencies for people who may have to come here and we're looking at getting cots … set up in our community hall for families and people who may need other assistance," he said. "So we're ready to accommodate people from other communities." A map showing Fort McPherson, Norman Wells, Tulita, Fort Simpson, Jean Marie River and Hay River. All communities are either currently affected or are potentially at risk of flooding.(CBC) Norman Wells currently has eight elders who were evacuated from Fort Simpson in its elders' centre. "I feel so badly for the people in Hay River, Jean Marie and Fort Simpson and I hope that's the end of the bad stuff and things will recede and they can get back to normal," Pope said. He acknowledged there's a lot of work ahead of them before that. Pope said the town currently has space for at least 100 people, but that number could grow once the community hall is set up and, "if we had to, the school gym." A road flooded in Fort Simpson, N.W.T, on Saturday, one day before a general evacuation was called for the town. (Submitted by Val Nahanni) Further north, Fort McPherson, N.W.T., has started preparing for flooding by first reviewing its emergency response plans. Senior Administrative Officer Gary McBride said COVID-19 protocols issued by the chief public health officer may slightly alter those plans. McBride said the community hall and school gym would be turned into evacuation shelters if the hamlet was to flood, but it wouldn't affect the whole community "The only concerns we would have are the people at the lower levels and then there's a number of homes and camps out by the ferry crossing and these would be at risk as well." 'More and more unpredictable' The flooding of Jean Marie River and Fort Simpson also shocked Tim Tomezynski, Tulita's fire chief. "We've been notified that the water levels are high and we can see that here as well, but we did not expect to see the results — the absolute horrific results — that have happened since breakup and the flooding began. It was a total surprise," Tomezynski said. "Since my time here, this has been the worst that I have heard of." A road closed sign and caution tape blocking a flooded road in Fort Simpson. Tim Tomezynski, Tulita's Fire Chief described the floods as horrific: 'Since my time here, this has been the worst that I have heard of.'(Janice Norwegian) He said after watching what happened in Jean Marie River, they have organized with a company to empty gas tanks at the lower level of the hamlet if the water rises to a certain point. They have also set up markers to know when to alert residents to start preparing for an evacuation and when they need to leave. But with all these measures in place, there is still so much uncertainty about what will actually happen. "It's really hard to gauge this year because the river is acting different, the ice is acting different. It's not like the years past," said Tomezynski, adding the seasons are getting "more and more unpredictable." Tomezynski said they have people monitoring the river at all times and residents who are at their cabins above and below Tulita are also keeping an eye on things. So far, the Mackenzie has risen about eight feet and there was a bit of cracking ice, but nothing too concerning. "What we're very worried about … is if the Bear River breaks. That's when something could happen where the water could rush up if the ice gets blocked and jammed where the Bear River meets the Mackenzie. That's where we'll get some higher water and it could rise at a very rapid rate." If the town was to flood, Tomezynski said only the residents living on the lower road would be affected. The school gym would be opened as an evacuation centre and he is encouraging people to stay with other families members. "We're really trying to pre-plan and be as prepared as we can because we know how fast it can happen [and the] devastation has really made our resolve even higher." The minister of municipal and community affairs will be meeting with communities in the Sahtu and Mackenzie Delta regions Wednesday afternoon to check in on flood response preparations and see if they have enough support from the territorial government. Tomezynski hopes this will give communities the opportunity to, not only share information on what approaches have been working and what have not, but also be there to support each other.
Dozens of fishing boats are searching the Fraser River between Chilliwack and Mission for a missing 29-year-old Abbotsford man who fell into the icy water on Friday while sturgeon fishing with a friend. Fishing guide Steve Simpson said that Damian Dutrisac and Simpson's friend Andrew Newton were fishing around 2 p.m. near the mouth of the Sumas River when the anchor of their boat got caught and both men were bucked off as water filled the back of the boat. "They panicked as they were trying to get the anchor out and as they were trying to pull up the anchor the water came up the back of the boat and threw Andrew off the boat and Damian off the boat," said Simpson who spoke to CBC's The Early Edition Wednesday morning with Newton. Newton said he swam to shore, making it to a small island, then had to wait for at least an hour to flag down a boat to get help. "[Newton] was distraught and he was absolutely beside himself. He threw up for half an hour just from pure exhaustion," said Simpson. Damian Dutrisac and his fiance Karyssa Mclean in happy times.(Submitted by Karyssa McLean) Three search parties left from Chilliwack, Fort Langley and Ladner early Wednesday to attempt to locate the missing fisherman. Dutrisac had just proposed to his fiancé Karyssa Mclean last September. She said he'd taken up sturgeon fishing recently and had only been out about three times. She was horrified when she learned how small the boat was — and the fact the two men had no life jackets on. She described her husband as a longshoreman who was strong-minded, loving and athletic. "One of our last conversations was how exciting it was to get married — how it didn't matter who was going to be there. It was a heartwarming touching conversation that I can't believe was one of the last," said Mclean. She knew something was wrong when he failed to reply to her text messages. "I didn't expect that you know," she said. On Friday night, an initial search was called off after it got too dark. Simpson says the waters of the Fraser are treacherous right now, swollen with the spring freshet. Chilliwack RCMP have no further plans to search, and Simpson said it deemed the water too dangerous to allow SAR to participate. Mclean says she'd just gotten her wedding dress and booked a venue for their marriage this upcoming October, and now all she can do is wait — and hope — he is found. "He was really, really loving — I was so lucky."
Information published by the U.S. Treasury Department said that Zambada was removed from the sanctions list of the Office of Foreign Assets Control. A department spokesman said Zambada was no longer engaged in sanctionable activities. El Rey, or The King, was arrested in 2008 after a gunbattle in Mexico City, where he was suspected of controlling smuggling through the capital's international airport.
A new vacancy in a safe Conservative riding gives the party an opportunity for renewal — or it could trigger the same problems that have cost the Conservatives elections in the past. On Tuesday, Diane Finley stood in the House of Commons and announced her resignation as the MP for Haldimand–Norfolk, effective immediately. She signalled last fall her intention not to run in the next election; her official departure now leaves the seat vacant. That means a byelection will have to be held within the next six months — if the whole country doesn't go to the polls first. Finley was first elected in 2004 and was re-elected five times. She sat as a cabinet minister throughout Stephen Harper's time in power, holding a number of portfolios. Her longest tenure was as the minister for human resources and skills development. The southwestern rural Ontario riding she represented for over 16 years is located on the northern shore of Lake Erie and is one of the safest Conservative seats in the province. In the 2019 federal election, Finley won with 46.8 per cent of the vote, well ahead of the Liberal candidate's 24.5 per cent. The NDP finished third with about 15 per cent of the vote. Before Finley won it in 2004, the riding that is now Haldimand–Norfolk had been represented by the Liberals since 1988. But the Liberals' last two wins in the riding, in 1997 and 2000, were due largely to the split on the right. The combined totals of the Progressive Conservative and Reform/Canadian Alliance parties was greater than the share of the vote captured by the Liberals. At the provincial level, the Ontario PCs have held the area since 1995. If a byelection were held today, the political hue of Haldimand–Norfolk probably wouldn't change. While the polls in Ontario have moved by about three points from the Conservatives to the Liberals since 2019, that should not be nearly enough to overcome Finley's 22-point margin of victory. If the Conservatives found themselves losing in a riding like Haldimand–Norfolk, they'd probably be losing dozens of seats across the country as well. Only if the Liberals were on track to win more than 240 seats would you expect to see Haldimand–Norfolk in their column. In short, the Conservatives are likely to retain Haldimand–Norfolk, whenever the vote takes place. So what matters most is who the Conservative candidate (and likely future MP) will be. Leslyn Lewis was acclaimed as the party's candidate in Haldimand–Norfolk in October. A rising figure in the Conservative Party A one-time candidate for the Conservatives, Lewis burst onto the national political scene in last year's leadership race. The Toronto lawyer finished third in the contest with 30 per cent of the points allocated on the second ballot by the party's voting system, which gave equal weight to all 338 ridings. That result got her eliminated and paved the way for Erin O'Toole's victory over Peter MacKay — but Lewis actually had more raw votes on that second ballot than any other candidate. Leslyn Lewis finished third in last year's Conservative leadership race. She will be the Conservative candidate in Haldimand–Norfolk.(Tijana Martin / Canadian Press) Lewis had been boosted by the elimination of Ontario MP and fellow social conservative Derek Sloan on the first ballot. When Lewis dropped off, the lion's share of her support went to O'Toole, putting him over the top. O'Toole owes a lot of the credit for his victory to those social conservative votes. He has since struggled to keep that wing of the party happy and had to ward off an attempt by social conservative activists to press their agenda at the party's policy convention in March. Having Lewis at that convention co-moderating a Q&A with O'Toole was a nod to those members. Unlike Sloan, who has since been booted from caucus, and MacKay, who was reportedly sidelined by O'Toole, Lewis has emerged from the leadership contest with what looks like a bright future within the Conservative Party. Becoming the MP for Haldimand–Norfolk would cement her in her new role. Unintended consequences for O'Toole There are certainly lots of reasons for the Conservatives to welcome Lewis with open arms. She has proven herself popular with the Conservative base and a good fundraiser, having raised $2.1 million during the leadership race. As a Black woman from Toronto, Lewis represents constituencies the Conservatives would like to reach. But as a social conservative, Lewis also represents a constituency that has held the Conservatives back in the past — particularly among younger women who live and vote in the urban and suburban parts of Canada that happen to decide elections. A new, prominent voice from the socially conservative wing of the party might not make reaching those voters easier. Beyond her social conservatism, there are other hints that Lewis might not help the party broaden its appeal. In an op-ed for the National Post she wrote last fall, Lewis claimed the Liberals had an "authoritarian socialist agenda" and accused the federal government of imposing inconsistent COVID-19 restrictions on families, small businesses and places of worship (restrictions which were actually imposed by provincial governments, most of them conservative). She also wrote that she was hearing from Canadians who fear that "the Liberals will impose a social credit score, similar to the one that exists in China where people's behaviours are monitored through 5G cameras." Erin O'Toole (left) won the 2020 Conservative leadership race in part due to the third-ballot support he got from members who backed Leslyn Lewis (second from left).(Sean Kilpatrick / Canadian Press) It raises the question of whether the Conservatives would be better served by a quick byelection that puts Lewis front and centre and on the bigger stage of the House of Commons, or by having her as just one among 338 candidates in a general election — someone who may help motivate party members and volunteers, even if she doesn't win the party any new votes. With his power to set the date of the Haldimand-Norfolk byelection, that decision will be Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's to make.
Islanders should learn more next week about the province's plans to reopen following the latest public health measures. The premier provided a few hints at what that plan may include during a meeting with business leaders in Charlottetown Wednesday. "We really want to give some kind of a blueprint for Islanders and Island businesses … to let them know what the summer could and should look like," Premier Dennis King said. "This time last year we rolled out the safe restart plan and our intention would be to [introduce] safe restart 2.0, essentially." There's so many factors that are in place. — Premier Dennis King This hinges on the hope that more people will get vaccinated, and that COVID-19 variants and the third wave elsewhere in Canada will be manageable. King said that plan, or blueprint, is expected to come by the middle or end of next week. Additionally, King said he hopes the Atlantic bubble can open sometime in the coming weeks. "We're really really hopeful that it's sometime in early June that we can begin that and also, you know, when it's safe to do so, to bring our seasonal residents and our family reunification streams back online," he said. "Hopeful, and planning, but there's so many factors that are in place here." The premier said it's still undetermined when P.E.I. would open to the rest of Canada. Could be 'more challenging summer' for some businesses Penny Walsh-McGuire, CEO with the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce, said this plan is a priority for "all businesses and for families looking to reunite with those who aren't in the province." She said she hopes the plan has guidance for businesses during the summer months, especially those hardest hit by the pandemic. 'This could be a more challenging summer for businesses than even 2020, depending on what travel restrictions are in place,' said Penny Walsh-McGuire.(Kirk Pennell/CBC) Walsh-McGuire said government supports will need to continue into the summer. "We're very pleased to hear that the premier is lobbying for things like the continuation … of the Canadian emergency relief fund for wages and for rent," she said. "This could be a more challenging summer for businesses than even 2020, depending on what travel restrictions are in place." She said there is a lot of uncertainty heading into the summer and "any certainty that we can give businesses in terms of going forward will be really helpful." 'They need to know what to expect' Colin Younker, a member of the chamber who has businesses in Charlottetown, said it's been "a roller-coaster of a year" for businesses, and a reopening plan is critical for the summer. Colin Younker said this summer will likely look similar to last summer, and hopes government supports stay in place — especially for harder hit sectors. (Kirk Pennell/CBC) "They need to know what to expect, and how they can put their plans into motion," he said. "We look forward to seeing that and we're excited that that plan is in the works. We're hoping it'll be good news for Island business." Younker said this summer will likely look similar to last summer, and hopes government supports stay in place — especially for harder hit sectors. "It'll be very important for the survival of those businesses." More from CBC P.E.I.
Two people were stabbed during a violent incident involving three people in Dartmouth early Thursday. Halifax Regional Police were called to an altercation near the intersection of Portland Street and Prince Arthur Avenue at 1:55 a.m. Officers were flagged down by a man who had been stabbed. A few minutes later, another man was found with stab wounds. A third man with an injured hand was located by a police dog at a residence in the 0-50 block of Hastings Drive a short time later. All three men were taken to hospital. Investigators believe the men are known to each other. Officers are still on the scene Thursday morning. A four-level apartment building on Prince Arthur Street has been taped off by police.(Paul Palmeter/CBC) Police say they aren't looking for any other suspects. All vehicle traffic on Portland Street between Lakefront Road and Gaston Road was blocked early Thursday, but reopened around 6:30 a.m. Officers are still on the scene Thursday morning and a four-level apartment building on Prince Arthur Street has been taped off by police. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 902-490-5020. Anonymous tips can be sent to Crime Stoppers by calling toll-free 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), by submitting a secure web tip or by using the P3 Tips app. MORE TOP STORIES
Lawyers for Meng Wanzhou will spend two days in B.C. Supreme Court next month trying to convince a judge to allow them to rely on newly discovered evidence as part of their bid to prevent the Huawei executive's extradition. At a case management conference Wednesday morning, Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes agreed to a schedule that will see Meng's defence team make an application to introduce the new evidence starting June 29. Meng's lawyers didn't specify the nature of the evidence, but they have spent the past month poring through HSBC documents released by a Hong Kong court for proof to back up their claims that the United States misled Canada into arresting the 49-year-old by omitting key details about fraud allegations against her. Accused of lying to HSBC executive Meng is the chief financial officer of Huawei and the daughter of the Chinese telecommunication giant's founder. Prosecutors claim she lied to an HSBC executive in Hong Kong in 2013 about Huawei's control of a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. economic sanctions against Iran. A Hong Kong judge recently released documents from HSBC to Meng Wanzhou's legal team. The Huawei executive's lawyers plan to ask the judge overseeing extradition proceedings to allow the introduction of new evidence in the case. (Bobby Yip/Reuters) According to the record of the case the U.S. filed to justify the commencement of extradition proceedings in Canada, HSBC relied on Meng's alleged misrepresentations to continue handling financial transactions for Huawei, putting the bank at risk of prosecution and loss. HSBC had a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. government at the time of the alleged offences which meant the bank was under added scrutiny. Meng was arrested at Vancouver's airport on Dec. 1, 2018, and the extradition proceedings have been grinding their way through the court ever since. Final arguments were supposed to have begun at the end of April, but Holmes granted a last minute adjournment to give the defence time to digest the new HSBC documents. Her legal team had already announced plans to argue that the record of the case was flawed when the Hong Kong court agreed to release documents her Canadian lawyers have been denied access to in both the U.K and the U.S. Extradition is supposed to be an expedited process and the Crown has pointed out that the judge is supposed to determine if there's enough evidence, at face value, to warrant a trial — not get into the weeds of the allegations. But the defence has indicated it will argue the U.S. lied and neglected to include key information to make the record of the case look stronger than it is. It claims Meng did not lie and that senior HSBC executives were aware of the risks posed by Huawei's relationship with its subsidiary. it also argues the bank faced no real threat of loss. Defence to argue cumulative effect warrants stay The defence has to file its submissions on the new evidence by June 7 and will make oral arguments on the last two days of the month. Holmes said the final three weeks of the proceedings can begin Aug. 3, but those dates may shift depending on whether she decides to allow the evidence into the proceedings. Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou emerges from her vehicle at B.C. Supreme Court in October 2020. She wears a GPS-monitoring bracelet on her ankle as part of her bail conditions.(Ben Nelms/CBC) The defence is seeking a stay of proceedings based on arguments related to the allegedly misleading record of the case. It has already argued the extradition should be tossed on three other grounds of alleged abuse of process. Meng's lawyers claim she's being used as a political pawn, that her rights were abused at the time of her arrest and that the U.S. is acting outside international law by trying to assert jurisdiction over her actions in Hong Kong. During the August hearing, they will argue that the cumulative effect of all those allegations should result in a stay, even if any one of them alone is not enough to convince the judge. The final part of the hearing will include submissions on the extradition request itself. The Crown has argued that Meng should be sent to New York to face trial. Meng has been living under a form of house arrest since she was released on $10 million bail a little more than a week after her arrest. She has denied the allegations.
Several German states are already preparing to reopen to domestic tourists. Four trial projects in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein have already been welcoming them back.View on euronews
Rocky Mountain House Health Centre's emergency department will be closed for a 16-hour period due to a shortage of available doctors. Alberta Health Services said in a release the emergency department closed at 3 p.m Wednesday to allow physicians and staff to treat and discharge remaining patients. The department is set to reopen at 7 a.m. Thursday. "This is a temporary situation, due to COVID-19 impacting the availability of physicians across the zone who are able to provide locum coverage," states the AHS release. "Central Alberta has a number of physicians who are impacted by COVID-19 or in isolation due to being a close contact, limiting available resources." Inpatients will not be affected by the closure and on-call coverage will still be provided for obstetrical patients. "AHS exhausted all efforts to find physician coverage during this time, locally, within Central Zone, and provincially, but have not been able to find physicians to cover the ED during this time," AHS said in the release. Anyone needing urgent emergency medical care in the area is asked to call 911. Emergency calls will be rerouted to other central Alberta health care facilities, including those in Sylvan Lake, Rimbey, Sundre and Red Deer. Other Alberta hospitals are having similar physician coverage issues; Fairview Health Complex emergency department was closed for a 12-hour period that ended Wednesday morning and the Elk Point Healthcare Centre emergency will close for 24 hours, starting Thursday morning at 8 a.m.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday her government will explore more travel "bubbles" and lead trade delegations later this year to re-connect with a post-pandemic world after more than a year of border closures. Tough lockdowns and its geographical location has helped New Zealand eliminate the novel coronavirus within its borders, but left the country of 5 million isolated from the rest of the world. Ardern said New Zealand started rebuilding contact by opening quarantine-free travel with neighbouring Australia and the South Pacific's Cook Islands, and is considering more such travel bubble options.