The ocean is clearly ruining all of the fun!
The ocean is clearly ruining all of the fun!
An envoy hired to defuse tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous commercial lobster fishermen in Nova Scotia has released a bleak interim report highlighting poor communication and a lack of trust between both sides. The report by Université Sainte-Anne president Allister Surette found perhaps the only thing the fishermen can agree on is blaming the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for the situation. "The lack of trust and respect has been presented to me by many of the individuals I interviewed," Surette said in his interim report filed with Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan and Carolyn Bennett, minister for Indigenous-Crown relations. "Firstly, I have heard from Indigenous and non-Indigenous parties of the lack of trust in government," Surette wrote. "Added to this level of the lack of trust and respect, some interviewed also expressed the lack of trust and respect within parties involved in the fishery and I also heard of the lack of trust and respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals, stakeholder groups and organizations." Appointed by Ottawa Surette was named special federal representative by the Trudeau government after an outbreak of violence and protests at the launch of an Indigenous moderate livelihood lobster fishery by the Sipekne'katik band in St. Marys Bay last fall. The band cited the Mi'kmaq's right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood, recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999 but never defined by Ottawa. The fishery was conducted outside of the regulated season for commercial lobster licence holders in Lobster Fishing Area 34, who objected saying the fishery was a blatant violation of fishery regulations. The reaction included alleged assaults, arson, blockades, volleys of wharfside profanity and online venom. It garnered international attention. The blowup capped years of tensions over an escalating Sipekne'katik food, social and ceremonial lobster fishery in St. Marys Bay that was, in some cases, used as a cloak for a commercial fishery. Lobster caught under food, social and ceremonial licences cannot be sold. In one case, a Crown prosecutor said the lobster caught under those licences from Sipekne'katik supplied an international "black market operation." Despite a number of federal initiatives to integrate the Mi'kmaq into the fishery since 1999 — including half a billion dollars for training and buying out and providing commercial licences — there has been a lack of progress defining moderate livelihood and implementing the fishery. Expectations of the First Nations were not met, leaving many of them to doubt the sincerity of DFO, Surette reported. Debate over enforcement Surette said the issue is complex and will not be easily solved. Non-Indigenous fishermen have argued there is not enough enforcement when it comes to Indigenous lobster fishing while the bands have complained of harassment. "However, the point to note on this matter, and more closely related to my mandate, seems to be the lack of clear direction from the government of Canada and the multiple facets and complexity of implementing the right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood," he said in the report. Surette's mandate is not to negotiate but rather to "restore confidence, improve relations" and make recommendations to the politicians. His interim report calls for more dialogue to build trust, suggesting areas of declared common interest like conservation and marketing. A lack of information from DFO was a recurrent complaint from the commercial fishermen, said Surette. "There should be some type of formal process for the non-Indigenous to be kept up to speed, especially the harvesters, since this could affect their livelihood. Some process, even though they're not involved in negotiation, that they could have input or at least understand what's going on," he told CBC Radio's Information Morning on Friday. Improving communication He made three suggestions for improving communication: a clearinghouse for accurate information, a formal process for talks between the commercial industry and the government of Canada, and forums to create a "safe space" to talk on important issues without extreme emotions. Surette interviewed 85 people — 81 per cent were non-Indigenous. "In some cases, they were heavily focused on the fishery. Others said that they preferred dealing with the ministers at this present time," he told CBC News. Surette said he will be reaching out to gather more perspectives. MORE TOP STORIES
Saskatchewan will start to stretch out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses, as supplies run short. Second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine will be administered up to 42 days after the first dose. Official guidelines say the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is meant to be given as two doses, 21 days apart, while Moderna recommends spacing doses 28 days apart. The National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI), a body made up of scientists and vaccine experts, say provinces should follow the dosing schedule as closely as possible, but the panel is now offering some wiggle room. WATCH | Canada's COVID-19 vaccine advisory committee approves delaying 2nd dose NACI recommends spacing out the doses up to 42 days when necessary. The recommendation is also supported by the World Health Organization and Canada's chief medical health officer. "The flexibility provided by a reasonable extension of the dose interval to 42 days where operationally necessary, combined with increasing predictability of vaccine supply, support our public health objective to protect high-risk groups as quickly as possible," reads a statement released Thursday from Dr. Theresa Tam, as well as the provincial and territorial chief medical officers of health. The same day, Saskatchewan announced it would further space out its doses. "Saskatchewan will be implementing these recommendations of up to 42 days where operationally necessary in order to deliver more first doses to eligible people," the government of Saskatchewan said in a news release. WATCH | Dr. Howard Njoo addresses questions on taking first and second dose of vaccine 42 days apart: Saskatchewan's supply runs short As of Friday, 96 per cent of the province's vaccines have been administered, and new supplies coming in are not enough to replenish what has been used. Pfizer has said it will not ship a single vial of its highly effective vaccine to Canada next week as the pharmaceutical giant retools its production facility in Puurs, Belgium, to boost capacity. Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, says it's very reassuring to have the length between doses extended to 42 days. "When there's a sudden, further disruption that does present challenges," Shahab said during a news conference on Tuesday. "Most provinces are able to give the second dose of both Pfizer and Moderna within 42 days ... and that becomes very important with the disruption of shipment." Scott Livingstone, the CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, agreed. "It does mitigate some of the decreased doses coming in. We also know through contact with the federal government that once the Pfizer plant is back online, they'll be increasing our shipment," Livingstone said during Tuesday's news conference. Livingstone said the new shipments coming in will be allocated for an individual's first and second shot. WATCH | Canada facing delays in vaccine rollout More vaccines on the way Another shipment of vaccines will arrive in Saskatchewan on Feb. 1, says the government. The province is expecting 5,850 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine and 6,500 doses of Moderna's vaccine. The government says they will be distributed to the Far North West, Far North East, North East and Central West. A second shipment of 7,100 doses from Moderna will arrive on Feb. 22, and will be distributed to the Far North East, North East and Central East. "Our immunization team is trying to be as nimble as possible knowing that we could at any time through the pandemic receive more vaccines, but also then having to readjust our targets and still focusing on the most needy in this Phase 1, and we will continue to do that as vaccine supply keeps coming back up," Livingstone said.
Nipissing First Nation Chief Scott McLeod says the public health directive supporting in-class learning in northern Ontario schools is more political than scientific. The community’s high school opted to keep Nbissing students online until at least February 16 after the province extended its COVID-19 pandemic emergency order. The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit is one of the few in Ontario to support in-class learning, a decision panned by many in light of it closing down toboggan hills, outdoor skating rinks and snowmobile trails. “We're just trying to deal with the Covid and we just shut our rinks down and we're just kind of monitoring what provinces and municipalities are doing and making sure that we're consistent or more stringent in areas like our school being closed,” McLeod said about Nbisiing Secondary School Thursday. “It's all online right now, despite the provinces still allowing it, at least in northern Ontario, the high schools are still open,” he said, noting that seems to be out of step with what some provincial experts are saying. “I was listening to Dr. Kevin Brown. He's the co-chair of the Covid Science Table for Ontario,” said Chief McLeod. “He was giving an update to the Chiefs of Ontario and he honestly can't understand why the schools in northern Ontario are still open. And you know, that, to me was troublesome, right? ‘You have one of the top epidemiologists saying that he doesn't understand. I was expecting ‘Here, this is the data, shows this or that,” because I like listening to the data, not just listening to people rant on Facebook. But, yeah, he was lost for an answer as to why it's still open. “And so obviously it's a more political call than a science one,” McLeod said. The school posted the update on its website, as did the community. “In response to Ontario’s second declaration of emergency and to align Nbisiing with Nipissing First Nation’s response to the provincewide stay-at-home order and shutdown restrictions, Nipissing First Nation (NFN) Council has approved changes to Nbisiing’s return to in-person learning date,” it reads. “In order to keep people home as much as possible to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19 in our community, protect vulnerable populations, and keep our school community safe, Nbisiing will continue to teach all classes virtually and will return to in-person learning on Tuesday, February 16th, 2021 (Monday the 15th is Family Day).” Nipissing FN only closed its outdoor rink in Garden Village, which is enclosed with walls and roof, because they don’t want people from outside the community taking advantage of it while their rinks are ordered closed. “Our problem with the skating rinks, as soon as North Bay and Sturgeon closed, we have to close because they all come down hours and we don't want them there,” he said. Chief McLeod did what many others are doing in response by creating their own ice sheets, whether that’s in a yard or on the lake. They can control the numbers and make it safe by following the known protocols, he added. “Well, I made one in my backyard and I Facebooked all my family members saying, ‘You want to come skating with your family, book it … just message me so I know that there's no other family there and you can have it to yourself.’” Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada. Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
TORONTO — Canada's main stock index dipped to cap a losing week as COVID-19 virus and vaccine concerns weighed on the energy sector. The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 70.29 points to 17,845.91. In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 179.03 points at 30,996.98, the S&P 500 index was down 11.60 points at 3,841.47, while the Nasdaq composite was up 12.14 points at 13,543.06. The Canadian dollar traded for 78.64 cents US compared with 79.2 cents US on Thursday. The March crude contract was down 86 cents US at US$52.27 per barrel and the March natural gas contract was down 4.1 cents US at nearly US$2.46 per mmBTU. The February gold contract was down US$9.70 at $1,856.20 an ounce and the March copper contract was down about 2.1 cents at almost US$3.63 a pound. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X) The Canadian Press
Alberta's film and TV industry is gearing up for an unprecedented production season that promises jobs and a cash injection for the economy as major U.S. studios look north for locations due to COVID-19 slowdowns, says Damian Petti, local president of a union for film and stage technicians. "The season ahead is something I've not seen before," Petti told the Calgary Eyeopener on Friday. "We've not seen this level of scouting and shows that are already greenlit in January — ever. I've been doing this 22 years and this is shaping up to be the most robust season ever." Petti, president of Local 212 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), says there are 19 projects in the works within Alberta, but even more are being scouted and greenlighted each day. These include a series called Guilty Party with Kate Beckinsale, a Fraggle Rock series reboot and another season of Jann with Alberta's own Jann Arden. He says it's also likely that Season 15 of CBC's Heartland will shoot this year in Alberta. Industry giants Disney, NBC Universal and HBO are scouting projects in Alberta too, Petti says. The draw Petti points to three reasons for the boom in interest: the exchange rate of the Canadian dollar, federal and provincial incentives and Canada's management of the pandemic. Investors are interested in getting more bang for their buck in Canada, says Petti. One American dollar is worth around $1.28 Canadian, according to recent data from the Bank of Canada. There are also several tax credits eligible to companies who shoot in Alberta. Within Alberta, there is a film and television tax credit of up to $10 million per production for eligible Alberta production and labour costs incurred by companies that make films and television series in the province. The federal film or video production services tax credit encourages foreign-based producers to hire Canadians by offering a tax credit for Canadian labour. In terms of COVID-19 safety, Petti says major studios and streaming platforms have negotiated protocols over the summer. "We're in a good position to actually work safely. And the studios acknowledge that," he said. In Los Angeles, the epicentre of the film industry, COVID-19 has overwhelmed hospitals and funeral homes, which Petti says has led to a slowdown in production. Job creation Despite common misunderstanding on hiring, most of the film production labour in Alberta is hired within the province, says Petti. "There's a common misconception among the public that these crews are actually coming in from outside of the province," he said. "On a big Netflix of Apple project, 97 per cent or more of the shooting crew is actually hired locally." He says small businesses that produce things needed on set, like costumes and props, "thrive on the industry." "We hope to do $400 million in production this year," he said. "That would make it our best year ever." With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.
WASHINGTON — Newly confirmed Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin will have to contend not only with a world of security threats and a massive military bureaucracy, but also with a challenge that hits closer to home: rooting out racism and extremism in the ranks. Austin took office Friday as the first Black defence chief, in the wake of the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, where retired and current military members were among the rioters touting far-right conspiracies. The retired four-star Army general told senators this week that the Pentagon’s job is to “keep America safe from our enemies. But we can’t do that if some of those enemies lie within our own ranks.” Ridding the military of racists isn’t his only priority. Austin, who was confirmed in a 93-2 vote, has made clear that accelerating delivery of coronavirus vaccines will get his early attention. But the racism issue is personal. At Tuesday’s confirmation hearing, he explained why. In 1995, when then-Lt. Col. Austin was serving with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, three white soldiers, described as self-styled skinheads, were arrested in the murder of a Black couple who was walking down the street. Investigators concluded the two were targeted because of their race. The killing triggered an internal investigation, and all told, 22 soldiers were linked to skinhead and other similar groups or found to hold extremist views. They included 17 who were considered white supremacists or separatists. “We woke up one day and discovered that we had extremist elements in our ranks,” Austin told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “And they did bad things that we certainly held them accountable for. But we discovered that the signs for that activity were there all along. We just didn’t know what to look for or what to pay attention to.” Austin is not the first secretary to grapple with the problem. Racism has long been an undercurrent in the military. While leaders insist only a small minority hold extremist views, there have been persistent incidents of racial hatred and, more subtly, a history of implicit bias in what is a predominantly white institution. A recent Air Force inspector general report found that Black service members in the Air Force are far more likely to be investigated, arrested, face disciplinary actions and be discharged for misconduct. Based on 2018 data, roughly two-thirds of the military’s enlisted corps is white and about 17% is Black, but the minority percentage declines as rank increases. The U.S. population overall is about three-quarters white and 13% Black, according to Census Bureau statistics. Over the past year, Pentagon leaders have struggled to make changes, hampered by opposition from then-President Donald Trump. It took months for the department to effectively ban the Confederate flag last year, and Pentagon officials left to Congress the matter of renaming military bases that honour Confederate leaders. Trump rejected renaming the bases and defended flying the flag. Senators peppered Austin with questions about extremism in the ranks and his plans to deal with it. The hearing was held two weeks after lawmakers fled the deadly insurrection at the Capitol, in which many of the rioters espoused separatist or extremist views. “It’s clear that we are at a crisis point,” said Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., saying leaders must root out extremism and reaffirm core military values. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., pressed Austin on the actions he will take. “Disunity is probably the most destructive force in terms of our ability to defend ourselves," Kaine said. "If we’re divided against one another, how can we defend the nation?” Austin, who broke racial barriers throughout his four decades in the Army, said military leaders must set the right example to discourage and eliminate extremist behaviour. They must get to know their troops, and look for signs of extremism or other problems, he said. But Austin — the first Black to serve as head of U.S. Central Command and the first to be the Army's vice chief of staff — also knows that much of the solution must come from within the military services and lower-ranking commanders. They must ensure their troops are trained and aware of the prohibitions. “Most of us were embarrassed that we didn’t know what to look for and we didn’t really understand that by being engaged more with your people on these types of issues can pay big dividends,” he said, recalling the 82nd Airborne problems. “I don’t think that you can ever take your hand off the steering wheel here.” But he also cautioned that there won't be an easy solution, adding, “I don’t think that this is a thing that you can put a Band-Aid on and fix and leave alone. I think that training needs to go on, routinely." Austin gained confirmation after clearing a legal hurdle prohibiting anyone from serving as defence chief until they have been out of the military for seven years. Austin retired less than five years ago, but the House and Senate quickly approved the needed waiver, and President Joe Biden signed it Friday. Soon afterward, Austin strode into the Pentagon, his afternoon already filled with calls and briefings, including a meeting with Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He held a broader video conference on COVID-19 with all top defence and military leaders, and his first call to an international leader was with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Austin, 67, is a 1975 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He helped lead the invasion into Iraq in 2003, and eight years later was the top U.S. commander there, overseeing the full American troop withdrawal. After serving as vice chief of the Army, Austin headed Central Command, where he oversaw the reinsertion of U.S. troops to Iraq to beat back Islamic State militants. He describes himself as the son of a postal worker and a homemaker from Thomasville, Georgia, who will speak his mind to Congress and to Biden. Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press
Alcohol or drugs were a factor in more than half of all snowmobile fatalities from 2013-19, according to a Statistics Canada report. The report said an average of 73 died every year in Canada in that timeframe while riding on a snowmobile, and the numbers were likely higher due to incomplete data. The results were released on Friday from the Canadian Vital Statistics – Death Database (CVSD) and the Canadian Coroner and Medical Examiner Database (CCMED). From 2013 to 2019 the top factors in snowmobile fatalities were: Alcohol or drug use (55 per cent); Excessive speed (48 per cent). Riding in the evening or at night when visibility from dusk or darkness may have been an issue (46 per cent). "In half (52 per cent) of these types of events, more than one of these specific risk factors was present," the report said. Alcohol or drugs were also reported in half of submersion deaths and 44 per cent of multi-vehicle collisions. "Evening/night riding was more commonly reported in submersion fatalities, while multi-vehicle collision deaths more often occurred during the day," said the report. At the time the report was written, there were 510 snowmobiling fatalities documented in the CVSD and CCMED from 2013-19. About 80 per cent of snowmobile fatalities were single-vehicle events, while the other 20 per cent involved a collision with another snowmobile or vehicle. Of the single-vehicle incidents, most [70 per cent] involved the snowmobile colliding with a stationary object, an ejection or a rollover. Other causes included submersion (14 per cent) and avalanche-related (10 per cent) fatalities. The report said men accounted for nine in 10 of those fatalities. More than 1 in 10 people who died were not wearing a helmet. The CVSD and CCMED recommend to: Not ride while impaired. Travel at safe speed. Wear a helmet. Wear warm clothing. Carry safety equipment. Travel in a group. Avoid snowmobiling on ice or where there is a risk of avalanche. Not all provincial data was complete. For example data for Saskatchewan was only available from 2013 to 2014.
MILAN — Italy’s data protection authority said Friday it was imposing an immediate block on TikTok’s access to data for any user whose age has not been verified. The authority said it was acting with “urgency” following the death of a 10-year-old girl in Sicily, who died while participating in a so-called “blackout” challenge while using the Chinese-owned video-sharing social network. Prosecutors in Sicily are investigating the case. The data protection authority noted it had advised TikTok in December of a series of violations, including scant attention to the protection of minors, the ease with which users under age 13 could sign up for the platform — against its own rules — the lack of transparency in information given to users and the use of automatic settings that did not respect privacy. “While waiting to receive a response, the authority decided to take action to ensure the immediate protection of minors in Italy registered on the network,’’ the authority said in a statement. The block will remain in place at least until Feb. 15, when further evaluations will be made. TikTok earlier this month rolled out some tightened privacy features for users under the age of 18, including a new default private setting for accounts with users aged 13 to 15. The new practices, affecting users around the world, followed a move by U.S. regulators to order TikTok and other social media services to disclose how their practices affect children and teenagers. The Associated Press
Les vidéos de la diplômée au baccalauréat en kinésiologie, Marie-Claude Lavoie, et son mari, Antoine Lavoie, qui est à la dernière année de ce programme, ne sont pas passés inaperçus. L’équipe de Fitcam, une application new-yorkaise axée sur l’exercice physique, a recruté le couple de Saguenay pour les aider dans la création de différents contenus. Les parents d’un petit poupon de 10 mois avaient commencé, au début de la pandémie, à publier des vidéos sur leur page Facebook, appelée auparavant Lavoie Active et maintenant LesKinesiologists, qui rejoint plus de 1900 personnes. « Avec ces vidéos, on voulait informer notre public cible, soit la population qui veut être plus active physiquement. On voulait aussi les informer sur ce que c’était un kinésiologue, parce qu’encore aujourd’hui, ce n’est pas encore tellement connu. On se donne comme petit devoir de mieux faire connaître notre profession », souligne d’entrée de jeu Marie-Claude, lors d’un entretien par visioconférence avec Le Quotidien. Dans ses vidéos, le duo a exploré une foule de concepts tels que la nutrition, l’activité physique, la santé mentale, en plus de faire des collaborations avec une nutritionniste et une étudiante en psychologie. Fitcam Avec les partages, l’un de ses clips d’information a été vu par un ingénieur de l’application Fitcam, dont une partie de l’équipe est en France et l’autre aux États-Unis, plus précisément à New York. « Une personne de France nous a approchés. Elle nous a indiqué qu’elle était intéressée par ce que l’on faisait, en tant que professionnels de la santé. Elle aimait que nos vidéos soient vraiment dynamiques, bien montés et vulgarisés, ce qui fait qu’un enfant pouvait aussi bien comprendre ce qui est expliqué », explique Antoine. Cette application, disponible en trois langues sur l’App Store, a comme objectif de faire bouger les gens, tout en leur apprenant à bien le faire. Une intelligence artificielle de reconnaissance biomécanique et d’analyse de la posture est en mesure de visualiser le mouvement en temps réel et de donner des conseils à la personne qui s’entraîne. Fitcam voulait, pour continuer sa croissance, s’allier à des professionnels de la santé qui allaient expliquer au public les concepts entourant l’entraînement et l’activité physique. Le couple a pu apporter ses connaissances pour aider l’équipe à élaborer son contenu. Il a également monté tous les vidéos que l’on peut visionner dans l’application. Le duo a, par exemple, démontré divers mouvements et vulgarisé diverses connaissances qui peuvent aider l’utilisateur. « C’est ça qui est plaisant, c’est que nous travaillons derrière l’application, donc on aide à monter le contenu que l’on retrouve sur l’appli, mais nous sommes aussi devant la caméra et on apparaît sur le produit final. C’est gratifiant », ajoute Marie-Claude. La Fédération des kinésiologues du Québec a aussi pris contact avec le couple pour souligner le succès de son initiative et le féliciter. Objectifs Marie-Claude et Antoine souhaitent promouvoir l’importance de leur profession et inspirer le plus de personnes possible à bouger. « On veut vraiment faire connaître davantage la profession. En plus, en temps de pandémie, on se rend compte à quel point l’activité physique c’est important. C’est quasiment la seule chose qu’on peut faire, aller marcher, bouger ou jouer dehors. On voit que bouger c’est bon, pour la santé mentale et la santé du corps. Le kinésiologue, c’est le spécialiste de la santé qui aide dans toutes ces sphères », continue-t-elle. Le couple aimerait même, un jour, devenir les visages de la kinésiologie au Québec. Ils continueront d’ailleurs à collaborer avec Fitcam, qui a plusieurs projets pour les Saguenéens. Ce n’est que le début de leur collaboration ! Marie-Claude et Antoine comptent aussi utiliser à nouveau leur page LesKinésiologists pour y publier du contenu complémentaire à celui fait avec Fitcam.Myriam Arsenault, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
The Village of Morrin will pay for repair of a frozen water line, a decision made by the Official Administrator (OA) at the regular meeting of council Jan. 20. The meeting was held via teleconference to meet pandemic rules. Harold Johnsrude, OA, mentioned at the beginning of the meeting he was going through past council meeting minutes along with Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Annette Plachner to address unresolved agenda items and dealt with several Public Works issues as a result. Johnsrude noted that past minutes stated that in March, 2020 the village received a $504 bill for repairing a frozen water line, and added that the village has a sewer repair policy which he asked Plachner to summarize. She stated if a landowner has a water line problem they shall contact the village before hiring a contractor, and if a contractor is hired, that may release the village from financial responsibility. However, if the water line problem is on the landowner’s property, the landowner is purely responsible. Plachner clarified that in this instance she could find no record of the landowner notifying the village of the problem. However, the CAO also stated that because of lateral line problems in that neighbourhood, her recommendation was for the village to pay for the repairs. Johnsrude moved and passed a motion for the village to pay the $504 bill. 2nd Ave N. sewer lateral lines Johnsrude asked Public Works Manager Dave Benci to report on the 2nd Ave North sewer lateral lines problem. Benci responded he found problems with a camera report but also noted four residences in that area were having flow problems that require excavation. Benci stated this was deferred in 2020 and doing it in winter would be a challenge. When asked by Johnsrude if other properties in that neighbourhood were also having flow problems, Benci responded most of the homes on that line have problems as the line has “sagged.” Benci pointed out repairing the lateral lines would require digging up pavement and sidewalks. Johnsrude responded that tearing up additional pavement and sidewalks without knowing exactly what’s wrong with other homes wouldn’t be a great idea. Benci agreed. Johnsrude then moved and passed a motion for Public Works to provide a 2021 budget amount for the four residences identified by Benci to be repaired in 2021 for the February meeting. A motion was also passed for Benci to continue working on a Public Works Policy and look at making the items covered broader. Water & Sewer Excavation policy Johnsrude clarified this policy which was also an outstanding agenda item from past meetings. He pointed out the Municipal Government Act, which gives municipal councils their authority, states that councillors have a duty to develop policies and that sometimes councillors confuse general participation in developing policies with implementing polices, which is the staff’s role. Johnsrude moved and passed a motion that the village staff would investigate what other municipalities are doing with regards to water and sewer excavation policies and report back at a future meeting. Hydrant repair Benci gave a report on hydrant testing, and stated this was done on Apr. 28, 2020 with the help of local firefighters. Some issues were identified, but then Three Hills came in to help and found that only one hydrant was actually in need of repair. Benci noted an expert on hydrant repair has agreed to put on a training workshop for Morrin and other municipalities, using Morrin's hydrant as the sample. Benci noted this will reduce the hydrant repair costs which he noted can be quite expensive. Johnsrude moved and passed a motion for Public Works to proceed with the training session and also prepare a report on hydrant repair for the 2021 budget. Machinery Park approach removal The OA asked why the Machinery Park approach removal was included in past meeting minutes despite no resolution ever having been made. Benci responded he didn’t know exactly why but stated it may have been related to the demolition of the Noble house. Benci stated when a contractor demolished the Noble house, his equipment then broke down and the contractor never returned. Benci stated the approach is barricaded off and in his opinion he saw no reason to remove it. Johnsrude moved and passed a motion that removal of this approach would be at the discretion of the Public Works department. Water plant Johnsrude noted an older agenda item about the water plant had no council resolution connected. Benci stated the village reports to Alberta Environment regularly about the water plant in accordance with provincial regulations. Benci noted a provincial inspector checks out the plant on an annual basis, if his memory served. Johnsrude moved and passed a motion that no further action on the water plant was necessary. Johnsrude motioned for an expenditure up to $1,000 for a laptop computer for Public Works. Johnsrude requested the CAO discuss with MPEngineering what they see as priority for the major projects of replacing sewer/water lines on 2nd Ave. S. or Railway Ave. S. and bring it back to the February meeting. Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review
OTTAWA — A new third-party advocacy group is launching an ad campaign aimed at ensuring Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole never becomes prime minister. The Protecting Canada Project is airing its first 30-second ad, in English and French, on television and online. The ad predicts that an O'Toole government would cut funding for health care, even as the country struggles through the COVID-19 pandemic, resting that assertion on decisions under the previous Conservative government and O'Toole's support for similar cuts made by current conservative premiers. The tag line concludes that O'Toole and the Conservatives "are hazardous to your health — at the worst possible time." Group spokesman Ian Wayne, who formerly worked for NDP leaders Jack Layton and Tom Mulcair, says Protecting Canada was formed by Canadians "with diverse political experience" and a common goal of ensuring the Conservatives don't win the next election. He says it is backed by "progressive" individuals and organizations who believe it's "crucial" to counter the Conservative-friendly messaging peddled by what he calls "well-funded, extreme right-wing" advocacy groups like Canada Proud. "This launch is just the beginning," Wayne said. "We will continue to grow our campaign and get our messages to more and more everyday Canadians." Wayne is listed as a director of the group, along with Don Millar, who has a history of working with Liberals. Until an election is actually called, Protecting Canada, like other groups, can spend as much as it likes and never disclose where it is getting its money. Changes to the Canada Elections Act in 2018 impose spending limits on advocacy groups and require them to disclose donors during the three-month "pre-writ period" before an election is called, as well as during the campaign. But the restrictions assume an election will happen on a date set in the law, about four years after the last national vote. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presides over a minority Liberal government, which could fall well before then if the opposition parties unite against the Liberals in a confidence vote. The project's first ad alleges that O'Toole voted in favour of a $36-billion "cut" to federal health-care transfers to the provinces. The "cut" implemented by Stephen Harper's Conservative government, of which O'Toole was a part, has been a political football for years. While in power, the Conservatives scaled back the annual six per cent increase in the health transfer to a minimum of three per cent — a move that guaranteed provinces would still get more money each year, though at a slower rate than before. That meant provinces would receive $36 billion less over 10 years than they had anticipated. The change actually came into effect under the Liberal government, which opted to keep the Tories' formula in place. The ad also ties O'Toole to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, a former Harper cabinet colleague who endorsed O'Toole for the Conservative leadership last year and whose popularity has nosedived over his handling of the pandemic. The ad says O'Toole endorses Kenney's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which they allege includes cutting 11,000 health care workers' jobs. The same approach federally could result in "tens of thousands of health care layoffs across Canada," it warns. In a statement, O'Toole accused the group of playing fast and loose with the truth. "The Liberals are lying about my record because they don’t want to talk about theirs: a record of lost jobs, corruption, and failure on vaccines," read the statement. "Canada’s Conservatives will secure health care, secure jobs, and secure our future.” During his campaign to lead the Conservative party last year, O'Toole pledged he'd provide "stable and predictable" funding while respecting provincial jurisdiction. As the provinces have clamoured for more health-care money from the federal government to manage the costs of the COVID-19 pandemic, O'Toole hasn't ruled out listening and has also said the money must flow with no strings attached. His party did also back a Bloc Québécois motion in the House of Commons in December that called on the federal government to "significantly and sustainably increase Canada health transfers before the end of 2020." The "Canada Proud" groups the new advocacy organization mentions are run by a media company that helped O'Toole win leadership of his party last year. He's since ended his contract with them. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Joan Bryden and Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Canadian scientists say blood thinners appear to prevent some COVID-19 patients with moderate illness from deteriorating further, offering a "massive" advance in treatment they expect will ease suffering and lesson strain on hospital ICUs. University Health Network scientist Ewan Goligher said Friday that blood thinners could soon be part of standard care after the interim results of global trials showed Heparin reduced the probability of requiring life support by about a third. The news comes on the heels of promising early data for another COVID-19 drug targeting seniors, as health systems across the country wrestle with the impact of a recent surge in cases and long-term care homes battle devastating outbreaks. Considering how many people around the world end up in intensive care because of COVID-19, Goligher said this finding is "massive." "They're very, very ill, they're often in the ICU for a long time. It's a devastating life event," Goligher, a critical care physician at Toronto General Hospital, said of the patients he sees. "Even if they do survive, it means immense suffering, and to prevent people from becoming critically ill is huge." Interim results of clinical trials spanning five continents in more than 300 hospitals suggest full-dose blood thinners could significantly reduce the number of severe cases that are now straining health-care systems. The study involved more than 1,300 moderately ill patients admitted to hospital, including hundreds of people admitted to hospitals across Canada. Researchers found the full dose was more effective than the lower dose typically administered to prevent blood clots in hospitalized patients. Goligher, co-chair of the therapeutic anticoagulation domain of the trial, said he expected patients at his downtown hospital would be on routine blood thinners "imminently," and "fully expected" hospitals around the world would, too. "Before people change their practice they're going to want to see the full paper published so we're working very hard now to write up the results and get them published in a high impact journal," he said. "One of the exciting things about this treatment is that Heparin is already cheap, widely available, and available in low and middle-income countries, as well as countries like Canada and the United States. So this is a cheap therapy that can make a significant impact on outcomes for patients." Goligher said researchers still needs to look into other questions surrounding blood thinners, such as whether to continue treatment if a moderately ill patient develops severe COVID-19, and whether adding an antiplatelet agent would help. Doctors noticed early in the pandemic that COVID-19 patients suffered an increased rate of blood clots and inflammation. This led to complications including lung failure, heart attack and stroke. Back in December, investigators found that giving full-dose blood thinners to critically ill ICU patients did not help, and was actually harmful. However, Goligher noted there have been other drugs that appear to ease mortality in severe cases, expecting more trials to release promising data soon. Goligher was heartened by the news that blood thinners could soon ease a devastating winter surge of infections. "I personally find the thought that this treatment will prevent (patients) from getting to this state incredibly gratifying. It's even better than if it was an effective treatment for severe COVID-19, to be able to prevent people from becoming severe is huge." The trials are supported by international funding organizations including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the NIH National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute in the United States, the National Institute for Health Research in the United Kingdom, and the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia. Meanwhile, U.S. drugmaker Eli Lilly said this week that early trial data reveals its antibody drug bamlanivimab – developed in partnership with Vancouver’s AbCellera Biologics – can prevent some COVID-19 illness in nursing home residents and staff. Early data from a Phase 3 trial found that in addition to offering therapeutic value, bamlanivimab "significantly" reduced the risk of contracting symptomatic COVID-19 among 965 residents and staff of long-term care facilities in the U.S. Health Canada has approved its use as a therapy for mild to moderate cases of COVID-19, but not to prevent infection. A spokesman for Eli Lilly Canada said the company expected to present the new data to Health Canada, but noted their findings were still early. In November, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada had purchased 26,000 doses of the drug, with shipments to arrive between December 2020 and February 2021. But Lauren Fischer, VP of corporate affairs for Eli Lilly Canada, says the drug is not being used on patients here yet. Fischer said the provinces have raised "some implementation concerns" about bamlanivimab, which involves an hour-long intravenous infusion. "The provinces are still considering their approach to making it available but we haven't seen a lot of progress on that," Fischer said. "The provinces have really moved with commendable speed on vaccinations, they've shown that they can overcome implementation difficulties to make needed solutions available.... We stand ready to partner with provincial governments as they try to make those solutions happen." The drug is meant for patients over the age of 65 with underlying conditions. Dr. Doron Sagman, Eli Lilly's VP of research and development and medical affairs, said the early data suggests some level of protection for older Canadians waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine, or if their immune response to a vaccine is not as robust as others. "The intent again is to provide a therapeutic bridge to those vaccines and fill a gap in those individuals who have been affected by the illness and have not yet been vaccinated," said Sagman. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Friday that Health Canada relies on clinical experts "on the ground" treating patients "to decide what's best for them." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press
Three years ago, Erin Archer told local residents that renewing a permit to take water from the Teedon Pit was an open and shut case. "It is the world's purest water after all," she said believing officials would move to protect the water at the Tiny Township aggregate quarry. So imagine her surprise when she learned last week that the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) had renewed the water to take permit for CRH Canada Group Inc. "There are several wells experiencing quantity and quality issues," said Archer, who lives in Tiny Township. "The aquifer becomes more and more vulnerable as the layers above it get peeled back. In Tiny Township, (there is) not much protection for drinking water sources as approximately 80% of households are on a well. "The water speaks to me; I know her to be a living entity. I can't stand by and watch how she is being abused, without acting." The action Archer is taking has many layers. She has already contacted her township's mayor and deputy mayor to express her concerns around the issue and she will be mobilizing supporter through her Facebook group The Friends of the Waverley Uplands. Then, Archer said, she will be watching Tuesday's special council meeting, which has an open session at the beginning to discuss the township's response to this issue. Coun. Tony Mintoff, who brought it up at a recent council meeting, told MidlandToday he would be willing to provide clarification after that meeting. "Quite frankly, I’m rather shocked as the host municipality on this business venture we weren’t copied on," he said at the meeting. "We’ve taken the position quite some time now that we have some fundamental principles to be adopted, a water study that needs to be taken into consideration. Having said that and having said we disagree with any issuance of licensing, it follows that we should be initiating an appeal of the decision." Even though Mintoff wouldn't discuss the issue before the special council meeting, plenty others were ready to talk. Judith Grant and Lynne Archibald, members of Federation of Tiny Township Shoreline Associations (FoTTSA), were more than willing to share background on the issue and talk about next steps residents could take. "The company that owned the well and the pond and the pit had a 10-year permit to take water, which ended in 2018," said Grant, who is past president of FoTTSA. "It wasn't a concern until 2009 when they suddenly increased the amount of gravel they were taking and their water use. Before that, they didn't need to wash gravel because they weren't taking much." The company was allowed to take 6.5 million litres a day, she said. In 2009, when the county's proposal for dump site 41 was defeated, the pit owners decided to up the amount of gravel they were taking, consequently increasing their use of water, said Grant, who noted residents living near the quarry are worried about their wells' water quality. A hydrogeologic study included in CRH's 2018 renewal application answers Grant's concerns. The aggregate company's consultant's hydrogeologic assessment concluded that the silt in the domestic wells and the reduced water supply is not due to the operations at Teedon Pit. "The distance of these domestic wells from the Teedon Pit and their shallow nature preclude Teedon Pit from being the cause of silt in the water supply," reads the report. "The shallow aquifer contains a significant amount of silt." The provincial ministry concurred with this assessment, adding that poor well maintenance and/or construction may be the cause for the presence of silt in the domestic wells. When the renewal application came up in 2018, the township hired a consultant to complete a study. Their response: But matters escalated to the point of litigation. The township has held a number of in-camera meetings since then to discuss the issue. "At the end of February, there's another LPAT (Local Planning Appeal Tribunal) meeting of the three parties: the township, FoTTSA and CRH," said Grant. "The ministry has been dragging its feet on this. We've been doing this since 2019 and we still haven't gotten to a hearing." The renewed permit lists one Springwater and two Tiny hamlets, which contain the wells from which CRH is permitted to extract tonnes of water annually. "At the Teedon Pit, water from the on-site pond (referred to as a wash pond) is used for washing the aggregate, and separating silt and sand from coarser material," reads the permit renewal decision. "The water that is used is sent to two settling ponds where the silt and sand settle to the bottom. Water from the settling ponds is directed back to the Wash Pond for reuse. The water level within the Wash Pond is topped up as needed from the on-site Production Well." The amount allowed from the well is The permit details also mention the thousands of comments (5,246) received, as well as the ministry's response to those concerns, such as that of the impact of the washing operations on the aquifer. "Teedon Pit will only use water with no additives in their washing process," reads the explanation. "The silt and sand contained in the used wash water settles to the bottom of the settling ponds. Any water that infiltrates into the ground at the bottom of the ponds is filtered, much like rain water. Therefore, the ministry is satisfied that the operation is unlikely to adversely impact the groundwater quality." Archibald said residents, however, are not satisfied. "All our water comes from groundwater, wherever you are," she said. "The problem is, once it gets to the point when all our water is contaminated, good luck trying to uncontaminate it." In addition, Archibald said, she can't understand why the township wasn't informed of the renewal. Archibald, who noted FoTTSA plans on fighting this decision. said more public action may be required to make an actual change. "There's unanimous concern for the water and people are working together," said Archibald, adding it might require similar action to when citizens gathered in large numbers to oppose Site 41. Unfortunately, Archibald added, the pandemic prevents large gatherings so the case has to be fought in the courtroom. "There's a little bit of David and Goliath going on here," she said. "You've got Tiny Township and a mega-corporation like CRH that's based in Europe that has hired high-end lawyers." Her association, Archibald said, is relying on the pro bono work of the Canadian Environmental Law Association. But there's still money to be paid to expert witnesses and those who will conduct studies on FoTTSA's behalf. To raise awareness and funds, the association has set up a website dedicated to the issue. "The township benefits very little from this operation," Archibald said. "It's not making jobs. It's just environmental damage and not much else." CRH did not respond to a request for comment before publishing time. The Tiny Township special council meeting begins at 1 p.m. and will be streamed live on the municipal YouTube channel. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
Le député fédéral de la circonscription de Mirabel, Simon Marcil annonce qu’il quittera la vie politique au terme de son présent mandat; une décision qui fait suite à un arrêt de travail pour des raisons reliées à sa santé mentale. En prévision de la rentrée parlementaire de cette semaine, l’élu se dit maintenant en parfaite condition et fin prêt pour reprendre ses responsabilités à la Chambre des communes, sise à Ottawa. Simon Marcil quittera la tête haute et sans aucun regret. En entrevue téléphonique, il partage un bilan somme toute chargé, que ce soit en matière de travail dans la circonscription, auprès des électeurs, ou encore au niveau législatif, au parlement canadien. «Ma priorité aura toujours été de servir nos concitoyens de manière efficace, de mentionner le député du Bloc québécois. Et nous continuerons à le faire jusqu’à la fin. Mais, pour ce faire, on souhaitait connaître notre monde. Mirabel est une circonscription vaste, rurale et urbaine. Il s’agit d’en ressortir les réalités différentes pour mieux servir nos concitoyens.» Il faut dire que M. Marcil connaît très bien ce territoire qui l’a vu grandir; et maintenant en tant que père de famille. Face aux défis reliés à la pandémie, son équipe, dit-il, s’est ajustée, afin de toujours mieux servir les citoyens. «Nous travaillions déjà en équipe et nous devions faire face à ces circonstances, comme tout le monde. Je suis très fier de mes collègues, qui ont tenu le fort, toujours, même lorsque j’étais absent. Ensemble, nous avons servi plus de 500 personnes, entreprises et organismes, en ces temps pandémiques.» Au niveau législatif, son passage aura notamment été marqué par ses efforts pour protéger la gestion de l’offre. En 2018, il a déposé un projet de loi afin d’assujettir, à la loi 101, les entreprises de juridictions fédérales, interdire les briseurs de grève et compenser adéquatement les femmes devant se prémunir d’un retrait préventif. De retour à 100 % Simon Marcil a fait les manchettes au cours des dernières semaines, en raison d’une absence à la Chambre des communes qui s’est étendue sur un an, jusqu’au lundi 11 janvier dernier. Le député a dévoilé la raison de celle-ci sur les réseaux sociaux. Atteint d’un trouble bipolaire, il s’était retiré pour prendre du mieux, se familiariser avec une nouvelle médication, trouver le bon dosage, et retrouver un équilibre et une hygiène de vie saine. «Je suis parti, à l’origine, car je me sentais en épuisement professionnel, explique M. Marcil. C’est ce que je pensais. En moyenne, et je généralise ici, une personne en épuisement professionnel se retire de son lieu de travail pendant quelques mois et revient en meilleure condition. Après sept mois, mon médecin s’est rendu compte que je n’allais pas mieux. J’ai passé les tests. Le diagnostic est venu. Je devais prendre une nouvelle médication.» D’un autre côté, Simon Marcil aura passé un an auprès de sa famille. Il se dit, en ce sens, très reconnaissant. «Ce n’est pas pour rien que je m’en vais. J’aime mon travail, la députation, servir la population. Pour une raison d’équilibre, avec mes enfants et ma femme; je dois partir. Avec le diagnostic que j’ai eu, faire 50 000 km par année, en voiture, c’est beaucoup. J’ai besoin de stabilité.» La santé mentale est un tabou. Mais, l’élu est d’avis que les gens, hommes et femmes de tous âges ne doivent pas hésiter à en parler et à consulter. «Il ne faut pas avoir honte, dit-il. Un trouble de santé mentale, ça ne définit pas une personne. Il faut s’informer, ne pas s’isoler, ou penser qu’on est la seule au monde à avoir ce genre de conditions. Nous ne sommes pas seuls!» Le député fédéral dit avoir reçu nombre de messages d’encouragement de la part de concitoyens, de membres de cabinets et de politiciens, de partout au Canada. Et maintenant, il conclura le mandat confié par les électeurs de Mirabel. Par la suite, il a pour projet de s’acheter une terre et de devenir agriculteur, dans sa circonscription. «Pour l’instant, je souhaite vraiment me concentrer sur moi et ma famille. Mais je reste toujours indépendantiste et je défendrai toujours cette idée», de conclure Simon Marcil. Nicolas Parent, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Éveil
Last week Daisy Ridley and Jennifer Hudson went to a movie premiere together. They posed for photos and made remarks from a stage while an audience watched quietly. Or, more accurately, their avatars did. The actors were actually on different continents, brought together for a few minutes through virtual reality headsets to walk a red carpet, pose for photos in front of a step and repeat and to speak to a crowd of other avatars on behalf of their short film “Baba Yaga.” It’s being called the first ever VR movie premiere. “I truly feel like I went to a premiere,” Hudson said later. “But I didn’t leave home! I think it’s a cool way to do it, especially right now.” She especially liked seeing her team and how much their avatars looked like themselves. Virtual movie premieres have become standard in Hollywood since the pandemic started. The “events” typically just involve a start time for the film to broadcast on your home screen and, sometimes, a zoom-style Q&A with talent afterward. But Baobab Studios, the 6-year-old interactive animation studio behind a handful of cinematic VR experiences, decided to push the envelope for “Baba Yaga.” “I really don’t think we would have ever thought of this if it wasn’t for COVID,” said Eric Darnell, the man behind the “Madagascar” films and co-founder of Baobab. “We usually have our films premiere at festivals.” “Baba Yaga” actually got a real festival premiere too as part of the Venice Film Festival last year. But as it became increasingly clear that there would not be an opportunity stateside, the company started working alongside the XR consultancy firm MESH to produce the ambitious event, which included designing a rainforest room inspired by the one in the film. The virtual reality movie premiere is not entirely dissimilar to an actual premiere. There are publicists, filmmakers and actors, things to look at and displays to take selfies with (really). At this particular event, there was also a roped off “restricted” area, although organizers said it was simply there to designate the end of space and not an exclusive side party. And not unlike at actual events, sometimes you find yourself without anyone to talk to and just awkwardly wander around eavesdropping. But at a virtual reality premiere you can’t even pretend to send text messages or respond to emails. This reporter also had to take off her headset for a few minutes after getting VR dizzy. Darnell co-wrote and directed the film/experience alongside Mathias Chelebourg. It also features the voices of Kate Winslet and Glen Close. The film and the rainforest room are currently available to experience through Oculus Quest. Events like this may have been born out of necessity, but they could be the way of the future. “Even if we did go back to premiering at festivals, I still think this is an amazing way to bring people together and to say let’s celebrate this medium by actually having a party inside of it,” Darnell said. —- Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has directed law enforcement and intelligence officials in his administration to study the threat of domestic violent extremism in the United States, an undertaking being launched weeks after a mob of insurgents loyal to Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol. The disclosure Friday by White House press secretary Jen Psaki is a stark acknowledgment of the national security threat that officials see as posed by American extremists motivated to violence by radical ideology. The involvement of the director of national intelligence, an office created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to prevent international terrorism, suggests that American authorities are examining how to pivot to a more concerted focus on violence from extremists at home. The threat assessment, co-ordinated by the national intelligence office, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, will be used as a foundation to develop policy, the White House said. In addition, the National Security Council will do its own policy review to see how information about the problem can be better shared across the government. And the administration will work on a more co-ordinated approach, with a focus on addressing social media and radicalization, she said. “The Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol and the tragic deaths and destruction that occurred underscored what we all know: The rise of domestic violent extremism is a serious and growing national security threat,” Psaki said, adding that the administration will confront the problem with resources, policies and “respect for constitutionally protected free speech and political activities.” The riot at the Capitol, which led last week to Trump's second impeachment, raised questions about whether a federal government national security apparatus that for years has moved aggressively to combat threats from foreign terror groups and their followers in America is adequately equipped to address the threat of domestic extremism. It's an issue that has flared periodically over the years, with different attacks — including a massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue — renewing debate over whether a law specific to domestic terrorism is needed. It is unclear when the threat assessment will conclude or whether it will precipitate law enforcement and intelligence getting new tools or authorities to address a problem that officials say has proved challenging to combat, partly because of First Amendment protections. FBI Director Chris Wray said last fall that, over the past year, the most lethal violence has come from anti-government activists, such as anarchists and militia types. Law enforcement agencies are under scrutiny for their preparations for Jan. 6, when a violent mob of Trump supporters overran the police and stormed into the Capitol. More than 150 people are facing charges so far, including a man who was photographed wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” shirt, as well as QAnon conspiracy theorists and members of militia groups. ___ Follow Eric Tucker at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
BARRIE, Ont. — An outbreak in a long-term care home in Barrie, Ont., has resulted in more than two dozen deaths after a yet-to-be-identified variant of COVID-19 was detected at the facility. The coronavirus has sickened 122 residents and 81 staff at Roberta Place -- which has 137 beds -- since the outbreak began earlier this month, public health officials said Friday. The number of deaths reported at the facility climbed from 19 to 27 between Thursday and Friday. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit said it has given the COVID-19 vaccine to all eligible residents and staff at a nearby retirement home "in an effort to protect them against what is highly likely a variant of the virus." Immunization of residents at other long-term care and retirement homes throughout the region will also begin this weekend, it said. The unit said its supply of the vaccine is "extremely low and uncertain" due to the shipment delays of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. “Barrie has become ground zero for what is likely a COVID-19 variant of concern, which has spread rapidly throughout Roberta Place," the region's medical officer of health said in a written statement. Dr. Charles Gardner said they are concerned that the virus variant will spread into the community and other long-term care and retirement homes. The unusually rapid spread of the virus at the nursing home prompted officials to test for variants of COVID-19. In the coming days, officials are expected to confirm which specific variant –strains from the U.K., South Africa or Brazil – was detected at the home during initial testing. Researchers have yet to determine whether any of the new variants are more deadly, but the U.K. strain is known to spread much faster. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
B.C. is aiming to vaccinate 4.3 million people by the end of September. Premier John Horgan cautioned the plan depends on a consistent supply but wouldn’t blame the federal government for delays in receiving vaccines.
FREDERICTON — New Brunswick's Edmundston region is moving into a 14-day lockdown beginning Saturday at midnight as health officials try to curb rising infections, chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said Friday. "The growth of cases in this zone and the spread through several workplaces and long-term care homes has really reached a point where the strongest measures are needed," Russell told reporters. "The measures being announced today are stern but they are necessary." Russell's new health order forces the closure of all non-essential businesses as well as schools and public spaces, including outdoor ice rinks and ski hills. The situation in the region will be evaluated every seven days, Russell said, adding that cabinet may extend the lockdown if required. She said the Edmundston area, which borders northern Maine and Quebec's Bas-St-Laurent region, has 129 active reported infections. Because of the way the virus multiplies, that number could grow to 200 cases by next week and 400 before the end of the month, she said. Russell said the infection rate in the northern region is 309 cases per 100,000 people — nearly six times the rate for the entire province, which is 59 cases per 100,000 people. Health Minister Dorothy Shephard told reporters all non-essential travel is prohibited in and out of Edmundston. "We are trying to minimize interaction," Shephard said. "Fewer people going out and about for non-essential reasons will allow us to get out of this lockdown faster." Formal indoor gatherings, such as weddings and religious services, are also prohibited. Shephard said there will be a ban on evictions during the lockdown, adding that landlords will have to wait until at least 10 days after the measures are lifted to evict tenants. Gatherings are restricted to members of a household, she said. New Brunswick's recent spike in cases traces back to gatherings over the holidays and increased travel in and out of the province, Russell said. "We had almost 3,000 more travellers around that period of time than we normally do." New Brunswick reported 30 new COVID-19 infections Friday — 19 of which were identified in the Edmundston area. Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton will remain at the red pandemic-alert level, while Campbellton, Bathurst and Miramichi will stay at the lower, orange level, Russell said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
A Vancouver 7-Eleven store manager was assaulted inside his store on Dec. 17 after he asked a customer to wear a mask and leave his small dog outside. The incident occurred Dec. 17 just before noon at the 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue. The Vancouver Police Department says the customer, who had a small dog with him, allegedly spat on the store manager and yelled profanities at him. Video of the incident shows a man charging at the store manager who falls to the ground. "A witness told police that the staff member and suspect were involved in a physical altercation. Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault," said Const. Tania Visintin. Watch | Surveillance video released by police shows how the assault unfolded: Despite their efforts, investigators have been unable to identify the suspect and,officers are now asking for the public's help identifying the man. Police say the man is in his late 20s, with dark skin, dark short hair, standing five feet t10 inches tall, with a medium build. He was wearing black Kapa shorts, a black T-shirt, a light-coloured hooded sweater and black running shoes. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Vancouver Police Department at 604-717-4034. Face masks are required in indoor public spaces by provincial health order. Those who fail to comply could face a $230 fine.