Canadian Down Syndrome Society’s interim executive director Laura LaChance talks about the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the Down syndrome community.
Canadian Down Syndrome Society’s interim executive director Laura LaChance talks about the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the Down syndrome community.
WASHINGTON — Three new senators were sworn into office after President Joe Biden's inauguration, securing the majority for Democrats in the Senate and across a unified government to tackle the new president's agenda at a time of unprecedented national challenges. In a first vote, the Senate confirmed Biden's nominee for director of national intelligence, Avril Haines late Wednesday, overcoming Republican opposition to approve his first Cabinet member. It's traditionally a show of good faith on Inauguration Day to confirm at least some nominees for a new president’s administration. On Thursday, the new Senate majority leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he hoped Biden's nominees for the departments of Defence, Homeland Security, State and Treasury could also be swiftly confirmed. “To leave these seats vacant does a disservice to America,” Schumer said at the Capitol. Schumer introduced all six new Democratic senators — the “majority makers” — who he said represent an “expanding Democratic majority." Four are from the West and two from the South. They are a diverse group bringing several firsts to the Senate, along with Schumer's rise as the first Jewish majority leader of the Senate. The three who joined on Wednesday — Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock of Georgia and Alex Padilla of California — took the oath of office from Kamala Harris, a former California senator who is first woman to be vice-president, and the first Black woman and Asian-American to hold that office. Warnock, a pastor from the late Martin Luther King Jr.'s church in Atlanta, is the first Black senator from Georgia. Ossoff, a former congressional aide and investigative journalist, is Jewish and also the now youngest member of the Senate, at 33. They won run-off elections in Georgia this month, defeating two Republicans, to lock the majority for Democrats. Padilla, a the son of immigrants from Mexico, becomes his state's first Latino senator, tapped by California’s governor to finish the remainder of Harris’ term. They join a Senate narrowly split 50-50 between the parties, but giving Democrats the majority with Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote. “Today, America is turning over a new leaf. We are turning the page on the last four years, we’re going to reunite the country, defeat COVID-19, rush economic relief to the people,” Ossoff told reporters earlier at the Capitol. “That’s what they sent us here to do.” Taken together, their arrival gives Democrats for the first time in a decade control of the Senate, the House and the White House, as Biden faces the unparalleled challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout, and the nation's painful political divisions from the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol by a mob loyal to Donald Trump. Congress is being called on to consider Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion COVID recovery package, to distribute vaccines and shore up an economy as more than 400,000 Americans have died from the virus. At the same time, the Senate is about to launch an impeachment trial of Trump, charged by the House of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol as rioters tried to interrupt the Electoral College tally and overturn Biden’s election. The Senate will need to confirm other Biden Cabinet nominees. Yet as Washington looks to turn the page from Trump to the Biden administration, Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is not relinquishing power without a fight. Haines' nomination was temporarily blocked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., as he sought information about the CIA's enhanced interrogation program. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is holding back the Homeland Security nominee, Alejandro Mayorkas, over Biden's proposed immigration changes. McConnell is refusing to enter a power-sharing agreement with Senate Democrats unless they meet his demands, chiefly to preserve the Senate filibuster — the procedural tool often used by the minority party to block bills under rules that require 60 votes to advance legislation. At her first White House briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s desire to have his Cabinet confirmed and in place is “front and centre for the president,” and she said he was hoping to have his national security nominees in place Thursday or Friday. Psaki said the president will be “quite involved” in negotiations over the COVID relief package, but left the details of the upcoming impeachment trial to Congress. The Senate can “multitask,” she said. That’s a tall order for a Senate under normal circumstances, but even more so now in the post-Trump era, with Republicans badly split between their loyalties to the defeated president and wealthy donors who are distancing themselves from Republicans who back Trump. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is expected to soon transmit to the Senate the House-passed article of impeachment against Trump, charged with incitement of insurrection, a step that will launch the Senate impeachment trial. Meantime, the power-sharing talks between Schumer and McConnell have hit a stalemate. It’s an arcane fight McConnell has inserted into what has traditionally been a more routine organizing resolution over committee assignments and staffing resources, but a power play by the outgoing Republican leader grabbing at tools that can be used to block Biden’s agenda. Progressive and liberal Democrats are eager to do away with the filibuster to more quickly advance Biden’s priorities, but not all rank-and-file Senate Democrats are on board. Schumer has not agreed to any changes but McConnell is taking no chances. For now, it will take unanimous consent among senators to toggle between conducting votes on legislative business and serving as jurors in the impeachment trial. The House last week impeached Trump for having sent the mob to the Capitol to “fight like hell” during the tally of Electoral College votes to overturn Biden’s election. __ Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report. ___ This story has been updated to correct that Sen. Tom Cotton represents Arkansas, not Oklahoma. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
A cold chain break during the transportation of a COVID-19 vaccine recently is causing Central Health to make changes to its procedures. The break occurred earlier this month when 160 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were being transported from the distribution centre in Gander to the Central Newfoundland Regional Health Centre in Grand Falls-Windsor. The break came when the Pfizer vaccine, which must be kept at a temperature between –60 C and –80 C, went to a temperature that was between two and eight degrees outside what is recommended. Central Health has made changes to ensure it doesn’t happen again. “What we do when a situation like this happens, or any situation that happens, we follow a continuous quality improvement approach,” said Joanne Pelley, vice-president of integrated health and chief nursing executive with Central Health. “With that, we would review all processes that occurred and look at anything that we need to do differently.” One of those changes is to have the shipments of the vaccine transported on the day of the clinic instead of the day before. In the days that followed the break, there were no transportation issues and they were able to deliver vaccines to priority health-care workers. “We’ve reviewed the process, we’ve implemented new approaches and we certainly do not want this to happen again,” said Pelley. Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, the province's chief medical officer of health, said the vaccine is transported with a specialized temperature recorder in each box, which indicated the doses had been above that for 15 minutes. “It’s my understanding that it has to do with just the way that the shipping container was conditioned — and the TempTale, the temperature recording device that we use — were conditioned prior to being placed in the … shipping container, and so that can sometimes result in a higher reading,” Fitzgerald said Wednesday. While there was no damage to the vaccine, it became paramount that those doses be administered as quickly as possible. Because of this, officials with Central Health pulled their health-care teams together and quickly started assessing the situation, while determining the best choice of action. None of the doses went to waste, and were delivered to the people who needed them in the six hours when they had to be delivered. “Central looked at this and tried to determine what the reason for that cold chain break was, and to the best of my knowledge at this point, they have figured that out and they have put safeguards in place to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” said Fitzgerald. — With files from Peter Jackson Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice
If there was proof that the snowstorm slamming into eastern Newfoundland was serious, it came Thursday afternoon when the Avalon Mall announced it was shutting down. As the first flurries fell in the St. John's area just after noon Thursday, schools and other facilities in the St. John's area began closing ahead of the incoming storm that would blast the Avalon and Bonavista peninsulas. Both regions remain under a winter storm warning, with 20 to 35 centimetres expected by Friday morning. As of 6:30 p.m., Environment Canada meteorologist Rodney Barney reported 15 centimetres at St. John's International Airport. Some backyard observations from residents — and CBC's Ashley Brauweiler — marked higher totals. The Department of Transportation said on Twitter after 6 p.m. that it took plows off the Witless Bay Line and Route 100, among other Avalon highways, due to whiteout conditions and over concerns about the safety of plow operators. A number of travel warnings are in effect for highways throughout the region as of Thursday evening. The Department of Public Safety has asked all residents to remain indoors where possible and avoid unnecessary travel. Rash of closures The storm prompted all St. John's area schools in the English school district to dismiss their students at least three hours before regular dismissal Thursday, with a decision on Friday's classes to be made at 6 a.m. the following morning. In the French school district, Ecole Rocher-du-Nord closed at noon. The City of St. John's closed its facilities at 2 p.m. ahead of the snow storm. Memorial University closed its St. John's campus buildings at noon. The College of the North Atlantic also closed its St. John's campuses and its Placentia campus. Metrobus halted service as of 5 p.m. Thursday due to the forecast. The Avalon Mall closed its doors at 3:30 p.m., adding it will provide an update Friday morning on whether or not the building will be open. Liquor stores in St. John's, Mount Pearl, Paradise, Conception Bay South, Bay Roberts, Carbonear and Placentia shut their doors at 5 p.m. Plows will be clearing major arteries throughout the night, said City of St. John's Coun. Sandy Hickman. Other streets will be cleared tomorrow as the snow tapers off, he said, adding crews and equipment were well prepared. "We are ready to roll with the full complement," he said. The city is also bringing in a 24-hour parking restriction as of 6 p.m. Thursday evening, outside of downtown and the business district. Hickman said the restriction will continue through Friday, and the city added it won't know when the restriction will be lifted until public works makes the decision. The reasoning is to allow easy and effective snow removal for equipment operators. Vehicles parked on roads during this time may be ticketed or towed, the city said, and an update will be issued when restriction is over. As for sidewalks, Hickman said new equipment with "drop spreaders" for sand and salt will continue to make way for pedestrians. "I think people will see an improvement," he said. "It won't be, likely, a small snowfall, so it will take a little longer of course." Winds are expected to gust up around 80 km/h, and in some places, like Cape Race, top 100 km/h, creating poor visibility. "It will be blizzard-like visibilities this evening and into the overnight periods, but the storm's moving through fairly quickly, so it's not going to be a long-lasting event," said Environment Canada Meteorologist Dale Foote. The storm marks the first major winter weather event for the St. John's area, with Foote calling the storm was a proper nor'easter, "a typical January storm that we'd expect in a normal year." A special weather statement is in effect for a swath of the northeast coast, central Newfoundland and Northern Peninsula, which could see between 10 to 15 centimetres of snow. On the Avalon, Boudreau said, the storm's winds and snow will ease slightly but continue overnight, but the snow should taper off by Friday morning, with gusts continuing until noon. A second weather system anticipated for Saturday probably won't materialize, as it's tracking east of Newfoundland at the moment, the meteorologists said. "If that works out, Saturday should be a nice day for the entire island," said Foote. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Gathering restrictions in Alberta have prompted funeral homes to offer friends and families more options to remember loved ones. Live streams and video recording of funeral services weren't popular options for grieving families before and some funeral directors say the service may be here to stay. On Jan. 8, the family of Donna Burkoholder held her funeral service near Tofield, Alta. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, only 10 people could attend in person. It made for a tough decision for the family. "How do you pick which family can come to a family member's funeral? So we didn't have my children or my little brother's children," said Lorne Burkholder, Donna's son. "That's going to be the loneliest moment ever you're going through." Working with family members, community members, and the funeral home, the family held a service with 10 people beside the casket outside Salem Mennonite Church. A minister led the services, while nearly 100 vehicles lined the parking lot and neighbouring road. Those in the vehicles listened to the service as it was streamed over an FM transmitter. Their presence meant a lot to the family; Lorne Burkholder described it as a touching moment that made him feel like he was surrounded by people who loved his mother. "You just feel the love and the support," he said. "You're going through a hard moment and when you're mourning and they're showing their support and their love to you, they're caring and they and they want to honour my mom." Video of the service was posted on Weber Funeral Home's website along with Burkholder's obituary. It's an example of one of the many ways funeral homes have helped families to reach more people during the pandemic. Some have offered options for live video streaming, video production services, and even encouraged family members to record funeral services themselves. Through most of December and January, only 10 people were allowed to attend a funeral in person, though on Monday the province raised that number to 20. Funeral receptions are still not allowed. Tyler Weber, president of the Alberta Funeral Service Association, said some funeral homes in the province could help with video requests prior to the pandemic, but with strict gathering restrictions it was necessary to offer the option to families had to decide who could attend the service in person. "That was extremely heartbreaking to see as a funeral director and for families to have to endure throughout this time," he said. While Weber doesn't expect to drive-by funeral services to become a permanent fixture after the pandemic ends, he does see interest for video recordings or live streams to continue to be a part of funeral services, though he still expects attendees to prioritize being there in person. "There's no substitute for being present. For actually physically being there and to have the ability to actually look someone in the eye and give them your condolences," he said. There's no camera good enough to replace that." More comfortable At Parkland Memorial Funeral Home in Edmonton, video streaming or recording requests were only made once or twice per month. Now it's happening for every second or third funeral. Parkland president Kirstie Smolyk said he idea of live streaming a funeral service wasn't something grieving families were interested in and it may have not seemed appropriate for some. "I think people have been reacting to the changes of using live streams," she said. "I would say people were uneasy about live streaming funerals before, but now, because we haven't had a choice, people are certainly becoming more comfortable with it and I think that's a very good thing." She, like Weber, also expects that service to continue to be offered in the long term.
Canadian pension funds are seeking to boost their real estate investments, betting the slumping property market will recover as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes and office workers and city dwellers return to downtown properties. In a world of slower economic growth, very low interest rates, volatility in equity markets, real estate offers an attractive opportunity for pension funds, which take a long-term investment horizon, say market participants.
From a global perspective, there was nothing unique about the recent raid on the U.S. Capitol. Both Republican and Democratic administrations have backed military coups around the world for decades.
PARIS — Just like the leaves of its gilded fans, France’s storied fan-making museum could fold and vanish. The splendid Musee de l’Eventail in Paris, classed as a historical monument, is the cultural world’s latest coronavirus victim. It has until Jan. 23 to pay up over 117,000 euros ($142,000) in rent arrears — stemming mainly from losses during lockdowns, otherwise it will close. And with it will go the savoir-faire of its workshop. The studio that teaches design and restoration to a new generation of fan-makers was placed on France’s intangible heritage list last year. “It is a tragedy. I can’t believe Parisians will let a part of their heritage die. I have a problem, because I always believed there would be a miracle,” the museum's 74-year-old director, Anne Hoguet, told the AP. There may be some surprise that France, a country that famously prizes its culture, has not done more to save the museum, especially given that the French public was so eager to help other cultural sites in danger, such as its burned-out Notre Dame cathedral. It might be a question of size. Hoguet said she was “exhausted” by the fight for survival that has hit smaller institutions but spared larger ones, such as Florence’s Uffizi which re-opens this week. “Like all small museums, we had troubles before, but the health crisis has been a catastrophe," she said. Bailiffs are even threatening to seize the museum's artefacts from next Monday, numbering 2,500 original pieces — including historic fans made from turtle shell, lace and silk and adorned with diamonds and rubies. Like many of Paris' 130 museums, Hoguet said her institution — which charges just 7 euros entry and is located in the French capital’s popular 10th district — was forced to close for most of 2020 because of government virus restrictions. On top of that, money coming from the workshop’s fan restorations also evaporated because of the tightening of spending during the pandemic. “The aristocratic families who send me their fans to restore all fled to their country homes in lockdown, so I had no more commissions. They wanted to save their money.” She said she would previously have charged between 500 and 600 euros per fan to restore them to their original state using traditional materials, and she used the income from that to pay the rent. Even when the museum briefly re-opened last September, Hoguet had trouble getting the same levels of footfall as before. “Because people were preoccupied with the virus, culture and heritage got forgotten — and dangerously,” she said. Hoguet is the fourth generation in charge of what is Paris’ last original fan-making workshop. She has trained directly or indirectly five young fan-makers, whom she hopes will carry the torch of the storied craft. The making of fans, traditionally with wooden sticks and painted paper leaves, has been considered sacred in many ancient cultures. But in France, its golden age was in the French court of 18th-century Versailles, where women used fan as forms of communication to flirt expertly or to hide modestly behind. The images painted on them would often chronicle the current affairs of the world around them. To this day, they remain part of France's fashion heritage DNA, featuring elaborately in couture collections by Chanel, Dior and Jean Paul Gaultier. Hoguet's father bought the museum’s impressive collection of fans in 1960. It spans the period from the Renaissance to the 20th century, including “advertising” or “illustrated” pieces, as well as vellum, kidskin and feathered fans. She is very much an eccentric of the old school. A staff of one, she has no cohesive fundraising tool set up other than email, but her efforts to rally support since 2019 have been valiant. She says that she has been so failed by French authorities that she now has trouble sleeping. She had rallied the French Culture Ministry and been in talks with Paris City Hall, but it has, she said, made no difference. “What is the point of marking us out as intangible heritage if they will not protect us?” she asked. Paris City Hall did not immediately respond when contacted by AP. “The problem with savoir-faire, is that it can very quickly die," Hoguet said. ___ Adamson reported from Leeds, England Thomas Adamson And Michel Euler, The Associated Press
Every week, more people are using the NAN Hope program, which launched last August to help people with mental health and addiction issues. As of Jan. 20, the program had 247 clients who are receiving active care. That's up from last week when the program had 235 active clients, according to nurse practitioner and Nishnawbe Aski Nation's (NAN) COVID-19 Task Team chair Mae Katt. Every week, the program sees an increase in the use of services, she said. “Either by more referrals from service providers, self-referrals or any professional services, nursing, police, child welfare or any hospital services,” Katt said. “If you look at growth of clients who are actively in care, we’re meeting our expectations.” NAN Hope was created to fill gaps in existing mental health support services and provide confidential, culturally-appropriate support to all Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) citizens. Since the start of the pandemic, the number of mental health issues like depression and anxiety has been on a rise across the province, said Carl Dalton, a social worker and CEO of Dalton Associates. During the second wave of the pandemic, one in 10 Canadians has experienced thoughts or feelings of suicide, up from six per cent in the spring, according to the survey released by the Canadian Mental Health Association last December. According to the survey, 54 per cent of Indigenous people have experienced deteriorating mental health during the second wave of COVID-19, up from 41 per cent in the first wave. The statistics show that 20 per cent of Indigenous people have had suicidal thoughts or feelings in the second wave, compared to 16 per cent during the first wave. There’s also been an increase in alcohol and substance use. “The NAN COVID-19 task team works with the leadership to protect the communities from the impacts of COVID-19. We do know the impacts are affecting many parts of the community,” Katt said. Those who use the program include elders, adults, youth and children. “We have children and youth that can call in. It’s concerning but also good because they’re not afraid to reach out for any assistance they need,” said Dalton. The community-driven program was launched by Nishnawbe Aski Nation in partnership with KO eHealth Telemedicine, Dalton Associates and Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority. In addition to providing a confidential 24/7 crisis line, NAN Hope also offers access to clinical and mental health counselling and connects clients to existing mental health and addiction support services that are available in their home communities. “It’s not a replacement program, it’s to integrate existing services that are really going to promote the values, wellness initiatives, local traditions,” Dalton said. “It’s integrated into treatment plans at hospitals, discharge planning. It’s integrated into nursing stations, it’s bringing services that wouldn’t be there already." The services are available to on- and off-reserve NAN citizens from all 49 First Nation communities in the Nishnawbe Aski region. On top of English, the program is available in traditional languages including Cree, OjiCree and Ojibwe. Traditional knowledge keepers and healers are also a part of the program’s roster of counsellors, according to NAN’s community update. “I think it’s pretty crucial to have traditional counsellors and people who speak the language available,” Dalton said. “We’ve listened to what communities have asked and requested, and that’s not an uncommon request to have it in multiple dialects.” Katt said providing services in traditional languages expands the age group that can access the care. What makes the program different from other similar initiatives is that it’s an ongoing service, Dalton said. Clients can call as many times as they want or speak to the same counsellor if they wish. Navigators and counsellors also do follow-up calls with clients. “It’s not just a phone-in and one call and that’s finished,” Dalton said. “If we get a referral from a primary clinician, a family member, from a citizen, then we do follow-up calls with them. We follow up on the treatment plan as long as their consent is given and we share information with primary care clinician. We also do follow-up the next day and say, ‘how are things today’, getting a feedback but also just making sure if they need, the services are there whenever they’re ready.” Services are provided by more than 30 wellness navigators and on-call counsellors, according to NAN Hope’s website. “I think there are a lot of workers in the community that are experiencing burnout and are overwhelmed by the number of issues going on that are out of their control,” Dalton said. “That’s the limitation of mental health and addiction services, not necessarily sitting at home. Community service providers, healers, they get overwhelmed and they also need assistance and care. And the NAN Hope people, we’re here to support them. You want to make sure you’re reaching out even though they’re helping others.” Katt said as NAN Hope is a new service, organizers didn’t have a big budget to promote the program. “I think when you set up the service, you put most of your money in the actual service portion. I think in some ways we could’ve really looked at some resources to beef up our marketing,” she said. NAN Hope services can be accessed by calling a toll-free number at 1-844-NAN-HOPE (626-4673), using a live webchat or sending a text through nanhope.ca. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
Drugmaker Eli Lilly said Thursday its COVID-19 antibody drug can prevent illness in residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care locations. It's the first major study to show such a treatment may prevent disease. Residents and staff who got the drug had up to a 57% lower risk of getting COVID-19 compared to others at the same facility who got a placebo, the drugmaker said. Among nursing home residents only, the risk was reduced by up to 80%. The study involved more than 1,000 residents and staff at nursing homes and other long-term care locations. The research was conducted with the National Institutes of Health. Results were released in a press release and the company said it would publish results in a journal soon. The Food and Drug Administration in November allowed emergency use of Lilly antibody drug as a treatment for mild or moderate cases of COVID-19 that do not require hospitalization. It’s a one-time treatment given through an IV. Lilly said it will seek expansion of that authorization to include using the drug to prevent and treat COVID-19 in long-term care facilities. Nursing homes and other long-term care locations have been hard hit by the pandemic. In the United States, they account for less than 1% of the population, but nearly 40% of deaths from COVID-19. These long-term care locations have been given priority to vaccinate residents and staff with recently authorized COVID-19 vaccines. The Associated Press
More than a week into the work stoppage at the Burleigh Falls dam project, Parks Canada has issued a statement regarding the land defenders and their rights to the land within their treaty territory. “The Government of Canada is working to advance reconciliation and renew the relationships with Indigenous Peoples based on the recognition of rights, respect, collaboration, and partnership,” says David Britton, director of Ontario waterways. Kawartha Nishnawbe land defenders in Burleigh Falls blocked work on the dam project on Jan. 13 after they say they were not consulted about the project. Parks Canada did consult with Curve Lake First Nation in previous meetings, and recently at a Jan 6, 2021 online virtual meeting stated the organization did consult with Kawartha Nishnawbe in 2016. “Parks Canada has offered to meet with Kawartha Nishnawbe,” adds Britton. “Not to my knowledge has there been any consultation with Kawartha Nishnawbe in 2016 regarding the replacement of the dam,” said Nodin Webb, spokesperson for Kawartha Nishnawbe. He went on to say Parks Canada is falsely claiming they consulted with the community as a whole in 2016. “I also do not believe Parks Canada is respecting us, if anything, they’ve ignored us,” adds Webb. Parks Canada says they remain available and hope to connect in a meaningful way through this process. “Parks Canada continues to meet with Curve Lake First Nation and other Williams Treaty First Nations on the upcoming phases of work for the Burleigh Falls dam replacement project and are working together to develop fisheries monitoring and mitigation plans,” says Britton. “We are fully aware of the litigation in court and we will not comment on the issue at this time. The part of the court litigation lies with Crown Indigenous Relations Services Canada,” added Britton. Curve Lake Chief Emily Whetung issued an official statement on the blockade. “Many of our members harvest in or near Burleigh Falls Dam area, and our goal through our consultation process with Parks Canada has been to protect the impacts on the species that our members harvest,” says Chief Whetung. The statement also says while Curve Lake First Nation recognizes the complicated history of the Kawartha Nishnawbe, their relationship to the land at Burleigh Falls, and their assertion with the Federal Government and Curve Lake respect that they have an independent perspective. “The Burleigh Falls Dam is located within the recognized pre-confederation and Williams Treaties Territory and we feel a responsibility to protect the environment and species in the area as the reconstruction project moves forward.” Parks Canada says there are do not know the full cost of the stoppage, but did say there is no impact on the spawning season. Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Peterborough This Week
TC Energy Corp will eliminate more than 1,000 construction jobs in coming weeks and halt work on the Keystone XL oil pipeline after U.S. President Joe Biden revoked the project's presidential permit, the company said in an email to employees. Biden's decision to cancel the permit is seen as the project's death knell, after more than a decade of legal battles and shifting fortunes based on who held office in the White House. "I believe this will send a concerning signal to infrastructure developers that resonates far beyond our project and will stifle innovation for a practical transition towards sustainable energy," said KXL President Richard Prior in the email, sent on Wednesday and seen by Reuters.
Toronto police are warning the public as they investigate a report of a man trying to enter a woman’s apartment while threatening her. Toronto Police Service issued an alert Thursday morning about the incident reported Wednesday in the city’s west end. The male suspect allegedly entered an apartment building and tried to open an apartment door. When a woman started to open her door, police say the man tried to force his way inside and threatened to sexually assault her. The woman shut the door and phoned 911, while the man ran away. Police describe suspect as in his 30s with a medium build and black moustache, wearing a navy blue toque, a black and white checkered scarf and a brown leather jacket. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
La CSD Construction est inquiète du contenu du projet de loi 59 portant sur des modifications au régime de la santé et sécurité du travail. C’est pourquoi la centrale syndicale a soumis plusieurs recommandations au ministre du Travail Jean Boulet pour bonifier le projet de loi lors de son passage en commission parlementaire, mercredi matin. Essentiellement, ces modifications portent sur la prévention avec des représentants en santé et sécurité plus nombreux, autonomes et indépendants des patrons. Par voie de communiqué, la CSD a fait savoir qu’après une analyse approfondie du projet de loi, elle porte un regard très critique sur ce qui est sur la table. « On ne va pas dans la bonne direction pour diminuer les accidents et les décès qui surviennent trop souvent dans l’industrie de la construction, industrie qui, rappelons-le, est la plus meurtrière au Québec », de s’indigner Carl Dufour, président de la CSD Construction. Selon lui, le projet de loi 59 porte plusieurs mesures qui tireront l’industrie vers le bas s’il n’est pas modifié et si le ministre ne retient pas les propositions de la CSD Construction. La centrale rappelle que l’occasion est unique pour modifier des lois qui n’ont pas été dépoussiérées depuis plus de 40 ans. « Tant qu’à réformer les lois en santé et sécurité du travail, réformons-les pour vrai », a déclaré M. Dufour. La CSD Construction demande la mise en place d’équipes volantes de représentants en santé et sécurité autonomes et indépendants qui seraient sous la responsabilité de chaque organisation syndicale. Ils seraient outillés pour faire de la prévention à temps plein. Dans sa forme actuelle, le projet de loi prévoit que les chantiers de 10 à 100 travailleurs, où il y a le plus haut taux de lésions, aient un représentant en santé et sécurité qui soit employé du chantier, donc de l’employeur. « Ce sont les chantiers où les règles sont les moins respectées par les employeurs. On le voit bien dans le cadre de la pandémie. Soyons réalistes, l’employé responsable de la santé et sécurité n’aura pas la liberté nécessaire pour soulever les problèmes et émettre des recommandations, surtout si elles sont coûteuses, à son dirigeant. Il y a donc ici un réel enjeu d’indépendance. Il faut rappeler qu’il n’existe pas de règle d’ancienneté et de priorité de rappel dans la construction », de préciser le président de la CSD Construction. Ce dernier a ajouté qu’« une prévention efficace est le nerf de la guerre pour faire perdre au secteur construction le triste record du plus grand nombre de décès reliés au travail, année après année ». Pour ce qui est des chantiers de plus de 100 travailleurs, le syndicat demande qu’on revoie les seuils pour permettre plus d’agents de sécurité et de représentants en santé et sécurité. Notamment, la CSD Construction demande qu’un représentant en santé et sécurité soit désigné pour chaque tranche de 100 travailleurs présents sur le chantier de construction, plutôt qu’à chaque tranche de 300, comme il est proposé. Le syndicat demande aussi que le seuil à partir duquel un agent de sécurité à temps plein doit être désigné sur un chantier demeure le même (8 millions de dollars) et ne soit pas majoré à 25 millions. La CSD Construction souligne que le projet de réforme prévoit un programme de prévention intéressant, qui doit être mis en place par l’employeur, ainsi qu’un comité supervisant l’application des mesures de prévention sur les chantiers de 20 travailleurs et plus.Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
People wanting to catch a CTrain at one underground station on the Green Line downtown may have to head to the middle of the street to get to the platform. The picture on the city's website shows the public entranceway to the future Seventh Avenue underground station as being in the middle of Second Street S.W. The city says it's merely a conceptual rendering. But according to one city councillor, it's an idea that the city could use if it can't negotiate access to the underground station through nearby buildings. Coun. Druh Farrell said the future station will be an incredibly important one. It's where the Green Line will intersect with the existing Red and Blue lines which run on the surface of Seventh Avenue downtown. "I'm not all that fussed with the quality of the design of the entryway exactly. That can change," said Farrell. "This is purely conceptual but they're looking at ways to connect these important lines together." Talks continue She said there are plenty of negotiations ongoing between the city and downtown building owners about underground connection with Green Line stations. In the space where the picture shows the station entrance, today there are four northbound vehicle lanes. According to the city, the rendering shows that a single lane would remain for vehicle traffic on Second Street. Farrell said that shouldn't be a huge concern, as it's the east-west avenues downtown which see high traffic volumes in the core. "Not all of our streets are well used. A lot of the streets in the downtown actually have fairly low traffic volumes. It's more the avenues." Highly visible The head of the LRT on the Green Foundation, Jeff Binks, expressed surprise at the picture. "Part of the benefit of the underground alignment was to try and minimize the impact on vehicle traffic," said Binks. But he said one advantage this kind of station entrance has over those in neighbouring buildings is it would be highly visible. "The one plus to seeing this rendering is they seemed to listen to that part of the feedback they got from Calgarians. It's a nice looking rendering," Binks said. "It is a station that looks like it will be very easy for them to find and deliver them directly to that train platform below, which is what Calgarians have said they wanted." The city said station integration with neighbouring properties is a primary objective for the underground portion of the Green Line and it is actively pursuing station entrances in existing or future developments. But the Green Line team said if that can't be achieved, then entryway options in the road right-of-way will be considered. Procurement paused Construction on the $5.5 billion Green Line is tentatively slated to start later this year. However, procurement work on the southeast portion of the line was paused in December while the city and the United Conservative government discuss provincial concerns about the city's plan for the project. Design and technical assessment work is continuing on the second portion of the line, which includes a 2.3-kilometre tunnel downtown. So far, more than $600 million in federal, provincial and city money has been spent in the past several years on preparations for construction. That spending covered things such as enabling works, planning and land acquisition for the city's next LRT line.
BERLIN — Germany is seeing a promising decline in new coronavirus infections, but must take "very seriously” the risk posed by a more contagious variant and will have to be cautious whenever it starts easing its lockdown, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday. Merkel and Germany’s 16 state governors on Tuesday decided to extend the country’s lockdown by two weeks until Feb. 14 and tighten some measures, for example requiring surgical masks — rather than just fabric face coverings — in shops and on public transportation. On Thursday, Germany’s disease control centre said that 20,398 new cases were reported over the past 24 hours, nearly 5,000 fewer than a week ago. The number of new cases per 100,000 residents over seven days stood at 119, the lowest since the beginning of November — though still well above the level of 50 the government is targeting. There were 1,013 more deaths, bringing Germany’s total so far to 49,783. The new variant, which has been detected in Germany and many other European countries, isn't yet dominant there, but “we must take the danger from this mutation very seriously,” Merkel told reporters. “We must slow the spread of this mutation as far as possible, and that means ... we must not wait until the danger is more tangible here,” she said. “Then it would be too late to prevent a third wave of the pandemic, and possibly an even heavier one than before. We can still prevent this.” Merkel said that Germany won't be able to open up everything at once whenever the lockdown ends, declaring that schools must open first. “We must be very careful that we do not see what happens in many countries: they do a hard lockdown, they open, they open too much, and then they have the result that they are back in exponential growth very quickly,” she said. She pointed to Britain's experience in December, when the new variant took hold. The Associated Press
Researchers have said around 52,000 deaths in Europe could be prevented each year if emissions are cut to WHO guidelines. View on euronews
Timmins' Indigenous Advisory Committee is moving ahead with taking Indigenous relations training. At the virtual committee meeting Wednesday, members voted in favour of taking training offered by Bob Joseph, the author of 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act and the founder of Indigenous Corporate Training Inc. The committee’s interim chair Kristin Murray said it’s more of a self-guided training that can be entered in groups of up to 30 people and that can be completed at an individual pace. The previously suggested training, The San’yas: Indigenous Cultural Safety (ICS) Training Program, was off the table because some elements of the training weren’t always offered, Murray said. “Not all of our staff could jump on board and get that training at once, which was the downside,” said Murray. During the committee’s last meeting in December, members agreed to take a training program before deciding whether they want to recommend the training for city employees. “There’s racism in the city. Even before we do all this training ourselves, we have to try get out there and try to educate the public,” committee member Irene Camillo said during Wednesday’s meeting. Stacey Vincent Cress of Waubetek Business Development Corporation, who attended the meeting as a guest, said taking online training shouldn’t be “a tick box exercise”. “Something is better than nothing," he said. "However, if we’re going to have some Indigenous awareness and competency training … if you’re going to train 500 members of the community plus the committee, plus the general population, you need to be able to sit and speak with some people on some of the issues that you can’t get from a computer program.” Murray noted the discussions about taking the training have been going on for two years, and there has also been a discussion about taking localized training. “But that’s going to take time. By the time we put these things together, it will be years, it will be after our term as a committee,” she said. “Some of these training opportunities are not click-through, you have to be able to engage.” If approved by council, this will be the first cultural awareness training for city employees since the Ontario Human Rights Commission's visit to Timmins in 2018. Murray said the hope would be to have the members complete the training by the next committee meeting in March. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
Central Ontario can expect heavy snow and winter weather that could make driving hazardous on Thursday. Environment Canada has issued snow squall watches for the Dufferin, Barrie, Muskoka, and Bruce County areas. The weather agency says lake effect squalls are expected to develop in the afternoon, with up to 15 centimetres expected before the evening. Squalls can quickly reduce visibility and drivers are warned to be cautious or postpone trips. Winter weather advisories are also in effect for areas around Haliburton, Peterborough and Algonquin Provincial Park due to expected heavy snow or squalls. In the north, Environment Canada is advising of heavy snow and strong winds around Sault Ste. Marie, with 15 to 25 centimetres expected today. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, lowering claims to 900,000, still a historically high level that points to further job cuts in a raging pandemic. The Labor Department's report Thursday underscored that President Joe Biden has inherited an economy that faltered this winter as virus cases spiked, cold weather restricted dining and federal rescue aid expired. The government said that 5.1 million Americans are continuing to receive state jobless benefits, down from 5.2 million in the previous week. That signals that fewer people who are out of work are finding jobs. New viral infections have begun to slow after months of relentless increases, though they remain high and are averaging about 200,000 a day. The number of deaths in the United States from the pandemic that erupted 10 months ago has surpassed 400,000. Economists say one factor that likely increased jobless claims in the past two weeks is a government financial aid package that was signed into law in late December. Among other things, it provided a $300-a-week federal unemployment benefit on top of regular state jobless aid. The new benefit, which runs through mid-March, may be encouraging more Americans to apply for jobless benefits. Once vaccines become more widely distributed, economists expect growth to accelerate in the second half of the year as Americans unleash pent-up demand for travel, dining out and visiting movie theatres and concert halls. Such spending should, in theory, boost hiring and start to regain the nearly 10 million jobs lost to the pandemic. But for now, the economy is losing ground. Retail sales have fallen for three straight months. Restrictions on restaurants, bars and some stores, along with a reluctance of most Americans to shop, travel and eat out, have led to sharp spending cutbacks. Revenue at restaurants and bars plunged 21% in 2020. Christopher Rugaber, The Associated Press
While Municipalities of Saskatchewan President Gordon Barnhart remains out of province on vacation, members of the organization said they are still in the dark about his plans to return. Barnhart did comment on his vacation to Hawaii with his wife for a Jan. 19 story written by Gary Horseman, a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with the Four-Town Journal. The Journal covers Saltcoats, the town where Barnhart is the mayor. “For the last nine years, Naomi and I have spent Christmas and January in Maui. This year, with COVID-19, we took extra precautions to ensure that our health and the health of those around us would be safe,” Barnhart told the Journal. “Before leaving for our vacation, I discussed with the Saltcoats council and administration how we could keep in contact while away. While in Maui, we both have been keeping up with work by email and phone, FaceTime and Zoom. As mayor of Saltcoats, I am in touch with councillors and administration on a daily basis. Arrangements have been made for me to fulfill my administrative duties by distance and I have been able to chair council meetings by Zoom. I take my role as mayor very seriously and believe I have been able to fulfill my duties to the best of my ability while still taking a holiday with my wife,” Barnhart continued. The fact that Barnhart has been taking precautions while travelling is great, said Naicam Mayor Rodger Hayward, Municipalities of Saskatchewan’s vice-president of towns, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that elected officials like Barnhart should be taking public health orders to not travel seriously. “As municipal leaders, we have a duty to lead by example, following all public health measures, orders and advisories. The premier has asked everyone to not do unnecessary travel and especially out-of-country travel,” he said. In Barnhart’s comments to the Four-Town Journal, he really didn’t address that key issue, Hayward said. While Municipalities of Saskatchewan is busy preparing for their upcoming virtual convention, Hayward said he is sure the president’s travel will be part of the conversation. “It'll be a little different because it's a virtual convention and it’s our very first one, so we'll see how it goes. But I'm sure it'll be a topic there. The office of president and the rest of the executive is up for election this year, as well.” Barnhart has not been in contact with Hayward as of Jan. 20. Hayward said he was in contact with only one other board member of Municipalities of Saskatchewan to give the same information that was given to the Four-Town Journal. Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist