Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) now says the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months in order to boost the number of Canadians being vaccinated. For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, that means going from a three week interval to a full four months. "NACI recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine up to four months after the first," the committee said in a statement. Prior to this new recommendation, NACI had said that the maximum interval between the first and second shots of the Moderna vaccine should be four weeks, the interval for the Pfizer-BioNTech product should be three weeks and the interval for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should be 12 weeks. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. Since first doses of all three vaccines have been shown to dramatically increase immunity to the disease, or to significantly reduce the illness associated with contracting COVID-19, the committee said stretching the interval would help protect more Canadians sooner. NACI said that it reviewed evidence from two clinical trials that looked at how effective the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were after a single dose. Those studies, NACI said, showed the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines started providing some level of protection 12 to 14 days after the first dose. By the time the second dose was administered — 19 to 42 days after the first — the first shot was shown to be 92 per cent effective. Population studies find lower protection Outside of clinical trials, NACI looked at the effectiveness of a single shot of these two vaccines in the populations of Quebec, British Columbia, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States. NACI said that analysis showed the effectiveness of a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine was between 70 per cent and 80 per cent among health care workers, long-term care residents, elderly populations and the general public. "While this is somewhat lower than the efficacy demonstrated after one dose in clinical trials, it is important to note that vaccine effectiveness in a general population setting is typically lower than efficacy from the controlled setting of a clinical trial, and this is expected to be the case after series completion as well," NACI said. The committee said that published data from an AstraZeneca clinical trial indicated that delaying the second dose 12 weeks or more provided better protections against symptomatic disease compared to shorter intervals between doses. Earlier this week, before NACI changed its interval advice, B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Henry said data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and countries around the world showed a "miraculous" protection level of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Moderna or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The head of Moderna's Canadian operations, Patricia Gauthier, said Monday that the company's own trials, and the conditions under which the vaccine was approved by Health Canada, are tied to a four-week interval. "That being said, we're in times of pandemic and we can understand that there are difficult decisions to be made," Gauthier said. "This then becomes a government decision. We stand by the product monograph approved by Health Canada, but governments ... can make their own decisions." Gauthier said she was not aware of any studies done or led by Moderna on what happens when the interval between the first and second doses is changed from four weeks to four months. 'We have to do it safely and watch carefully' Dr. David Naylor, who has been named to a federal task force charged with planning a national campaign to see how far the virus has spread, said the data have been "very encouraging." "The evidence is there for the concept of further delay," Naylor told CBC News Network's Power & Politics today. "We [had] trial data from earlier showing that going out from 90 days, a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective. So things are triangulating." He said health officials need to pay close attention to the data coming out of other countries to determine if the protection provided by the first dose remains strong four months after it was administered. "We do it because we can cover more people with a single dose of the vaccine, spread the protection, prevent more severe disease and prevent fatalities, and the evidence is clear that that's what you can do if you spread those doses out widely. But we have to do it safely and watch carefully," Naylor told host Vassy Kapelos. Watch: The evidence is there for the 'concept of further delay' of second doses: Dr. Naylor: Storage and transport recommendations also changed Health Canada also announced today that after reviewing a submission from Pfizer-BioNTech, it would authorize changes to the way the vaccine is handled in Canada. The new rules allow the vaccine to be stored and transported in a standard freezer with a temperature of between -25 C and -15 C for up to two weeks, instead of the previous requirement that it be stored in ultra-cold conditions of -80 C to -60 C. Vials of the vaccine stored or transported at this higher temperature for no longer than two weeks remain stable and safe and can then be returned to ultra-cold freezers once, said the department.
WASHINGTON — The Defence Department took more than three hours to dispatch the National Guard to the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol despite a frantic request for reinforcement from police, according to testimony Wednesday that added to the finger-pointing about the government response. Maj. Gen. William Walker, commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard, told senators that the then-chief of the Capitol Police requested military support in a 1:49 p.m. call, but the Defence Department's approval for that support was not relayed to him until after 5 p.m., according to prepared testimony. Guard troops who had been waiting on buses were then rushed to the Capitol. That delay stood in contrast to the immediate approval for National Guard support granted in response to the civil unrest that roiled American cities last spring as an outgrowth of racial justice protests, Walker said. As local officials pleaded for help, Army officials raised concerns about the optics of a substantial National Guard presence at the Capitol, he said. “The Army senior leadership” expressed to officials on the call “that it would not be their best military advice to have uniformed Guardsmen on the Capitol,” Walker said. The Senate hearing is the second about what went wrong on Jan. 6, with national security officials face questions about missed intelligence and botched efforts to quickly gather National Guard troops that day as a violent mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol. Even as Walker detailed the National Guard delay, another military official noted that local officials in Washington had said days earlier that no such support was needed. Senators were eager to grill officials from the Pentagon, the National Guard and the Justice and Homeland Security departments about their preparations for that day. Supporters of then-President Donald Trump had talked online, in some cases openly, about gathering in Washington that day and interrupting the electoral count. At a hearing last week, officials who were in charge of security at the Capitol blamed one another as well as federal law enforcement for their own lack of preparation as hundreds of rioters descended on the building, easily breached the security perimeter and eventually broke into the Capitol. Five people died as a result of the rioting. So far, lawmakers conducting investigations have focused on failed efforts to gather and share intelligence about the insurrectionists’ planning before Jan. 6 and on the deliberations among officials about whether and when to call National Guard troops to protect Congress. The officials at the hearing last week, including ousted Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, gave conflicting accounts of those negotiations. Robert Contee, the acting chief of police for the Metropolitan Police Department, told senators he was “stunned” over the delayed response and said Sund was pleading with Army officials to deploy National Guard troops as the rioting rapidly escalated. Senate Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar, one of two Democratic senators who will preside over Wednesday's hearing, said in an interview Tuesday that she believes every moment counted as the National Guard decision was delayed and police officers outside the Capitol were beaten and injured by the rioters. “Any minute that we lost, I need to know why,” Klobuchar said. The hearing comes as thousands of National Guard troops are still patrolling the fenced-in Capitol and as multiple committees across Congress are launching investigations into mistakes made on Jan. 6. The probes are largely focused on security missteps and the origins of the extremism that led hundreds of Trump supporters to break through the doors and windows of the Capitol, hunt for lawmakers and temporarily stop the counting of electoral votes. Congress has, for now, abandoned any examination of Trump’s role in the attack after the Senate acquitted him last month of inciting the riot by telling the supporters that morning to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat. As the Senate hears from the federal officials, acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman will testify before a House panel that is also looking into how security failed. In a hearing last week before the same subcommittee, she conceded there were multiple levels of failures but denied that law enforcement failed to take seriously warnings of violence before the insurrection. In the Senate, Klobuchar said there is particular interest in hearing from Walker, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, who was on the phone with Sund and the Department of the Army as the rioters first broke into the building. Contee, the D.C. police chief, was also on the call and told senators that the Army was initially reluctant to send troops. “While I certainly understand the importance of both planning and public perception — the factors cited by the staff on the call — these issues become secondary when you are watching your employees, vastly outnumbered by a mob, being physically assaulted,” Contee said. He said he had quickly deployed his own officers and he was “shocked” that the National Guard “could not — or would not — do the same." Contee said that Army staff said they were not refusing to send troops, but “did not like the optics of boots on the ground” at the Capitol. Also testifying at the joint hearing of the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees are Robert Salesses of the Defence Department, Melissa Smislova of the Department of Homeland Security and Jill Sanborn of the FBI, all officials who oversee aspects of intelligence and security operations. Lawmakers have grilled law enforcement officials about missed intelligence ahead of the attack, including a report from an FBI field office in Virginia that warned of online posts foreshadowing a “war” in Washington. Capitol Police leaders have said they were unaware of the report at the time, even though the FBI had forwarded it to the department. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the report was disseminated though the FBI’s joint terrorism task force, discussed at a command post in Washington and posted on an internet portal available to other law enforcement agencies. Though the information was raw and unverified and appeared aspirational in nature, Wray said, it was specific and concerning enough that “the smartest thing to do, the most prudent thing to do, was just push it to the people who needed to get it.” Mary Clare Jalonick And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
A man who plowed a rented van into dozens of people in Toronto in 2018 is guilty of murdering 10 people and attempting to murder 16, a judge ruled on Wednesday, dismissing a defense argument that a mental disorder left the driver unaware of how horrific his actions were. Alek Minassian, 28, told police he was motivated by a desire to punish society for his perceived status as an "incel" - short for involuntary celibate - because he believed women would not have sex with him. Minassian had pleaded that he was not criminally responsible.
C’est un petit pas pour Natashquan, mais un grand pas pour Pointe-Parent : le 29 février, les propriétaires résidents du hameau signaient leur entente avec le ministère des Transports du Québec, qui agit en tant que représentant du Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones (SAA) pour cette portion du dossier. Deux avenues étaient offertes aux résidents permanents de Pointe-Parent dans le cadre du rachat de leur propriété. Dans un premier cas, les propriétaires désirant s’établir à l’extérieur de Natashquan recevront le montant de l’évaluation faite par le représentant mandaté par le gouvernement du Québec en 2018. Dans un second cas, les propriétaires qui choisiront d’acheter une habitation ou un terrain sur le territoire de Natashquan auront droit à un montant supplémentaire en plus de celui de l’évaluation. Cette somme additionnelle servira à couvrir les coûts de réinstallation ou de construction des propriétaires. Si le processus avait été enclenché avant les Fêtes, plusieurs des résidents permanents ont été surpris d’apprendre, vendredi matin, qu’ils devaient signer leur entente et la faire parvenir avant le 1er mars à l’évaluateur. Le document d’une page, que le journal a pu consulter, était concis : il comprenait le montant de l’offre de base, la somme supplémentaire advenant un déménagement à Natashquan et quelques modalités, dont le choix du notaire qui revenait aux propriétaires. Adèle Bellefleur, résidente de longue date de Pointe-Parent, s’est dite satisfaite de l’offre du SAA et de la progression du dossier. « C’est sûr que c’est arrivé vite, mais on savait que ça se préparait. Je suis très contente du déroulement. » La mairesse de Natashquan, Marie-Claude Vigneault, a tenu à saluer « le travail rapide » du SAA. « On sait que [les représentants] ont mis les bouchées doubles et c’est rassurant de savoir [que le ministère] nous a écoutés. » Plusieurs questions demeurent en suspens, notamment sur le coût total de ce premier avancement pour le SAA (incluant les dédommagements pour les infrastructures municipales à Pointe-Parent) et d’où proviendront les sommes affectées à ce dossier, sur le calcul de l’incitatif financier, sur les détails de l’évaluation des propriétés et sur l’échéancier pour les propriétaires non-résidents. Le Journal n’a pas été en mesure de confirmer combien des 12 résidents permanents du hameau avaient signé l’entente de rachat du SAA. Le Directeur des négociations et de la consultation pour le SAA, Olivier Bourdages Sylvain, a décliné notre demande d’entrevue, tandis que ni le SAA, ni le MTQ n’avaient donné suite à notre requête médiatique au moment d’écrire ces lignes. Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
CHARLOTTETOWN — The health orders that closed schools and most non-essential businesses on Prince Edward Island for three days will end at midnight tonight. Premier Dennis King said today the 11,000 COVID-19 tests conducted since the weekend provide confidence restrictions can be eased. The restrictions were imposed after clusters of COVID-19 cases emerged in Charlottetown and Summerside. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Heather Morrison is reporting one new case of COVID-19 today involving a woman in her 20s who is a close contact of a previously reported case.Morrison says results from about 800 tests are still pending, so there may be more positive cases.There are 22 active reported cases in the province — the highest number since the start of the pandemic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The United States is at a COVID-19 crossroads — and public health officials are worried about which path it will choose. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, is urging Americans not to let their guard down. For a second straight day, Walensky is warning about the potential for highly contagious COVID-19 variants to undo the country's hard-won progress. Her message is competing with a torrent of seemingly good news. President Joe Biden says the U.S. will have enough COVID-19 vaccine doses in stock for every adult American by the end of May. And a number of states are easing their pandemic restrictions, most recently Texas, which is planning to reopen completely by next Wednesday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
Mary Shortall, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, says a delay in the report from the premier's economic recovery team casts doubt on its validity.(CBC) A former member of Andrew Furey's economic recovery team says the delay of its interim report is emblematic of the problems she had with the panel's process. Mary Shortall, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labrador, says she wasn't surprised when Moya Greene, who heads the premier's team, announced on the weekend that the report, which was due Sunday, would not be ready by then. "It's not a secret that I felt that the process was problematic right from the beginning, and it's been even more so during the election campaign. It's been a concern and a focus for many people," Shortall told CBC News. In an surprise media briefing Satuday, Greene called the deadline a "notational date," and cited the pandemic and renewed lockdown as reasons the report would not be ready in time. Greene said the decision to delay had nothing to do with the ongoing provincial election. Shortall — who resigned from the team in January, citing a lack of transparency and what she said was a flawed process — said the public is keen for information, especially during an election cycle amid a pandemic. And while the premier has said there will be consultations after the so-called "Greene report" has been tabled, Shortall said that with the election still undecided, it's no surprise there's no interim report yet. Delay calls report into question: Shortall Shortall is skeptical about the pandemic being a reason for the delay, noting that the process began during the pandemic. The only thing that did change, she said, was the election being called. "Calling a last-minute press conference on a Saturday, and on the day before the interim report was due, to say that it's going to take between four and six weeks, I think what that did was it called into question the legitimacy, really, in the eyes of the public," she said. "With those goalposts being moved, the new timelines, for whatever reason, have made it a little bit more convenient for a government that's waiting to be elected. So people are really nervous. They still don't have answers." WATCH | Mary Shortall discusses the delayed Greene report with Here & Now's Carolyn Stokes Despite Greene calling Feb. 28 a "notational" deadline, Shortall said when she was appointed to the team, members weren't given any other timeline in the public terms of reference. "That's the terms that we had been working under when I was there, and that did say that the interim report would be given to government at the end of February, and the final report at the end of April," she said. Shortall said having an election called in the middle of the process, especially at such an uncertain time for voters, has made people suspicious. "It's the process, and the response, and the questions not being answered that have made people very suspicious, and no wonder: no matter what, when an announcement is made the day before it's due — whether it's expected or not — it's got people even more nervous about what's going to happen." Shortall said she doesn't know what will be in the report, but said with the delays and lack of transparency people may be more wary than usual of harsh cuts. "History has told them that they will bear the brunt of austerity measures," said Shortall. "The fact that it hasn't been very transparent and there's not a lot of discussion around it makes people think the worst." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
A Yellowknife MLA grew frustrated Tuesday as he sought to learn more about what the N.W.T. is doing to protect workers at the Gahcho Kué mine from COVID-19. An outbreak was declared at the mine on Feb. 3. Mining operations were suspended three days later. To date, 12 out-of-territory workers and eight N.W.T. residents have been connected with the outbreak. Frame Lake MLA Kevin O'Reilly put questions to Shane Thompson, the minister responsible for the Workers Safety and Compensation Commission. He wanted to know whether northern and southern workers had separate living quarters; whether people were wearing masks on the site; and what the protocols were for cleaning washrooms. To each question, Thompson had the same answer: it's up to the mine's owner to develop its own COVID-exposure plan, which must be approved by the WSCC and the chief public health officer, but is not dictated by them. "We have to respect that," Thompson said. "It's their plan." To that O'Reilly responded, "There seems to be some kind of top secret exposure control plan that he can't even share any info with me on the floor of this house." The frustration evident in his voice is similar to that raised by many business owners earlier in the pandemic, who were charged with drafting their own COVID-19 exposure plans. Though WSCC and the office of the chief public health officer were available to help business owners draft plans, some expressed frustration at the lack of direction, and the inconsistencies that came about as a result. Reached for comment, De Beers Canada, which owns the Gahcho Kué mine with Mountain Province Diamonds, was happy to share details from its COVID-19 exposure plan. "If we were asked to do so, Gahcho Kué Mine would be pleased to provide information regarding COVID-19 protocols and additional actions taken at Gahcho Kué Mine during the past week to MLA O'Reilly and all MLAs," spokesperson Terry Kruger said in an email. Kruger confirmed that masks are in wide use in all common areas "where physical distancing is not possible." He also said employees and contractors "work as a team, regardless of where they are from." All employees heading to the site undergo rapid antigen tests before traveling, and must test negative. They take further tests at regular intervals. "The use of face coverings, physical distancing protocols, good hygiene practices, daily health monitoring, documentation of daily contacts and other measures are also in place." Mountain Province Diamonds, which jointly owns the mine with De Beers Canada, announced plans to resume production at the end of last month. No vaccines for non-residents Kruger also said the company is promoting vaccination opportunities for all N.W.T.-resident employees and contractors. He was clear that non-resident employees were not, at this point, included. Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA Lesa Semmler raised concerns Tuesday that non-resident mine workers were getting prioritized to receive the vaccine ahead of local N.W.T. residents. Health Minister Julie Green assured her they were not. "The N.W.T. will not, will not prioritize non-residents over residents," Health Minister Julie Green said in response. "When all eligible residents have been vaccinated, and if there is vaccine … available, then the chief public health officer will look at the possibility of vaccinating rotational workers who are from outside of the territory."
Les recherches montrent que de nombreux partisans des caméras portatives minimisent la complexité de ces programmes et en exagèrent les avantages potentiels.
A man has been arrested after driving the wrong way on Hwy. 401 near Tilbury in an attempt to evade police, the OPP said. An officer from the OPP's Chatham-Kent detachment was using speed radar on the highway at about 12:45 p.m. Tuesday when a vehicle "travelling a high rate of speed in a dangerous manner" was spotted. The OPP had received complaints about the vehicle, according to a news release issued by the police service on Wednesday. "In an attempt to evade police, the vehicle driver manoeuvred the vehicle to drive the wrong way on Highway 401 travelling eastbound in the westbound lanes," OPP said. The driver left the highway and was spotted by Essex County OPP officers. They used a tire deflation device to stop the vehicle on County Road 42 in Lakeshore. According to the OPP, the driver ran away but was brought into custody by officers, including the canine services team. A 19-year-old London man has been charged with dangerous driving, mischief and two counts of flight from police.
Physical distancing measures meant to keep Canadians safe during the pandemic have had an unintended consequence for the people keeping tabs on the nation's spies: they can't always access the classified information they need to do their jobs. The National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA), the watchdog set up to monitor the activities of Canada's national security and intelligence sector, says the pandemic has slowed its work. "The COVID-19 pandemic caused delays in response times and provision of briefings from departments under review," said NSIRA spokesperson Tahera Mufti. "These were compounded by limitations on workers allowed in our own offices at a given time, due to public health considerations." The pandemic problems were flagged in NSIRA's recently published plan for the coming year. "The physical distancing precautions required by the COVID-19 pandemic might continue to be needed in 2021–22. This would limit employees' access to NSIRA offices and to classified physical and electronic documents," says NSIRA's plan for 2021-2022. "Such restrictions could slow NSIRA's ability to deliver on its mandate in a timely way and limit the frequency and type of outreach NSIRA can do in person." Because of the nature of the material they work with, NSIRA staff operate in a top secret environment with strict rules about holding, analyzing and exchanging classified security and intelligence information. Those rules make it almost impossible for staff to take work files home. NSIRA was launched in the wake of the Liberals' national security legislation overhaul in 2019. It's tasked with providing independent, expert review of national security and intelligence activities across all federal departments and agencies. It also reviews all national security complaints against the RCMP, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Communications Security Establishment, as well as complaints involving security clearances. "The resource constraints of those organizations might continue to be compounded next year by disruptions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. This presents a risk of hindering NSIRA's ability to deliver on its mandate in a timely way," says the 2021-2022 plan document. Mufti said the pandemic has slowed NSIRA's hiring process. The agency employs about 75 people but needs about 100, including many with top secret security clearances. "The typical challenges associated with hiring highly skilled, security-cleared staff were compounded by the pandemic," Mufti said. In its first annual report, started before the pandemic but published late last year, NSIRA found the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service's use of publicly available geo-location data without a warrant might be breaking the law.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Capitol Police say they have intelligence showing there is a “possible plot” by a militia group to breach the U.S. Capitol on Thursday. The revelation was detailed in a statement from the Capitol Police. It comes at the same time the acting police chief is testifying before a House subcommittee. The statement differs from an advisory that was sent to members of Congress by the acting House sergeant-at-arms this week, saying that Capitol Police had “no indication that groups will travel to Washington D.C. to protest or commit acts of violence.” The threat comes nearly two months after thousands of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in a violent insurrection as Congress was voting to certify Joe Biden’s electoral win. So far, about 300 people have been charged with federal crimes for their roles in the riot. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died. The threat appears to be connected to a far-right conspiracy theory, mainly promoted by supporters of QAnon, that Trump will rise again to power on March 4, which was the original presidential inauguration day, until 1933, when it was moved to Jan. 20. Many of the accounts that helped promote and organize the Jan. 6 riots on platforms like Facebook and Twitter have since been suspended, making it more difficult for the groups to organize. ___ Associated Press writers Nomaan Merchant, Colleen Long and Alan Fram contributed to this report. Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
The United States is "very open" to helping other countries procure COVID-19 vaccines and conversations about how to do so are continuing, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday. The United States will have enough COVID-19 vaccine for every adult by the end of May, President Joe Biden said on Tuesday. Canada's target is end-September and critics, who complain about the slow vaccine rollout so far, say Trudeau should ask the United States to permit shipments across the border.
Scuba diving in the Galapagos Islands is a thrill like few others on earth. The ocean is full of life here with a diversity that is unlike any other place of earth. The underwater volcanic structures and unique combination of ocean currents support a rich abundance of life. Sharks thrive here and scuba divers are thrilled to see them during their underwater adventures. But these scuba divers were not so thrilled when they finished exploring and underwater cave and they headed back to the open ocean. They found a group of sharks had entered the cave and were resting just inside the opening. White tip sharks are not likely to attack humans, unless provoked, but the divers were not able to pass through the narrow chamber without coming into direct contact with the 9-10 foot beasts. This would definitely be inviting trouble and the divers would be unable to easily turn and retreat back inside the caverns. The moment provided an excellent opportunity to gets some spectacular footage of the unusual scenario with the sharks backlit in an eerie fashion. The scuba divers had planned their dive well and they had plenty of reserve air at this point in the dive. They calmly waited and watched the sharks and eventually all of them swam out into the open water, leaving the exit clear. But for a few minutes, the large sharks in the exit were an intimidating sight indeed! People who venture beneath the waves are wise to remember that they are the visitors, or even intruders in this mysterious domain. Incorrect behaviour here can have immediate and disastrous consequences. The ability to stay calm during unexpected challenges is crucial to survival in a world where your air supply is limited.
Pony Ma will make the proposal at the National People's Congress (NPC), which starts on Friday, the report said. "It is recommended to carry out government guidance and development in specific areas such as online education, online healthcare and financial technology," CNR cited Ma's proposal as saying.
The Pointer's Social Media Monitor is a weekly look at how elected officials and other public civil servants are using their taxpayer-funded resources to shape digital communication aimed at constituents. We feature one public figure each week. Mississauga’s new fire chief, Deryn Rizzi, boasts an impressive resume. She has two undergraduate degrees from Queen’s University: one in geography, another in education. She has also completed a masters in disaster and emergency management at York University, where she is currently completing a Ph.D. looking at workplace culture, labour relations, policies and power dynamics with regards to women in non-traditional work. Throw in several certificates — municipal leadership, employment negotiations, (a masters certificate) in public administration — and Rizzi is a leader whose experience is backed by reams of academic knowledge. Just one month ago, she arrived in Mississauga, leaving her role as the head of Vaughan’s fire service. She’s been thrown into the deep end, dealing with decrepit fire stations, slow response times and a global pandemic. It’s too early to draw conclusions on how the new chief will right the ship; she is in the middle of a flurry of inductions and introductory meetings. One thing is clear early on: Rizzi is an adept and progressive communicator. “I live and breathe the fire service and so I feel like I have a lot to share,” Rizzi told The Pointer. With the omnipresence of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat, the way leaders in all spheres communicate with the public is changing. Leaflet drops and robocalls are beginning to look prehistoric, while COVID-19 makes door-to-door engagement and town hall meetings significantly harder. For the Mississauga Fire and Emergency Service, this is a challenge. Years of underinvestment have damaged response times, meaning trucks arrive at the scene of a fire, on average, significantly later than they should. Part of Mississauga’s plan to bridge this gap is education — teaching residents how to avoid fires in the first place. According to the 2021 budget, Mississauga’s fire service is more than two minutes behind the provincial target for travel time and more than a minute behind the total target. The budget document, which Rizzi was not in place to influence, places significant emphasis on education as a key to closing this gap. If the fire service responds to fewer fires, it can arrive faster with more resources available. On this front, Rizzi has demonstrated significant digital literacy through her Twitter account. She has successfully commandeered social media to deliver fire safety tips to the public. A desire for fire prevention advice is rarely a reason someone creates a Twitter account, so crafting a message that resonates is critical. Rizzi is aware of this and has found several creative ways to make her messages standout online. On February 18, she shared a short video clip, accompanied by a startling fact: heating equipment is the third leading cause of home fires in Ontario. The extract from an interview was shared to coincide with Mississauga’s cold snap when many were breaking out their space heaters. The use of a video to liven up an education issue and a startling fact to grab attention worked, with at least 1,600 views. In December 2020, when she was still working as fire chief in Vaughan, Rizzi shared a video on her timeline offering tips to safely celebrate the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. In one of two posts by the fire chief relating to the holiday, a firefighter and rabbi offered advice to safely celebrate with the Menorah, a nine-branched candelabrum lit across the celebration. The cultural competency displayed in these tweets is an asset in Peel Region, where diversity abounds. Understanding various cultural celebrations throughout the year, their significance and how to remind residents to celebrate safely can help the fire service to connect with different communities. In another example from her time in Vaughan, Rizzi and her colleagues convinced Toronto Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner, who grew up in nearby Thornhill, to create a video with fire safety advice. The clip was shared by Rizzi during Fire Prevention week, a time when most cities and fire services are sharing reminders about the importance of smoke detectors and other tips. The decision to enlist the help of a celebrity, with particular youth appeal, set the message apart from some of the more traditional posts being shared online. Rizzi, who posts to her account herself, says her use of social media doesn’t begin and end with education. Residents can fall into the trap of thinking firefighters only deal with burning buildings and forget the rest of their roles. For the chief to cultivate public buy-in, it is important to highlight what the City’s most expensive department does behind the scenes. “I think perhaps the public doesn’t realize how much time, energy, personnel [and] resources goes into maintaining their skill sets,” Rizzi said. “And then it’s also important, because the title firefighter, people think our folks just focus on fire and I really try to stress it’s an all hazards team.” Recently, Rizzi posted several images and videos of her team training for ice rescues. As residents along Mississauga’s waterfront took to the ice to play shinny and try out their skates, the messaging offered an important reminder of the dangers of skating on lake or river ice. “Through social media we can create a visual image of our department and how it serves the community,” Rizzi said. “It shows our firefighters are busy all day – every single day. I can’t take for granted that the public knows what we do or what it takes to serve the community; social media is a great way to continuously remind our citizens of our daily value in their lives and the fire and life safety risks we as a fire service team are working to minimize." The demands on Rizzi’s social media are different to those of a politician. Where an elected official has a duty to communicate with residents and make themselves available to represent the views of those who put them in office, a senior bureaucrat is answerable to the public in a less direct way. If she wanted to, the chief could broadcast without engaging, but Rizzi has found herself dealing with the good, bad and ugly of social media communication. When she worked as a deputy chief in Vaughan, she appeared on a CTV National show discussing fires in potted plants on balconies. Despite the dry material, the segment was a success and Rizzi found herself back on air discussing dryer fires. Once again, the clip flew. This time, Rizzi dipped a toe into the abyss of Facebook comment sections, finding praise and appreciation for her work sitting alongside sexist comments about her role. The experience taught her engagement is important, but only at certain times. Some things are not worth responding to. “I don’t engage, I never engage if I’m being criticized on social media,” she said. “You won’t see me engaging because you’ll never win.” On another occasion, after giving the keynote address at Miss Universe Canada when it was in Vaughan, Rizzi received a critical comment from a father. His words focused on his own daughter, a paramedic. Rather than simply ignore the comment, or engage in a fire fight online, she messaged the man. “I explained all my rationale about supporting women in everything they do and gave some examples of what some of these women who were competing, some of their career highlights,” Rizzi said. “He messaged me back, he said ‘I never looked at it that way, I’ll remove my message.’ And I didn’t ask him to remove the message.” As a woman in a public position, Drizzi has also found herself with an additional responsibility. Within her profession, she says she is just another fire chief, but her online presence offers another side. There is an opportunity to inspire. “When I realized, oh my goodness, really young girls are also watching this, you start thinking about what exactly am I showing them,” she said. “It’s important to me — these young girls are looking at social media, it can’t be a filtered reality, you can’t make your life look so great.” Rizzi’s birthday post reflects this. Instead of putting a glossy filter on the passing of time, she shared her frank experience. There are other examples of clever social media use: sharing callouts for teachers to invite firefighters to educate their classes and posting about major fires to raise awareness, to name two. But Rizzi is careful to make it clear that her social media is not the be-all and end-all of her role. If it goes well: great; if it doesn’t: she’s a fire chief, not an influencer. “My effectiveness and success as a fire chief will never be quantified, measured, judged or determined by the number of social media followers that I have achieved. My leadership performance and competency will never be influenced by the number of likes, shares and retweets that I achieve”, she said. “My impact as a fire chief will be measured on the difference I made in the lives of my firefighters, the leaders I developed, the fire and life-safety of the city I serve, and on the extent to which I leave Mississauga Fire and Emergency Services a better organization than my first day.” Email: email@example.com Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
European Union rules on company financial information need to be updated to apply the lessons of the collapse of German payments firm Wirecard, the bloc's securities watchdog said on Wednesday. The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) said in a report in November there were deficiencies in how Germany's securities and accounting watchdogs cooperated regarding Wirecard, the country's biggest accounting scandal. "ESMA considers that the Wirecard case has shown, once again, that timely and effective enforcement of financial information is paramount to ensure investor protection and confidence in capital markets," ESMA Chair Steven Maijoor said in a letter to the EU's financial services chief Mairead McGuinness published on Wednesday.
NEW YORK — A short time after Broadway shut down last year, Elizabeth Stanley went on a tiny rescue mission. She was offered a chance to get back into her dressing room at the Broadhurst Theatre — home of her musical “Jagged Little Pill” — and to grab anything she needed. “I went and retrieved a bunch of plants,” she says, laughing. “I knew they won’t survive in a room with no windows and no water.” That strong nurturing side of Stanley was also clearly evident from the stage before the pandemic closed theatres. She earned her first Tony Award nomination playing the mom of a Connecticut family spiraling out of control in the musical set to the music of Alanis Morissette's 1995 album of the same name. Stanley is seemingly comfortable singing anything, from complicated Stephen Sondheim show tunes to rock songs by Morissette, classics by Leonard Bernstein and modern gems by Jason Robert Brown. “In some ways, people didn’t know what to do with me always and I think that’s honestly worked out to my benefit most of the time,” she says. “I didn’t just get stuck playing one singular type of part.” Eva Price, the three-time Tony Award-winning producer behind “Jagged Little Pill,” says Stanley has put her entire heart and soul into her latest character ever since workshops started. “She actually created a multi-dimensional, 360-degree, completely layered, contemporary female protagonist in a way that none of us knew we even had on the page or in our minds,” said Price. Stanley made her Broadway debut in the 2006 revival of “Company” and has had roles in “Cry-Baby,” “Million Dollar Quartet” and “On the Town.” A Tony nomination this time is welcome, indeed. “It’s a dream I’ve had for the whole time I’ve been performing and pursuing a career in the performing arts," she says. "So I feel like whatever crazy year it came in, I’ll take it.” The musical is about a family confronting drug addiction, sexual assault, struggles with gender identity and transracial adoption. Morissette has told the cast she hopes the musical can be a hopeful beacon. “She wants us to be a story about healing and connection," says Stanley. "And I think that’s such a beautiful sort of takeaway that she’s infused the piece with and that has always been in her music. I think it’s like this rallying cry for transparency and authenticity.” Stanley — as the mom, Mary Jane — is the spine of the musical, trying to connect with her workaholic husband and aloof teenage kids. She's also hiding an addiction to Oxycodone developed after being prescribed the opioid following a car accident. During the musical, her character also reveals her own history with sexual assault. “There’s so many layers to get into that I think it took me a long time to really find all of her,” says Stanley. “In fact, I don’t even think I’m done. That’s one of the reasons I’m anxious to get back to the show — I don’t feel done with this part yet.” The “Jagged Little Pill” musical is so rooted in contemporary issues facing America that she believes the discussions and marches over racial justice will find voice whenever Broadway restarts. “I think it will influence our interpretation of it as a cast, but it will also influence the audience and how they will see that,” she says. "Going to see a piece of theatre allows us to receive a message and feel it in a more palatable way than watching a three-hour news cycle about something.” During the past year, Stanley has been part of “Jagged Little Pill” online concerts and appearances. She also went through a series of crafting phases — baking, sewing and tie-dying. She made new throw pillows for her couch. COVID-19 ruined what was to be one of her happiest days: her wedding. Engaged in January 2020 to actor and teacher Charlie Murphy, the couple were supposed to tie the knot in September. They even put down — and lost — a security deposit at a venue. Now they're rethinking what they really want when COVID-19 releases its grip on the city. The original idea was to have an intimate affair with just family and a few close friends. “Now I really want to party with a lot of people,” she says, laughing. “Now I need everyone there that I haven’t been able to see, and I’m surrounded by all of my friends and we’re just being crazy.” ___ Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press
TORONTO — CBS All Access will be renamed Paramount Plus on Thursday, which brings heaps of new streaming programming to its U.S. subscribers, but not Canadian customers. A representative for ViacomCBS says while American audiences will have access to a library of Paramount films on the platform, as well as TV series from Nickelodeon, MTV, BET, Showtime and Comedy Central, none of those options will be available north of the border. Instead, the Canadian rebrand to Paramount Plus is little more than a logo change, at least for now. Michelle Alban, vice president of communications for the Canadian market at ViacomCBS, says programming announcements are expected at an undetermined future date. It's another twist in the increasingly complex world of streaming rights for Canadian viewers. Last week, ViacomCBS executives pulled out all the stops for the revamp and rename of the U.S. streaming platform. More than 50 new productions were announced for the streaming service in the coming years. They include original series based on popular Paramount films, among them "Fatal Attraction," "Flashdance" and "The Italian Job." But whether those shows wind up on Paramount Plus in Canada is still unclear. Several years ago, leadership at ViacomCBS began selling off rights to its marquee CBS All Access original series, including "Star Trek: Discovery" and "Star Trek: Picard." Those shows went to Canadian broadcaster Bell Media who first aired them on traditional TV channels before posting them on Crave, its own streaming platform. That left CBS All Access with the leftovers of its own service in Canada, a handful of less memorable shows such as a remake of "The Twilight Zone" and "Why Women Kill." With its new life under the Paramount Plus brand, the streaming platform's future is still to be charted in Canada. For now, Paramount Plus will be absent of Hollywood movies and largely house older TV series, such as "Beverly Hills 90210," "Taxi," "The Brady Bunch" and "I Love Lucy." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press
Publicly shaming those who have COVID-19 could lead to fewer people getting tested for the virus, according to a Dalhousie University professor who has been studying the issue for three months. In December, Robert Huish, an associate professor in Dalhousie's department of international development, started gathering the experiences of people in the Maritimes who were diagnosed with COVID-19 and experienced shaming or stigma. "For those who have experienced it, it's pretty bad. It's enough to really impact the livelihoods of people who feel that they have been essentially excluded from communities that they had formerly been very active and a part of," Huish told Laura Chapin on CBC's Island Morning. "We heard a lot of health workers saying that there was sort of quiet aggression even when they would take their kids to playgrounds," he said. He said they have also heard shaming experiences from people such as truck drivers and other essential workers who have to leave the region periodically for employment reasons. It's enough to really impact the livelihoods of people who feel that they have been essentially excluded from communities that they had formerly been very active and a part of. - Robert Huish As well as affecting the mental health of the people being shamed, Huish said another consequence could be that people who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms won't want to come forward and be tested for fear the same could happen to them. That could be a factor contributing to the recent COVID-19 outbreaks in P.E.I. and Nova Scotia, he said, especially since contact tracers in P.E.I. are having difficulty finding the source for some recent cases. "That's a big fear ... If people aren't being upfront or honest with contact tracers … that's another consequence of stigma," he said. Because the Maritimes has had so few cases overall since the pandemic began, when cases increase, the reaction is stronger, said Huish. "If there is an uptick, there's an immediate public reaction to say, 'Who's responsible, who did this? Now why do we have to lock down again?' And that thinking there just isn't helpful." No positive outcome to shaming Huish said there is no positive outcome to this type of stigma, and that despite what some believe, it won't help people follow the rules. "If an individual has made a mistake, you know, rather than trying to … get the pitchforks and torches up and going and try to find blame, try to find answers about what could be done for the next step to make that stronger, to make these policies more adaptable, to make sure that people have the ability to overcome the next challenge," said Huish. Huish's team is no longer doing interviews with people, but they would still like to hear stories, which you can submit at the website below. More from CBC P.E.I.