This is love right here! Check it out as an elderly couple at the supermarket dance to a classic song. So beautiful!
This is love right here! Check it out as an elderly couple at the supermarket dance to a classic song. So beautiful!
(NASA/JPL-Caltech - image credit) When the Perseverance rover successfully landed on Mars last month, it arrived with a B.C.-made tool in its figurative tool belt. The six-wheeled, plutonium-powered U.S. rover landed on the red planet on Feb. 18, with a mandate to drill down and collect tiny geological specimens that will be returned to NASA in about 2031. That drilling will be done using a drill bit tip designed and manufactured by a company based in Langford, B.C. "It has great wear and fraction resistance so it is perfect for a Mars application," said Ron Sivorat, business director for Kennametal Inc., during an interview on CBC's All Points West. The drill bit tip is made from K92-grade tungsten carbide blanks, which Sivorat said are one of the toughest grades used for drilling here on earth and he is confident it will be good enough for Mars. According to Sivorat, the company has had a relationship with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 2014, when the space agency first began ordering and testing Kennametal Inc. drill bit tips. In 2018, the company learned NASA wanted to work with it to build a bit for Perseverance. Sivorat said staff built the drill bit to NASA's specifications and then sent it to the agency who finessed it somewhat for its Mars mission. When Perseverance landed safely on the fourth planet from the sun, it was an exciting moment for Kennametal Inc. employees, many of whom watched the landing online and are continuing to check on Perservance's daily progress updates. "We know that we are going to be part of, in one way or another, an historical event that will be remembered for many years to come," said Sivorat. Sivorat said he expects the drill bit built in B.C. to start penetrating the surface of Mars in the next couple of weeks. And B.C. is not the only Canadian province with a connection to Perseverance. Canadian Photonic Labs, based in Minnedosa, Man., manufactured a high-speed and highly-durable camera that played an instrumental role in landing the rover. The Manitoba company's relationship with NASA dates back roughly 15 years, he said — but much of the work that's happened in that time has been cloaked in secrecy.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials began expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 22, opening community clinics for people aged 80 years and older. Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, has said the province's plan is to open another 10 clinics in March for 48,000 people who will be mailed a letter informing them how to book an appointment. Strang said the vaccination program will then expand to the next age group in descending order until everyone in the province is offered the chance to be immunized. The age groups will proceed in five-year blocks. Future community clinics are to be held March 8 in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro; March 15 in Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth; and March 22 in Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth. The province began its vaccination campaign with residents of long-term care homes, those who work directly with patients, those who are 80 and older, and those who are at risk for other reasons including First Nations and African Nova Scotian communities. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island The province says the first phase of its vaccination drive, currently slated to last until the end of March, targets residents and staff of long-term and community care, as well as health-care workers with direct patient contact at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure. Those 80 and older, adults in Indigenous communities, and truck drivers and other rotational workers are also included. The next phase, which is scheduled to begin in April, will target those above 70 and essential workers. The province intends to make the vaccine available to everyone in late summer and fall. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors on Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. The province says the vaccination of children and pregnant women will be determined based on future studies of vaccine safety and efficacy in those populations. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry also says first responders and essential workers may be eligible to get vaccinated starting in April as the province also decides on a strategy for the newly authorized AstraZeneca vaccine. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
Another type of COVID-19 vaccine was authorized by Health Canada on Friday. The new vaccines are manufactured by AstraZeneca, and developed in partnership with Oxford University. Canada also approved the Serum Institute of India’s version of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Afterwards, Anita Anand, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement announced that Canada has secured two million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine through an agreement with Verity Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc./Serum Institute of India. AstraZeneca has licensed the manufacture of its ChAdOx1 vaccine to the Serum Institute. The first 500,000 doses will be delivered to Canada in the coming weeks. The remaining 1.5 million doses are expected to arrive by mid-May. “The Government of Canada continues to do everything possible to protect Canadians from COVID-19. This includes securing a highly diverse and extensive portfolio of vaccines and taking all necessary measures to ready the country to receive them,” Anand said in a release. “We remain fully on track to ensure that there will be a sufficient supply so that every eligible Canadian who wants a vaccine will have access to one by the end of September. I am grateful for the collaboration of our partners in India to finalize this agreement, and I look forward to continuing to work closely together in the weeks ahead.” The two million doses secured through this agreement are in addition to the 20 million doses already secured through an earlier agreement with AstraZeneca. Health Canada’s authorization of the AstraZeneca vaccine allows the Government of Canada to advance its work with AstraZeneca to finalize delivery schedules for the 20 million doses. The application for authorization from AstraZeneca was received on Oct. 1, 2020 and from from Verity Pharmaceuticals Inc./Serum Institute of India (in partnership with AstraZeneca Canada Inc.) on January 23, 2021. After thorough, independent reviews of the evidence, the Department has determined that these vaccines meet Canada’s stringent safety, efficacy and quality requirements. These are the first viral vector-based vaccines authorized in Canada. These are also two-dose regiments and can be kept refrigerated for at least six months. Health Canada’s authorization of the Verity Pharmaceuticals Inc./Serum Institute of India product relies on the assessment of its comparability to the AstraZeneca-produced version of the vaccine.. These vaccines were authorized with terms and conditions under Health Canada’s Interim Order on the importation of drugs for COVID-19 The process allowed Health Canada to assess information submitted by the manufacturer as it became available during the product development process, while maintaining Canadian standards. Health Canada has placed terms and conditions on the authorizations requiring the manufacturers to continue providing information to Health Canada on the safety, efficacy and quality of the vaccines to ensure their benefits continue to be demonstrated through market use. Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada will closely monitor the safety. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
Alma is a museum curator in Berlin. Tom, a robot who speaks German with a slight English accent. This is the premise of Maria Schrader's romantic comedy 'I'm Your Man', which opened this year's online Berlin Film Festival on Monday.
Mass vaccinations will be the key to controlling a potential third wave in Chatham-Kent, says the region’s top doctor. Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby said the highly transmissible variants are keeping public health officials on their toes. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other health officials have warned a third wave could be the worst yet, but Dr. David Colby remains optimistic. “I really think that widespread vaccination will have a significant impact to blunt the effect of the third wave,” said Colby. “The worrying factor are these variants, and that’s really what is fueling the speculation about a third wave.” Colby said there are three variants of concern. “The common variant, the B.1.1.7 variant, remains susceptible to the immune response triggered by the vaccines that we have,” said Colby. “We need to push ahead with our vaccination program and get as many people vaccinated as we possibly can.” The interval between the first and second doses is 21 days for the Pfizer vaccine and 28 days for the Moderna vaccine. However, Colby said it could be up to 45 days as there isn’t an exact answer for how long a person can go between receiving the first and second dose. “There isn’t an exact answer, we have an agreed-upon regimen for these COVID vaccines, which is up to 45 days, but the Ontario government does not want to go out that far with the elderly population,” said Colby. He added that most of the protection happens with the first dose, while the second dose is to consolidate protection and ensure that it lasts for a longer time. “All I can say is that there’s a great deal of protection that’s afforded for quite a while with even one dose of any of the vaccines,” said Colby. On Feb. 23, the John D. Bradley Convention Centre opened its vaccination clinic. There were 700 appointments for health-care workers and essential caregivers on the first two days. Colby said the clinic is running smoothly. “It’s such an important step for Chatham-Kent,” said Colby. “The Bradley Centre clinic is really doing very, very well, and they hit the ground running.” While he could not go into detail regarding more vaccine shipments, Colby said we’re heading in the right direction. “All indicators that we have right now point to the fact that vaccine supplies will be stable or increasing over the next while,” said Colby. Meanwhile, Chatham-Kent Health Alliance CEO Lori Marshall is warning the public about recent robocalls claiming to be for booking vaccinations. These calls can be dangerous as they are really aimed at collecting people’s personal information. She said these calls are not official and should be ignored. Marshall said a live person will make all vaccination booking calls. “People will be contacted by a live person, and no one should be giving out their personal information like social insurance numbers and those kinds of things on the phone,” said Marshall. CK Public Health said Chatham-Kent Police are aware of the issue, and there is no need to report these calls to them at this time. Colby said people who can’t travel to Chatham would have an opportunity to get vaccinated at pop-up clinics across the municipality when they are set up. Paramedics will be vaccinating individuals who are housebound when they’re identified through their doctors. The homeless population falls under Phase 2. Additionally, Colby said there are mechanisms in place to get to those who are missed. Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News
EDMONTON — An Edmonton chiropractor has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting six female patients between 1981 and 1990. Ronald Harry Latch, who is 67, was facing multiple counts of sexual assault, sexual interference and gross indecency against eight girls and women. He was charged in March 2019 after one of his victims reported to police that she had been sexually assaulted as a child in the 1980s when she attended his clinic for appointments. Seven other women came forward to police and reported they had also been sexually assaulted. Latch pleaded guilty today to six counts in the Court of Queen's Bench. Latch admitted in an agreed statement of facts to massaging some of the patients' breasts and using a vibrating tool between others' legs. The case is to return to court for a pre-sentence report on June 2. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021 The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The Trudeau government is pressing ahead with efforts to counter economic-based threats to national security, such as theft of valuable intellectual property and damage to critical energy and information networks. In its newly published plan for the coming year, Public Safety Canada says it will lead the governmentwide development of a comprehensive framework to deal with the broad range of risks to Canada's economic well-being. The move comes as security agencies warn Canadians of the rising danger of hostile nations pilfering trade secrets and cybercriminals demanding ransom for sensitive files. The government says in a few short years, the threat landscape — once dominated by the scourge of international terrorism — has evolved dramatically as potential adversaries develop new and aggressive tactics made possible by the rapid spread of technology. Canada has already taken steps during the economic uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic to more strictly scrutinize foreign investments. National security expert Wesley Wark says the federal plan will require improved economic intelligence-gathering and related threat assessments, which currently have no central focus within the Canadian security-and-intelligence community. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — When earnings season rolls around, Duncan Fulton spends days preparing for calls with media, analysts and investors, but hardly ever gets a chance to deliver his messages directly to the people who frequent his Tim Hortons coffee shops or Popeyes drive-thrus. That changed in February when the chief operating officer of Restaurant Brands International joined chief executive Jose Cil on Clubhouse — an emerging audio platform that gives anyone with an iPhone and an app the ability to host and access discussions on every topic imaginable. "It's like reimagined talk radio with calls, but we are the producer," said Fulton, who hosted an "open kitchen" talk the day after RBI released its latest quarterly earnings. "Our guests don't care about our adjusted EBITDA. They care about real stuff, about our food, our brands, and so we said, 'Why don't we use Clubhouse?'" Fulton and Cil are the latest Canadian executives to turn to the app started by San Francisco serial entrepreneurs Paul Davidson and Rohan Seth last spring as a new way to host public conversations. As COVID-19 spread throughout the globe and lockdowns kept millions of people at home, executives from top venture capital and tech firms began to jockey for access to the invite-only audio platform. By the start of 2021, hundreds of business leaders and other Canadians had joined Clubhouse, which has offered increasing numbers of invites since late last year. Members have been able to hear SpaceX CEO Elon Musk discuss whether he believes in aliens, Shopify executives Tobi Lutke and Harley Finkelstein wax poetic about entrepreneurship and Wattpad founder Allen Lau talk about his recent decision to sell the company. "It's really democratizing corporate Canada and corporate America in a way," says Fulton, "because normally consumers wouldn't get this access to senior business leaders." He pitched a Clubhouse talk to Cil after being introduced to the platform by Ottawa restaurateur Stephen Beckta, who got his invite from Finkelstein. After dipping into music conversations, Fulton found he liked the exploratory nature of the platform and that moderators have control over who can speak and when. "If you're a business leader that wants the safety of not taking questions, you can still go on there, share your views, and there's lots of people that are happy to not participate, not ask questions and just listen," he said. Richard Lachman, a digital media professor at Ryerson University, agreed the platform can be helpful for executives wanting to manage their image, but said users will quickly drop out of conversations if a speaker is boring them or recognize when someone is too scripted. Though executives go through media training, he said a few "embarrassments" will likely arise on the app if people don't know how to respond to "aggressive" questions or can't kick someone out of a discussion fast enough. While the app doesn't overtly market itself as private, its invite-only nature has built a casual atmosphere, even as its userbase grows. Clubhouse did not respond to a request for comment, but has a "rule" banning transcribing, recording or sharing personal information heard on the app. The company recently removed a bot it found sneaking into discussions to restream them to people without the app. Still, a quick search on social media reveals dozens of recordings and quotes from the app available online. Prominent venture capitalists faced criticism last year when audio leaked of them ridiculing New York Times journalist Taylor Lorenz and complaining that so-called cancel culture — sometimes described as withdrawing support for someone caught misbehaving or using outmoded language and expressions — had gone too far. There have also been privacy complaints from users who opted not to give the app access to their contact lists, but say it is detecting their sign-ups and alerting friends whose numbers they have stored. Once on the app, some users reported they stumbled upon misogyny and racism in discussions, despite rules against abuse and bullying and a feature to report problematic users. "Some of the challenges (Clubhouse) is facing is that this content is very unmoderated and we are not in 2003 in (Facebook founder) Mark Zuckerberg's dorm room, pretending that anything we make we know where it'll go and we'll just let the market figure it out," said Lachman. "We know what might happen. Online spaces can be incredibly toxic, they can be harsh and we know that things can be taken out context very quickly and easily duplicated on other platforms." Despite the issues, Deepak Anand, chief executive of medical cannabis company Materia Ventures, joined the app. He hosts several pot discussions on it every week, but is careful in his approach. He doesn't share anything on Clubhouse he wouldn't be comfortable with if it were leaked, but has seen several instances of people not realizing how public the app is. "People generally like to share more than they normally would on the platform because it's easy to get carried away and it almost seems like you're having a conversation with friends," he said. Among the positives, Anand says Clubhouse has helped him discover new ways to network while stuck at home during the pandemic and increased his social media followers. He's unsure the app will continue to be his go-to because a competitor, Twitter Spaces, has caught his eye. Tech Crunch reported that users who mined Twitter's coding have found Spaces, which is still in pilot mode, experimenting with ways to embed tweets into discussions, offer transcription for users with disabilities and enhance blocking capabilities. Facebook is said to be developing a similar platform, but hasn't formally released any details. The number of emerging audio apps and the flood of new Clubhouse users will make it even tougher for executives to stand out, Lachman predicted. "This might have value right now, but in a year or two from now, that might get lost." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:QSR, TSX:SHOP) Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has eased slightly more restrictions tied to COVID-19. Libraries can now open at 15 per cent capacity and gyms can now host indoors low-impact group activities, like Pilates and tai chi. Kenney had been expected to ease rules in other areas, such as retail capacity and hotels, but he says the COVID numbers have hit a plateau and they need more time to assess just to be safe.
CALGARY — Spruce Meadows is cancelling its summer show jumping series for a second straight year because of the pandemic. The equestrian and soccer facility in Calgary draws dozens of the world's top riders to its annual summer and fall tournaments, but those competitions were wiped out in 2020. The summer series is four tournaments over five weeks starting in June, and would have been important preparation for international riders for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo starting in July. Spruce Meadows is working with Equestrian Canada and the international governing body of equestrian, FEI, to rework September's series to include the Nations Cup competition traditionally held in the summer series. Spruce Meadows had planned to award a total of $6 million in prize money in 2020. The facility founded by Ron and Margaret Southern opened in 1975 and continues to be run by the family. "Current circumstances, brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and its related impacts and restrictions, will prevent the Spruce Meadows Summer Series from being organized and run on its historic June-July dates," Spruce Meadows said Monday in a statement. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
Greece’s government Monday said it won't intervene to grant a prison-transfer demand by a convicted killer in a far-left extremist group who has been on hunger strike for more than seven weeks, triggering public protests as well as arson attacks. Doctors treating Dimitris Koufodinas in intensive care at a hospital in central Greece said the 63-year-old suffered a “serious deterioration” at the weekend, several days after also refusing water. Koufodinas was the chief hit man in the now-defunct November 17 group and is serving 11 life sentences for the murders of prominent Greek businessmen, diplomats and military officials from the embassies of Turkey, Britain, and the United States, and others. His victims include conservative lawmaker Pavlos Bakoyannis, brother-in-law of the current Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Koufodinas’ lawyers argue that his transfer last year from a low-security prison in Athens to a high-security facility in central Greece occurred in violation of incarceration rules. They are seeking his transfer back to the prison where he had served most of his sentence so far. The centre-right government denies it violated transfer regulations. “Mr. Koufodinas is demanding privileged treatment outside legal norms,” government spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni told reporters in an online briefing. “The state does not negotiate with convicts and will not relinquish its sovereign right to how to detain them. (He) has the ability to end the hunger strike and exercise the legal options at his disposal.” About 2,500 people held a peaceful protest in support of Koufodinas through central Athens late Monday. About as many demonstrators held a similar peaceful march through the northern port city of Thessaloniki. The leftwing Initiative for Prisoners' Rights group accused the government of engaging in “a ritual execution of a prisoner ... simply for reasons of family revenge and to impose the dogma or law and order.” The rights group warned that Koufodinas' life is “hanging from a thread” because of his hunger strike and refusal to take liquids. Koufodinas has staged another three hunger strikes in recent years, which he concluded after getting what he was seeking — including, in 2015, a demand not to be sent to the prison he is now asking to be transferred to. November 17, which mixed Marxism with nationalism, killed 23 people between 1975 and 2000. It was eradicated following a string of arrests in 2002 and subsequent convictions. The Associated Press
(David Bajer/CBC - image credit) Another year of business tax relief is on the way in Calgary after city council unanimously supported a plan to spend $43 million to cap increases and support those impacted by the pandemic. The plan would spend $13 million to keep non-residential property taxes to a limit of 10 per cent higher than last year in order to help soften the ongoing issue of businesses outside the core picking up the financial slack for Calgary's hollowed out downtown. The remaining $30 million would be used for a yet-to-be-defined relief program for local businesses. The details of that targeted support are expected to be unveiled at council on March 22. Debate in council focused on the need to ensure small businesses that are directly impacted by the pandemic receive the funds they need and money does not flow to larger corporations with a more robust balance sheet. Band-Aids and focused relief Coun. Jeff Davison, who brought the motion to council, said using the phased tax program, which offsets spiking tax rates, benefits too many businesses that have profited. "One of the things we need to do is figure out a better way that we can support local," he said. Coun. Druh Farrell, who recently announced she would not seek re-election, said she was supporting the plan but stressed it was yet another Band-Aid solution to a persistent civic issue. "We need to focus on the problem, not the symptom of the problem, which is the tax shift," she said. "We need to focus on downtown recovery. So again, I urge all members of council to get involved in the downtown strategy. It's all-encompassing, and it will require at least a decade, perhaps more, of concerted effort by by the City of Calgary." The city has long relied on a downtown stuffed with head offices and the resulting staff to help cover a big portion of the money flowing into city accounts, a model that collapsed alongside the price of oil. Property taxes function in such a way that tax money that has disappeared from the downtown towers must be covered by businesses outside the core, leading to the potential for massive increases. The vacancy rate downtown is hovering around 30 per cent and values have plummeted. The province responds Council over the past few years has alleviated that pressure by consistently approving one-time allocations of reserve money in order to limit increases despite concerns it is simply pushing the issue down the road. Since 2017, the city has spent over $200 million on tax relief for businesses. Last fall, city council opted to give non-residential properties a small tax cut overall. However, some business properties where land values went up will still face double-digit tax hikes in 2021. On Monday, the minister of jobs, economy and innovation, Doug Schweitzer, penned an op-ed in the Calgary Herald saying the province will form a working group to look at helping Calgary's downtown. He promised town halls on the issue through the coming months. That was met with skepticism from Calgary's mayor later in the day. "Well, minister, with all due respect, welcome to the party. We're happy to have you and we need your help. We don't need town halls for the next four to five months, we've been working on this for years," Naheed Nenshi said. "Business owners have spoken — business owners who are here, business owners who want to be here. We will be presenting a downtown strategy to council in the next few weeks based on all of that input, and we're really happy to have the province on board, but don't reinvent the wheel." Meanwhile, Calgary Chamber of Commerce CEO Murray Sigler said in an emailed statement that the organization welcomes the relief for businesses but hopes to see other changes made to alleviate property tax increases for businesses in the coming years. "The city's current financial position demands thoughtful and creative solutions to reduce costs and generate revenue without placing the tax burden on businesses and the citizens they employ and serve. Today's measures point us in the right direction. But many businesses in Calgary will still see property tax increases next year due to structural problems within the tax system, and the shift of the tax burden from the highrises in our downtown to businesses outside of the core," read Sigler's statement in part. "We must ensure fairness and sustainability in our property tax system. We urge city council to shift the non-residential to residential tax ratio, reduce the cost and increase the effectiveness of local government, make better use of non-revenue generating city-owned land, and contribute to reimagining the municipal-provincial relationship."
(Evelyne Asselin/CBC - image credit) The Conference Board of Canada says consumer data suggests the impact of the pandemic as well as ongoing energy industry concerns are weighing on consumer attitudes in Alberta. According to its monthly Index of consumer confidence, Alberta's score in February dropped 6.3 points to 58.3 — falling back below the pre-pandemic level after recovering somewhat in previous months. The board found that Alberta was one of only two regions last month — along with Saskatchewan/Manitoba — that showed rising pessimism about future employment. While Alberta's index was up in January, the board says factors like the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline project are weighing heavily on Albertans' confidence about the future. Nearly half of the Alberta survey respondents said they believe there will be fewer jobs six months from now. The board's chief economist, Pedro Antunes, says consumer confidence about finances also weakened, with some Albertans holding back on major purchases last month. "I think consumer confidence is still a little bit more optimistic in Alberta right now than it was, let's say, in the first five or six months after the worst of the pandemic," he said. At the national level, the index inched up less than half a point to 91.1, showing a lingering sense of unease, the board said. The index remains 25 per cent below pre-pandemic levels. "Consumer sentiment regarding major purchases deteriorated in all regions of Canada after three consecutive monthly increases. Only 19.7 per cent of survey respondents in February said now is a good time to make a major purchase," the board said in a release. Antunes says there's reason to think the COVID-19 vaccine rollout will help drive the economy later this year. The index, which uses a baseline of 100, is based on a survey of Canadian households about their current and expected financial positions; how they view the short-term employment outlook in their region; and their assessment of whether now is a good or bad time to make a major purchase such as a house or vehicle. When the index is above 100, it indicates optimism; below 100, it indicates a negative outlook.
(Sam Nar/CBC - image credit) The City of Toronto issued an extreme cold weather alert on Monday as the city braces for bitter temperatures over the next 24 hours. The city's medical officer of health issued the alert in a news release following Environment Canada's forecast. The federal agency is calling for a high of 1 C, but says it will feel like -17 C with the wind chill. Winds gusting up to 80 km/h are expected in the city starting in the afternoon into early evening, making it feel close to -20 C. "The strong winds may throw loose objects, cause tree branches to break and damage property. Power outages are also possible," says Environment Canada. In a tweet, Alectra Utilities warned of the high winds, saying their crews are on standby to respond to possible outages and safety concerns. They advised residents to watch out for broken tree limbs or downed lines and ensure mobile phones and and laptops are charged in the event of a power outage. The high winds and low temperatures will continue into Tuesday, but the day will gradually warm up, according to Environment Canada. During the extreme cold weather warning, local services that focus on getting and keeping vulnerable residents inside are activated. Warming centres will be in operation Monday night by 7 p.m. at four locations and will remain open throughout the alert. The city is asking residents to contact 311 if they see a person experiencing homelessness in need of assistance. Extreme cold weather alerts are issued when the temperature in the daily forecast suggests temperatures will reach approximately -15 C or colder, or when the wind chill is forecast to reach -20 or colder.
EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers have claimed goaltender Alex Stalock off waivers from the Minnesota Wild.The 33-year-old Stalock did not appear in a game for Minnesota this season.The native of St. Paul, Minn., has a record of 61-48-18 with nine shutouts, a 2.61 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage over 152 games with San Jose and Minnesota.Stalock will add depth to an Oilers goaltending group that includes Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen.Smith has been fantastic since returning to action after missing the first month of the 2020-21 season with an undisclosed injury, posting a 6-1-0 record with a 2.04 GAA and .934 save percentage.Koskinen has struggled with a 7-8-0 record, 3.26 GAA and .901 save percentage.The Oilers were scheduled to play their second of three games against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit) A former hotel on Vancouver's east side has been purchased to create about 65 units to accommodate homeless people. The City of Vancouver, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. and the federal government say the former Days Inn on Kingsway will be ready to house people in November. Ahmed Hussen, the minister of families, children and social development, has also announced a separate $51.5 million plan to create 135 new affordable homes. Hussen says in a news release that the program will quickly provide homes for vulnerable people to keep them safe.
(Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC - image credit) York Regional Police have identified a man who was found dead on a road in Vaughan, Ont. last week and say he died as a result of gunshot injuries. On Feb. 25, at approximately 8 a.m., officers received a call regarding a body located at the end of a dead end street on Teston Road at Rodinea Road, just east of Keele Street. When officers arrived, they located a man who was pronounced dead at the scene. The death was deemed suspicious and York police's homicide unit was called in to investigate. On Monday, the man was identified as 57-year-old Gus Kouboules of Richmond Hill. A post-mortem revealed his cause of death was as a result of gunshot injuries. Police didn't release any more information about the circumstances leading up to his death. Investigators are appealing to anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in the area or anyone with home surveillance video to contact them.
B.C. is moving into the second phase of its immunization plan, vaccinating seniors in the community aged 80 and up over the course of this month. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also said the second dose of the three approved vaccines—Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca—will be delayed to four months or 16 weeks, to provide more protection to more people sooner. Henry said the initial dose provides “a very high level of real-world protection.” In Phase 2, more than 400,000 people in B.C. will receive their first vaccine dose from March to early April, including: • seniors and high-risk people residing in independent living and seniors' supportive housing (including staff); • home-care support clients and staff; • Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, Inuit) peoples born in or before 1956 (65 years and older); and • seniors born in or before 1941 (80 years and older). Today, first-dose immunizations begin for those living and working in independent living centres and seniors' supportive housing, as well as home-care support clients and staff. Health authorities will directly contact those in this priority group to book appointments—there is no need to call. Beginning Monday (March 8), seniors aged 80+ and Indigenous peoples aged 65+ who are not living in independent living or seniors' supportive housing can make one call to book their appointment through their local health authority call centre according to a staggered schedule. This is to avoid long waits and system overload. Immunization clinic locations will be confirmed at time of booking, with vaccinations starting as early as March 15: • March 8: Seniors born in or before 1931 (90 years+) and Indigenous people born in or before 1956 (65 years+) may call to book their vaccine appointment; • March 15: Seniors born in or before 1936 (85 years+) may call to book their vaccine appointment; and • March 22: Seniors born in or before 1941 (80 years+) may call to book their vaccine appointment. Health authority contact information, complete call-in schedules, hours of operations and step-by-step instructions on how to call to book an appointment for yourself, for a family member, for a friend or neighbour will be available on March 8, here: www.gov.bc.ca/bcseniorsfirst "We can now see the light at the end of what has been a difficult and challenging time for us all. To get us through, we need to continue to work together and support each other," said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer. "We are working hard each and every day to make sure that everyone who wants a vaccine gets one, and my new provincial health officer order significantly expands the range of health professions and occupations who can support our immunization clinics, including dentists, midwives, pharmacy technicians, paramedics, firefighters and retired nurses." For health professionals who want to sign up to support B.C.'s immunization efforts as immunizers, visit: https://forms.hlth.gov.bc.ca/registry-covid-19 Immunizing other priority groups identified in Phase 2, many of whom have already received their first dose, is also underway, including: • Indigenous communities, Indigenous Elders, hospital staff, community general practitioners and medical specialists not immunized in Phase 1; • vulnerable populations living and working in select congregate settings; and • staff in community home support and nursing services for seniors. In mid-April, Phase 3 will begin mass vaccination of people aged 79 to 60 years, and people aged 16+ who are extremely clinically vulnerable, at community immunization clinics throughout B.C. Mobile clinics will be available in some rural communities and for people who are homebound due to mobility issues. In Phase 3, British Columbians will register and book their appointments to receive their first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine through an online registration tool. People born between 1942 and 1946 (ages 79-75), and Indigenous peoples born between the years of 1956 and 1960 (ages 64-60), will be able to register for an appointment online or by phone by March 31. As of last week, 252,373 people in B.C. have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, including 73,808 who have received their second dose. “Although there is light at the end of the tunnel, we are far from out of this,” said Premier John Horgan. “We have a long way to go.” Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
A U.S. national security commission on Monday recommended Congress tighten up "choke points" on chipmaking technology to prevent China from overtaking the United States in semiconductors in the coming years. The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI), led by former Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, recommended clamping down on China's ability to procure the manufacturing equipment needed to make advanced computing chips. "China is making an aggressive push to promote authoritarianism around the world," an NSCAI official told Reuters.
GENEVA — A senior World Health Organization official said Monday it was “premature” and “unrealistic” to think the pandemic might be stopped by the end of the year, but that the recent arrival of effective vaccines could at least help dramatically reduce hospitalizations and death. The world’s singular focus right now should be to keep transmission of COVID-19 as low as possible, said Dr. Michael Ryan, director of WHO's emergencies program. “If we’re smart, we can finish with the hospitalizations and the deaths and the tragedy associated with this pandemic” by the end of the year, he said at media briefing. Ryan said WHO was reassured by emerging data that many of the licensed vaccines appear to be helping curb the virus' explosive spread. “If the vaccines begin to impact not only on death and not only on hospitalization, but have a significant impact on transmission dynamics and transmission risk, then I believe we will accelerate toward controlling this pandemic.” But Ryan warned against complacency, saying that nothing was guaranteed in an evolving epidemic. “Right now the virus is very much in control," he said. WHO's director-general, meanwhile, said it was “regrettable” that younger and healthier adults in some rich countries are being vaccinated against the coronavirus before at-risk health workers in developing countries. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said immunizations provided by the U.N.-backed effort COVAX began this week in Ghana and the Ivory Coast, but lamented that this was happening only three months after countries such as Britain, the U.S. and Canada began vaccinating their own populations. “Countries are not in a race with each other,” he said. “This is a common race against the virus. We are not asking countries to put their own people at risk. We are asking all countries to be part of a global effort to suppress the virus everywhere.” But WHO stopped short of criticizing countries who are moving to vaccinate younger and healthier populations instead of donating their doses to countries that haven't yet been able to protect their most vulnerable people. “We can't tell individual countries what to do,” said Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior WHO adviser. Tedros also noted that for the first time in seven weeks, the number of COVID-19 cases increased last week, after six consecutive weeks of declining numbers. He described the increase as “disappointing,” but said it wasn't surprising. Tedros said WHO was working to better understand why cases increased, but that part of that spike appeared to be due to the “relaxing of public health measures.” ___ AP Medical Writer Maria Cheng reported from London. ___ Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Maria Cheng And Jamey Keaten, The Associated Press