A Republican election official in Michigan who initially refused to certify presidential election results says she doesn't know a woman charged after allegedly sending her threatening messages. And she says she still fears for her safety (Dec. 24)
A Republican election official in Michigan who initially refused to certify presidential election results says she doesn't know a woman charged after allegedly sending her threatening messages. And she says she still fears for her safety (Dec. 24)
While Ontario and Quebec are the epicentres of COVID-19 outbreaks in Canada, people in First Nations are being hit the hardest in Western Canada, where they make up half the number of hospitalizations in some provinces. The rising curve is alarming federal officials, who urged the provinces during a press conference in Ottawa on Wednesday to continue prioritizing Indigenous populations as they roll out vaccines. "So what we're saying to Canadians, to Indigenous Peoples, is now is not the time to let down your guard," Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said. "This is not the time to ease public health restrictions." As of Jan. 19, Indigenous Services Canada was reporting 5,571 active cases on reserves — most of them in Prairie provinces: British Columbia: 580 Alberta: 1,312 Saskatchewan: 1,196 Manitoba: 2,241 Ontario: 93 Quebec: 144 Atlantic: 5 Indigenous Services Canada has reported 13,873 confirmed COVID-19 cases on reserves since last March. More than 90 per cent are in Western Canada: British Columbia: 1,348 Alberta: 4,459 Saskatchewan: 3,525 Manitoba: 3,643 Ontario: 428 Quebec: 462 Atlantic: 8 First Nation leaders and health experts say there are several reasons why infections are increasing in First Nations in Western Canada, including overcrowding, gatherings, people letting their guard down, relaxed restrictions and people driving in and out of communities with road access for goods and work. Lack of housing With COVID-19 caseloads rising all across Canada, the pandemic is emerging in places where it wasn't before, said Dr. Anna Banerji, an infectious disease specialist at Temerty Faculty of Medicine and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. "It's quite concerning that COVID is starting to break into these communities," Banerji said. "They've held the forts for so long." Banerji researched respiratory infections in Inuit communities for over two decades. She said the main risk factors facing First Nations are poor access to health care services, underlying ailments, food insecurity, poverty and overcrowding. Banerji said she fears that when people get sick in First Nations, they can't find places to self-isolate. Onekanew (Chief) Christian Sinclair of Opaskwayak Cree Nation, 628 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, said his community needs 600 more houses. "When you have people living under one roof, anywhere from six to as high as 14 members living under one roof on the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, you can see how quickly that spread can happen," Sinclair said. "We're second-class citizens living in Third World conditions in a first world country." Opaskwayak Cree Nation has had success in preventing and controlling outbreaks by enforcing curfews and monitoring who enters and leaves the community with border patrols paid for by Indigenous Services Canada. The highest funding requests the department has seen for the Indigenous Community Support Fund — which was created to help communities fight COVID-19 — have been for perimeter security, said Valerie Gideon, associate deputy minister of Indigenous Services. Close to 350 First Nations across the country have closed their borders to non-essential travel, she added. But even with the added layer of security in some places, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says 50 per cent of all active COVID cases in Manitoba are First Nations members. Call for stricter provincial measures Relaxed provincial measures are also being blamed for the rise in First Nations cases. The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations in Saskatchewan is calling on the province to close bars and liquor establishments. "We believe alcohol in the bars is a contributing factor," said FSIN Vice Chief David Pratt, who recently recovered from COVID-19. "When you're on alcohol, you're more likely to lose your inhibitions, share drinks and not keep those social distance practices in practices and in check." Grand Chief Jerry Daniels of the Southern Chiefs' Organization in Manitoba is urging the provincial and federal governments to enforce tougher rules to limit travel. Daniels said he thinks caseloads are rising because of people going back and forth from First Nations to urban areas. "I think until COVID is completely wiped out, they should be taking the strongest approach possible," Daniels said. Daniels said nearly 80 per cent of the 34 Anishnaabe and Dakota communities he represents are trying to control the spread of COVID-19. Concern for loss of elders Dr. Shannon McDonald, acting chief medical officer at the First Nations Health Authority in British Columbia, said there isn't enough rapid testing available to test everyone who needs to travel to B.C. First Nations, and some tests can't detect infections in their first few days. "It only takes one person to come in and spend time with people in the community," McDonald said. McDonald fears the pandemic could take a particularly heavy toll on First Nations communties. "I always worry about our elders," McDonald said. "Our elders are our knowledge-keepers, our language holders and they are the human libraries, culturally. So communities are very sensitive to that, but individuals who are choosing not to adhere to public health advice are putting those individuals at risk and I really worry about that." Lawrence Latender, a member of Dauphin River First Nation, has felt first-hand the impact of COVID-19 during an outbreak in his community 250 kilometres north of Winnipeg. He recently lost seven neighbours and friends to the virus, including two aunts and an uncle. "I don't know if I had time to really grieve because it's one thing after the other," Latender said. "It's like you're focused on one death and then you're, well ... 'OK now I got to focus on this one. Ok, this one is gone, now I got to focus on this one.'" Letander, his wife and two young sons also tested positive, but have since recovered. Indigenous Services Canada says that, so far, there have been 120 COVID-19 deaths in First Nations. But with 169 Indigenous communities now administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and more doses on the way, there's hope the chain of transmission will break.
From a global perspective, there was nothing unique about the recent raid on the U.S. Capitol. Both Republican and Democratic administrations have backed military coups around the world for decades.
Coal mining is already having an impact in Alberta's Rocky Mountains even as debate intensifies over the industry's presence in one of the province's most beloved landscapes. "They've been very active up there," said Kevin Van Tighem, who lives near one of the areas now heavily leased for coal exploration. The United Conservative government's decision to revoke a policy that had protected the eastern slopes of the Rockies from open-pit coal mining since 1976 has convulsed the province. Petitions opposing the move have gathered more than 100,000 signatures. Popular Alberta entertainment figures have come out against it and area ranchers and First Nations are trying to force a judicial review of the decision. Documents from the Alberta Energy Regulator show that permission has already been granted for hundreds of drill sites and kilometres of roads threading through critical wildlife habitat and land previously untouched by mining. "The day after the coal policy was rescinded we started seeing applications for exploration," said Katie Morrison of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. "Before we've done any real assessments of the impacts, we're seeing these companies have some potential pretty big impacts on that land." Documents filed with the regulator give some sense of what's already been permitted. Cabin Ridge Coal, operating 50 kilometres north of Coleman, Alta., is putting in 197 drill sites on land once protected by the coal policy. It plans 15 new access roads and 19 "reactivated" roads — abandoned for decades and now being refurbished. The exploration plans require nine new stream crossings. Elan Coal, north of Blairmore, Alta., has been permitted for 456 drill sites that include 66 kilometres of new roads and 29 kilometres of reactivated roads. Montem Resources, active south of Coleman, has the OK for 71 drill sites with an unspecified length of "new and existing access." Almost all of the drill sites are on grizzly bear range. Mountain goat and sheep habitat will be affected. Company plans detail how environmental impacts are to be reduced by careful construction and timing work for when it will cause the least disruption. They suggest the amount of land directly disturbed will be small — less than 100 hectares for Cabin Ridge. That's not the whole story, said Van Tighem, a former chief superintendent of Banff National Park. Wildlife steer clear of active roads and drill sites by up to 500 metres, he said. Roads cut into hillsides — no matter how well built — are "erosion traps" and roads that run uphill are "sluiceways" for run-off that would normally feed streams, he said. Mitigation measures aren't all they're cracked up to be, he added. "They're not ever as good as (companies) promise and not as consistently applied as the government would lead us to believe." Morrison points out that at least twice since the coal policy was revoked, companies have asked for exemptions to rules that prevented them from operating during sensitive times for wildlife. "Both exemptions were applied for, granted and work started within a day or two," she said. "That doesn't scream rigour to me as far as decreasing impact." Peter Brodsky, spokesman for Energy Minister Sonya Savage, said the government takes public concern seriously. This week, it paused all lease sales on formerly protected land and cancelled a small number of them, refunding $80,000. "The department will be working with Alberta Environment to determine next steps to best address the concerns that have been raised," he said in an email. "We will not choose between protecting the land for future generations and providing economic opportunities. We need to — and will — do both, in a measured and environmentally responsible way." Area rancher Gordon Cartwright looks up into the hills on his neighbour's land and recalls what a geologist told him last summer about what his neck of the foothills looks like. "He said, with the intensity of the operations and the drilling, it looked more like mining preparation than exploration," Cartwright said. "That activity's pretty damaging. A lot of these soils are highly susceptible to erosion and are hard to revegetate. "You would have thought consultation would have happened before you start opening up the country and creating that kind of disturbance." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. — Follow @row1960 on Twitter Bob Weber, The Canadian Press
Millions of us have been living with severe restrictions and orders to stay socially distanced. But this can lead to 'touch starvation'. Find out more. View on euronews
News that residents in Ottawa's retirement homes will have to wait longer to receive the COVID-19 vaccine is a blow to the hopes of Monic Dubé. "We have to accept it, but it's very disappointing," said Dubé. "I feel like the system is failing us." In late-February 2020, Dubé's parents 88-year-old Yvon Dubé and 87-year-old Madeleine Dubé became the first residents of the newly opened Promenade Seniors' Suites and Retirement Residence in Orléans. Two weeks later the first COVID-19 lockdown was initiated, and since that time Dubé and her parents have been desperately waiting for some good news. "Waiting for this vaccine has been very frustrating, because if they get COVID, that's it. They're both gone," said Dubé. Dube's parents have underlying health conditions so they could be at an increased risk of severe complications should they contract COVID-19. Madeleine has been diagnosed with vasculitis, an autoimmune disease, and in October Yvon was diagnosed with leukemia. His treatments now require he spend blocks of seven consecutive days at the hospital, thereby putting him at potentially higher risk of getting infected, said their daughter. "He keeps asking, 'any news about the vaccine?' If he gets COVID, it'll be too late for him," she said. Remaining doses going to LTC residents During a virtual news conference Wednesday, the city's general manager of emergency and protective services confirmed Ottawa is receiving fewer vaccine doses than planned, and he expects even fewer doses over the next few weeks. Anthony Di Monte also said who is in-line to receive the remaining doses the city currently has in stock. "Our first priority will be those [residents] in long-term care [facilities] who got their first dose," he said. "We want to make sure they get their second dose in the time frame that has been identified." Asked when the city plans to get the vaccine into retirement homes, Di Monte said residents there, and their families, will have to be patient. "I think that's going to be a challenge until we start seeing a significant amount of vaccine arrive," he said. Di Monte added the city will provide a detailed update on the vaccination rollout during a technical briefing scheduled for Monday. Dubé said in the early stages of the pandemic, she was often angry about the situation her parents are living through, but she now feels sadness and sense of helplessness. "We all have to be patient, because getting angry and getting frustrated is not going to help us," said Dubé.
The town of Oyen in southeastern Alberta has been enjoying a rare thing in the province these past few months: an economic boom. The community has been bustling with pipeline workers who arrived by the hundreds last summer to help build the Canadian leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. Doug Dingman, who owns a grocery and liquor store in the community, said his business has been up 20 per cent with the crews in town and he thought they'd be around until next fall. Those workers could soon start hitting the highway out of town as TC Energy announced a suspension in the project on Wednesday, after U.S. President Joe Biden pulled the permit for the proposed pipeline and rejoined the Paris climate accord as expected. "I'm still pretty upset that he [Biden] is going to shut it down," said Dingman, who worries about the ramifications for the oilpatch, the province and the economy. But the situation also has him wondering about other important projects for the province's oil and gas sector, including the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. The TMX project is owned by the federal government and is under construction, but some Albertans continue to worry it will never be completed. "I really don't think that'll happen, either," he said. "I think that B.C. is going to block it all." All eyes on TMX No doubt, the pressure from the oilpatch on the prime minister to complete Trans Mountain will intensify after this week. Like many, Mark Salkeld was not surprised by the Biden decision, but is still left feeling "disappointment and frustration," said the executive with Katch Kan, an Edmonton-based oilfield service company. "We can't be strangled by the U.S. We've got lots [of oil] moving there, no doubt about it, but there's lots more yet to move," he said, suggesting there will be renewed oilpatch interest in any export proposal whether it's a pipeline, rail project, or some other alternative. The Trans Mountain expansion has faced a slew of its own setbacks, yet construction continues on the pipelines that will transport oil from Edmonton to the Vancouver area for export. Besides past legal and regulatory challenges, the construction was recently paused after a series of safety problems. "I don't think just because there's no other country to deal with on that project that there aren't going to be significant challenges," said Connie Van der Byl, director of Mount Royal University's institute for environmental sustainability in Calgary. In fact, the demise of Keystone XL could invigorate opponents of Trans Mountain to try to stop that pipeline project too, she said. "Overall, this is another signal to Alberta and those connected with oil and gas that it's tough times. You have to have empathy for those in the industry," said Van Der Byl, who worked for TC Energy as a business analyst in its natural gas division more than a decade ago. Climate policy, demand uncertain Alberta's oil industry has wanted more export pipeline capacity for years in order to reduce the risk of expensive bottlenecks, such as the ones that hit the sector in 2018. When export pipelines are full, there can be backlogs in the province, which drives down prices and forces more companies to move oil by rail. It's the reason the Alberta government had a curtailment policy recently in place to limit the amount of oil production and maintain higher prices. The existing Trans Mountain pipeline is operating at maximum capacity. For many years, Keystone XL was seen as a necessity by the oilpatch, but assessing the impact of losing it now largely depends on where climate policies, world oil demand and Canadian oil production is headed. For instance, the latest modelling by the Canada Energy Regulator shows a need for Keystone XL, the Trans Mountain expansion, and Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline under its reference scenario, which assumes "a lack of future domestic and global climate policy action." However, under what the regulator calls its evolving scenario, Canada brings in new greenhouse-gas reducing measures to meet its stated climate targets. Canadian oil and gas production declines, and there could be ample export capacity with Enbridge's Line 3 and the Trans Mountain expansion. But that's still assuming those projects can be built. Considering all the hurdles pipelines have faced in the last decade, that's no guarantee. The risk is why the federal government decided to purchase Trans Mountain and why the Alberta government committed billions of dollars to TC Energy last year. Stephanie Kainz is a senior associate with the intelligence team at Enverus, an energy data analytics firm in Calgary. She expressed doubts for months about the future of Keystone XL, but she feels confident about Trans Mountain getting built. "On the heavy crude front, I think that Trans Mountain is crucial — it does provide that additional capacity," she said. The project continues to face determined opposition, including protests and blockades, from groups concerned about increased tanker traffic, oil spills, and climate change. Kainz believes there's broad support for the project, but she said the government and Trans Mountain need to work with stakeholders to assure community members that live along the pipeline system that the line "will be safe, and that they'll be safe." Plan B for KXL For now, the Alberta government and TC Energy will consider their next moves, which could include pursuing legal action to recoup their investment, like the company briefly attempted in 2016, or beginning the liquidation process of pipe and other assets to help offset costs. For TC Energy, there will be dissatisfaction, but it's merely one of many projects the company is pursuing. Considering the firm operates throughout North America with a variety of businesses from oil and natural gas to electricity and nuclear, the company still has many growth opportunities. As for Trans Mountain, the public spotlight has always shone brightly on the multi-billion dollar expansion project. Still, with Keystone XL no longer in the picture, the focus on the federal government's pipeline project will only sharpen — for those for and against.
Ontario's plan to vaccinate the populations of its most remote First Nations communities against COVID-19 faces many challenges, but Indigenous leaders say that earning the trust of the people must be a priority. Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, a political organization that represents 49 of Ontario's 123 First Nations, said that the most obvious hurdle of Operation Remote Immunity is geography, as those remote communities may not have an airstrip and must have their winter roads built in time for the vaccine to be delivered. But he said that even more important than the physical logistics of delivering the vaccine is ensuring that Indigenous people are willing to accept it. "Making sure that communities are aware of the vaccine, that they understand the vaccine and why it's important so they can consent to getting the vaccine is part of the challenge," said Fiddler. All 31 remote First Nations that are participating in Operation Remote Immunity are part of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, so Fiddler and his staff have been working with Ontario's vaccine task force as a liaison between the individual communities and the government. Communication has had to flow both ways before the vaccines start arriving on Feb. 1. "We're creating material for distribution with our health authorities, creating pamphlets and social media, making sure everything is translated into Ojibway, Ojicree and Cree," said Fiddler. "So our elders can really understand the information that's being sent to them. "Once they do understand it they can give it serious consideration before giving their consent." Fiddler said that making sure everyone understands what's in the vaccine and why it's important to take it is necessary for First Nations people who are living with the trauma of Canada's colonial history. "It's not just the vaccine itself, it's the whole history of the sad, sometimes tragic past of health care and how it's been delivered in our communities," said Fiddler, adding that historically there has been a two-tiered system where Indigenous people received inferior health care. "That's what we're up against. It's a massive undertaking and it's a challenge we know that we have to address as part of this rollout." Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald, who is on the province's vaccine task force, said she was also aware of some reluctance by First Nations people to take the vaccine. She pointed to a history of medical experiments being performed on Indigenous people from the 1930s to the 1970s. "We do know that in the past vaccines were tested in First Nations communities," said Archibald, who added there is no mechanism for polling First Nations populations about things like vaccine hesitancy. "The trauma and experiences from residential schools have left our communities in a state of hesitancy when it comes to trusting Canada." A spokesman for Ontario's Ministry of Indigenous Affairs said that the administration of vaccines has already begun in Ontario's larger First Nations communities, starting with long-term care homes in Six Nations of the Grand River, Mohawks of Akwesasne, Oneida Nations of the Thames, and Wikwemikong Unceded Territory. Vaccinations have also begun at the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority and Weeneebayko Area Health Authority, with a focus on hospital and long-term care and chronic care staff and residents. Spokesman Alex Puddifant said Ornge, the province's air ambulance corporation, is leading the operations for the 31 fly-in First Nation communities, transporting the vaccine from hub cities in Northern Ontario to the reserves. Partner organizations including, Northern School of Ontario Medicine and Queens University, will help provide nurses and paramedics to administer the doses. Fiddler said that NAN is playing a supporting role, ensuring that communities are ready when the vaccines arrive with interpreters, drivers, and a co-ordinator to make sure that all of the residents in a territory consent to the vaccination and receive their dose. Dr. Sarita Verma, the dean of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, said that she and her team know they'll have to build trust with patients who are, or are directly related to, residential school survivors. "Taking a patient-centred approach that's different in Northern Ontario with First Nations communities will be important," said Verma. Indigenous Services Canada reported on Tuesday that there were 428 active cases of COVID-19 among Ontario's First Nations. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press
Britain and the European Union are at odds over the British government's refusal to grant EU representatives' full diplomatic status in London after Brexit. An EU member state for 46 years, Britain voted in a 2016 referendum to leave, and completed its tortuous journey out of the bloc on Dec. 31, when Brexit fully took effect. The BBC reported that the Foreign Office was refusing to grant the same diplomatic status and privileges to EU Ambassador Joao Vale de Almeida and his team as it gives to envoys of countries, on the basis that the EU is not a nation state.
It's well past 8 p.m., and despite the provincial curfew for COVID-19, there is still a lineup outside Hotel Place Dupuis, one of the Montreal hotels offering beds for homeless people during the pandemic. Maude Viau is familiar with the sight. The 23-year-old is a psychosocial worker on the shuttle service for the Old Brewery Mission, which provides help to people experiencing homelessness in the city. It's her job to check the streets of Montreal between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m., asking people if they have a place to stay for the night and if they have enough to eat. If needed, Viau offers them a seat on the bus and a driver takes them to a shelter or supervised injection centres. CBC News accompanied Viau on her shuttle, a few days before the death of Raphaël André, a homeless Innu man whose body was discovered Jan. 17 in a portable toilet in the city's Plateau neighbourhood, only steps from the Open Door shelter. The shelter used to be open 24 hours a day, but that changed after a COVID-19 outbreak and a plumbing issue forced the shelter to close. When it was reopened in the new year, it was not allowed to stay open overnight – even with the 8 p.m. curfew, which came into effect Jan. 9. as part of new measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. Despite calls to exempt homeless people from the curfew and fines up to $6,000, the province has refused, even as pandemic restrictions make it harder for those living outside to find a bed for the night. Hoping for a place to stay Viau walks around Place Dupuis, following the long line of people waiting outside. Fortunately, it's warmer than usual for January, with a temperature of about -1 C. She's looking for people who want to go to CACTUS, one of Montreal's supervised injection sites. Speaking with them one by one, she asks them how they're doing and if they need a ride. She knows many of them by name. Most of the people turn her down. They are hoping for a place to spend the wintry night. Employees inside the hotel, Viau says, are trying to help them as fast as they can, but they have to enter in the information of each arrival. Even though those in the line are trying to get into a shelter, they are technically breaking the province's curfew. "They're trying to follow the rules, but we cannot go faster than we go," Viau said. Outside the hotel, some people told CBC News they are thinking about other options for where to go, afraid they won't find a place at the shelter. Others say the curfew and the fines simply do not make sense, when people living on the streets don't always have an inside option. Mark Myer, who says he became homeless a few months ago after a health issue, can't make sense of the government's decision. He says the fines, which start at $1,000 and can be as much as $6,000, would be impossible for someone like him to pay. "Set an example with the right people, homeless people are not going to be able to pay them anyway," said Myer, who found a bed that night at Old Brewery Mission. WATCH | Police handed out dozens of fines on the first night of Quebec's curfew: Quebec Premier François Legault has said he will not make an exception for homeless people, saying it could encourage people to "pretend" to be homeless. Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante had called on the premier to do so, saying the curfew has added unnecessary stress on people who are homeless and those who work with them. If not a bed, then at least a chair Viau returns to the shuttle alone. She's headed to Bonaventure metro station in downtown Montreal now. She knows there will be people taking refuge there, and wants to offer them a ride to a shelter. On her way, she calls different shelters to see if there is room – if not a bed, then at least a chair at a warm place – but is told, again and again, that there is no space. Because of the pandemic, Viau and other street workers say, shelters can't be filled in the same way as they were before and some centres, like the Open Door, have been forced to close temporarily after an outbreak. Shelters have also had to reduce the number of beds since the start of the pandemic to make sure social distancing is possible. The Old Brewery Mission, for example, had more than 280 beds before the pandemic, but now has only 150. "Before, there was not a place for everybody," Viau said. "So imagine, with this, and 50 per cent less than what we usually have." WATCH | A look at nearly empty streets in Montreal under COVID-19 curfew: The city has tried to make more space. Along with Hotel Place Dupuis, the city opened Hotel Universel to those experiencing homelessness. Authorities also expanded the number of beds available at the old Royal Victoria Hospital to homeless people with COVID-19, and are planning to convert an arena near the Olympic Stadium into a temporary homeless shelter, as well. Finally, she manages to secure two spots in shelters, but some nights it's impossible, says Viau. Earlier the same week, by just after 7 p.m., there was no place to put anybody, she says, and they had to put mattresses on the floors of a shelter in Montréal-Nord, three and a half hours' walk away from downtown Montreal. But putting people based downtown into shelters far from their neighbourhood is not ideal, Viau says, because it displaces vulnerable people from the resources they normally use. 'I'm sure people are hiding' Viau finds six people at Bonaventure station, but only one wants to come on board — with some hesitation. "A lot of people don't want to go to the shelter," she said. "They just find another solution, far from the eyes of everybody, far from the tickets. I think it's more dangerous. "I'm sure people are hiding.... Where, we don't know." By 9:30 p.m., the shuttle is at the Open Door. The people getting on the bus are exhausted. "It's hard for us. We have no door, like people have a door. It's hard for us," said one woman, who asked to be identified only by her first name, Sarah. Another man, who asked to be identified only as Thierry, said that although the weather is mild, he is worried about when it gets colder and he has nowhere to go, especially given the shelters are accepting fewer people due to the pandemic. "That means more people stay outside, so people are freezing outside."
MENDON, N.Y. — Three National Guard members on a training flight were killed Wednesday when their helicopter crashed in a farmer's field in western New York. The craft, a UH-60 Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopter, crashed around 6:30 p.m. in Mendon, New York, a rural town south of Rochester, officials said. The circumstances were under investigation. The Federal Aviation Administration said it would take part. Photos of the crash scene posted by local news media showed the aircraft wreckage burning on a snow-covered field. The helicopter flew out of the Army Aviation Support Facility at Rochester International Airport, and was assigned to C Company of the 1st Battalion, 171st General Support Aviation Battalion, according to Eric Durr, public affairs director of the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said flags on state buildings would be lowered to half-staff on Thursday to pay tribute to the troops. “National Guard members are our citizen soldiers who voluntarily serve and protect both here and abroad, and I extend prayers and condolences from all New Yorkers to the family, loved ones and fellow soldiers of these honourable heroes," he said in a statement. Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter said at a news conference that witnesses who called 911 reported hearing the sounds of an engine sputtering and said the aircraft was flying very low. There were no survivors of the crash, he said. Baxter called the three guard members who perished “great Americans.” “Keep them in your minds and your prayers,” he said. The Associated Press
As Ontario approaches the end of its fourth week under a province-wide lockdown, epidemiologists say declining new infections prove the measures are working, but they warn we are still far from ready to reopen non-essential businesses, schools, and other heavily restricted activities. Ontario reported 2,655 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. The seven-day average fell to 2,850, marking 10 consecutive days of decreases from a high of 3,555. Ashleigh Tuite, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health, says the declining average is a "positive sign," but only part of the picture officials are looking at when considering the province's next steps. 'Small victories' "I think it's important to look at those numbers and, you know, celebrate the small victories, but also recognize that we're going to be at this for a while longer," Tuite said in an interview. On Wednesday, the province reported 1,598 COVID-19 patients in Ontario hospitals. 395 COVID-19 were admitted to intensive care units and 89 additional deaths were reported, matching a previous record. Tuite and other experts say that those indicators remain far too high to consider easing lockdown measures. Getting to that point will require weeks, not days, of progress. "What we want to see is that every week that goes on, there's a steady decline," Tuite said. "I would say you probably want to see about a 25-per-cent decline week-over-week. When you see that trend, then you can start talking about opening things up again." No magic number Earlier this week, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said easing lockdown restrictions will require reducing new infections to "around or below" 1,000 per day. However, other infectious disease experts tell CBC News reopening won't be such a simple calculation. "There's not necessarily a magic number in terms of number of cases," Tuite said. Dr. Jeff Kwong, a senior scientist and infectious disease specialist at University of Toronto, says 1,000 cases per day is too high to consider lifting restrictions. "I'm not sure where Dr. Williams got a thousand cases per day. I've heard we should be aiming for one [new daily infection] per million people. Ontario has a population of about 15 million people. So that would be 15 cases per day," Kwong said in an interview. "Fifteen and 1,000 is quite a big difference.". Williams also singled out reducing the number of ICU admissions to 150 as another threshold for reopening. On Wednesday, Ontario reported 395 COVID-19 patients in the province's ICUs. As for reopening schools, Kwong says it's a "really tricky call." Keeping them closed may help reduce the spread of COVID-19, but it's harmful to children. Kwong says more time is needed before returning to in-person learning, but in the meantime, he'd like to know what criteria the province is considering for reopening schools. "We haven't identified any targets," he said. Avoiding another lockdown Even if infection, hospitalization and mortality rates can all be reduced to the point of reopening, is it just a matter of time until that very reopening causes them to shoot up again? Pretty much, according to experts. But a vicious lockdown loop can be avoided with proper supports in place to test for, trace and isolate COVID-19 cases. Tuite says rolling out more rapid testing will be key for a safe reopening, as well as ensuring employees have paid leave to stay home while they're sick. Isolation hotels should also be maintained so COVID-19 patients won't infect other people at home. "We have to do everything we can to ensure that once we get case numbers down, they stay down, and we have all of these other supports in place so that we can keep cases at a manageable level," Tuite said.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. There are 725,495 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 725,495 confirmed cases (68,413 active, 638,620 resolved, 18,462 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 5,744 new cases Wednesday from 68,508 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 8.4 per cent. The rate of active cases is 182 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 44,165 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,309. There were 196 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 1,034 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 148. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.39 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 49.12 per 100,000 people. There have been 16,778,780 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 396 confirmed cases (eight active, 384 resolved, four deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday from 280 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.53 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 77,042 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 110 confirmed cases (seven active, 103 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday from 493 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 4.46 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of seven new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 87,570 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,564 confirmed cases (23 active, 1,476 resolved, 65 deaths). There were three new cases Wednesday from 846 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.35 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.37 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 22 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 198,764 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,025 confirmed cases (318 active, 694 resolved, 13 deaths). There were 21 new cases Wednesday from 1,003 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.1 per cent. The rate of active cases is 40.94 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 189 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 27. There were zero new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.02 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.67 per 100,000 people. There have been 130,711 tests completed. _ Quebec: 247,236 confirmed cases (18,436 active, 219,592 resolved, 9,208 deaths). There were 1,502 new cases Wednesday from 7,554 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 20 per cent. The rate of active cases is 217.28 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,541 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,792. There were 66 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 394 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 56. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.66 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 108.52 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,678,168 tests completed. _ Ontario: 244,932 confirmed cases (26,467 active, 212,897 resolved, 5,568 deaths). There were 2,655 new cases Wednesday from 52,531 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.1 per cent. The rate of active cases is 181.7 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 19,948 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,850. There were 89 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 395 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 56. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.39 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 38.22 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,758,500 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 27,893 confirmed cases (3,137 active, 23,968 resolved, 788 deaths). There were 153 new cases Wednesday from 1,764 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 8.7 per cent. The rate of active cases is 229.07 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,200 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 171. There were five new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 35 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.37 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 57.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 444,550 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 21,112 confirmed cases (3,702 active, 17,184 resolved, 226 deaths). There were 241 new cases Wednesday from 991 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 24 per cent. The rate of active cases is 315.21 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,091 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 299. There was one new reported death Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 20 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.24 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 19.24 per 100,000 people. There have been 324,668 tests completed. _ Alberta: 118,436 confirmed cases (10,565 active, 106,387 resolved, 1,484 deaths). There were 669 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 241.69 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,818 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 688. There were 21 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 116 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 17. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.38 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.95 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,020,119 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 62,412 confirmed cases (5,744 active, 55,564 resolved, 1,104 deaths). There were 500 new cases Wednesday from 2,817 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 18 per cent. The rate of active cases is 113.26 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,340 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 477. There were 14 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 73 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 10. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 21.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,036,509 tests completed. _ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (zero active, 69 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday from 18 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,203 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 30 confirmed cases (six active, 24 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday from 211 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 13.39 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of six new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 8,882 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 266 confirmed cases (zero active, 265 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 7,018 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Jan. 21 ... What we are watching in Canada ... CALGARY -- Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is calling for the federal government to impose economic sanctions against the United States in response to newly inaugurated U.S. President Joe Biden's "gut punch" decision to tear up the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline expansion. Kenney said he was upset the U.S. wouldn't consult with Canada first before acting but saved his strongest criticisms for federal Liberals, whose statements in response to Biden's actions Kenny characterized as too accepting. "If the U.S. government refuses to open the door to a constructive and respectful dialogue about these issues, then it is clear that the government of Canada must impose meaningful trade and economic sanctions in response to defend our country's economic interests," he said. The lack of a strong response sets a precedent that could allow other members of Biden's government to call for other "retroactive" permit revocations for existing pipelines, Kenney said. Part of Keystone XL has been built but it is not complete, nor is it operating. Kenney has said the province has about $1 billion at risk if the project is killed. The 1,947-kilometre pipeline is designed to carry 830,000 barrels a day of crude oil from Hardisty, Alta., to Steele City, Neb. From there it would connect with the company's existing facilities to reach the U.S. Gulf Coast — one of the world's biggest oil refining hubs. --- Also this ... CALGARY -- WestJet Airlines will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. Transport Canada lifted its grounding order for the Max on Wednesday after approving design changes to the plane and requiring pilots to undergo additional training. WestJet executives will hold a press conference after the morning flight between Calgary and Vancouver. The event is part of a campaign to reintroduce the Max to service while assuring the public that the plane's safety issues have been addressed. Air Canada is expected to follow suit on Feb. 1. Air Canada has already said it will offer passengers booked on a Max the option of changing their flight at no extra charge. --- What we are watching in the U.S. ... WASHINGTON -- If Joe Biden's decision to kill off Keystone XL is supposed to sound the death knell for Canada-U.S. relations, you wouldn't know it from the newly minted president's call sheet. The 46th president's first phone call with a foreign leader comes Friday and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be on the other end of the line. "I expect they will certainly discuss the important relationship with Canada, as well as his decision on the Keystone pipeline we announced earlier today," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday. "His early calls will be with partners and allies; he feels it's important to rebuild those relationships and to address the challenges and threats we're facing in the world." Deep in the stack of leather-bound executive orders Biden signed on his first day in the White House was one to rescind former president Donald Trump's approval of the US$8-billion cross-border pipeline expansion. The project, first proposed in 2008, has been bouncing around the White House in various forms of limbo — stalled throughout Barack Obama's two terms before being outright cancelled in 2015, then twice resurrected by Trump. Trudeau, who has been careful to point out that Biden's campaign had already promised to block the expansion, did so again Wednesday in a statement that was more celebratory than scolding. "While we welcome the president's commitment to fight climate change, we are disappointed but acknowledge the president's decision to fulfil his election campaign promise on Keystone XL," the statement said. Trudeau welcomed Biden's other moves, including rejoining the Paris accord, a moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and reversing the travel ban on Muslim-majority countries. --- What we are watching in the rest of the world ... World leaders welcomed into their ranks the new U.S. President Joe Biden, noting their most pressing problems, including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, require multilateral co-operation, an approach his predecessor Donald Trump ridiculed. Many expressed hope Biden would right U.S. democracy two weeks after rioters stormed the Capitol, shaking the faith of those fighting for democracy in their own countries. Governments targeted and sanctioned under Trump embraced the chance for a fresh start with Biden, while some heads of state who lauded Trump’s blend of nationalism and populism were more restrained in their expectations. But the chance to repair frayed alliances and work together on global problems carried the day. China, whose U.S. relations nosedived due to widespread frustration in Washington over its human rights record and accusations of technology theft, expressed cautious hope about the change in the White House. “China looks forward to working with the new administration to promote sound & steady development of China-U.S. relations and jointly address global challenges in public health, climate change & growth,” China’s ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai, tweeted. Biden “understands the importance of co-operation among nations,” said former Colombian president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Juan Manuel Santos, who left office in 2018. “As a matter of fact, if we don’t co-operate – all nations – to fight climate change, then we will all perish. It’s as simple as that." French President Emmanuel Macron and Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama were among those welcoming U.S. attention to climate change. After Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, Biden reversed the move in the first hours of his presidency Wednesday. --- On this day in 1992 ... The Supreme Court of Canada began its review of David Milgaard's murder conviction in the death of Saskatoon nursing aide Gail Miller. The high court quashed the conviction a few months later and Saskatchewan decided not to retry Milgaard. --- In health news ... A new study links the fitness level of Canadian children to that of their parents. The StatCan analysis suggests a child's aerobic fitness, muscular strength and flexibility all correlate to that of their parent. But there were differences when it came to the sex of each parent and child involved. Boys whose parent had "excellent" cardiorespiratory fitness had better cardiorespiratory fitness than boys whose parent had a "poor" cardiorespiratory fitness level. Girls whose parent had "excellent" flexibility had higher flexibility than girls whose parent had "poor" flexibility. But the correlation in cardiorespiratory fitness was only seen significantly in mother-and-son pairs; while a significant flexibility correlation was only seen in mother-son and father-son pairings. Grip strength was associated in all duos except father-son pairings. The study was based on data from the ongoing Canadian Health Measures Survey, and draws from a sample representative of children aged 6 to 11 years and their biological parents. --- ICYMI ... A massive snow sculpture on a St. John's lawn depicting former United States president Donald Trump drowning in a sea of blue is drawing visitors. The sculpture depicts Trump with his arms up, mouth open and hair aflutter, while his signature red tie floats out before him on the blue-painted snow. Co-creator James Keating says the snow carving is "huge" and "tremendous" and represents Trump “drowning in controversy." He and his 16-year-old son, Ashton Keating, had been working on it for a few days. Keating estimated they put about 10 hours of work into it and said they made sure it would be ready for Joe Biden's inauguration as U.S. president on Wednesday. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021 The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the call between Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau would take place Thursday.
VANCOUVER — Changes to India's farm laws could open up the second most populous country to Canadian farmers, although a lot remains unknown about how a liberalized market might affect nations looking to export their produce, experts say. A freer market in India would help corporations and countries that see it as a destination to sell produce, said Shashi Enarth, an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia's institute for resources, environment and sustainability. "It'll be good for Canada if these three bills are introduced and they sail through," he said in a recent interview. He said the bills stipulate "that you can sell (agricultural produce) anywhere you want, you can buy whatever you want, and so that way it is good for Canada." India recently introduced three farm bills that constitute a step toward greater liberalization of her agricultural market. But after two months of protests by farmers, the Supreme Court of India has temporarily put on hold their implementation and ordered the creation of an independent committee of experts to negotiate with opponents of the legislation. Among other things, the bills would allow farmers to sell their produce outside government-run market committees, and they would remove minimum support prices for certain products. They also allow farmers to forge agreements with private companies to produce a certain amount, which is then sold directly to the companies. The protesting farmers say they fear the government would stop buying grain at minimum guaranteed prices under the laws and subject them to corporate exploitation by driving down prices for their products. The farmers are continuing a blockade of highways connecting New Delhi with the country's north. They have threatened to intensify the protest by organizing a massive tractor rally in New Delhi during Republic Day celebrations on Jan. 26. Data from Statistics Canada show India was the world's largest market for legumes, with imports valued at $1.4 billion in 2018. Canada was the country's second largest supplier of pulses, such as lentils, dried peas, beans and chickpeas. Raji Jayaraman, an associate professor at the University of Toronto's Munk school of global affairs and public policy, said Canadian exporters may benefit in the medium to long term, especially if there are further steps toward liberalizing agricultural markets in India. “The farm bills don't directly affect tariffs on agricultural imports to India, so any effect is going to be indirect,” she said. How Canadian agricultural exports fare will depend on how the changes affect the prices of agricultural commodities, she added. If Indian agricultural corporations exert their market power, then the new laws might result in lower prices received by farmers and higher prices paid by consumers for agricultural commodities, she said. “Ironically, this may help Canadian farmers who are able to sell their products to the Indian market more cheaply.” Greg Northey, Pulse Canada's vice-president of corporate affairs, said the organization is watching the developments in India closely and considering how they might affect farmers here. "It's an important market for sure, one that we care about and one that we've had a long-standing relationship with, and one we want to continue to export to," said Northey, whose organization represents growers, traders and processors. Most pulses in Canada are grown in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, with bean production concentrated in southern Ontario and Quebec, its website says. The organization is analyzing how the new laws in India would impact Canadian farmers, he said. But they don’t have a good understanding yet and haven’t come across an analysis of how changes in India’s laws will affect imports and exports, Northey said. Jayaraman said a lot of people are fearful about the liberalization of agricultural markets in India because it is a large employer. The majority of farmers in India own less than one hectare of farmland and operate on a subsistence basis. "And so, anything that touches and reforms agricultural markets is going to have ramifications for subsistence livelihood for hundreds of millions of people," she added. Jayaraman also cautioned that the future of the Indian farm market is still unknown under the proposed laws. "I mean people are still scratching their heads trying to figure out what the ramifications of these reforms are," she said. "I'm going to say the jury is out. It's really going to depend on how the market evolves as a result of these reforms." — With files from The Associated Press This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021 Hina Alam, The Canadian Press
The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a growing list of music industry professionals to monetise their older work by selling valuable tracks and albums as the global health crisis has all but shut down earnings from live concerts. London-listed investment firm Hipgnosis announced a discounted placement offering of its ordinary shares on Thursday along with the deal, which is at least the fifth for the company this month after agreements with Shakira and Neil Young.
It is too early to say when the national coronavirus lockdown in England will end, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday, as daily deaths from COVID-19 reach new highs and hospitals become increasingly stretched. A prevalence survey, known as REACT-1, suggested infections had not fallen in the first days of lockdown, though the government has said that the impact of national restrictions introduced on Jan. 5 was not yet reflected in the numbers. England's third national lockdown has seen bars, restaurants and schools mostly closed, with Johnson attributing a steep rise in cases at the end of last year to a more transmissible variant of the coronavirus first detected in England.
A director at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association believes provinces should set targets for vaccinating inmates in provincial jails — something half of jurisdictions have yet to do. The Correctional Service of Canada has started vaccinations for federal prisoners who are older or considered "medically vulnerable." But, as of last week, provinces had yet to start giving shots to inmates awaiting trial or serving shorter sentences in provincial jails. "Prisoners are disproportionately impacted by health conditions that would make them very susceptible to serious illness and death as a result of COVID," said Abby Deshman with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. Because of a limited vaccine supply, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends people in correctional centres get inoculated behind those in long-term care homes, seniors 70 and older, critical health-care workers and adults in Indigenous communities. British Columbia, Ontario, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia said that, as of last week, prisoners and staff are scheduled for vaccination in the second round of inoculations, with estimated start dates between next month and June. Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec didn't provide a timeline for when inmates will receive their shots. Newfoundland and Labrador said its inmates will be part of the second phase of its vaccine distribution, but didn't specify dates. Saskatchewan said the ranking of vulnerable groups is still to be determined. The Northwest Territories and Yukon planned to start giving shots this week. Nunavut didn't respond to inquiries. Deshman was part of a research project that tracked COVID-19 cases in jails and prisons. It found that since Dec. 1, there have been at least 1,962 infections among staff and inmates — more than all of the cases reported from last March until November. “We should have targets for immunizing key vulnerable populations, regardless of who they are," she said. “If those targets need to be adjusted, if they cannot be met, that needs to be publicly communicated and explained.” She noted some politicians, including federal Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole and Ontario Premier Doug Ford, have pushed back against early vaccinations for federal inmates. Justin Piche, a criminology professor at the University of Ottawa, said there are far fewer older prisoners in provincial jails than in federal prisons, where one out of five inmates is 50 and older. He said rhetoric from leaders that pits one group against another isn't helpful. “Prisons are among the congregate settings that are seeing significant transmission," he said. “You have prisoners who are getting COVID-19 at higher rates. You have prison staff that are going in and out of there on a day-to-day basis, going back to their families, going back to their communities." The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers believes it's wrong that Ottawa didn’t vaccinate correctional staff along with prisoners, and instead left it up to provinces to decide where staff fall in the vaccine line. "It’s completely foolish," said national president Jeff Wilkins. “We have (Saskatchewan Penitentiary), for example, which has seen quite an extensive outbreak. Our members are getting burnt out." As of last week, Manitoba listed provincial and federal correctional health-care workers as eligible to be vaccinated. Wilkins wants to see correctional officers inoculated along with long-term care staff. "In some areas, we’ve seen the rates of the institution be much higher than the community.” Catherine Latimer, executive director of the John Howard Society of Canada, questions why doses were sent to institutions in Atlantic Canada, which have no active COVID-19 cases, while inmates in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are at higher risk. Latimer is also concerned about what she says is solitary confinement-like measures being used to contain the novel coronavirus. “It’s a very, very harsh correctional environment right now," she said. "We’re probably going through the worst period in terms of general corrections, at least on the federal side, in the last 50 years." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2020. Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
BEIJING — China on Thursday expressed hope the Biden administration will improve prospects for people of both countries and give a boost to relations after an especially rocky patch, while getting in a few final digs at former Trump officials. “I think after this very difficult and extraordinary time, both the Chinese and American people deserve a better future,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters at a daily briefing. She said China and the U.S. need to relaunch co-operation in a number of areas. She particularly welcomed the new administration’s decision to remain in the World Health Organization and return to the Paris Agreement on climate change. “Many people of insight in the international community are looking forward to the early return of Sino-U.S. relations to the correct track in making due contributions to jointly address the major and urgent challenges facing the world today,” Hua said. She also criticized ex-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other former officials, a day after Beijing imposed travel and business sanctions on 30 of them, including Trump's national security adviser Robert O’Brien and U.N. Ambassador Kelly Craft. “Over the past few years, the Trump administration, especially Pompeo, has buried too many mines in Sino-U.S. relations that need to be eliminated, burned too many bridges that need to be rebuilt and wrecked too many roads that need to be repaired,” Hua said. Hua on Wednesday described Pompeo as a “doomsday clown” and said his designation of China as a perpetrator of genocide and crimes against humanity was merely “a piece of wastepaper.” Hua's markedly more friendly tone Thursday appeared to signal Chinese hopes to cool the rhetoric on both sides and give the relationship a chance to heal over some of the worst divisions. “I think both China and the United States need to show courage, show wisdom, listen to each other, face up to each other and respect each other," Hua said. “I think this is the responsibility of the two major countries of China and the United States, and it is also the expectation of the international community.” Also Thursday, China’s Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai offered his congratulations to Biden on Twitter, which is widely used by the Chinese government despite being blocked in the country. “Congratulations to President Biden on his inauguration! China looks forward to working with the new administration to promote sound & steady development of China-U.S. relations and jointly address global challenges in public health, climate change & growth,” Cui tweeted. Chinese President and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping congratulated Biden on his election but had no immediate comment on Wednesday’s inauguration. While Biden’s administration is expected to seek to put relations with China back on an even keel, he is unlikely to significantly alter U.S. policies on trade, Taiwan, human rights and the South China Sea that have angered Xi’s increasingly assertive government. The Associated Press
Pet groomer Victor Pundzius was so confused with the new orders that he called the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit to clarify whether or not his service was essential. Turns out it's not. But Pundzuis, who owns For Your Fur Kids in Windsor, says after what he saw following the last lockdown, grooming should be. "It was terrible, the dogs were in bad shape, grooming should have been deemed essential. I think it's unfair the way everything was done," he said. And he wasn't the only one questioning provincial measures. Two local housekeepers told CBC News that they also found the province's stay-at-home order from Jan. 14 unclear on what services could still operate. The rules left them feeling uncertain, especially since Windsor-Essex went through several rounds of new restrictions starting in November that kept changing how and which businesses could operate. Housekeeper Nicole Kersey says the provincial rules in the stay-at-home order issued last week are "vague," so she's being cautious while still trying to earn a living. "I really was [confused] and I kind of still am," said Kersey, who owns Nicole's Quality Cleaning in Windsor-Essex . "It says I'm essential I can still do my job but then it doesn't make sense [because] they don't want you going to other homes." Under the new order, housekeepers are listed as being allowed under domestic services but only for homes with children, seniors or vulnerable persons. After six years on the job, Kersey had built up some loyal clients, but out of fear, she says about 80 per cent of her clients have cancelled or put their services on hold. The lack of work has taken a financial toll on her and she's had to apply for government funding. Adam Morrison, president of Queen of Clean Windsor Inc., which specializes in residential and commercial cleaning, says he's also feeling the hit. On the residential side, about 30 per cent of his clients don't qualify for services under the new order. "It makes any business owner nervous right? We're not in a position where it's hitting us now and we're not necessarily hitting a lot of the requirements for some of the wage subsidies," he said. Meanwhile, Pundzius says if the lockdown goes past a month, not only will it hurt the dogs, but it will harm his business too. At this time, his income is already down as people can't access his services and many aren't buying products despite him offering curbside pickup. "It's just unfair with Costco, all these other big companies, it seems like they just want to hurt the little guy basically," he said.
2020 became the year of the pandemic. Newfoundland and Labrador has managed to keep the cases of COVID-19 low, but the restrictions still affect everyone. Now there's a vaccine delivered in record time. Our series Beyond 2020 will examine the people and issues that are going to dominate the year ahead. One of the founders of St. John's digital security company Verafin says his company's huge deal with Nasdaq late last year is just the beginning for Newfoundland and Labrador's technology sector. Brendan Brothers's company, which helps to detect activity like fraud and money laundering, was bought in November by the global tech giant in a deal worth $2.75 billion US. It's a deal that Brothers says will pave the way for other tech companies and continue to grow the industry in the province. "The one thing that comes out of a deal like the Nasdaq-Verafin partnership here is that I think it creates some fuel in the ecosystem, which has already been bubbling here for quite some time," he said. "You need, I think, a story like this to be able to set an example for other businesses that are going to start here, that are going to start to thrive here, that are going to come out of all the incubators that we have." Momentum growing in tech sector Brothers said those incubators, like Memorial University's Genesis Centre, along with a few recent success stories, are helping inspire future innovation and development. "I think back to when we started our business back in 2003 and we started at the Genesis Centre, but the Genesis Centre was really small at that point in time and there weren't examples like we have right now," he said. "Now there's this group of companies, CoLab, Mysa, all these great examples of companies that are doing interesting things, building great products and services. And it's by everybody starting and being successful that we start to create this momentum." With that momentum now growing, Brothers said the sky's the limit for technology in Newfoundland and Labrador. WATCH | The CBC's Peter Cowan sits down with Verafin's Brendan Brothers: "The benefit of software is that you're only limited by what you can think.… It's not something where you're tied to a natural resource or you're tied to a place; you're really only limited by what you can actually think and imagine and try and find a problem to solve," he said. "If you look at the number of people that are employed in technology in the province, a significant portion of them are within technology businesses like ourselves. But technology people are also required across every other business as well." But to meet the coming demand he expects, Brothers said, there'll need to be increased interest and capacity to train people at the province's university and colleges, for both the continued growth of Verafin and for the founding of new companies. "Verafin alone, we've added 100-plus people for the past several years, and we plan on hiring 200-plus more in the coming years," he said. "We need a pipeline, not only of people to work within these businesses, but I think probably more importantly, a pipeline of people who are going to take a chance and start an entrepreneurial venture and actually jump in and try and create something." Brothers said the pandemic has shown that there is room for tech growth across Newfoundland and Labrador. He said Verafin has had people working remotely around the province and across Canada for about 10 years. "If 2020 has taught us anything, I think it's the fact that you can probably work on any problem from anywhere…. I think what we've learned this year is how to engage and work together regardless of where you are," he said. This is a great opportunity to create more success here. - Brendan Brothers While Nasdaq is a company with offices all over the world, Brothers said he's committed to keeping Verafin based in St. John's. He said he wants Verafin to create "the world's most effective crime-fighting network," but is hopeful for the growth of other local startups as well. "We're trying to catch bad guys. We're trying to stop money laundering. We're trying to stop fraud. It's a problem that is evergreen, it never goes away, so I think as long as we're still having fun and we're excited about what we're doing within Verafin, I think we'll continue to focus on that," he said. "But I think broadly, this is a great opportunity to be able to create more success here.… As long as we continue to invest and as long as we continue to create the structures where people can try, succeed and or fail and try again, then we will be successful at the end of the day." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador