Ontario has announced that it will begin to ease some restrictions in York Region. Dr. Stephen Flindall, who is an emergency room doctor there, says he is disappointed and concerned with the province's decision.
Ontario has announced that it will begin to ease some restrictions in York Region. Dr. Stephen Flindall, who is an emergency room doctor there, says he is disappointed and concerned with the province's decision.
Most provinces, including British Columbia, announced this week they expect every adult will receive a first COVID-19 vaccine dose by June or July. The move came after a recommendation by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) to delay a second dose for four months, following evidence of high levels of protection from one dose. All provinces have adopted the recommendation, potentially accelerating Canada's vaccination timeline by two months. But where does that leave kids? Close to one million people in B.C. are 19 or younger, and they make up nearly one-fifth of the province's population. Here's what you need to know about where they fall in the vaccination plan. Can kids get vaccinated? Not yet. Health Canada has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people aged 16 and older, while the Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved for those 18 and up. Health Canada's chief medical adviser, Supriya Sharma, has said there's not enough data from the initial clinical trials to know how the vaccines affect kids. So far, B.C.'s immunization plan is focused on residents 18 and older. B.C.'s health ministry said it will administer Pfizer vaccines to teens between the ages of 16 and 17 who are severely clinically vulnerable, and whose care provider has determined vaccination is the best course of action. Do kids need to be immunized? Dr. Manish Sadarangani, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and director of the Vaccine Evaluation Centre at B.C. Children's Hospital, said it's not yet not clear whether all kids need to get vaccinated. He is currently leading research that is testing children across B.C. for COVID-19 antibodies to understand asymptomatic infections and better estimate the true infection rate among younger people. Experts will also have a clearer picture once most adults are vaccinated, Sadarangani said. At that point, health officials can look at the number of cases among kids, whether severe cases are showing up and whether kids are a source of ongoing community transmission. Researchers are testing children across B.C. for COVID-19 antibodies to understand asymptomatic infections and better estimate the true infection rate among younger people.(Ben Nelms/CBC) Fiona Brinkman, a professor in the molecular biology and biochemistry department at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, said children should "definitely" be vaccinated. "Getting COVID is much worse in terms of potential for long-term side effects than getting the vaccine," said Brinkman, who is also working on Canada's variant containment efforts through the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network. When will kids receive a vaccine? The four pharmaceutical companies are at all different stages of testing the vaccines on kids. It's unclear when exactly those vaccines could be approved for kids. Sharma said Friday that data from teenagers will come first, followed by kids under 12. "Potentially, by the end of the calendar year, we might have some answers for children." Clinical trials are underway to determine vaccine effectiveness on children.(Evan Mitsui/CBC) Sadarangani said the first clinical trial data from older kids is expected to come by the end of August. If the Health Canada approves the vaccines on kids, NACI will then recommend how to best deploy the doses, he said. Sadarangani said rolling out the vaccine as part of school immunizations will be far more efficient than immunizing adults, noting the system is "better set up" to vaccinate kids. Is achieving 'herd immunity' possible without vaccinating kids? Some experts have suggested that achieving "herd immunity" — the point at which the virus can no longer spread in the community because enough people have either been infected or vaccinated — may not be feasible without vaccinating kids. Brinkman said it's a reasonable concern, but the degree of protection to society from vaccines make them a powerful tool, even before they're available to children. "We have vaccines that have incredible efficacy. In fact, they're astounding," she said. "When you have vaccines that work that well, you don't actually have to vaccinate as many people in the population to have it be effective." A nurse administers a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination in Vancouver on March 4. B.C. says it expects every adult to receive a first vaccine dose by July.(Ben Nelms/CBC) Anna Blakney, an assistant professor at University of British Columbia's school of biomedical engineering, said herd immunity is often thought of as a percentage of a population that must be protected to ensure safety for all. But it's actually a more dynamic concept, she said, especially since it's unknown how long immunity from COVID-19 will last. "With herd immunity, you don't just reach that level and then it's there forever," she said. "People can lose their immunity over time, so most likely what's going to happen is that it will be a combination of natural infections and the vaccine that get us to that kind of steady state of herd immunity." Are there safety concerns for kids? Blakney, who also runs a popular TikTok account that educates viewers about COVID-19, said she's received many questions about the safety of the vaccine in children. She said clinical trials are generally designed with less vulnerable populations in mind — those between the age of 18 and 55. (Because COVID-19 disproportionately affects the elderly, older people were included in vaccine trials.) Once a vaccine is found to be safe in those populations, they're expanded out to children and pregnant women. "It's routine for children and babies to get vaccines. That's when you get the most vaccines in your life. They're just waiting for that safety to be proven," Blakney said. "We want to first test it in the less vulnerable population in case there are any side effects. That doesn't mean we expect there to be — that's just how it's evolved over time." Sadarangani explained that the dose may be adjusted to ensure the best protection possible for children. "Some vaccines do need a bit more because they need a bit more to stimulate their immune systems than adults do. And some vaccines, they need a bit less," he said. "This is one of the reasons in the trial for going down through the age groups, starting with the older kids that are likely to be most like adults." What about parents who are hesitant to vaccinate their kids? In a UBC study last fall, about 43 per cent of 2,500 families across Canada surveyed said they would accept less rigorous testing and expedited approval of a vaccine for their kids. Blakney said she finds some degree of vaccine hesitancy normal, especially because people are not accustomed to the speed with which the vaccine was developed. A B.C. COVID-19 vaccination immunization record card. Sadarangani says school immunizations will be far more time efficient than immunizing adults.(Ben Nelms/CBC) But she said the vaccine research involved an unprecedented level of funding and effort from scientists, doctors, and governments alike. "We have lots of safety data on this because not only were they trialled in tens of thousands of people, but now they've been implemented to millions of people," she said. "So we have a pretty good idea of the safety profile of them thus far, which is what gives us that extra confidence to go into other populations. These vaccines are incredibly safe in the data we have so far." What can parents do in the meantime? Brinkman said, for now, parents can ensure that their children's other vaccinations and booster shots are up to date, while also following public health orders until restrictions can safely be lifted. "That will help protect them and give their system the best chance against other diseases," she said, adding some people may have fallen behind schedule on immunizations while B.C. has been partially shut down. "It's very important at this stage that we keep the numbers of cases as low as we can because we really need to reduce the chance of the viral variant spreading."
Canada's chief public health officer is expressing hope for the future as the world prepares to mark the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 crisis. The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic last March 11, and Dr. Theresa Tam says it's been a difficult 12 months marked by hardship and sacrifice. But she says it's been "a good week" for Canada's vaccination program thanks to the recent approvals of the Johnson & Johnson and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines. Tam says the addition of the two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster and help ease the worries surrounding supply disruptions or setbacks. The anniversary comes as all provinces are expanding their mass vaccination programs and some are loosening restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of the virus. A stay-at-home order in Ontario's Toronto, Peel and North Bay regions will lift on Monday, while five Quebec regions will be downgraded from red to orange on the province's colour-coded regional alert system. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March. 7, 2021 The Canadian Press
An unfair labour practice application brought on by the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union (SGEU) against the Government of Saskatchewan over the use of a fitness test — which was previously found to be potentially discriminatory — was dismissed late last month. In 2012, Saskatchewan implemented a fitness test called the WFX-Fit test, developed by the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre for Type 1 wildland firefighters across Canada. People are tested in their ability to complete a series of physical, strenuous tasks within a set minimal time, called a cut score. After the union filed a grievance, an arbitrator found the WFX-Fit test cut score as it was previously set had "a potential discriminatory adverse impact on females and older males," and was not a reasonable measure of their fitness to perform the job. An appeal court upheld that finding, and in March 2019 the Supreme Court of Canada refused the Saskatchewan government's request to appeal the ruling. The Ministry of Environment previously told CBC that across Canada, SGEU was the only union to complain about the test. It noted the arbitrator had not criticized the test itself or its use — but that the cut score itself is arbitrary and could be discriminatory. The government said it got opinions from experts who designed the test that the cut score could be validly lowered from 17 minutes and 15 seconds to 18 minutes and 10 seconds. The labour board decision, published on Feb. 28, showed discussion about how to move ahead in the 2019 wildfire season took place shortly after the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear the case. There, the government told SGEU representatives it intended to use the slower cut scores. The Labour Relations Board decision showed SGEU asked the government to consider using an arduous test, which it had used until 2012. The government stuck with the WFX-Fit test in 2019. SGEU took the government to task over its use of the test that year. But a unanimous decision by the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board vice-chair Gerald Tegart and board members Joan White and Maurice Werezak found an "enforceable agreement" was never reached by both parties.. The labour board decision said the WFX-Fit test was deemed to be valid in all respects, aside from the use of its original cut score due to its discriminatory impact on women and older men which the government had accounted for. The board also found the government was not obligated to negotiate the general terms of the WFX-Fit test with the union. Because the board determined no formal enforceable agreement was reached between the two parties, the labour board found three of the orders the union sought from the board were not available. The union asked the labour board to order the government to comply with the previously-agreed upon arbitration award, but the board found the government had already met its obligations there and did not dispute the fact the WFX-Fit testing was discriminatory. The union was also unable to prove the government had failed to comply with the arbitration award during the labour board hearing. The labour board ruled there was no basis to prohibit the government from requiring wildland firefighters to complete the WFX-Fit testing, as no agreement was reached between SGEU and the province, and the tests' use with the revised cut score was not shown to be in contravention with the previous arbitration award. The union also asked for financial compensation in the form of damages but that was also dismissed as the board's determination meant damages would not be available. A request for comment from SGEU was not returned by deadline.
Trois-Rivières – À l'aube de la Journée internationale des droits des femmes, les combats demeurent légion afin de faire en sorte que «l'égalité concrète» soit atteinte, selon la directrice de la Table de concertation du mouvement des femmes de la Mauricie. Joanne Blais estime que l'autonomie économique de celles-ci, comme l'accès égalitaire à l'emploi ou le travail à temps partiel figurent encore et toujours sur la pile de travail à accomplir. Sans parler de l'impact de la pandémie sur les femmes. Déjà fortement touchées avant que la COVID-19 ne surgissent dans leurs vies, les femmes doivent, depuis plus d'un an, composer avec ce nouvel ennemi. «Certaines femmes n'ont pu retourner sur le marché du travail et sont plus dépendantes de leur conjoint parce qu'elles ont perdu leur emploi», souligne Joanne Blais. La situation est encore plus préoccupante lorsqu'il s'agit de femmes issues de l'immigration. «Ces femmes vivaient déjà d'autres questions par rapport à leurs origines. C'est la même chose pour celles qui sont réfugiées ou monoparentales.» Cette insécurité, elle ne se fait pas seulement ressentir sur le plan économique, mais aussi sur le plan physique. «Il y a encore beaucoup de travail à faire pour vivre dans un monde sans violence faites aux femmes, pour qu'elles n'aient pas peur de marcher dans la rue, de prendre le transport en commun, qu'elles n'aient pas à vivre de violence conjugale ou de comportements inappropriés au travail. Bref, pour qu'elles puissent vivre dans un monde qui est plus paisible», insiste-t-elle. Pour Mme Blais, chaque 8 mars est une occasion de rappeler les gestes qui restent à poser pour les droits des femmes. «Il y a l'autonomie économique, les femmes gagnent encore moins que les hommes; l'accès égalitaire à l'emploi, certaines femmes sont discriminées en raison de leur sexe; le travail, elles sont souvent à temps partiel; elles se retrouvent souvent dans des conditions difficiles parce qu'elles travaillent dans le domaine des soins ou des services», énumère la directrice. Ces «soins ou services» peuvent comprendre les hôtels par exemple, la restauration etc. «On n'a pas encore atteint l'égalité concrète, dans les faits», rappelle-t-elle. Joanne Blais souligne également que la situation délicate dans laquelle se retrouvent les soins de santé et de services sociaux avait été rapportée plusieurs années en avance par des groupes de femmes, sans pourtant être prise en considération. «Ça fait des années qu'elles dénoncent la situation», observe-t-elle, soulignant au passage que la thématique de l'édition 2021 de la Journée internationale des droits des femmes est «Écoutons les femmes». Marc-André Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nouvelliste
TEHRAN, Iran — A British-Iranian woman held in an Iranian prison for five years on widely refuted spying charges ended her sentence on Sunday, her lawyer said, although she faces a new trial and cannot yet return home to London. The twists and turns of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's years-long case have sparked international outrage and strained already fraught diplomatic ties between Britain and Iran. Although Zaghari-Ratcliffe completed her full sentence and was allowed to remove her ankle monitor and leave house arrest, her future remains uncertain amid a long-running debt dispute between Britain and Iran and rising regional tensions. “It feels to me like they have made one blockage just as they have removed another, and we very clearly remain in the middle of this government game of chess,” her husband Richard Ratcliffe said. Iranian state-run media reported that she has been summoned to court on March 14 over murky new charges, including “spreading propaganda," which were first announced last fall. Her trial was then indefinitely postponed, stirring hopes for her return home when her sentence ended. Authorities released her on furlough last March due to surging coronavirus pandemic, and she has remained in detention at her parent's home in Tehran since. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 43, was sentenced to five years in jail after being convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran’s government, a charge that she, her supporters and rights groups vigorously deny. She was taken into custody at the airport with her toddler daughter after visiting family on holiday in the capital of Tehran in 2016. At the time, she was working for Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the news agency. The United Nations has described her arrest as arbitrary, and reported that her treatment, including stints in solitary confinement and deprivation of medical care, could amount to torture. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the removal of Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s ankle tag but called for her to be allowed to return home. “Her continued confinement remains totally unacceptable,” he said on Twitter. “She must be released permanently so she can return to her family in the UK, and we continue to do all we can to achieve this.” The latest setback in Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case comes as Britain and Iran negotiate a spat over a debt of some 400 million pounds ($530 million) owed to Iran by London, a payment the late Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi made for Chieftain tanks that were never delivered. The shah abandoned the throne in 1979 and the Islamic Revolution installed the clerically overseen system that endures today. Ratcliffe, who for years has campaigned vocally for his wife’s release, has said that Iran was holding Zaghari-Ratcliffe as “collateral” in the dispute. Authorities in London and Tehran deny that Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case is linked to the repayment deal. But a prisoner exchange that freed four American citizens in 2016 saw the U.S. pay a similar sum to Iran the same day of their release. Her case has also played out against rising tensions over Iran's tattered atomic deal with world powers. Since former U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal in 2018, Iran has been accelerating its breaches of the pact by enriching more uranium than allowed, among other actions. Tehran is seeking to press the other signatories to the deal, including Britain, to help offset the economic devastation wrought by American sanctions. As for Zaghari-Ratcliffe, exactly what will happen next weekend in court remains uncertain. Her family and supporters fear the worst. "We don’t know how to interpret being summoned ... Is it that they’re just going to finish off all the paperwork and release her and give her passport back? Or Is it that they are going to whack her with that second sentence?” her sister-in-law Rebecca Ratcliffe told U.K’s Sky News. The uncertainty means “there are a few more sleepless nights ahead of us," she added. In what the U.N. has criticized as an “emerging pattern,” Iran frequently has arrested dual citizens in recent years, often using their cases as bargaining chips for money or influence in negotiations with the West, something Tehran denies. Several other dual nationals, including at least one other British citizen and three Americans, remain in prison. Iran refuses to recognize dual nationality, so detainees like Zaghari-Ratcliffe cannot receive consular assistance. Meanwhile, with her ankle tag off for the first time, Zaghari-Ratcliffe spent the afternoon visiting her grandmother and the family of one of the other British-Iranians held in prison, her husband said. “It's a mixed day for us," Ratcliffe added. "She is having a nice afternoon, has turned her phone off and is not thinking about the rest of it.” ___ Associated Press writer Kelvin Chan contributed from London. DeBre reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Amir Vahdat And Isabel Debre, The Associated Press
ATHENS, Greece — Greek police clashed with more than 500 protesters in an Athens suburb on Sunday evening, using tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the crowd. The crowd was protesting police violence, but views of what happened earlier Sunday diverge widely. In an announcement, police say that a motorcycle patrol went to suburb Nea Smyrni’s main square just before 3 p.m. Sunday to investigate “multiple reports” of violations of lockdown measures and that they were set upon by a group of 30 people who injured two police officers. Police reinforcement detained 11 from among the group, police say. But videos uploaded on several websites show a different picture: peaceful citizens arguing with police and suddenly being thrown to the ground and attacked with batons. It was to this incident that the protest rally was held about four hours later. Police say that an administrative inquiry will be held in response to the video uploads. Opposition parties have entered the fray, denouncing the “police repression.” “It wasn’t an accident. The government and (Prime Minister Kyriakos) Mitsotakis wanted this,” said Pavlos Christidis, the spokesman for socialist party Movement for Change. With the number of new cases of the coronavirus still well above 1,000 daily, the Athens area as well as others across Greece are under a strict lockdown and police patrols conduct checks to see if people are keeping social distancing and refrain from travelling unnecessarily. Police say that they, on Saturday alone, they conducted 71,177 checks across the country, finding 2,025 violations; 1,627 concerned unauthorized movement, 304 non-wearing of masks and 91 illegal operation of businesses. Demetris Nellas, The Associated Press
QARAQOSH, Iraq — Pope Francis urged Iraq’s Christians on Sunday to forgive the injustices against them by Muslim extremists and to rebuild as he visited the wrecked shells of churches and met ecstatic crowds in the community’s historic heartland, which was nearly erased by the Islamic State group’s horrific reign. “Fraternity is more durable than fratricide, hope is more powerful than hatred, peace more powerful than war,” the pontiff said during prayers for the dead in the city of Mosul, with the call for tolerance that has been the central message of his four-day visit to Iraq. At each stop in northern Iraq, the remnants of its Christian population turned out, jubilant, ululating and decked out in colorful dress. Heavy security prevented Francis from plunging into the crowd as he would normally. Nonetheless, they simply seemed overjoyed that he had come and that they had not been forgotten. It was a sign of the desperation for support among an ancient community uncertain whether it can hold on. The traditionally Christian towns dotting the Nineveh Plains of the north emptied out in 2014 as Christians — as well as many Muslims — fled the Islamic State group’s onslaught. Only a few have returned to their homes since the defeat of IS in Iraq was declared four years ago, and the rest remain scattered elsewhere in Iraq or abroad. Bells rang out for the pope's arrival in the town of Qaraqosh. “The road to a full recovery may still be long, but I ask you, please, not to grow discouraged," Francis told a packed Church of the Immaculate Conception. "What is needed is the ability to forgive, but also the courage not to give up.” The Qaraqosh church has been extensively renovated after being vandalized by IS militants during their takeover of the town, making it a symbol of recovery efforts. Iraq's Christian population, which has existed here since the time of Christ, has dwindled from around 1.5 million before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that plunged the country into chaos to just a few hundred thousand today. Francis's visit, on its last day Sunday, aimed to encourage them to stay, rebuild and restore what he called Iraq's “intricately designed carpet” of faiths and ethnic groups. Dressed in white, Francis took to a red carpeted stage in Mosul on his first stop of the day, surrounded by the grey hollowed-out shells of four churches — Syriac Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox and Chaldean — nearly destroyed in the war to oust IS fighters from the city. It was a scene that would have been unimaginable years earlier. Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, was at the heart of the IS so-called “caliphate” and witnessed the worst of the group’s rule inflicted on Muslims, Christians and others, including beheadings and mass killings. He deviated from his prepared speech to emphasize the plight of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, which was subjected to mass killings, abductions and sexual slavery at the hands of IS. “How cruel it is that this country, the cradle of civilization, should have been afflicted by so barbarous a blow,” Francis said, “with ancient places of worship destroyed and many thousands of people – Muslims, Christians, Yazidis — who were cruelly annihilated by terrorism and others forcibly displaced or killed.” IS inflicted atrocities against all communities, including Muslims, during its three-year rule across much of northern and western Iraq. But the Christian minority was hit especially hard. The militants forced them to choose among conversion, death or the payment of a special tax for non-Muslims. Thousands fled, leaving homes and churches that were destroyed or commandeered by the extremists. Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, became IS’s bureaucratic and financial backbone. It took a ferocious nine-month battle to finally free the city in July 2017. Between 9,000 and 11,000 civilians were killed, according to an AP investigation at the time, and the war left a swath of destruction. Many Iraqis have had to rebuild on their own amid a years-long financial crisis. The Rev. Raed Kallo was among the few Christians who returned to Mosul after IS was defeated. “My Muslim brothers received me after the liberation of the city with great hospitality and love,” he said on stage before the pontiff. Before IS, he had a parish of 500 Christian families. Now only 70 families remain, he said. “But today I live among 2 million Muslims who call me their Father Raed,” he said. Gutayba Aagha, the Muslim head of the Independent Social and Cultural Council for the Families of Mosul, invited “all our Christian brothers to return to this, their city, their properties and their businesses." Throughout his four-day visit, Francis has delivered a message of interreligious tolerance to Muslim leaders, including in a historic meeting Saturday with Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. But Christians say it will take real changes on the ground for them to be able to return and stay, saying they face discrimination and intimidation from Shiite militias on top of the economic hardships suffered by all Iraqis. Qaraqosh resident Martin Auffee said he was overjoyed by the pope's visit and appreciated that he showed he was with Christians as he urged them to endure. But the 27-year-old said many of the young in his area have grown weary of lack of opportunity. “We don’t know for how long they can cling onto hope and continue to stay in Iraq because there’s a lot of pain, unemployment and uncertainty,” he said. “My whole life has been filled with pain, misery, war, persecution and displacement. Things are difficult for those living here.” At Qaraqosh, Francis urged its residents to continue to dream, and forgive. “Forgiveness is necessary to remain in love, to remain Christian,” he said. One resident, Doha Sabah Abdallah, told him how her son and two other young people were killed in a mortar strike Aug. 6, 2014 as IS neared the town. “The martyrdom of these three angels” alerted the other residents to flee, she said. “The deaths of three saved the entire city.” She said now it was for the survivors to “try to forgive the aggressor.” Francis wrapped up the day — and his visit — with a Mass at the stadium in Irbil, in the semi-autonomous northern Kurdish region. An estimated 10,000 people erupted in ululating cheers when he arrived and did a lap around the track in his open-sided popemobile, the first and only time he has used it on this trip due to security concerns. On the makeshift altar for the Mass was a statue of the Virgin Mary from the Mar Adday Church in the town of Keramlis, which was restored after IS militants chopped off its head and hands. Few in the crowd wore facemasks, as was the case during all of Francis' visits Sunday in northern Iraq. The pope heads back to Rome early Monday morning. Public health experts had expressed concerns ahead of the trip that large gatherings could serve as superspreader events for the coronavirus in a country suffering from a worsening outbreak where few have been vaccinated. The pope and members of his delegation have been vaccinated but most Iraqis have not. ___ Kullab reported from Baghdad. AP Religion Correspondent Mariam Fam contributed. Nicole Winfield And Samya Kullab, The Associated Press
The White House on Sunday urged computer network operators to take further steps to gauge whether their systems were targeted amid a hack of Microsoft Corp's Outlook email program, saying a recent software patch still left serious vulnerabilities. "This is an active threat still developing and we urge network operators to take it very seriously," a White House official said, adding that top U.S. security officials were working to decide what next steps to take following the breach. The White House official, in a statement, said the administration was making "a whole of government response."
WASHINGTON — The board that oversees the U.S. Capitol Police is beginning a search for a permanent police chief, a person familiar with the matter said, as the fallout from the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol continues. Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman has faced scrutiny from Capitol Hill leaders and congressional committees over law enforcement failures that allowed thousands of rioters to overtake police officers during the insurrection. The search for the permanent leader of the force, which has more than 2,300 sworn officers and civilian employees, will be nationwide, and while Pittman can apply for the position, she is not guaranteed it, according to the person, who had direct knowledge of the search. This person was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. The Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies are trying to determine the best way to secure the Capitol over the long term. Officials last week quibbled over requesting National Guard reinforcements to remain in the District of Columbia and whether to remove the massive fence that has encircled the Capitol grounds since January. The Capitol Police Board, which includes the House and Senate sergeant at arms and the Architect of the Capitol, is charged with oversight of the police force. ___ Merchant reported from Houston. Michael Balsamo, Nomaan Merchant And Colleen Long, The Associated Press
"His brutal death is a great loss," said French President Emmanuel Macron.View on euronews
Three deaths related to COVID-19 reported Saturday All three deaths were reported in the Saskatoon zone and were in the 80 plus age group, 70 to 79 age group and 50 to 59 age group. There were 163 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the province on Sunday. The North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, reported 20 new cases. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 38 active cases. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 38 active cases and North Central 3 has 20 active cases. Three cases with pending residence information were added to North Central.Two cases were found to be out-of-province residents and were removed from the counts. There are currently 142 people in hospital overall in the province. Of the 120 reported as receiving in patient care there are eight in North Central. Of the 22 people reported as being in intensive care there are two in North Central. The current seven-day average 155, or 12.7 cases per 100,000 population. Of the 29,593 reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 1,613 are considered active. The recovered number now sits at 27,584 after 52 more recoveries were reported. The total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic is 29,593 of those 7,539 cases are from the North area (3,065 North West, 3,309 North Central and 1,165 North East). There were 3,577 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered yesterday in Saskatchewan bringing the total number of vaccines administered in the province to 90,456. There were 967 doses administered in the North Central reported, the most of any zone reporting. Doses were also administered in the Central East, North West, South East, Saskatoon and Regina. There were 2,744 COVID-19 tests processed in Saskatchewan on March 5. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
Charlottetown's manager of planning and heritage says his department is seeing an unprecedented number of applications. "It's everything," said Alex Forbes. "There's building permits. There's applications to the planning advisory committee for variances, subdivision, rezonings, amendments to the zoning bylaw, sign permits, subdivisions." Forbes said it's been busy in the development industry for three or four years, with no slowdown during the pandemic. Even 2020 was a record year for building permits in the city, he said. "COVID has certainly impacted some businesses, but the construction industry is very busy," he said. It's consistent across all kind of construction as well, from single-family dwellings to office buildings to commercial use. Phenomenal growth province-wide in 2019 Province-wide, investment in building construction, year over year from January to November as measured by Statistics Canada, was virtually flat in 2020. But that followed phenomenal growth in 2019, a 57 per cent increase in residential construction investment and 30 per cent in non-residential construction. The focus shifted from residential to non-residential development, with a five per cent decline in residential investment and 20 per cent increase in non-residential. In September, building permit values on the Island crushed a monthly record with $98,991,000 worth of permits, 45 per cent higher than the previous record set in May 2019. The high volume in Charlottetown continues even as the planning department is down a position. "To get another person back in our office and up to speed takes a little bit of time. But if people could be patient, that would be much appreciated."
A little grant money has helped take the chill out of winter in several Calgary communities. Parks Foundation Calgary launched the Embrace the Outdoors Grant last year but quickly ran out of capital as the grant was snapped up by enthusiastic groups. Now, the foundation can offer the grant again. Each group can apply for up to $4,500 as long as they meet all the criteria and can create an experience for citizens that adheres to Alberta's COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. Projects must be carried out before the end of April. For the first round, there were approximately nine projects, and the foundation hopes with this second offering they can fund 15 additional ideas. "Winter is long and people spend a lot of time indoors," said Sheila Taylor, the foundation's CEO. "Coming out of this past summer … outdoor spaces became more important to people's physical health and mental health, and there was a strong desire to find ways to help people continue to go outside." One of the first projects made hay with the grant — literally. Larry Leach with the Phoenix Education Foundation School said they quickly agreed that a hay maze would be a fun way to get kids outside. It's quickly become a favourite activity for students and has even created some fun conversations online. Leach said on Twitter someone asked him how many passes it would take through the maze to make 10,000 steps. He immediately had to try it out. The Phoenix Education Foundation School created a hay maze with the help from a grant from Parks Foundation Calgary.(Helen Pike/CBC) With the extra funds, Leach said they will create a music wall that can become a permanent fixture outside of the school. "This music wall will be something that's permanent and will be, you know, used forevermore," Leach said. Taylor said this was a theme — many communities fit their applications within the winter mandate, but chose to come up with projects they can continue to use. "If a community purchased dozens of sets of snowshoes, they'll be able to continue to use that next winter, too," she said. While the doors to Fort Calgary remain closed at this time, an outdoor storytelling exhibit takes walkers back through time with help from a grant from Parks Foundation Calgary.(Helen Pike/CBC) Fort Calgary may be closed, but outside its doors, there's a storytelling exhibit taking walkers through time. Dating way back, before the fort walls went up — told through the Indigenous storytellers and their connection to the confluence. Those passing by can scan a QR code to listen to audio stories. "Going into this project we just really wanted to find out the real significance of this site," said Troy Patenaude, director of cultural development at Fort Calgary. "In that regard, the staff at Fort Calgary are very much learning alongside the public." At the fort, they've worked to deepen relationships with Indigenous groups. Patenaude added while the outdoor grant helped get this project started, it's something Fort Calgary plans to build off of to include more stories and voices. After adopting a rink in Bridgeland, lead volunteer Keith Hlewka said the funding helped bring the 9A Street N.W. rink to life. Now, it's a fixture — with public art, games, seating and fire pits, it's a space the community is now going to that didn't exist last year. "We get notes all the time and comments from people that they never would have made it through winter without this," Hlewka said. The group was even able to buy yarn for residents in nearby seniors homes who, in turn, adorned the trees with colourful creations. The seniors are now renting a bus to drive by and see their work. "It's really, really interesting how it's sort of taken on a life of its own and never really anticipated," Hlewka said. The group was able to make it happen in partnership with the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society. While the grant isn't a permanent fixture, Taylor said it's made an impact. The foundation hopes to bring it back. "What does it take to create habits and people?" she said. "Or to inspire people to change how they're doing things? I hope that if a family got in the habit of going outside and enjoying winter in a different way, that would be something that could continue as well."
A recent survey revealed most British Columbians want to end heckling during Question Period, and if the first week of the 2021 legislative session was any indication, the Speaker is no fan either. The session began with two days of restrained civility, led by Interim Opposition Leader Shirley Bond and Premier John Horgan as they parried through each day’s Question Period openers. The wheels flew off the bus on day three, Mar. 3, when heckling, desk banging, and insults throughout Question Period caused Speaker Raj Chouhan to issue a rare admonishment to MLAs in the Chamber afterwards. “Members, you may think that making a big noise is a good way of doing Question Period. The Chair doesn't appreciate it,” he said. Chouhan, the NDP MLA for Burnaby-Edmonds since 2005, was appointed Speaker last December after serving as Deputy Speaker since 2017. “I heard the words competence, incompetence, incompetent, numerous times,” Chouhan said. “So?!” fired back a member of the Liberal caucus. “So, the point is… let's be temperate in our language in our debate, because the public is watching,” Chouhan said. “Opposition members have every right to ask questions. I understand their passion and all that, but be careful. Be careful.” His comments followed a 32-minute long Question Period in which ‘incompetent’ or its derivative was used in every question asked by a Liberal Opposition member and in one response by a government minister, for an average of once every two minutes. Ravi Kahlon, minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation, was in the hot seat for much of the week about his ministry’s handling of COVID-19 relief funding for small and medium-sized businesses which, at that point, had disbursed $50 million of the total budgeted $300 million. By the time the last questioner, Liberal House Leader and Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar, unleashed a string of insults and the Premier forcefully responded, the Chamber reverberated with shouts of support and heckling on both sides of the aisle. A far cry from the previous day’s Question Period, which Horgan had hailed for its “respectful dialogue” and wrapped up with a team-building, all-party unity message about how progress could be made on the opioid crisis if every MLA took responsibility and worked together. According to recent survey results, most British Columbian want their legislators to work together, and heckling, a long-held acceptable partisan behaviour in the political theatre known as Question Period, no longer enjoys popular public support. “Desk banging, heckling, a majority of people say, we don't want to see this happening,” said Mario Canseco, president of Research Co., a Canadian public opinion polling and research company. “The appetite’s not there.” Research Co recently polled 800 British Columbians for their opinion on heckling, desk banging, reform of parliamentary decorum, and several other recommendations made by former Speaker Darryl Plecas in his final report to the B.C. Legislative Assembly entitled, Speaker’s Forum on the Role of Members: Actioning Proposals for Change. Aimed at legislative reform, the Plecas report made dozens of recommendations including the formation of an all-party committee to consider how to discipline unacceptable behaviour in the Chamber and whether to eliminate heckling, desk banging, clapping and interruptions during Question Period. “Improving decorum during proceedings of the Legislative Assembly has been a hallmark of my tenure as Speaker,” wrote Plecas in his December 2020 report. In the Research Co survey, 57 per cent of British Columbians thought an all-party committee to examine parliamentary decorum was a good idea. Of the BC Green supporters who responded, 57 per cent were in favour, while 62 per cent of NDP voters and 66 per cent of Liberals were supportive. “Ultimately, this is about figuring out a way to discuss policies that is not going to be drowned by clapping or heckling,” said Canseco. It’s unclear whether the government would consider these reforms, but change could begin with the Speaker establishing rules with the house leaders, said Canseco, likening it to when a judge speaks privately with the defence and prosecution lawyers to curb courtroom overacting. “Where the Speaker discusses this with the house leaders pre-emptively and says, ‘This is the way it's going to go from now on, so please advise your sides,’” Canseco said. “But it's definitely something that people want,” said Canseco. “People want to see some sort of decorum back in the legislature.” Fran@thegoatnews.ca / @FranYanor Fran Yanor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Rocky Mountain Goat
French billionaire Olivier Dassault was killed on Sunday in a helicopter crash, a police source said, with President Emmanuel Macron paying tribute to the 69-year old conservative politician. Dassault was the eldest son of late French billionaire industrialist Serge Dassault, whose namesake Dassault Aviation, builds the Rafale war planes and owns Le Figaro newspaper.
TORONTO — Three major health care worker unions are launching a campaign to press the Ontario government for increased wages and better access to personal protective equipment. The unions say the campaign will launch on Monday in workplaces across the province ahead of the Ontario budget, which is expected to be delivered later this month. They say they are asking the government to raise the wages of personal support workers in all health care settings to $25 an hour as the pandemic continues. They also say the province has a stockpile of 12.4 million pieces of personal protective equipment such as N95 masks, but say staff still struggle to access what they need in some long-term care homes. The unions are calling on the province to ensure employers distribute the protective gear to staff as needed. The call for action is being led by members of Unifor, Service Employees International Union - Healthcare, and the Canadian Union of Public Employees. Meanwhile, Ontario reported 1,299 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, along with 15 more deaths linked to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott said there were 329 new cases in Toronto, 192 in Peel Region, and 116 in York Region. Sunday's data is based on 46,586 completed tests. The province also reported administering 30,192 doses of COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday, for a total of 890,604 doses handed out so far. There have been 308,296 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Ontario since the pandemic began, including 290,840 classified as resolved and 7,067 that have resulted in death. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2021. The Canadian Press
Nunavut is reporting four new cases of COVID-19 Sunday, a day after the territory announced four more cases Saturday. It brings the total number of active cases in the territory to 25, all of which are in Arviat. The hamlet of nearly 3,000 people declared a local state of emergency last month amid rising cases, instituting a curfew beginning at 10 p.m. and ending at 6 a.m. On Friday, Nunavut's chief public health officer said the "outbreak remains contained." Nunavut has confirmed a total of 381 cases of COVID-19 in the territory since the start of the pandemic. Of those, 337 have been in Arviat, with one death.
More than 160 residents of a seniors' home in Rawdon were forced to leave their rooms Sunday morning, after a fire broke out. According to the Sûreté du Québec, the fire started at around 5 a.m. in the basement of Résidence Sainte-Anne on Queen Street. Although some of the residents experienced some smoke inhalation, the SQ says no one was seriously injured. "A few of the residents were taken to hospital because of, among other things, respiratory issues," said Michel Vauclair, regional director of Immobilier BBCF, which runs the home. Firefighters and first responders transported the residents of the home's 164 rooms to a nearby college campus. The residence is home to both autonomous and semi-autonomous seniors. "We have teams of health-care workers, nurses and ambulance technicians who are there to evaluate the health of the residents. They are also there to make sure the residents can eventually be relocated for those who are unable to return to their rooms," said Philippe Éthier, deputy director of the CISSS de Lanaudière. The extent of the damage is still unclear and it is not yet known when residents will be able to return to their homes. It is also still unclear how the fire started.
The first death in the 19 and under age group related to COVID-19 was reported by the province on Sunday. The death was reported in the North West zone, which includes such communities as North Battleford and Lloydminster. This was among two deaths reported on Sunday the other was in the 40 to 49 age group and in the Far North West zone. There were 116 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the province on Sunday. The North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, reported eight new cases. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 40 active cases. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 37 active cases and North Central 3 has 22 active cases. Three cases with pending residence information were added to North Central. Two cases were found to be out-of-province residents and were removed from the counts. There are currently 136 people in hospital overall in the province. Of the 114 reported as receiving in patient care there are 10 in North Central. Of the 22 people reported as being in intensive care there is one in North Central. The current seven-day average 152, or 12.4 cases per 100,000 population. Of the 29,709 reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan,1,518 are considered active. The recovered number now sits at 27,793 after 52 more recoveries were reported. The total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic is 29,709 of those 7,553 cases are from the North area (3,071 North West, 3,317 North Central and 1,165 North East). There were 1,428 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered yesterday in Saskatchewan bringing the total number of vaccines administered in the province to 91,884. There were 226 doses administered in the North Central reported. Doses were also administered in the North West, Saskatoon and Regina. There were 2,263 COVID-19 tests processed in Saskatchewan on March 6. As of today there have been 594,116 COVID-19 tests performed in Saskatchewan. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
“A book,” author Neil Gaiman may or may not have said, “is a dream you hold in your hand.” And right now, in an era of pandemic and polarization, Americans have — and need — a lot of dreams. We dream of unfettered travel, of a world free of face masks and hand sanitizer, of days that are exciting and new and not the grinding tedium of spending hour after hour staring, horrified, at the TV news. We dream of going back to school. Of eating a meal with family. Of hugs. And some of us — well, some of us dream of murder. Small-town murder. Gentle murder. Quiet murder. For those who find their dreams in books, there’s a group of readers who are hungrily consuming a particular style of narrative to escape from the past year's reality: “cozy” mysteries. In an unfathomably complex year, a gently told tale of murder and mayhem whittles the sharp edges of reality to a manageable, smooth surface. “Murder is definitely dark, but in a cozy the reader is with the protagonist every step of the way as each clue is revealed,” says Michelle Vega, executive editor of Berkley, who works with several cozy authors. “You can enjoy the perfect cup of tea and pretend you’re sitting in that comfy bookshop with the protagonist, smiling along with the banter as she and friends figure out whodunit. It is escapist perfection.” In television form, the cozy can be seen in popular shows such as “Murder, She Wrote,” “Midsomer Murders” and “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.” Cozies claim roots in early 20th-century British mysteries by such writers as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. But with the advent of the e-book, authors are setting their gentle crime scenes in RV campgrounds in the American South, tourist towns in the Pacific northwest and in neighbourhoods in Brooklyn, to name a few. The genre’s parameters are few: no swearing, no sex, and little to no gore. Just what the pandemic-era doctor ordered. “The cozy mystery is a familiar way to encounter the two seemingly unreconcilable realities of death and country peace at the same time,” says Sarah Allison, an associate professor of English at Loyola New Orleans who is working on a book about “escape reading.” “The restoration of order at the end of the novel might be less significant than the way this genre makes beautiful scenery and grisly details feel like they go together naturally,” she said in an email. Such mysteries, she says, promise a messy murder and a tidy resolution, “a welcome contrast to the way we’ve all been suspended between life as it was before COVID and life as it will be after.” Kelly Vaiman, a longtime cozy fan, has tried to avoid thinking about real life this past year. First she was wary of going places due to the pandemic, then her elderly mother’s health declined while in a Pennsylvania nursing home. Vaiman couldn’t travel to say goodbye, and her mother died. “After her passing, during the mourning period, I just couldn’t handle the grief,” Vaiman says. “So I’d pick up a cozy mystery to take my mind off everything.” She estimates that she reads 120 books a year. They're not all all cozies, but those are what she turns to when she needs a comforting read. Valerie Burns writes gentle murder mysteries under the pen name of V.M. Burns, and her “Mystery Bookshop” series is now six stories long. Since the pandemic began in early 2020, she’s noticed more readers are taking the time to email her about her work, seeking that human connection that’s sorely missing. Burns, who lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is an avid cozy reader as well as a writer of them. She acknowledges the unusual nature of cozies — that they revolve around a murder yet are also soothing to read. But, she adds, trying to solve a mystery gives a feeling of accomplishment when so much of life seems stalled. “It’s basically a puzzle, but there’s that safety net in knowing there’s not going to be a whole lot of blood and guts and violence,” she says, laughing. “It’s contradictory. A murder mystery with no violence. But I can pick up a cozy, and can figure out clues and try to figure out whodunit but I don’t have to live in all of the horror associated with true crime or a noir.” Esi Sogah, a senior editor at Kensington Books, says she’s seen an uptick in cozy mystery sales in the past year. She believes that the genre’s settings — often picturesque small towns, quirky villages, or unique neighbourhoods — allow homebound readers to travel in their minds. “Sitting in cafes, going book clubs. Browsing in a bookstore in fictional world,” she says. “All the stuff you can’t do right now.” Unlike big blockbuster stories that revolve around one near-superhuman character (who is usually a man), cozy series cultivate an amateur sleuth (usually a woman) and a cast of quirky secondary characters. Readers become attached to the entire ensemble, says author Bree Baker, and consider them old friends. That's why readers love series that stretch to multiple books. “I think we all need a place to belong, at the core of everything. We need to have our people,” Baker says. And at a time when we can’t see our own people in real life, fictional stand-ins will have to do. Solving a murder in one’s mind, dreaming of the day when we can languidly enjoy a coffee and conversation with friends, knowing that what’s right will prevail in the end — those are the reasons people turn to cozies. And, not coincidentally, they overlap with the ways people are coping at this moment in history. “We have enough horror in our day to day lives,” Burns says. “Right now, that’s all I want to do is escape. Escape into a world where justice prevails.” ___ Former Associated Press journalist Tamara Lush, who worked for the AP from 2008 to 2021, is the author, under the pseudonym Tara Lush, of “Grounds for Murder (A Coffee Lover's Mystery)” (2020), a cozy mystery published by Crooked Lane Books. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/TamaraLush Tamara Lush, The Associated Press