Well it's a good thing this guy was pretending, otherwise that could have gotten real awkward real fast. Or, was he pretending...
Well it's a good thing this guy was pretending, otherwise that could have gotten real awkward real fast. Or, was he pretending...
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies gradually ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials began expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 22, opening community clinics for people aged 80 years and older. Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, has said the province's plan is to open another 10 clinics in March for 48,000 people who will be mailed a letter informing them how to book an appointment. Strang said the vaccination program will then expand to the next age group in descending order until everyone in the province is offered the chance to be immunized. The age groups will proceed in five-year blocks. Future community clinics are to be held March 8 in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro; March 15 in Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth; and March 22 in Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth. The province began its vaccination campaign with residents of long-term care homes, those who work directly with patients, those who are 80 and older, and those who are at risk for other reasons including First Nations and African Nova Scotian communities. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island The province says the first phase of its vaccination drive, currently slated to last until March, targets residents and staff of long-term and community care, as well as health-care workers with direct patient contact at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure. Those 80 and older, adults in Indigenous communities, and truck drivers and other rotational workers are also included. The next phase, which is scheduled to begin in April, will target those above 70 and essential workers. The province intends to make the vaccine available to everyone in late summer and fall. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec The province's proposed order of priority for vaccination according to its website is those in residential and long-term care centres, workers in the health and social services network, followed by those in isolated and remote communities, people 80 years or older, and then the general population in 10-year increments. Health officials launched an online and telephone system for vaccine registrations on Feb. 25 and will begin vaccinating people aged 85 years and older in Montreal on March 1. Officials said that while residents across the province aged 85 and older can register for a vaccine, priority will be given to people in the greater Montreal area, which has the highest active COVID-19 case count in Quebec. On Feb. 26, officials opened registration for Montrealers as young as 80 years old. It has not yet been announced when the next age group can begin to register for vaccines. The province says the vaccination of children and pregnant women will be determined based on future studies of vaccine safety and efficacy in those populations. --- Ontario The province has mapped out a three-phase approach to its rollout. Phase 1, which is still ongoing, reserves shots for those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers, and people who live in congregate care settings. All Indigenous adults, people aged 80 and older and adults receiving chronic home care will be next in line. The province says it will begin vaccinations among the 80 and older age cohort starting the third week of March. Vaccinations will begin for people 75 and older starting April 15. The province will then move to offer shots to those 70 and older starting May 1; 65 and older starting June 1; and 60 and older the first week of July. Indigenous adults and patient-facing health-care workers will receive vaccinations as the province works through those age groups. The government is still finalizing the list of essential workers who will receive vaccinations in May if supply is available. The province has not detailed when people younger than 60 can expect to be vaccinated. Appointment bookings can be made online and by phone starting March 15 for those in eligible age cohorts. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. They say most people over 80, and First Nations individuals over 60, could be eligible in early March. The province plans to have all personal care home residents vaccinated with two doses by the end of February, and has started sending team to other congregate living settings such as group homes and shelters. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, say inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if new vaccines are approved and supplies are steady. The plan does not include a separate category for essential workers — something that Reimer says will be considered as vaccine supplies increase. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. When bookings opened to this age group Wednesday, the website was temporarily overwhelmed when more than 150,000 people tried to get access. Within a day, 100,000 appointments were booked. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. Some 28,000 seniors in long-term care have already been vaccinated. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia The first phase of B.C.'s immunization campaign launched in December and focused on health-care workers in hospitals, paramedics, residents and staff at long-term care homes, and remote Indigenous communities. The second phase set to wrap up in March includes people aged 80 and above, Indigenous elders 65 and up, Indigenous communities that didn't receive vaccine in the first phase, as well as more health-care workers and vulnerable populations living and working in certain congregate settings. The third phase of B.C.'s immunization campaign is set to start in April and last until June, reaching people between the ages of 60 and 79, along with those who are highly clinically vulnerable, such as cancer patients. B.C.'s plan for the general population is based on age, with the oldest residents first in line. --- Nunavut Nunavut's vaccination rollout is underway, with vaccine clinics for the general population scheduled or completed in all 25 communities. In Iqaluit, Nunavut's capital, a general vaccination clinic is underway for priority populations, including staff and residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. Starting March 1, the vaccine clinic will be extended to all adults in Iqaluit ages 45 and up. Nunavut still expects enough vaccines to immunize 75 per cent of its residents over the age of 18 by the end of March. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories says it has vaccinated 42 per cent of its adult population since its vaccine rollout began in early January. Vaccine clinics are either completed or underway in all 33 of the territory's communities. In Yellowknife, residents and staff in long-term care homes are being prioritized for the vaccine. Vaccination of Yellowknife's general population will begin in late March. The N.W.T. still expects to receive enough vaccines to inoculate 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
“The connection is me,” said Tsuut’ina Nation artist seth cardinal dodginghorse, linking his work for Contemporary Calgary and his protest at the opening of the southwest Calgary ring road last October. dodginghorse spoke virtually yesterday, the final speaker for Contemporary Calgary’s Water Event. His exhibit, entitled The Glenmore Rezerveoir, is a water jug with a label made from elk hide parfleche. Writing is painted on the inside of the label and can only be read if it’s “really bright out” and the jug is angled. The label reads: “You drink Tsuut’ina land.” dodginghorse said he was approached in August by the gallery to be one of six Indigenous artists to produce a water sculpture as part of political activist Yoko Ono’s exhibition, Growing Freedom. Two months later, he stood at the opening of Tsuut’ina Trail, unofficially called Calgary’s southwest ring road, and cut off his braids, offering them to the portion of the road that displaced his family six years earlier from their generations-held land. “The connection is story-wise and intent behind making the work. They weren’t directly related at all. But a lot of my intent … all my own personal experiences, traumas informed making this work and those were the same things that informed me speaking out at the opening … (and) resulted in me cutting my hair and everything. It’s more like the connection is that I made the artwork and the connection is that I ended up cutting my hair. The connection is me,” said dodginghorse. dodginghorse’s family was forced off their land in 2013 because of the ring road. That land had been in the family since his great-great grandmother. His mother and her siblings had grown up there. Many Tsuut’ina people beyond dodginghorse’s family members had connections to that land. When living there, dodginghorse said the water they drank was “some of the most beautiful, delicious water you could drink.” His family moved to another piece of land on the Tsuut’ina reserve. They were told not to drink the water from the tap because of numerous environmental concerns, including nearby fracking. His family had to drink water from jugs. “We didn’t grow up having to purchase water. We didn’t grow up having to be afraid of what was coming from our tap. We’ve been drinking from these water bottles for quite a bit now and I thought, ‘Why don’t I just use one of these and highlight the issue of drinking water and where does the water I’m purchasing come from?’” he said. In 1932, dodginghorse said Tsuut’ina Nation was “pressured” by Calgary and the government to sell 400 acres of reserve land to the city. That land became the Glenmore reservoir and provides safe drinking water for Calgary residents. “There’s just so much loaded history behind Glenmore reservoir and my family as well ... It’s very strange and very ironic that my family, once we moved, in order to drink water we had to drink water from land that was originally part of Tsuut’ina. That was like essentially purchasing water back from ancestral lands,” said dodginghorse. Having to be concerned about safe drinking water is not unique to Tsuut’ina, said Dodginghorse, noting that boil water advisories are common in many First Nations communities right across the country. While some artwork takes time to conceive and time to determine the medium, this piece was readily conceived, dodginghorse said. “It was very easy to make but then thinking about the history behind the objects, behind my family’s history, all of these connection, is one of those really nice pieces in a way where I made this and then afterwards I started thinking and analysing and really understanding what I had made,” he said. dodginghorse said he prefers his work to be “blunt and in your face.” He wants people to “get” what he is saying with his art and not have to ponder it for “three hours” before the message sinks in. dodginghorse has been showing his work in Calgary galleries for about six years. He said he understands that this venue only reaches “a certain crowd.” “A lot of the people that were involved in a lot of these decisions historically that are still here, aren’t really the type of people that go to galleries. With this type of work has like the focus on reaching out to the average white Calgarian that goes to galleries,” he said. Ryan Doherty, chief curator of Contemporary Calgary, who hosted the virtual talk, said dodginghorse’s piece was popular with gallery goers, many of whom came after dodginghorse cut his braids at the ring road opening. “That seemingly mundane container is in fact so loaded,” said Doherty. When Contemporary Calgary was tasked with asking a new group of artists to collaborate with Ono in this iteration of Water Event, Doherty said he knew it had to be a group with which water had an “enormous significance.” “When you consider the long history and impact of the Bow and Elbow rivers to the Indigenous population past and present it seemed the best thing would be to invite artists for whom that connection would resonate in the collaboration with Yoko,” said Doherty. The other Water Event collaborators are Adrian A. Stimson, Faye HeavyShield, Jessie Ray Short, Judy Anderson and Kablusiak. In 1971, Ono held her first museum exhibition, Water Event, in which she invited over 120 participants to produce a water sculpture. “As Yoko herself noted to us, (this) was one of the best iterations to date,” said Doherty. Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
LAGOS, Nigeria — Gunmen abducted 317 girls from a boarding school in northern Nigeria on Friday, police said, the latest in a series of mass kidnappings of students in the West African nation. Police and the military have begun joint operations to rescue the girls after the attack at the Government Girls Junior Secondary School in Jangebe town, according to a police spokesman in Zamfara state, Mohammed Shehu, who confirmed the number abducted. One parent, Nasiru Abdullahi, told The Associated Press that his daughters, aged 10 and 13, are among the missing. “It is disappointing that even though the military have a strong presence near the school they were unable to protect the girls,” he said. “At this stage, we are only hoping on divine intervention.” Resident Musa Mustapha said the gunmen also attacked a nearby military camp and checkpoint, preventing soldiers from interfering while the gunmen spent several hours at the school. It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties. Several large groups of armed men operate in Zamfara state, described by the government as bandits, and are known to kidnap for money and to push for the release of their members from jail. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said Friday the government’s primary objective is to get all the school hostages returned safe, alive and unharmed. “We will not succumb to blackmail by bandits and criminals who target innocent school students in the expectation of huge ransom payments,” he said. “Let bandits, kidnappers and terrorists not entertain any illusions that they are more powerful than the government. They shouldn’t mistake our restraint for the humanitarian goals of protecting innocent lives as a weakness, or a sign of fear or irresolution.” He called on state governments to review their policy of making payments, in money or vehicles, to bandits. “Such a policy has the potential to backfire with disastrous consequences,” Buhari said. He also said state and local governments must play their part by being proactive in improving security in and around schools. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the abductions and called for the girls' “immediate and unconditional release” and safe return to their families, calling attacks on schools a grave violation of human rights and the rights of children, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. The U.N. chief reaffirmed U.N. support to Nigeria’s government and people “in their fight against terrorism, violent extremism and organized crime,” Dujarric said, and urged Nigerian authorities “to spare no effort in bringing those responsible for this crime to justice.” “We are angered and saddened by yet another brutal attack on schoolchildren in Nigeria,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF representative in the country. “This is a gross violation of children’s rights and a horrific experience for children to go through.” He called for their immediate release. Nigeria has seen several such attacks and kidnappings over the years, notably the mass abduction in April 2014 by jihadist group Boko Haram of 276 girls from the secondary school in Chibok in Borno state. More than a hundred of the girls are still missing. Friday’s attack came less than two weeks after gunmen abducted 42 people, including 27 students, from the Government Science College Kagara in Niger State. The students, teachers and family members are still being held. In December, 344 students were abducted from the Government Science Secondary School Kankara in Katsina State. They were eventually released. Anietie Ewang, Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch, noted the recent abductions and tweeted that “Strong action is required from the authorities to turn the tide & keep schools safe.” Amnesty International also condemned the “appalling attack,” warning in a statement that “the girls abducted are in serious risk of being harmed.” Teachers have been forced to flee to other states for protection, and many children have had to abandon their education amid frequent violent attacks in communities, Amnesty said. ___ AP writer Carley Petesch in Dakar, Senegal contributed to this report. Sam Olukoya, The Associated Press
A Kamloops man facing murder and attempted murder charges stemming from a violent altercation inside a North Shore apartment in March 2020 will undergo a psychiatric assessment. During a preliminary inquiry in Kamloops Law Courts this week, the court ordered that Michael Wayne Palmer undergo the examination to determine his mental fitness for trial. Preliminary inquiries are hearings at which a provincial court judge determines whether there is enough evidence for an accused person to stand trial in B.C. Supreme Court. Evidence presented at the hearing is protected by a court-ordered ban on publication. Palmer, 44, has been in custody since the early-morning hours of March 29, 2020, not long after Kevin White was stabbed to death inside a Carson Crescent apartment. Palmer is accused of killing White, 59, and stabbing three other men inside the suite — a pair of brothers, ages 62 and 58, and a 21-year-old man. Palmer has said he wishes to represent himself at trial and has elected trial by judge and jury in B.C. Supreme Court. White was a celebrated author who wrote of his tough times and he was working on his second book at the time of his death. He left behind a daughter and two grandsons who had only recently begun to know him. He is also charged with assaulting a corrections officer with a weapon at Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre while in custody — a file for which he will be in court on March 1 to confirm a trial date. Palmer will also be in court on that date for an update on his psychiatric assessment. Michael Potestio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kamloops This Week
DELTA, B.C. — A provincially funded society that refused to provide medical assistance in dying has been issued a final notice about its breach of a lease at a facility in Delta, B.C.Fraser Health says it has ended its $1.5-million annual service agreement with the Delta Hospice Society, which was originally notified a year ago to vacate the premises.The health authority says in a release it will take possession of the lands and buildings on March 29, but that could happen earlier if the society is agreeable.Fraser Health says plans are underway to ensure hospice beds can be reopened at the Irene Thomas Hospice within two weeks after the lease is terminated.The society's stance against a federal medical assistance in dying law introduced in 2016 is based on members' religious views.Fraser Health has said it's working to ensure unionized hospice staff who received layoff notices will have the chance to work within the health authority if they choose.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Town of Bredenbury council met at 4:30 P.M. with Mayor Jordan Hass calling the regularly scheduled council meeting to order with all council members present. The council began by adopting the agenda, then carried on with reviewing the minutes of the last meeting. After a short discussion with CAO Kim Varga reviewing what the council has done over the last month, Councillor Trowell made the motion to accept the minutes as reviewed; motion carried. Carrying on the council reviewed the financial statement before Councillor Reykjalin made the motion to accept the financials; motion carried. Bank Reconciliation was next to be reviewed before Councillor Trowell made a motion to accept the Bank Reconciliation as reviewed; motion carried. The council reviewed the town maintenance report as submitted by the town foreman, Councillor Chartier made the motion to accept; motion carried. Next, the council heard an update about the old school project the town has taken on, the electrical should be done soon, the EMS room is looking good, and the bathroom has been coming along well; there is hope to have the fire trucks stationed there by spring. The proposed town daycare was discussed next, the town is waiting to find out if they will be accredited or not at this time, after advertising on social media for half a day the town has interest for 12 children already. The town has been approached to have the arena open until the end of April or May. After a short discussion before Councillor Burman made the motion to rent it out for $160/hr;; motion carried. There was a request to annex an open lot to the RM of Saltcoats Councillor Reykjalin made the motion to accept the annex; motion carried. The council discussed a donation to STARS Air Ambulance, Councillor Chartier made the motion to donate $500 to STARS; motion carried. Gary Horseman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Four-Town Journal
(Salthaven West/Facebook - image credit) Salthaven West is sharing the story of two bald eagles found in distress this past December in hopes people will stop using lead pellets. The Regina-based non-profit rehabilitates sick and injured wildlife in hopes of return them back to the wild. It wasn't able to do so for the two bald eagles. "When the first one arrived, we were pretty sure that there was a toxin involved and we thought it was likely lead," director Megan Lawrence said. "The people that rescued it went looking for other animals that may have been injured by this toxin and they found a second eagle at the location." She said the eagles died within about 48 hours of each other. Lawrence said the non-profit is fairly certain lead was involved and sent the eagles to be tested. The results came back positive for lead this past week. There were dead coyotes in the area where the eagles were found, Lawrence said. She believes the coyotes may have been shot with lead pellets and, with eagles being scavengers, the birds were poisoned by eating them. "It's quite common for them to eat dead animals, or if hunters are using lead and leave parts of the deer behind, eagles will come along and clean that up," Lawrence said. "Lead, it presents itself as severe neurological symptoms, seizures, paralysis. They were very weak, emaciated. The first one had the vision issues that can cause blindness as well. Both could barely even hold their heads up." One of the eagles was badly poisoned to the point that it could barely lift it's head up, Megan Lawrence said. Lawrence said it can be hard for the volunteers to see eagles in this condition, but they did their best to save the birds. "We know that we did everything we could for them and it just wasn't enough. They were too far gone by then." If anyone, even one person, can switch from using lead, they can make a big difference. - Megan Lawrence The centre sees about one eagle a year on average, she said. The ones who do recover can't be released back into the wild. Instead, they need to live out their days at sanctuaries. Lawrence said she hopes people remember there are other options for ammunition, such as steel or copper. She said that while lead can be cheaper, it's toxic to both animals and humans. "If anyone, even one person, can switch from using lead, they can make a big difference."
PARIS — The pressure increased on Rennes coach Julien Stephan after losing at home to Nice 2-1 in the French league on Friday made it three straight defeats and four in the past six. Rennes could have bounced up to fifth place with a win but is mired in eighth place after its eighth defeat. Having been among the frontrunners this season, it has not won since mid-January. The strain is showing on Rennes, with technical director Florian Maurice shouting at the referee in the tunnel during the interval after his side was not awarded a penalty late in the first half. After losing its past three games, Nice moved up to 12th place. Forward Amine Gouiri put Nice ahead from the penalty spot in the 18th minute but winger Martin Terrier equalized late in the first half. Gouri showed good skill to curl in a free kick from the right which Austrian defender Flavius Daniliuc met with a glancing header for 2-1 in the 57th. Rennes midfielder Benjamin Bourigeaud looked like equalizing late but his goal-bound shot hit the back of a teammate near the line. On Saturday, defending champion Paris Saint-Germain, which is in third place, travels to face last-placed Dijon. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Canada's vaccine rollout received a boost Friday with the approval of a third COVID-19 inoculation, giving the country another immunization option at a time when case counts remain nearly 75 per cent higher than they were at the peak of the first wave of the pandemic. Health Canada approved a vaccine from AstraZeneca, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said jabs will keep arriving "faster and faster as we head into the spring." While numbers of cases and hospitalizations have dropped from all-time highs just weeks ago, variants of concern are rising in parts of the country. Canada's top doctor Theresa Tam said nationally there are 964 reported cases of the variant first detected in the U.K., up from 429 reported two weeks ago. There were also 44 cases of the variant first discovered in South Africa, and two cases of the version first found in Brazil. "The risk of rapid re-acceleration remains," Tam said. "At the same time new variants continue to emerge ... and can become predominant." Tam added that average daily case counts in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia have increased between eight and 14 per cent over the previous week. Thunder Bay, Ont., will move into lockdown on Monday after community leaders called for government action following a recent spread of COVID in the city. Outbreaks have been declared there at correctional facilities, among the homeless population and at a number of local schools. Ontario's Simcoe Muskoka region will also go into lockdown next week after a spike in infections, but restrictions will loosen in seven other areas in the province. Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada's deputy chief public health officer, said the country's vaccine rollout will be just one method in slowing the spread of new variants and avoiding a third wave. He said public health measures aimed at halting transmission such as physical distancing and limiting contacts remain important, adding that jurisdictions that have recently reopened need to keep a keen eye on transmission rates. "Certainly if there's any indication that the case rates and ... the emergence of variants are increasing, we would need to adjust as appropriate," he said. "But the vaccinations, and certainly the introduction of more vaccines coming to Canada is very, very good news." Experts advising the Ontario government said this week more contagious variants of COVID-19 are expected to make up 40 per cent of cases by the second week of March. Ontario reported 1,258 new cases of COVID-19 and 28 more deaths linked to the virus on Friday, with 362 of them in Toronto, 274 in Peel Region and 104 in York Region. Parts of Atlantic Canada have also seen rising case counts. Newfoundland and Labrador reported four new cases of COVID-19 while Nova Scotia added 10 more to its tally. Of the new Nova Scotia cases, the province says two are related to travel outside Atlantic Canada. Prince Edward Island, which reported an outbreak of three cases earlier this week, had one more new case Friday that does not appear to be directly linked to the others. Quebec, meanwhile, reported 815 new COVID-19 infections and 11 more deaths. Health officials in the province said hospitalizations have dropped by 13, to 620, while intensive care also decreased by three to 119. Saskatchewan health officials announced 153 new cases and no new deaths, while in Manitoba there were 64 new infections and one additional death. In Alberta, with 356 new infections and three more deaths, doctors with the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association's pandemic committee urged the province to hold off on possibly easing more restrictions next week. They said they are concerned that new daily active cases have stopped decreasing and the number of new infections that result from each case is growing. As of Thursday evening, federal data showed there have been 858,217 COVID-19 cases in Canada, including 21,865 deaths, since the beginning of the pandemic. While Tam warned that COVID-19 variants can spread more quickly and easily become dominant, progress on the vaccine front is a source of optimism, she noted. "To date, over 1.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across Canada. And there are early indications of high vaccine efficacy." Trudeau also announced on Friday a partnership with Mississauga, Ont.'s Verity Pharmaceuticals and the Serum Institute of India that will deliver two million more doses of the AstraZeneca jab — in addition to the 20 million doses Canada already secured with AstraZeneca. Trudeau said as vaccinations ramp up across the country, many provinces have expanded the number of health professions able to administer a COVID-19 vaccine, and he asked dentists, midwives, pharmacy technicians and retired nurses to lend a hand in the rollout. "Job 1 remains beating this pandemic," Trudeau said, adding the federal government will continue to send rapid tests to provinces in hopes of getting more Canadians tested. "We still have to be very careful, especially with new variants out there. We all want to start the spring in the best shape possible." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
Staff vaccination rates at the site of one of Hamilton’s worst outbreaks still have some ways to go to reach the provincial target, as the city resumed vaccinations for health-care workers on Friday. This week, the CEO of Shalom Village in Westdale released the number of the home’s staff who’ve received the COVID-19 vaccination. The numbers offer a glimpse into the rollout and uptake of vaccines in this high-priority group in long-term care. Shalom Village, a facility offering long-term care and assisted living, was home to the second-worst outbreak in the city, with 218 cases and 20 deaths from Dec. 9 to Feb. 5. In an email this week, CEO Ken Callaghan said 120 staff out of about 173 “active” staff have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Of those, he said “the vast majority” have received two doses, but didn’t provide numbers. Four additional staff received their first doses on Tuesday, when the city’s mobile clinic came to vaccinate more residents, Callaghan said. At 69 per cent, Shalom Village’s current vaccination numbers fall below a provincial goal of 75 per cent vaccination rate for the city, and a “per organization” target set by a Hamilton “vaccination strategy” group, of which Callaghan is a member. The province’s goal is a “planning target” which represents the proportion of Hamilton adults expected to volunteer to receive the vaccine. The number is based on previous annual vaccine uptake, but does not limit who can receive the vaccine. Shalom staff began receiving vaccines on Dec. 28, with 10 spots allocated per day to the home at the Hamilton Health Sciences clinic. However, the clinic shut down on Jan. 27 after the province ordered that vaccines should only be given to seniors’ home residents due to shortages. That clinic reopened on Friday. Shalom’s numbers are also less than vaccination rates at Grace Villa, the site of the city’s worst outbreak with 234 cases and 44 deaths from Nov. 25 to Jan. 19. In an email Friday, the CEO of APANS Health Services, which runs the east Mountain home, said 123 out of 139 staff have received both vaccine doses, about 88 per cent. Mary Raithby added that 105 out of 108 residents have received both vaccine doses. “We continue to have staff and residents vaccinated according to the public health guidelines and vaccine availability,” she said. Callaghan said by email on Thursday that he is “comfortable where Shalom is on staff vaccinations,” noting the current numbers are “not where we will end up with the vaccination site reopening.” He said there are additional staff on the list to receive their first doses as the city’s fixed-site clinic resumes. But Callaghan didn’t specify how many staff were on that list, only saying there are 34 staff and essential caregivers combined. Some have expressed concern over a reluctance among staff to receive the vaccine, or barriers preventing them from easily doing so. In mid-January, The Spectator reported concerns from SEIU Healthcare — a union representing health-care workers, including at Shalom Village — that workers faced barriers to accessing vaccines. The union advocated for paid sick leave for workers who experience side effects from the vaccine, as well as travelling costs and time for staff to consult with a doctor prior to receiving the vaccine. Language barriers and scheduling issues were also concerns. Staff vaccinations in long-term care are essential, as experts have pointed out that COVID-19 only enters a home from the outside. At the time, Hamilton’s medical officer of health was pleased that vaccine uptake in long-term-care and retirement home workers was more than 65 per cent. Callaghan declined an interview request about staff responses to vaccinations and whether Shalom Village took or is taking steps to address any concerns. As for residents, Callaghan said about 97 per cent have received both doses of the vaccine. It is not clear how many residents that represents. “The only residents not receiving both vaccinations were due to their refusals to be vaccinated,” he said, noting all residents who consented directly or through their attorneys have received both doses of the vaccine. Maria Iqbal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
NEW YORK — A photographer who was shoved by a man who then came at him with a metal pole during a trip on the Staten Island ferry on Friday was able to get out of harm's way when New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang intervened. Spencer Platt, a photographer with Getty Images, said he was on the top deck of the boat heading toward Staten Island around 11 a.m., talking on the phone after taking some photos of Yang, who was headed to campaign events. Platt said when he turned around, the man was “just right in my face, like an inch away." The man pushed him, sending him down onto a bench, and Platt said he saw he was carrying some kind of metal rod. “He immediately lifts that up, comes at me and has it raised over me," he said. The photographer got the attention of Yang and his campaign, who were inside, and he said they came out, with Yang in the lead. “He came out ... and he just kind of yelled, the guy turned around, and that allowed me to just kind of bolt out of there," Platt said. “I think most people would have the same impulse I had - to try and do anything that you can to protect somebody who might be threatened or endangered," Yang said in a statement. "I got up and tried to intervene as quickly as I could. I’m glad that when he turned he saw me and recognized me, and the situation deescalated quickly.” Platt told some New York Police Department officers who were on the boat and who then went to keep an eye on the man. The NYPD said no arrest was made. The Associated Press
Lady Gaga's two stolen bulldogs, snatched in a violent abduction that left the pets' caretaker shot in the chest this week in Hollywood, were turned over to police on Friday and have been reunited with the pop singer's representatives, police said. The safe return of Koji and Gustav came hours after Gaga, who was filming a movie in Rome when her pets were taken on Wednesday night, issued a plea on social media for "an act of kindness" to bring them home. A woman who authorities have not publicly identified brought the dogs to an LAPD station unharmed, and they were turned over to the musician's representatives, according to a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman, Officer Mike Lopez.
SAN DIEGO — California is freeing up as much as $28 million to help immigrants arriving from Mexico and being released in the U.S. until their court dates, a sharp contrast from other border states that have emerged as foes of President Joe Biden's immigration policies. The funding, expected to last through June, comes as Biden unwinds former President Donald Trump's policy to make asylum-seekers wait in Mexico until their court hearings. It will pay for hotel rooms for immigrants to quarantine during the coronavirus pandemic before going to their final destinations throughout the U.S. Money also will go to Jewish Family Service of San Diego to provide food, transportation and help with travel logistics. The state will fund health services for the short stays, including COVID-19 testing. Last week, the Biden administration began allowing people into the United States who had been forced to wait south of the border under Trump's “Remain in Mexico" policy. On his first day, Biden suspended the program for new arrivals. An estimated 26,000 people with active cases will be allowed into the U.S., with about 25 people released a day in San Diego. “This is what happens when California and Washington are talking with each other instead of at each other,” said H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the California Department of Finance. The first asylum-seekers waiting in the Mexican border city of Matamoros, home to a migrant camp with squalid conditions, were processed for entry Thursday in Brownsville, Texas. Processing began Friday in El Paso, Texas. At the same time, the U.S. is releasing more asylum-seekers who are not enrolled in “Remain in Mexico” into the country, as it did for hundreds of thousands of people before Trump foisted the responsibility of hosting asylum-seekers on Mexico in 2019. While most people are quickly expelled without an opportunity to seek asylum under pandemic powers that Trump instituted and Biden kept in place, limited releases in the U.S. have raised financial and humanitarian concerns in some border cities. “There’s no plan of action once Border Patrol releases migrants in city centres from being detained,” Bruno Lozano, mayor of the South Texas city of Del Rio, said in an interview. Lozano posted a YouTube video last week calling on the Biden administration to stop releasing migrants during a winter storm that ravaged Texas, knocking out power and water for several days in many cities. The Border Patrol resumed releasing migrants in Del Rio on Feb. 20 after the cold passed. Lozano said Friday that border agents have resumed releasing people in Del Rio and nearby cities. He noted that non-profit groups provide cellphones, food and clothing to people leaving border custody and called on federal authorities to ramp up vaccinations in border communities or provide hotel rooms where migrants who test positive can quarantine. In Yuma, Arizona, Mayor Douglas Nicholls estimated that by the end of Thursday, some 230 migrants, including many families with children, had been released since Feb. 15. Many are dropped at a Greyhound bus stop outside a discount store in a rural area. Nicholls wants state and federal officials to transport migrants to larger cities with more infrastructure and resources, as the federal government did during Trump's presidency. Texas has sent 10,000 rapid COVID-19 tests to Brownsville for arriving migrants. City spokesman Felipe Romero says the tests are administered at the local bus station and anyone who tests positive is told to isolate. In El Paso, the Annunciation House shelter is receiving 25 immigrants daily from the Remain in Mexico program. The shelter expects releases to double in the coming weeks and perhaps reach 75 a day by the end of March, director Ruben Garcia said. California has so far been the most generous with aid. Besides the new funding, it's already spent nearly $12 million to help about 30,000 asylum-seekers at the border since Trump’s presidency. With Biden in the White House, Arizona and Texas have emerged as chief critics of immigration policy, a position that California proudly took during the Trump years. Texas successfully sued to block Biden's 100-day moratorium on deportations. Texas and Arizona signed agreements with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Trump's final days that could delay any changes to immigration policy. The Biden administration has rejected them. ___ Associated Press writers Nomaan Merchant in Houston and Anita Snow in Phoenix contributed to this report. Elliot Spagat, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Ontario unknowingly obtained and distributed counterfeit N95 masks to health-care providers, the government said Friday, urging them to check their supply for the fake personal protective equipment. The province could not immediately say how many of the counterfeit 3M masks it had acquired for its stockpile, or how many were given to health-care workers. The Ministry of Health sent a memo to health-care providers notifying them of the problem and asked them to seek out and "isolate" the faulty gear by product number. "We have launched a thorough investigation as we work with our health system partners to ensure that these masks are no longer used by anyone and are removed from the system," the ministry said in a statement. The government said it is reviewing its entire stockpile to check for the counterfeit product and has also alerted Health Canada of the situation. The province said it has put safeguards in place to ensure it buys quality PPE. The ministry said it has also mandated that all of its 3M N95 masks undergo inspection from an independent third party. "Wherever possible, PPE is procured from known, reliable vendors that the ministry has relationships with," the statement said. The president of 3M Canada said the company has been receiving increasing reports from across the country of fraud related to its product. Penny Wise said the company recently helped Ontario and other provincial authorities confirm that N95 masks purchased from a distributor with no relation to the company are fake. "Counterfeit products may not meet the rigorous quality standards that our authentic 3M respirators are subject to, and put the lives of those battling this pandemic at risk," she said in a statement. Wise said the company distributes its products through a network of authorized vendors, and recommends that customers buy from them. "We have been working with law enforcement to eliminate this fraud as part of a global effort to combat fraud and price gouging and help protect the public against those who try and exploit the demand for critical 3M products during the pandemic," she said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press
A new report says the Manitoba government failed to provide proper oversight as costs spiralled on two mega projects at Crown-owned Manitoba Hydro. The review was done by former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall.
OTTAWA — A man who helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for WE Charity says he believes two different groups of donors were told they had raised the money for a school in Kenya. Reed Cowan testified before a parliamentary committee today where he said he discovered a plaque that had once borne his late son's name had been replaced with the name of another donor. Cowan says he then found a video online that showed an opening ceremony for the school building, almost identical to one he participated in, that took place with a different group of donors two weeks before the one held for his group. Cowan, who was a member of the advisory board to a WE-affiliated group in the United States, says he began raising money after his son Wesley died in an accident at age four and that helping children in Kenya helped him deal with the loss. In an email, WE Charity says there was only one opening ceremony for the school and Cowan misunderstood what was happening in the video. WE says it inadvertently failed to notify Cowan about the removal of the plaque and that it has now been returned. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
(Émilie Vast/CBC - image credit) Alberta finance officials are pushing back against a proposal in a private members' bill that would add members representing public sector plans to the board of the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo). Shannon Phillips, the NDP MLA for Lethbridge-West, presented Bill 208, Alberta Investment Management Corporation Amendment Act, 2020, to the Standing Committee on Private Bills and Private Members' Public Bills on Friday. The bill proposes adding four members representing the Alberta Teachers Retirement Fund, Special Forces Pension Plan , Local Authorities Pension Plan and Public Sector Pension Plan to AIMCo's 11-person board. Since taking office nearly two years ago, the current United Conservative government has compelled the pension funds to use AIMCo as their investment manager. MLAs have been inundated with phone calls, emails and letters about this issue, Phillips said. Adding representation from the four largest public sector pensions to the AIMCo board would help ease those worries, she said. "Those funds then deserve a better window over governance at AIMCo and input into how they make investment decisions and ultimately how they serve their clients," she told the committee. AIMCo is an investment firm owned by the provincial government. Management came under fire last year after losing $2.1 billion from a bet on market volatility. Managers of the four pensions, which provide retirement income for teachers, provincial and local government workers, health care workers and municipal police officers have expressed concern that AIMCo would mishandle their funds. Lowell Epp, assistant deputy minister for Treasury Risk and Management for the Alberta government, rejected Phillips' proposal in his presentation to the committee. He says a 15-member board is unwieldy and would be less productive than a smaller board. He also suggested the proposed new members would represent the interests of their individual pension plans and not AIMCo as a whole. "Representative boards frequently take a combative approach to decision making rather than a much more productive, consensus-based approach," he said. Epp said each public sector pension retains control over their investment policies. UCP MLAs, who make up the majority on the committee, echoed some of Epp's concerns. Referendum question The Alberta government has the power to issue investment directives to AIMCo. Bill 208 would remove that provision from existing legislation. Concerns have been raised that the UCP government could order AIMCo to invest funds in oil and gas projects. Phillips said the power has never been used, so it shouldn't be a problem to remove it. "Removing that section of the act is a very simple solution to some of the concerns that have been raised by the public," she said. The government is currently studying the feasibility of leaving the Canada Pension Plan and creating an Alberta Pension Plan in its place, a measure recommended by the Fair Deal Panel last year. Bill 208 proposes asking Albertans in a referendum whether they want to switch to a provincial pension plan and if they want AIMCo to manage the fund. Epp, in his presentation, said early evidence suggests a provincial pension plan could be beneficial, but that no decisions have been made on who would manage the funds. MLAs on the committee agreed to hear stakeholder presentations on Phillips' bill before deciding whether to send it back to the legislative assembly for additional debate.
(CBC - image credit) Alberta Health confirmed two more deaths linked to a COVID-19 outbreak at the Olymel meatpacking plant in Red Deer on Friday, bringing the total to three. Henry De Leon, 50, who worked at the plant for 15 years, died on Wednesday after spending three weeks on a ventilator, his family told CBC News. The other Olymel outbreak-related death reported by the province on Friday was a woman in her 60s, who died on Sunday. Alberta Health does not report the identities of people who die of COVID-19. The first COVID-19 death linked to the outbreak was Darwin Doloque, 35, who died on Jan. 28 There are 500 cases linked to the outbreak at the Red Deer meatpacking plant, according to the most recent update from Alberta Health. Of those, 156 are considered active. Alberta reported 356 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and three more deaths from the illness, the lowest number of COVID-19 deaths reported by the province in a single day since October. There are 4,505 active cases of COVID-19 across the province, an increase of 21 from the day before. All three deaths announced Friday were from the Central health zone. Hospitalizations from the disease continue to decline — there are 269 people being treated in hospital for COVID-19, including 55 in intensive care beds. Hospitalizations are a key metric in determining whether the province will choose to ease more restrictions next week. The province has already met the hospitalization thresholds for both Step 2 and 3, and could choose to move to Step 2 of the phased reopening plan as early as Monday. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, said the government will also consider leading indicators like R-value, new cases and positivity rate, when deciding to move to the next phase of reopening. The regional breakdown of active cases is: Calgary zone: 1,523 North zone: 1,016 Edmonton zone: 908 Central zone: 722 South zone: 327 Unknown: 9 The province's COVID-19 vaccination rollout has now seen 207,300 doses of vaccine administered. That number includes 82,989 Albertans who are fully immunized with two doses of vaccine.
WINNIPEG — Billions of dollars in cost overruns and spiralling debt at Crown-owned Manitoba Hydro were caused in part by a lack of government oversight and overly optimistic sales predictions, says a report released Friday. A review by former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall looked at construction of the Bipole III transmission line and the Keeyask generating station, which together ran $3.7 billion, or 38 per cent, over their initial budgets. The report said there were many factors, including one major contract that left the province instead of the contractor on the hook for cost overruns. And as costs rose, the former NDP government did not take action, said Wall, who was hired by the province's current Progressive Conservative government to do the review. "The commissioner saw no evidence of interest or proactive outreach on the part of the former elected Government of Manitoba to provide oversight, accountability, and overall leadership on the Keeyask and Bipole III projects," Wall's report states. "As the costs of the projects grew and the potential impact on Manitoba Hydro became apparent, there is no evidence that the former government engaged with the (Manitoba Hydro board) or provided any direction." The report also says Manitoba Hydro officials and the former NDP government overestimated the potential for export sales. When the government began pushing the projects, it said hydroelectricity could do for Manitoba what oil had done for Alberta. But energy prices softened as the use of natural gas and fracking expanded in the United States. Domestic demand was also overstated, Wall said. Instead of Keeyask being needed as early as 2019, its energy may only have been needed a decade from now, Wall said. The generating station started operating earlier this month. Keeyask and Bipole III were built over the last 15 years and Manitoba Hydro's debt has tripled in that time to more than $23 billion. The Crown corporation has applied to increase customer rates by up to eight per centtto pay down some of the debt, but provincial regulators have approved much lower increases. Wall's report said up to $1 billion might have been saved had Manitoba Hydro been allowed to build Bipole III on a straight route along the east side of Lake Winnipeg. Instead, the NDP government ordered it take a much longer route through western Manitoba to preserve pristine boreal forest, respect Indigenous land use and to not raise environmental concerns among potential customers in the United States. When the Opposition Tories raised the issue in 2007, the government said export sales would pay for any extra costs. Attempts by The Canadian Press to reach Greg Selinger, who was the minister responsible for Manitoba Hydro at the time and would became premier in 2009, were unsuccessful Friday. The current NDP Opposition said the report from Wall, a former Saskatchewan Party leader, was the work of a political operative. "Typically these types of reports would be produced by a judge or an expert in their field," hydro critic Adrien Sala said. "Instead, the (Tories) have decided to hire their friend and political ally ... to write a report that would tell them exactly what it was that they wanted to hear." Manitoba Hydro said it is reviewing the report and will discuss its findings with the government. Wall's report makes many recommendations, including greater oversight by the provincial cabinet of major hydro projects. It also says some projects could be done in partnership with the private sector. Wall said the province would continue to own any infrastructure under such an arrangement, but the Canadian Union of Public Employees called the idea a step toward privatization. "Private, for-profit corporations ... aren't participating in projects for the public good. They're there to make a profit," CUPE Local 998 president Michelle Bergen said in a news release. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021 Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
WELLINGTON COUNTY – Wellington County council has endorsed a plan that will see climate change officially considered into county decisions. Karen Chisholme, the County of Wellington’s climate change coordinator, presented a lengthy climate change mitigation plan to council called Future Focused. “The vision for this plan is to integrate climate change into our decision making by developing actions and policies to lead the community in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,” Chisholme said. “This will ensure the County of Wellington continues to deliver superior public service resulting in healthy, safe communities with a resilient and sustainable ecosystem now and into the future.” She explained the most notable changes the county will see is in temperature and precipitation with an overall increase in annual temperature and more days above 30 C. Annual precipitation could increase along with shorter periods between extreme weather events and a increased freeze-thaw cycle which has implications for municipal infrastructure. “What we may see is road washout and erosion, increased insurance costs, power outages and service disruptions, road closures...and watermain breaks,” Chisholme said as examples. There are also implications to the environment and agriculture with possible lower crop yields, an expanded range of pests and increased erosion. Recreation could see impacts too with higher costs to operate ice rinks, less opportunities for outdoor winter activity and low water during summer droughts. Total greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 were estimated at 1.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide through the community and 8,300 tonnes from corporate. Recommendations are focused on areas with the best potential for reducing emissions. “Areas with the greatest opportunity for reductions are natural gas from heating, gas and diesel from transportation and biogenic gases in agriculture,” Chisholme said. Chisholme said some of the “big moves” in the report include a transition to electric vehicles because moving to public transit isn’t a viable option due to the geography of Wellington County. Another key recommendation is to retrofit existing buildings with things like natural gas heating and create green development standards for new builds. On agriculture, Chisholme said the county will continue to partner with Smart Cities to develop circular food economy principles. She noted solid waste services has already put in place some programs that reduce emissions such as the green bin organics recycling introduced last year. Chisholme said the community emissions target for Wellington County is six per cent between 2002 and 2030–about 73,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. “Six per cent may not seem ambitious but emissions will continue to increase, with an increase in population and business development, until we can put the recommendations from the plan in place,” she said. Councillor Don McKay was happy to see the county taking climate change seriously. “It’s really nice to see the priority the county and the member municipalities are putting on this climate change initiative,” McKay said. “It really makes me proud...I can see us being, as usual, Wellington County in the forefront across Ontario in implementing the climate strategies we need to do.” Councillor Campbell Cork was also impressed but said he didn’t want to get too far ahead without examining the costs. “It’s one of the most important documents probably ever to come before us, we’re talking about trying to save the planet,” Cork said. “Climate mitigation is going to be one of the most expensive projects to come before council.” After some minor tweaks to the motion, council endorsed the Future Focused plan, directed communications staff to prepare a final version for publication and prepare a five-year plan and cost estimate for council approval. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com