Hundreds of truckers who entered the U.K. from Europe are unable to go back through France after it blocked their re-entry over fears of a more virulent strain of the coronavirus in southeastern England.
Hundreds of truckers who entered the U.K. from Europe are unable to go back through France after it blocked their re-entry over fears of a more virulent strain of the coronavirus in southeastern England.
In announcing a planned phone call on Friday between U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the White House's intended message was clear: Traditional allies are back in favour while despots, dictators and the killers of dissenters are on the outs. The way press secretary Jen Psaki announced the scheduled call with Trudeau was revealing, as it came in response to a question that had nothing at all to do with Canada's prime minister. She was asked about Vladimir Putin. Specifically, she was asked when Biden would speak with the Russian leader. Psaki replied that it wasn't an immediate priority. "[Biden's] first foreign leader call will be on Friday with Prime Minister Trudeau," she said. "I would expect his early calls will be with partners and allies. He feels it's important to rebuild those relationships." U.S. plans to investigate Russia Psaki elaborated on Putin in a separate news conference where she described Russia as "reckless" and "adversarial." She said Biden has tasked the intelligence community with reporting on a variety of alleged Russian transgressions: cyberattacks on U.S. companies, interference in U.S. politics, the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and Russian-paid bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Yet the goal of rebalancing relationships away from rivals toward like-minded countries has been tested already. Some Canadians, notably Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, want trade retaliation against the U.S. following the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline on Day 1 of the new administration. The decision undermines Canada's No. 1 export to the United States: oil. WATCH | The National's report on Keystone XL: Biden's foreign policy ambitions will keep being tested as international relationships undergo unwieldy twists on any given issue due to practical and political considerations. Here is what we already know about the Biden administration's approach to other countries after its first couple of days in office. The moves so far The administration will release a report on suspected Saudi government involvement in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, an issue the last administration showed little interest in pursuing. It is also threatening to cancel support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. It is willing to consider new NATO expansion on Russia's doorstep, into Georgia, and in fact is staunchly supportive of the international military alliance. And Biden has rejoined previous alliances the U.S. was either scheduled to exit (the World Health Organization) or had already left (the Paris climate accord). These activities are intended to signal a dramatic change in foreign policy from Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, who frequently bashed the leaders of democracies and international institutions while simultaneously cultivating friendly relationships with non-democratic leaders in the Middle East, Russia and North Korea. There will be contradictions in Biden's approach — as there were in Trump's. For example, while Trump often had kind words for dictators, he also sanctioned their countries on occasion, including Russia and China. Also, don't count on an ambitious foreign policy from Biden. Early on, the new administration will be busy juggling domestic crises, said Edward Alden, an expert on Canada-U.S. relations. "I think we are going to see an approach to alliances that looks a lot like [Barack] Obama's — engaged, respectful, but not overly ambitious," said Alden, a senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. "The United States has enormous problems at home, and those are going to take priority for some time." Alden said he does expect some new international initiatives, such as more active co-operation on global vaccine distribution. Biden wants changes on Canada-U.S. pandemic travel On COVID-19, Biden also wants to immediately connect with Canada and Mexico to establish new rules within 14 days for pandemic-related travel safety measures. Alden also expects an attempt to rework and revive the international nuclear deal with Iran, and establish greater co-ordination with other countries in confronting China. For example, Biden has proposed a summit of democracies where countries can share ideas for countering autocracies. Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told his confirmation hearing this week that the last administration had a point in reorienting policy toward Beijing. "President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China," Blinken said. "The basic principle was the right one, and I think that's actually helpful to our foreign policy." He got into a testy exchange at that hearing with Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-minded Republican who favours a hands-off approach on foreign affairs. When Blinken said he was open to expanding NATO membership to Russia's neighbour Georgia, Paul called that a recipe for war with Russia. Blinken argued the opposite is true. After years of Russian incursions in non-NATO Georgia and Ukraine, recent evidence suggests Russia is most belligerent with countries outside NATO's shield, he said. Keystone XL: The early irritant Biden and Trudeau are expected to discuss new travel measures to control the spread of COVID-19, as well as Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion that would run south from Alberta to Nebraska. So far, Trudeau has shown little desire to escalate the pipeline issue. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, on the other hand, has demanded retaliatory action, and some trade experts say potential legal avenues do exist. WATCH | Kenny on the fate of Keystone XL: But they're skeptical they will achieve much. Eric Miller of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, a cross-border consulting firm specializing in trade and government affairs, said the best that pipeline-backers can hope for is to sue the U.S. government for financial compensation for the cancelled project. He said the Alberta government and the project's developer, TC Energy, can try suing under the investor-state dispute chapter in the old NAFTA, which will remain in effect for two more years for existing investments. "[But] nothing is going to force the Biden administration to deliver the permit," Miller said. "One has to be clear that there is no world in which Joe Biden [retreats on this]." Canada-U.S. trade lawyer Dan Ujczo said he doubts complaints from Canada will make a difference. He said the most politically effective argument for the pipeline would come from Americans — from the companies and unions that would have serviced the project. The Ohio-based lawyer said challenges under U.S. laws, such as the Administrative Procedures Act, could potentially work, but he cautioned: "They're high hurdles."
OTTAWA — Here are quick facts about Julie Payette, who resigned as governor general on Thursday:Age: 57Hometown: MontrealEducation: Attended primary and secondary school in Montreal and earned an international baccalaureate from the United World College of the Atlantic in Wales. Studied electrical engineering at McGill University before obtaining a master's degree in computer engineering from the University of Toronto. Has 24 honorary degrees.Early career: Conducted research in computer systems and speech-recognition software as an engineer with various organizations, including IBM and the University of Toronto, before being chosen by the Canadian Space Agency to become an astronaut in 1992. Payette was one of four people chosen out of more than 5,300 applicants.Astronaut experience: Technical adviser on a robotics system that Canada contributed to the International Space Station before obtaining her commercial pilot licence and military pilot qualification, studying Russian and other training in preparation for travelling to space. CSA's chief astronaut from 2000 to 2007. First space mission was an 11-day trip to the International Space Station to deliver supplies in 1999, when she became the first Canadian to board the ISS. The second was a two-week flight to the ISS in 2009.Post-space life: While still part of the CSA, Payette accepted a fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, D.C. in 2011 before becoming a representative for the Quebec government in the U.S. capital. She retired from the space agency in 2013 to become the head of the Montreal Science Centre as well as vice-president of a federal Crown corporation, the Canada Lands Company.Viceregal appointment: Sworn in as Canada's 29th governor general in October 2017 following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's recommendation to the Queen. Trudeau recommended Payette after abolishing a panel designed to vet and recommend potential governors general.Post-appointment controversy: Following Payette's appointment, it emerged that she'd been charged with second-degree assault while living in Maryland in 2011. She called the charge unfounded, and it has since been expunged. She was also involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident that same year. The case was closed without charges after a police investigation. Both revelations nonetheless raised questions about the government's decision to recommend her. She also raised eyebrows for using a speech shortly after taking over the position to mock those who question climate change and believe in creationism, and reducing her participation in traditional duties and responsibilities of her office.Toxic work environment: Reports emerged within the first year of her time in office of problems at Rideau Hall, before explosive allegations erupted last year of a toxic work environment within her office. A private firm was hired to investigate and its findings led to her resignation on Thursday.Interests and experiences: Running, skiing, racket sports and scuba diving. Fluent in French and English, conversant in Spanish, Italian, Russian and German. Plays the piano and has sung at venues in Canada and Switzerland. Has also produced a number of science productions for broadcast.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
Resident sport-fishing licence sales soared by 30 per cent in 2020 over 2019 and Alberta Fish and Wildlife is hoping that will translate into more interest in how the province is managing its fish populations. "We are seeing more and more people fishing this year; more outdoor participating and therefore maybe more engagement in our sessions," says Kayedon Wilcox, regional fisheries manager for Alberta Environment and Parks. Every year Alberta Fish and Wildlife hosts public meetings to review sport-fishing regulations, but this year the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the sessions online. While they are hoping for more participants, organizers know drawing anglers will be difficult. "We are trying to pull viewership from Netflix, Crave and have the hockey fans tune in to the evenings a little bit," Wilcox said Thursday in an interview on CBC's Edmonton AM. So far the webinars have been a success, he said. In the three of seven webinars held so far, about 1,000 participants attended. Last year, the total attendance at 14 public meetings was 1,300. That success has the province thinking about continuing online sessions once the pandemic ends. "I think I still see, and our staff appreciates, the ability of in-person discussions with stakeholders," Wilcox said. "That certainly won't go away, we also will see if there are members of the angler community who prefer the webinar method." One of the issues this year is a review of the 15-year-old walleye tag program. The program is used for certain bodies of water that cannot sustain open harvest. "In those cases, we do have a limited harvest tool where we provide a finite number of tags out and within that, a tag-owner can harvest anywhere between two or three walleye," Wilcox said. He said they have heard from people wanting improvement on the tags themselves. The province issues new fishing regulations for April 1 every year.
The elephants are counted using a computer algorithm trained to identify the creatures against a variety of backdrops.View on euronews
WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is easing some of its COVID-19 restrictions in southern and central areas as case numbers continue to slowly drop. Starting Saturday, non-essential retail stores will be allowed to reopen at 25 per cent capacity. Since November, they have been limited to delivery or curbside pickup service. Hair salons, barber shops and some personal health services such as reflexology can restart as well. A ban on social visits inside private homes is being eased. Households will be allowed to designate two people who will be allowed to visit indoors. Up to five people can visit outdoors. "Our collective progress in reducing the spread of COVID means we can undertake these very careful, very cautious reopenings at this point," Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief public health officer, said Thursday. The changes will last three weeks, at which time more openings could be considered, Roussin said. The changes are not being made in the northern health region, where outbreaks in isolated communities have caused a spike in case numbers in recent weeks. Health officials reported 196 additional COVID-19 cases Thursday and five more deaths. More than half the new cases were northern residents. The Retail Council of Canada welcomed the news that some restrictions would be eased. "We're relieved by today's announcement that follows over two months of very severe restrictions that have left retailers limping along using curbside delivery where possible," council spokesman John Graham said. While non-essential stores can reopen, some other businesses, including gyms, bars and nail salons, must remain closed. Restaurants will continue to be limited to takeout and delivery. With the demand for intensive care unit beds still running above pre-pandemic capacity, Roussin said special care must be taken when it comes to places where people gather. "Venues that have prolonged, indoor contact — crowded places, enclosed spaces — those are where a lot of the risk (of virus transmission) lies," Roussin said. Premier Brian Pallister has left the door open to providing more supports for businesses as the closures and capacity limits continue, although did not provide specifics. Pallister said he is trusting Manitobans to follow the rules, and made special mention of household visits. "We don't have enough enforcement people to check every household," Pallister said. "We're asking you to follow the rules because that's how we'll keep each other safe." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021 Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Canada's main stock index dropped for the first time in four trading sessions on a broad-based decline led by the energy sector. The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 98.71 points to 17,916.20. In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 12.37 points at 31,176.01. The S&P 500 index was up 1.22 points at 3,853.07, while the Nasdaq composite was up 73.67 points at 13,530.92. The Canadian dollar traded for 79.20 cents US compared with 79.01 cents US on Wednesday. The March crude oil contract was down 18 cents at US$53.13 per barrel and the March natural gas contract was down 3.6 cents at US$2.50 per mmBTU. The February gold contract was down 60 cents US at US$1,865.90 an ounce and the March copper contract was up less than a penny at nearly US$3.65 a pound. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X) The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — A New York judge on Thursday denied the National Rifle Association’s bid to throw out a state lawsuit that seeks to put the powerful gun advocacy group out of business. Judge Joel Cohen’s ruling will allow New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit to move ahead in state court in Manhattan, rather than dismissing it on technical grounds or moving it to federal court, as the NRA’s lawyers desired. James’ lawsuit, filed last August, seeks the NRA’s dissolution under state non-profit law over claims that top executives illegally diverted tens of millions of dollars for trips, no-show contracts and other expenditures. James is the state’s chief law enforcement officer and has regulatory power over non-profit organizations incorporated in the state, such as the NRA, Cohen said. “It would be inappropriate to find that the attorney couldn’t pursue her claims in state court just because one of the defendants wants to proceed in federal court,” Cohen said at a hearing held by video because of the coronavirus pandemic. Cohen also rejected the NRA’s arguments that James’ lawsuit was improperly filed in Manhattan and should’ve been filed in Albany, where the NRA’s incorporation paperwork lists an address. The NRA’s arguments for dismissing the case did not involve the merits of the case. The NRA has been incorporated in New York since 1871, though it is headquartered in Virginia and last week filed for bankruptcy protection in Texas in a bid to reincorporate in that state. The NRA, in announcing its bankruptcy filing last Friday, said it wanted to break free of a “corrupt political and regulatory environment in New York” and that it saw Texas as friendlier to its interests. The NRA’s lawyers said at a bankruptcy court hearing on Wednesday in Dallas that they wouldn’t use the Chapter 11 proceedings to halt the lawsuit. After Thursday’s ruling, they said they were ready to go ahead with the case, including a meeting with lawyers from James’ office on Friday and another hearing in March. In a letter to Cohen in advance of Thursday’s heading, NRA lawyer Sarah Rogers said the organization had no position on seeking to stay the case through bankruptcy, but that it reserved right to seek such orders from bankruptcy court in the future. Normally, a bankruptcy filing would halt all pending litigation. James’ office contends that its lawsuit is covered by an exemption involving a state’s regulatory powers and cannot be stopped by bankruptcy. Assistant New York Attorney General James Sheehan said he hoped to bring the case to trial by early 2022. In seeking to dismiss or move the state’s lawsuit to federal court, Rogers argued that many of its misspending and self-dealing allegations were also contained in pending lawsuits in federal court — a slate of cases she described as a “tangled nest of litigation.” Part of Rogers’ argument for moving the state lawsuit to federal court involved an error in the state’s original filing that she said altered the timeline of when it was filed. James’s office filed its lawsuit on Aug. 6, but later had to amend the complaint to include a part that was left. That same day, the NRA filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging James’ actions were motivated by hostility toward its political advocacy, including her comments in 2018 that the NRA is a “terrorist organization.” Rogers contended that because of the filing glitch James’ lawsuit should be considered a counterclaim to the NRA’s lawsuit and handled alongside of it in federal court. Cohen rejected that, saying Rogers was placing “far too much weight on a non-substantive error that was quickly fixed.” “The attorney general filed first,” he said. ___ Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak Michael R. Sisak, The Associated Press
FREDERICTON — New Brunswick is at a "tipping point" as health officials try to control the spread of COVID-19, chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said Thursday. Officials are giving time to see if present health orders are working, she said, adding that they won't hesitate to move the province into another tight lockdown if necessary. "We know that once the doubling time shortens to the point where you're doubling every day, that's exponential growth and we definitely don't want to see that," Russell said. "We definitely are at a tipping point." Russell said the number of new infections in the Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton zones appear stable after officials moved those regions to the red pandemic-alert level. The Campbellton, Bathurst and Miramichi zones will remain at the orange level, she said, adding that her biggest concern is the Edmundston region, which shares a border with Quebec. "The situation in (Edmundston) remains gravely concerning," Russell said. "The outbreak has spread into workplaces and adult residential facilities, which is deeply worrying." Health officials reported 32 new cases Thursday, bringing the province's active reported case count to 324. Of the new cases, 19 were identified in the Edmundston area. New Brunswick's case rate is about 132 cases per 100,000 people. Premier Blaine Higgs said the Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton zones could move back to the orange level sooner rather than later. "If we continue to focus on protecting each other, we could move these zones to orange in a mater of days, not weeks or months," he said. University of Toronto professor Dr. David Fisman said New Brunswick's current situation is similar to where Manitoba was last fall, right before cases rose sharply after months of relatively few infections. “I have been suggesting to people that New Brunswick is on a knife edge right now and can go either way,” Fisman said in an email Thursday. Manitoba, which once had some of the lowest infection rates in the country, quickly became a cautionary tale as cases rose by several hundred each day by mid-November. Fisman said certain factors have preceded big waves in places that previously had a low case count, including the spread of COVID-19 in schools, meat-packing facilities, long-term care homes and among highly mobile young people. Dalhousie University immunology professor David Kelvin said reducing viral transmission among the young is key to controlling the virus, because cases in youth are often asymptomatic. Kelvin said in an email Thursday that strategies such as pop-up rapid testing may help identify hot spots among young people. He added, however, that more research may be needed to see what lies behind the New Brunswick case increases in order to project where trend is headed. “It could be New Brunswick is in the early stages and will continue on the exponential increase in cases,” he said, though there is also the possibility the numbers have plateaued as social events from the holiday season have subsided, he added. Fisman said he found the province's interventions "lagging," adding that shifting between various pandemic-alert levels isn't ideal when faced with a sharp increase in cases. "I think when you are hanging on to de facto COVID-free status, it is worth pulling out the stops and having a short, hard lockdown … the whole enchilada," Fisman said. "It is significant short-term pain, but as Manitoba showed, the cost of allowing things to spiral is far more painful." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. — By Danielle Edwards in Halifax and with files from Michael Tutton. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
Retirement home residents in Simcoe Muskoka will begin receiving the Pfizer-BoNTech vac-cine after the provincial government determined the vaccine can be safely transported to Long Term Care and retirement homes in the Region. The immunization program began on Monday, January 11, in Barrie, at Victoria Village Manor. Resident Pat Sinclair, a former nurse, became the region’s first long-term resident to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. “I’m thrilled to be able to do this. I’m hoping it gives me and my family that feeling of we’re okay, we’re going to be okay. We’ll get through this,” said Ms. Sinclair.“ COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on both the residents and em-ployees in long-term care and being able to offer the protection this vaccine provides to those who are the most vulnerable is a critical milestone,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, Medical Officer of health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. (SMDHU) “We are hoping everyone who opts for the vaccine within our LTC and RH communities to have received it over the next two weeks.” The pilot immuniza-tion program began with 111 residents from Victoria Village Manor and 67 residents at Oak Terrace Long-Term Care Home in Orillia receiving the vaccine. Supply of the vaccine remains limited and at this time is being offered by appointment only to pri-ority groups identified by the provincial government, including residents, staff and essentialcare-givers from congregate living settings as well as prioritized hospital workers. Staff at all four Simcoe County long term care homes, including Simcoe Village and Manor in Beeton, have already starting receiving the vaccine after attending inoculation sites in Barrie. Of the 1.000 care givers who work at the facilities, about half had already received the vaccine as of Friday, January 15. A spokesperson for the County of Simcoe confirmed residents at Simcoe Manor started receiving the vaccine on January 16. Vaccinations are not mandatory for residents, however they are given information to help them make an informed decision. Some residents are considered at risk when it comes to receiving the vaccination due to other health related issues.As additional vaccines are approved by Health Canada, and as part of Ontario’s three phase immunization plan, vaccine dis-tribution will be expanded to other priority groups and then to the general public Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times
VANCOUVER — A British Columbia man who plied two teenagers with drugs and alcohol and then failed to intervene as they died will remain in prison indefinitely after the B.C. Court of Appeal refused to overturn his sentence. Martin Tremblay was convicted in 2013 of two counts each of criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessities of life, and was labelled a dangerous offender, which carries an indeterminate sentence. His trial heard he invited 16-year-old Kayla Lalonde and 17-year-old Martha Jackson to his home, gave them drugs and alcohol until they passed out, sexually assaulted them and then failed to get help when their conditions deteriorated. In a decision posted online Thursday, a panel of three judges ruled unanimously against allowing the appeal of his sentence or an introduction of new evidence that shows his progress in sexual offender programs. Tremblay asked that his sentence be changed to 20 years in prison, followed by 10 years under supervision, claiming the trial judge failed to properly consider his risk during sentencing. Writing for the panel, Justice Patrice Abrioux says there was no legal error and while Tremblay had made progress is addressing his risk factors, he wouldn't admit it as new evidence. "The reasons as a whole indicate that the judge paid careful consideration to the appellant’s risk assessment and treatment prospects," he says in the ruling. Tremblay had a long history of offences, the court noted. He was convicted in 2003 of assaulting five teenage Indigenous girls. He invited them to his house to party, gave them alcohol and drugs, waited until they passed out and videotaped himself sexually assaulting them. Tremblay claimed as a result of the programs he had completed in prison, he had taken responsibility for his actions. The Crown had opposed the introduction of the new evidence, telling the Appeal Court it did not relate to the legal error Tremblay claimed the trial judge made or relate to the prison sentence he had been given. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Nick Wells, The Canadian Press
Alberta has now lost 1,500 people to COVID-19 since the pandemic began last March. On Thursday, the province reported 16 more deaths and 678 new cases of the illness. Active cases in Alberta have been declining steadily for the past month and are now half what they were in mid-December. But though the number of people in hospital has declined slightly, that metric has lagged well behind. On Dec. 13, active cases peaked at 21,178. The latest update, released Thursday, reported 10,256 cases. Hospitalizations in Alberta peaked on Dec. 30, when there were 941 people being treated for the illness, including 145 in ICU beds. Across the province, 726 people are now being treated in hospitals for the disease, including 119 in ICU beds. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, said that's one reason the current restrictions must remain in place. "In a year that has already been extremely difficult, I am proud of the sacrifices and community spirit that Albertans have shown to produce these encouraging numbers," Hinshaw said Thursday at a news conference. "At the same time, we are not in the clear just yet. That is why no additional measures are being eased at this time." WATCH | Dr. Hinshaw explains why restrictions aren't being lifted Thursday While cases are falling, Alberta still has the second-highest active case rate per capita in Canada, she said. "While our hospitalization numbers have decreased significantly from the peak, they remain high," Hinshaw said. "To put this in perspective, despite the progress we've made, there are just as many COVID patients in hospital today as there were on Dec. 8, the day that our current restrictions were first announced." The health system is still under significant strain, she said, and the province has to do what it can to ease that burden as quickly as possible. "We need to continue driving community transmission down. That is why it is essential that we keep the current measures in place for a little while longer, and why we all need to make good choices and to rigorously follow all the orders in place." Any decision to ease or lift restrictions would have to take into account new cases, the positivity rate (which was 4.8 per cent on Thursday), the R-value and hospitalization and ICU numbers, Hinshaw said. "The team that I work with, we look at those numbers on a daily basis, and we do have regular discussions with elected officials about the meaning of those numbers and about that planning and what our recommendations are about what we might be able to move forward to." The regional breakdown of active cases reported on Thursday was: Calgary zone: 3,962 Edmonton zone: 3,561 North zone: 1,383 Central zone: 931 South zone: 405 Unknown: 14
TORONTO — As Ontario struggles to beat back a dire wave of COVID-19, workplace spread has been singled out by public health experts, mayors and top health officials as a major source of infections. Experts and workers say government measures so far haven’t directly targeted the issue, but fairly simple practices would help track and reduce infections. Epidemiologist Colin Furness at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health said there should be clear consequences for employers that don't take proper precautions at this point in the pandemic. “We know from contact tracing data and outbreak investigations what some of the most risky environments are. We should be coming down on them like a ton of bricks,” Furness said. Hundreds of people have been infected in recent outbreaks linked to workplaces, including at least 121 workers at a Canada Post facility whose cases were reported this week and more than 140 people at a Cargill-owned meat processing facility in Guelph, Ont., last month. Hundreds of migrant workers tested positive on Ontario farms last summer, and more than 5,000 long-term care staff have been infected to date. But observers said there isn’t consistency when it comes to penalties for employers, or even naming workplaces where outbreaks happen. Traditionally, workplaces have been challenging for public health because harsh enforcement might mean future issues are covered up, Furness said. There are some signs of change, however, led by Toronto Public Health. The health unit said this month it would name employers with significant outbreaks and enforce reporting of cases among workers, a move Furness called “revolutionary.” Putting pressure on employers is also important to make sure other measures are effective, Furness said, including paid sick leave, which has become a prominent political issue in Ontario. Mayors from province’s largest cities have been calling for months for accessible, universal paid sick leave so workers don't come to work sick over fear of losing income – an argument supported nearly universally by public health experts. Janice Mills, who has a job in auto manufacturing, said sick leave is the biggest issue at the Glencoe, Ont, plant where she works with about 50 other people per shift. Workers can apply for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit introduced to support people missing work over a COVID-19 diagnosis or exposure, but they’re only eligible if they miss 50 per cent of the work week. That's an issue for hourly workers at Mills' plant, she said, because if someone falls ill on Thursday or Friday, they can’t make use of the benefit until the following week. “That's very difficult for people to wrap their heads around,” Mills said. Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said Ontario isn’t looking to implement its own sick leave policy because there are still millions of dollars available through the federal benefit. He said the program is sufficient, but workers may not know about it, and he’s asking federal ministers to ensure there isn’t a delay in getting money out to people. “I feel strongly that we shouldn't duplicate this program,” he said in an interview. Furness said sick leave is important, but it doesn’t guarantee workers won’t face repercussions for accessing it – so employers should be held accountable if people are pressured into working while sick. Tim Sly, an emeritus professor of epidemiology at Ryerson University, pointed to regular asymptomatic testing as another key measure that would help assess workplace spread. He noted other regions have made use of rapid tests to find the virus among people who may not know they're infected, but Ontario has until recently been reluctant to introduce the practice. “Why we've delayed it so often, I have not a clue," he said. "It costs so little, it's easy to do, and if you repeat it, you're getting up to really good standards of screening.” Some industries in Ontario, such as film and television production, are already regularly testing employees for COVID-19, and the government plans to ramp up asymptomatic testing in the coming months by sending rapid tests to hard-hit sectors like farms, manufacturing and long-term care. McNaughton said an asymptomatic testing pilot has already begun on construction sites in the Greater Toronto Area, and he said there will be "huge emphasis" on testing workers going forward. He also pointed to the government’s recent “inspection blitz” of big-box stores, which is expanding to more industries. Most fines have been relatively small, at less than $1,000 per infraction, but McNaughton said some larger investigations are underway, and employers should be aware of the potential for fines up to $1.5 million. “I hope my message was clear to every big corporation out there, every shareholder, that if they're not having a safe work environment for their workers, and for customers, I won't hesitate to shut them down,” he said. Meanwhile, frontline workers say appreciation for their work isn't often reflected in the province's official pandemic response. Brittany Nisbett, who works at a group home for disabled adults in the Niagara Region, said new restrictions announced this month haven’t changed anything in her working life – in fact, she said new limits on store hours have made it harder to complete errands during time off. She said it’s been an emotionally taxing year, especially when co-workers and clients have tested positive for the disease, but one silver living has been growing public acknowledgment of the work she does. She’d like to see that reflected with a permanent wage increase, paid sick days and more staff for support. “If you’re going to call us heroes, then I think that we need to be treated like heroes,” Nisbett said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
New Brunswick's Green Party leader says that while the province has made some progress on meeting climate change goals, it's largely the result of years-old measures and new steps will be required to hit future targets. "We've got a ways to go," David Coon said in an interview Thursday. The province released a Climate Change Action Plan progress report comparing goals set in a 2016 plan to what has been accomplished. Thursday's report, and an accompanying news release, tout progress on 118 steps to lower greenhouse gas emissions by certain years and transition to a low-carbon economy. "New Brunswick has embraced its role as being part of the solution to the global challenge of climate change," Gary Crossman, the province's environment and climate change minister, said in the news release. "We will continue our work to make New Brunswick an environmentally sustainable province." But Coon said reductions in emissions so far can be traced to programs or initiatives started years ago. "There's been a number of studies going on, but not a lot of new initiatives at all," Coon said. Francine Landry, the Liberals' critic for environment and climate change, said the report does show there have been some positive steps, but more has to be done. "This is action that will protect the future of our planet, so we cannot just do the bare minimum," Landry said in an interview. Landry said she plans to take a deeper look at the report to compare what it says has been accomplished to what was outlined in the 2016 plan, a time when the Liberals were in power. The 2016 plan calls for the province to reduce emissions to 14.8 megatonnes in 2020, 10.7 megatonnes by 2030, and five megatonnes by 2050. Emissions were 13.2 megatonnes in 2018, the most recent available figure from Environment and Climate Change Canada. That's down from 20 megatonnes in 2005. "As such we have surpassed our 2020 target and are on our way towards our 2030 target," the report states. The 2016 plan set out specific goals, such as 2,500 electric vehicles on the road in New Brunswick by 2020. The progress report doesn't say how many are actually now on the road. There were 429 electric vehicles registered in the province at the end of 2019. The 2016 plan also laid out more significant goals, such as ending power production from burning coal. The federal government's climate plan requires phasing out burning coal as a power source by 2030. However, New Brunswick is seeking an agreement with the federal government to keep burning coal at the Belledune Generating Station. The report issued this week suggests continuing to burn coal while making "equivalent or better" emissions reductions, rather than phasing out coal. "This will result in a significant cost avoidance to electricity ratepayers while at the same time ensuring GHG emissions reductions," the report states. Mary-Anne Hurley-Corbyn, a spokesperson for the province's environment department, said in an email that negotiations with the federal government are ongoing. "It's problematic," Coon said of the effort to keep burning coal. "We need to make that transition over the next 10 years to a renewable-based energy system and to replace coal and the other fossil fuels and enable us to wind down the plant when it reaches the end of life." He said there should be more reliance on hydro power from Quebec or Labrador, which would require new transmission lines. He said the government should also address power demand with a greater emphasis on energy efficiency programs. Coon said that while the 2016 plan calls for more public transit, there have been cuts to transit in several cities and COVID-19 has also brought cuts to rail and inter-city busing. "We've got less public transit than we had," Coon said.
Island Abbey Foods, makers of Honibe cough and cold lozenges, is eliminating 30 temporary staff at its Charlottetown production plant. The P.E.I. company is putting the blame on the "almost non-existent cold and cough season" so far this winter, as potential customers wear masks, stay two metres away from others and practise good hand hygiene. "Cold and cough season is almost non-existent this year, which has resulted in a decline of our lozenge business for the first two quarters of 2021," Scott Spencer, president and chief operating officer of Island Abbey Foods, said in a statement to CBC News. "While we have seen substantial gains with our digital retail strategy, it does not replace the volume we projected in anticipation of a regular cold and cough season. Therefore, unfortunately, we've made the difficult decision to eliminate 30 temporary positions from our production operation. The company says demand for its Gummie Bees multivitamins and other health products continues to be strong, and planning is well underway for an expansion to meet those demands. "2020 was a tremendous year at Island Abbey Foods," said Spencer. "We increased headcount significantly across our company to meet higher than anticipated demand and position our company for success. Like other businesses, we are continuously adapting to the ever-changing business realities that COVID-19 is imposing on the world." More from CBC P.E.I.
The Canadian government anticipates that at least 95 per cent of the Canadian population will be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the third quarter of the year, between July and September.
Rod Brind'Amour lamented Carolina's season coming to a screeching halt despite doing “a great job” adhering to pandemic protocols. For Peter Laviolette, his Washington Capitals will keep playing for the next week without four prominent players who broke the rules. Each team is getting punished in a different way after being affected by the virus. The Hurricanes had games postponed through at least Saturday and won't get to practice in person with a handful of players on the COVID-19 list. There's no indication the Capitals are being shut down, though they will have to play the next four games without captain Alex Ovechkin, No. 1 centre Evgeny Kuznetsov, top-four defenceman Dmitry Orlov and starting goaltender Ilya Samsonov. “We totally understand why the rules are in place, and there’s no arguing with that,” said Laviolette, who's in his first season as Washington's coach. “We knew the rules. We’re not sitting here saying that we were uninformed or we weren’t aware. We need to do a better job.” The NHL fined the Capitals $100,000 for breaking protocol by having those four players in a hotel room together with none of them wearing a mask. Laviolette said there was a positive test result, which led to contact tracing, and Washington will be forced to ice a patchwork lineup for its home opener Friday night against Buffalo. There's no hard and fast timeframe for how long a player who tests positive or has potential exposure must be out. The NHL defers to local authorities, and the minimum four games for the Capitals players relates to the District of Columbia's quarantine regulations. After Ovechkin expressed regret for the mistake that will cost him and his fellow Russians two games against the Sabres and two against the New York Islanders, teammates said Thursday the protocols were spelled out for them before the season. “It’s not a situation we want to be in, but here we are,” centre Nicklas Backstrom said. “We’re a tight group. Every time we’re on the road, we see a chance to really connect as a group, but obviously it’s a violation.” Carolina has been off since Tuesday, when Teuvo Teraivanen, Jaccob Slavin, Jordan Martinook and Warren Foegele joined captain Jordan Staal on the COVID-19 unavailable list. The Hurricanes have so far had three games postponed because of their outbreak and won't play for at least a week. “We'vw done all the protocols — we’ve tried,” Brind’Amour said. “Obviously it didn’t matter, it got into our room.” Carolina, Dallas, Florida, Nashville and defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay have all had at least one game postponed because of COVID-19 concerns. The NHL said 17 Stars players tested positive, and their first four games were rescheduled. “We’re in a position that we have catch-up to do: catch up in the standings, catch up in games played,” said Dallas coach Rick Bowness, whose team finally plays its first game Friday at Nashville. “The other teams are playing 56 games in 118 days, I think we’re playing them in 108, so our schedule just got a lot more condensed and there’s going to be times with this schedule because of the cancellation of those games it’s going to really hurt us.” Each team is required to carry a “taxi squad” of four to six players who travel with the team and can be called up if necessary as a way to prevent postponements. The Capitals had to dig three deep into theirs to make up for some big losses. Because of the taxi squads, the NHL doesn't have an official number of players unavailable that would postpone a game. Commissioner Gary Bettman said before the season those decisions would be made on a case-by-case basis. Brind'Amour and Carolina general manager Don Waddell didn't seem to question any player's judgement amid the team's pause. Some players are stuck in Nashville while the rest of the Hurricanes are home because of NHL protocols spelling out what to do when positive test results happen on the road; everyone's limited to virtual practices and meetings with the practice facility closed. “I think we all understood there was a chance that something like this was going to happen," Brind'Amour said. “It’s not really about was it going to happen, it’s how do you deal with it. I think that’s really what we’re going to find out.” ___ AP Sports Writers Aaron Beard and Stephen Hawkins contributed. ___ More AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press
The OPP is enforcing a new stay-at-home order and dispersing larger gatherings, but said it is not targeting individuals. The province introduced a new stay-at-home order Jan. 14, demanding people only leave for essential trips such as work, purchasing goods, exercise, caring for animals or others, or moving. The province also said law enforcement would be empowered to issue fines under the order. OPP spokesperson Const. Iryna Nebogatova said the attention the order has received has brought more complaints, which drive enforcement. She added gatherings - limited to five people outdoors - are the main source of the complaints. “I do understand the stay-at-home order under the emergency management and Civil Protection Act, Reopening Ontario Act are quite confusing,” Nebogatova said. “What we are focusing on here would be the large gatherings, the gatherings whether they’re indoor or outdoor. “The individuals are not the focus of this enforcement,” she added. In a press release Jan. 15, OPP said it could levy fines of $750 for failing to comply with the order and/or $1,000 for preventing others from complying. However, the press release added that officers will not arbitrarily stop an individual or vehicle to check compliance with the orders. “Individuals are not expected to provide proof of essential work,” OPP said. “Officers can ask an individual to identify themselves if they have reasonable grounds to believe the individual is violating an act.” The province said bylaw enforcement can also issue fines under the order, but Dysart et al bylaw officer Robert Mascia said he is redirecting complaints to OPP. “If the OPP require assistance in enforcement measures, the municipality’s bylaw department will gladly help,” Mascia said. Cottagers being allowed County resident Donna Pugh said she called police on a cottager neighbour who visited their secondary residence this past weekend. But Pugh said OPP indicated that it is allowed – and they were not going to attend to address someone travelling to a secondary residence. “Our premier of the province has strongly told us all to stay home,” Pugh said. “Then to see our County booming with people who don’t live here all the time, when they’re asked to stay home, I just find that really frustrating.” The order states someone can travel to another residence if they intend to be there for less than 24 hours and are attending for an essential purpose; or if they intend to reside there for at least 14 days. Nebogatova did not directly address cottager enforcement when asked but said there are exemptions for people to leave their homes under the order that should be respected. “We are requesting that the members of the public voluntarily comply with the new stay-at-home order to limit their mobility outside their homes except for essential reasons,” she said. Pugh said despite the province’s words, the enforcement is not going far enough. “The whole thing doesn’t have many teeth,” she said. Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
NASHVILLE — Country star Dolly Parton said her brother Randy Parton, who sang and performed with her, as well as at her Dollywood theme park, has died. He was 67. Parton, who turned 75 this week, said in a statement released on Thursday that her brother died of cancer. They were among 12 children in the Parton family, raised in Sevierville, Tennessee. “We are a family of faith and we believe that he is safe with God and that he is joined by members of the family that have gone on before and have welcomed him with joy and open arms,” Parton said in a statement. Randy Parton sang, played guitar and bass in his sister's band, and had hosted his own show at the Tennessee theme park since the opening in 1986. He also released music on his own. Parton said her duet with him on “Old Flames Can't Hold a Candle To You" would “always be a highlight of my own career.” His last recording was a song with Dolly and his daughter Heidi called “You Are My Christmas” that was on Parton's most recent Christmas album. “He shined on it just like he’s shining in heaven now,” Parton said. The Associated Press
Nearly 20 new seats will be available for health-care assistants at the NVIT Merritt campus via an $8.4 million investment in education and training programs for people looking to secure jobs caring for BC’s seniors. “We’re moving forward with our plan to expand the number of health-care assistants working in B.C. to strengthen the level of care for people in long-term care homes and assisted-living residences,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “The Health Career Access Program is underway and is already helping train workers for some of the most important jobs in B.C.” 600 new training seats will be created at public post-secondary institutions across the province as part of the Health Career Access Program, which was announced in Sept. 2020 and is expected to help meet the growing demand for health-care assistants in long-term care and assisted living residences. Those taking part in the Health Career Access Program will be hired as health-care support workers in long-term care and assisted living facilities where they will be paid while they work and complete the necessary coursework to become health-care assistants. This includes the 18 new seats NVIT can now accommodate. In addition, student who are completing a recognized health-care assistant program who commit to a 12-month-return-of-service and who choose to take employment in the long-term care or assisted living sector will be eligible for a $5,000 recruitment incentive. “Government is investing in relevant programs to enable people impacted by COVID-19 to upskill or reskill so they can return to work or advance their careers,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “This funding for health-care assistant programs supports training for highly valued and respected workers who provide important daily care for our seniors in long-term care and assisted-living facilities.” Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald
CASPER, Wyo. — The U.S. government has approved routes for a system of pipelines that would move carbon dioxide across Wyoming in what could be by far the largest such network in North America, if it is developed. The greenhouse gas would be captured from coal-fired power plants, keeping it out of the atmosphere where it causes global warming. The captured gas would instead be pumped underground to add pressure to and boost production from oil fields. In all, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management designated 1,100 miles (1,770 kilometres) of federal land for pipeline development through the Wyoming Pipeline Corridor Initiative, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt signed the plans last Friday, days before leaving office with the rest of President Donald Trump's administration. The approval allows companies to begin submitting pipeline construction proposals. Wyoming officials including Republican Gov. Mark Gordon have promoted carbon capture as a way to boost the state's struggling coal mining industry. Utilities nationwide have been turning away from coal-fired electricity in favour of cheaper and cleaner natural gas and renewable energy. “The ability to have a CO2 delivery system, as made possible by the pipeline corridor initiative, helps make CO2 commercially viable,” Gordon said in a statement Wednesday. Whether a large system of carbon capture for oil production is technically and economically feasible remains to be seen. One of two such systems in North America, the Petra Nova facility in Texas, has been offline since global oil prices plummeted last year. The Petra Nova system moves carbon dioxide 80 miles (130 kilometres) from a power plant to an oil field in southeastern Texas. In southeastern Saskatchewan, Canada, near the U.S. border, the Boundary Dam carbon dioxide system connects a power plant with an oil field 40 miles (65 kilometres) away. Energy markets drive development of carbon capture projects for oil development, said Matt Fry, state of Wyoming project manager for the pipeline initiative. “We’re just helping to incentivize and provide some sort of a bridge for folks to help them move forward. Hopefully, this and future federal incentives will help get the ball rolling, and we’ll get some projects on the ground,” Fry said. Environmental groups including the Western Watersheds Project have criticized the pipeline corridor plan, saying the pipelines would cross habitat of sage grouse — brown, chicken-sized birds that spend most of their time on the ground. Sage grouse numbers have dwindled substantially over the past century and much of their habitat in Wyoming carries development restrictions. The Associated Press