European leaders described the 46th President's inauguration speech as "inspiring" and said it was time to bring "conviction and common sense" to help rejuvenate their relationship with the US.
European leaders described the 46th President's inauguration speech as "inspiring" and said it was time to bring "conviction and common sense" to help rejuvenate their relationship with the US.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. 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 Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
TOPEKA, Kan. — Former Congressman Steve Watkins of Kansas has entered a diversion program to avoid trial over allegations that he voted illegally in a 2019 municipal election. Watkins, a Republican from Topeka who served only one term in the U.S. House, was facing three felony charges. He was accused of listing a postal box at a UPS store as his home on a state registration form when he was living temporarily at his parents' home. He was also charged with lying to a detective who investigated the case. The Shawnee County district attorney filed the charges just weeks before the August 2020 primary, and Watkins lost to now-Rep. Jake LaTurner. “I regret the error in my voter registration paperwork that led to these charges. I fully co-operated from the beginning and had no intent to deceive any one, at any time. I am glad to resolve the ordeal,” Watkins said in a statement Tuesday. Watkins acknowledged he lied to the detective when he said he did not vote in the Topeka City Council election, The Kansas City Star reported. Under the diversion agreement entered into Monday, Watkins' prosecution will be deferred for six months. If he meets the terms of the agreement, the case will be dropped by September. The Associated Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan is looking to follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. Chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab says information from that province as well as from Quebec and the United Kingdom suggests that a first shot effectively protects against the novel coronavirus. He says he hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. Shahab says if that were to happen, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. He says all adults in the province could be vaccinated with a first dose by June. Premier Scott Moe says such a shift would be a game-changer for how long public-health restrictions would stay in place. "What that (would) look like over the course of the next number of weeks as opposed to having that conversation over the course of the next number of months," Moe said during a briefing Tuesday. The province said when it first outlined its vaccine rollout that it would wait between 21 and 28 days between shots as recommended by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. The province says about 80,000 vaccinations have been given across the province. It says at least one of the approved vaccines to fight COVID-19 has made its way into every long-term care home. Health officials say 91 per cent of residents opted to get their first shot of the two-dose vaccination. Second doses have gone into the arms of long-term residents in about 53 per cent of facilities. The province says it expects to receive about 15,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot approved by Canada last week. Shahab says Saskatchewan will follow advice from a national panel of vaccine experts that it be used on people under 65. The vaccine's effectiveness in people older than that hasn't been sufficiently determined because there were not enough seniors in clinical trials. Another 134 new cases of COVID-19 were reported Tuesday as well as two deaths. Shahab and Moe say daily case numbers and hospitalizations have stabilized and continue to decrease — signs they say could lead to some public-health measures being relaxed. Moe said he would like to see some way for people to have visitors in their homes. That hasn't been allowed under public-health orders since before Christmas. The current health order is to expire March 19. Moe said his government could provide details as soon as next week on what restrictions might be eased. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 2, 2021 Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
Another mass vaccination clinic will take place in Sudbury this week as Public Health Sudbury and District (PHSD) continues to provide COVID-19 vaccines to as many residents as possible. PHSD held its first mass vaccination clinic last week for roughly 2,500 health-care workers and essential caregivers connected with long-term care homes and retirement homes. It took place at the Carmichael Arena on Bancroft Drive on Thursday and Friday. As we turned the corner on March 1 this week, it was revealed that PHSD will be holding another mass vaccination event; this time for urban Indigenous people in Sudbury, aged 55 and older on March 5 and March 6, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. It will also take place at Carmichael Arena. The event is jointly hosted by the Shkagamik-Kwe Health Centre in partnership with Public Health Sudbury & Districts (PHSD) and the City of Greater Sudbury, along with the support of the Ngo Dwe Waanzizjik – The Urban Indigenous Sacred Circle and the Indigenous Primary Health Care Council. The Indigenous population has been identified as a priority in the first round of vaccination allocations said a news release from Shkagamik-Kwe. PHSD has published a COVID-19 Vaccination Program Playbook that outlines when Sudbury area residents can expect to receive vaccinations. The playbook was published in January and PHSD said the information in it is evolving and changing. Ontario is still in Phase 1 on the vaccine rollout and the PHSD book indicates the first week of March is the time to provide vaccines to on-reserve Indigenous people aged 16 and older (estimated 835) and to urban Indigenous aged 16 and older (estimated 1,000). Also this week, PHSD is scheduled to continue providing vaccines to health-care workers and to adult chronic home-care recipients. The total would be 5,400 people for the first week. Based on the playbook numbers, the vaccinations for the on-reserve and urban Indigenous populations are scheduled to continue next week, for an estimated 5,400 people. Based on the PHSD statement, that schedule could change. But the schedule does show ramping up the vaccine schedule, again for urban Indigenous populations in the Sudbury area for the weeks of March 15, March 22, April 5 and again on April 12 — in all cases the target is 5,400 vaccinations for each week. When Sudbury.com asked PHSD to confirm the schedule. The reply was that the schedule could change. "The information you are inquiring about is currently being reviewed and updated," said PHSD. Another factor to be considered is that PHSD will need to provide second doses for the COVID-19 vaccines. Both Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are double-dose medications. Even the new AstraZeneca vaccine is recommended for two doses. The first vaccines administered in the PHSD jurisdiction were on Jan. 13. Once the Indigenous population is looked after, Ontario will be into Phase 2 of the vaccination plan. At that point, toward the third week of April, the plan is to provide vaccines for individuals identified as essential workers. This issue has not yet been fully defined as many worker organizations across Ontario have reported they have not yet been advised if they are essential. Officials of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Canada spoke out in news reports in Toronto this week to say they believe frontline grocery workers for example should be included because they are exposed to so many members of the public. That essential worker campaign is expected to last until the end of May. Next in line on the PHSD schedule are adults 75 years and older. The plan is to provide those vaccinations from the week of May 31 to the week of July 5. Following that, the PHSD schedule said adults aged 60 to 74 years will get vaccines. This will be for the week of June 14, and then picked up again on the week of July 5 to the week of Aug. 23. Finally, beginning the week of September 6, vaccines will be offered to the general population aged 16 to 59 years. That campaign will continue on and off in the weeks of Sept. 27, Oct. 4 and Oct. 25. Len Gillis is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter at Sudbury.com, covering health care in Northern Ontario. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the federal government. Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
Toronto Community Housing has re-housed one of the five households it evicted for missed rent last fall, after a Star story that revealed one of the households landed in a homeless shelter. Those five evictions took place between the end of a provincial eviction moratorium in August and a motion from city council to halt arrears evictions in TCH in December. The day after the Star’s report, Mayor John Tory said he’d contacted TCH CEO Kevin Marshman, to confirm that no further arrears evictions would be taking place. “It shouldn’t have happened, and certainly today I had a conversation in light of this story,” Tory said at the time, while noting that the evictions had still been within the bounds of the law. “It was one of those things where it happened in kind of in a short gap that exists between one lockdown and another … I’m not making an excuse for it, I’m just staying that’s what happened.” Asked what would happen to the evicted households, Tory said he would ask Marshman to examine the cases “and see what the appropriate response should be.” During a committee meeting on Tuesday, Coun. Paula Fletcher asked for an update. “I know that at least one family was rehoused as a result of work we did with the shelter and the analysis that we did of their eviction,” replied Scott Kirkham, TCH’s manager of stakeholder relations. Asked by the Star to confirm whether the re-housed family was the one evicted into the shelter system, TCH declined to comment, saying it couldn’t reveal personal information. “We can confirm that, following a review, one of the five households was re-housed,” a statement read. Tory, in a statement Tuesday, said he was “pleased to hear” that an evicted family was re-housed in TCH. Wong-Tam said it seemed the agency had taken a “moment of self-reflection,” and credited its response to city officials’ requests about arrears evictions during the pandemic. “TCH seems to fully understand the severity of the issue,” she said. The housing committee on Tuesday voted to send a request to council on March 10 for TCH to extend its arrears eviction halt until at least June. With files from Francine Kopun Victoria Gibson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
WASHINGTON — Channing Phillips, a Justice Department official during the Obama administration, will return as acting U.S. attorney in the nation’s capital, a Justice Department official told The Associated Press on Tuesday. Phillips will assume the role Wednesday leading the largest U.S. attorney’s office in the country, which has been historically responsible for some of the most significant and politically sensitive cases the Justice Department brings in the U.S. In recent weeks, prosecutors in the office have brought nearly 300 federal cases following the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Hundreds of other people are still being sought by investigators. The office was involved in some of the most tumultuous and controversial decisions made by the Justice Department under President Donald Trump, including a decision by then-Attorney General William Barr to reverse the sentencing recommendation by career prosecutors in the case against Trump ally Roger Stone. The outgoing acting U.S. attorney, Michael Sherwin, will remain in Washington for a “brief period” to help ensure a smooth transition overseeing the riot investigation and the prosecutions, the Justice Department official said. Sherwin, who for years worked as a career federal prosecutor on drug trafficking, white-collar and top national security cases, will later return to the U.S. attorney’s office in southern Florida, the official said. The official could not publicly discuss the personnel matter and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity. Phillips served as U.S. attorney in Washington beginning in October 2015 and was a longtime Justice Department official, having been a senior counsellor to the attorney general and deputy associate attorney general. Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Rental tenant advocates say the the province’s new legislation to stop false renovictions is good, but doesn’t go far enough to protect existing affordable housing stock nor address “exponential” rate increases over the last few years. The B.C. government announced Mar. 1 it would extend the freeze on rent increases, and proposed a new policy that would have landlords to apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch to be able to evict people for renovations. They would have to show renovation permits, demonstrate that renovations are significant enough to require vacancy and prove that renovations are necessary. Currently, there’s no onus to prove renovations are significant or actually required, allowing opportunistic landlords to flip suites and jack up rent for the new tenant after a few superficial improvements. The Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre is excited about the change, saying it will help curb illegal renovictions, which they think happen often, thought it’s impossible to track. But the new legislation, which if approved will go into effect July 1, does very little to protect affordable rental stock, said Zuzana Modrovic, a lawyer with TRAC. “A lot of the affordable rental stock is in buildings that are aging, where renovations are likely needed. When a landlord does those renovations, they can charge whatever they think the market will bear,” she said. RELATED: B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021 The task force’s solution also fails to address “exponential rate increases” over the last few years, and it doesn’t help people who fell behind on rent during the height of the pandemic. “At the start of this emergency, we were told by Premier John Horgan and Selina Robinson, who was the housing minister at that time, that nobody would lose their housing due to COVID-19. They have not kept that promise. People are now losing their housing because they can’t afford rent, never mind the repayment of missed rent, and there’s no protection for them,” Modrovic said. Now tenants are facing paying regular rent, plus a repayment plan to make up missed rent. The province has said landlords must give renters until August 2021 to repay rental debt owed from the first five months of the pandemic. “Essentially that’s just like a temporary rent increase. They have to pay an additional $200 or $300 a month, or more.” A ministry spokesperson said B.C. has the second lowest rate of rent arrears in the country, and that there has not been a significant increase in the number of disputes in recent months. TRAC has been asking the government for rental arrears forgiveness across the province, or at the least another eviction freeze. The government initially said no one could be evicted for not paying rent due to COVID-19, but that ban lifted July 30. Landlord BC, an association for landlords was also included in the task force, said they welcome the change but said the Rental Tenancy Board will have to handle the application process efficiently. Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: email@example.com Zoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission appears likely to work on its first guidelines for cryptocurrencies after President Joe Biden's nominee to lead the agency promised to provide "guidance and clarity" to the rapidly evolving market. Speaking during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, Gary Gensler offered the first thoughts on handling cryptocurrencies if he is confirmed to lead the top U.S. markets regulator. "Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies brought new thinking to payments but raised new issues of investor protection we still need to attend to," Gensler told lawmakers, describing them as "catalysts for change."
McMurray Métis elder Anne Michalko said she felt like she was on her way to freedom when she learned she would be getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Michalko, 83, spent much of the past year in quarantine. On Thursday, she made a rare venture outside her home for her first vaccine shot. Her second shot comes one month before her birthday in May. She hopes she can celebrate turning 84 with family. “Can you imagine feeling excited to go out and get a needle?” she said. “I’m looking forward to sitting around the fire pit and enjoying each other’s company. Maybe I’ll take my great grandson for a walk.” Alberta’s vaccine rollout plan entered Phase 1B on Feb. 7, allowing anyone born before 1946 to get a vaccine. Anyone living in retirement centres, senior citizen lodges and other supportive living homes can also get vaccinated. There have been 546 people in Fort Chipewyan that have had their first vaccine dose. The community has been prioritized because of its remote location and limited health care services. The rollout has given some relief to a community with a long memory that includes the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, which wiped out three-quarters of the community. One victim was Chief Alexandre Lavoilette, the first chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. Chief Allan Adam of ACFN remembers stories of the Spanish Flu from his late grandmother. She was 18-years-old when the pandemic hit the community, he said. “She said people were lost because they had also lost their chief,” said Adam. “Nobody knew where to go.” Adam is thankful Fort Chipewyan has not experienced anything like the Spanish Flu over the past year. He said he is proud of the work the work the community is doing to keep people safe. “A lot of history was lost from the older people at that time,” he said. “We were lucky and we dodged a bullet this time.” Chief Peter Powder of Mikisew Cree First Nation said stories of the Spanish Flu made some people anxious to get vaccinated. “That’s where people’s heads were at, just hearing about that and how bad it was back in the day,” said Powder. Powder said encouraging young people to get vaccinated has been a priority, since they are more likely to travel outside the community. Some people have been excited to get vaccinated, but Angela Conner, a nurse with Nunee Health, said she has seen some hesitancy in the community. Nunee Health is promoting vaccination and trying to fight false information shared online. The hamlet received a second shipment of vaccines on Feb. 28. “Everything that we use is evidence-based,” said Conner. “We’ve been opening up our facility here for any questions. Quite a few people have called and we did have our nurse practitioner open for any kind of consults.” Other Métis leaders feel they have been left out of Alberta’s vaccination program. Since the first vaccines arrived in Alberta, elders on First Nations or Métis settlements have been getting vaccinated if they are between 65 and 74. Some communities that are mostly Métis are not considered settlements, meaning those elders must wait until the general public can be vaccinated in the fall. A community like Conklin, for instance, is mostly Métis and has seen 11 per cent of its population get COVID-19. But the community is considered a rural hamlet under the responsibility of the municipality. Fort McKay’s Métis community is also on municipal land and not considered a settlement. McMurray Métis has 45 elders between 65 and 74 who will be left out of Phase 1B because the Local is based in Fort McMurray. “In Alberta, it is recognized that Indigenous elders are part of a first priority,” said Bryan Fayant, McMurray Métis’ disaster and recovery strategist. “Our elders are a part of the regular rollout and I just don’t think that’s enough.” firstname.lastname@example.org Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
NEW YORK — Edmonton Oilers forward Alex Chiasson has been suspended for one game for cross-checking Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jimmy Vesey. The incident occurred at the end of Toronto's 3-0 win at Edmonton on Monday night. Chiasson was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct for cross-checking. Chiasson will forfeit US$18,534 in salary. The Maple Leafs and the Oilers finish a three-game series Wednesday in Edmonton. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Biden administration sanctioned seven mid-level and senior Russian officials on Tuesday, along with more than a dozen government entities, over a nearly fatal nerve-agent attack on opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his subsequent jailing. The measures, emphasizing the use of the Russian nerve agent as a banned chemical weapon, marked the Biden administration's first sanctions against associates of President Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader was a favourite of former President Donald Trump even during covert Russian hacking and social media campaigns aimed at destabilizing the U.S. The government officials included at least four whom Navalny's supporters had directly asked the West to penalize, saying they were most involved in targeting him and other dissidents and journalists. However, the U.S. list did not include any of Russia's most powerful businesspeople and bankers, oligarchs whom Navalny has long said the West would have to sanction to get the attention of Putin. Tuesday's step “was not meant to be a silver bullet or an end date to what has been a difficult relationship with Russia,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “We expect the relationship to continue to be a challenge. We’re prepared for that.” The Biden administration also announced sanctions under the U.S. Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act for Russian entities, including those the U.S. said worked to research, develop and test chemical weapons. The U.S. intelligence community concluded with high confidence that Russia's Federal Security Service used the Russian nerve agent Novichok on Navalny last August, a senior administration official said. Russia says it had no role in any attack on the dissident. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Tuesday denounced the new U.S. sanctions as part of its “meddling in our internal affairs.” “We aren’t going to tolerate that,” Zakharova said in a statement, adding that “we will respond in kind.” “Attempts to put pressure on Russia with sanctions or other tools have failed in the past and will fail again,” she said. The Biden administration has pledged to confront Putin over alleged attacks on Russian opposition figures and alleged malign actions abroad, including the hacking of U.S. government agencies and U.S. businesses. Trump spoke admiringly of Putin and resisted criticism of Putin's government. That included dismissing U.S. intelligence findings that Russia had backed Trump in its covert campaign to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. The administration co-ordinated the sanctions with the European Union, which added to its own sanctions Tuesday over the attack on Navalny. The U.S. and European Union shared concerns about “Russia’s deepening authoritarianism,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. “The U.S. government has exercised its authorities to send a clear signal that Russia’s use of chemical weapons and abuse of human rights have severe consequences,” Blinken said in a statement. The individuals sanctioned by the U.S. included the head of Russia's Federal Security Service, the head of prisons, Kremlin and defence figures, and Russia's prosecutor general. The Biden administration had forecast for weeks that it would take action against Russia. Besides the Navalny sanctions, officials have said the administration plans to respond soon to the massive Russian hack of federal government agencies and private corporations that laid bare vulnerabilities in the cyber supply chain and exposed potentially sensitive secrets to elite Kremlin spies. Navalny, 44, was sickened by the Russian nerve agent in an attack that the United States and others linked to Putin’s security services. After months of recuperation in Germany, Navalny flew home to Moscow in January and was arrested on arrival for an alleged parole violation. His detention sparked street protests across Russia. Police arrested thousands of demonstrators. Authorities have transferred the opposition leader to a penal colony to begin serving a sentence, after what rights groups said was a show trial. Long a target in Russian government attempts to shut down dissent, Navalny has repeatedly appealed to the West to start targeting the most powerful business and financial oligarchs of his country, saying only then would Russian leaders take international sanctions seriously. Russia critic Bill Browder, a London-based investor, tweeted that he feared the new U.S. sanctions would be “way too little and not touch Putin’s billionaire cronies.” Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and chair of the House Intelligence Committee, called the U.S. move overdue. Working with U.S. allies, “we must use an array of tools, including sanctions, to meaningfully deter, repel, and punish Moscow’s transgressions,” Schiff said in a statement. The U.S. government has previously censured behaviour by Russia that American officials saw as having violated international norms. In 2016, for instance, the Obama administration responded to interference by the Kremlin in the presidential election by expelling dozens of Russian diplomats who officials said were actually spies and by shuttering two Russian compounds in Maryland and New York. Trump's administration also took a handful of actions adverse to Moscow, including the closure of Russian consulates on the West Coast and the suspension of a nuclear arms treaty. ___ Associated Press writers Eric Tucker in Washington, Aamer Madhani in Chicago, Lorne Cook in Brussels and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report. Ellen Knickmeyer, The Associated Press
There still isn’t a trial date one year after a Kindersley mom was arrested and charged with second-degree murder for the death of her infant daughter. In Saskatoon Provincial Court in November 2020, Teenie Rose Steer elected to be tried by judge alone without a jury. Her case was then moved from the provincial court level to Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench. Her matter was on Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench pre-trial list Nov. 13, 2020, to set a trial date. That pre-trial conference was adjourned to Dec. 18, 2020, and then it was adjourned to Feb. 12, 2021. The matter has now been adjourned to March 31. Pre-trial conferences are closed to the public and media. They are informal meetings in chambers between the Crown and defence. Steer was arrested 13 months ago. According to the 2016 Supreme Court of Canada Jordan Rule, once charges are laid provincial cases must be heard within 18 months and superior court cases within 30 months or the charges can be dismissed. RCMP arrested steer February 2020 and charged her with killing her one-month-old infant three years ago. On Sept. 27, 2018, police responded to a home after receiving a report of a baby in cardiac arrest. First responders and doctors at the Rosetown hospital attempted life-saving measures but the infant was pronounced dead in hospital. A September 2018 autopsy revealed information that led investigators to believe the baby’s death was suspicious and RCMP Major Crimes took over the investigation. RCMP didn't reveal details of that information. The charges against Steer haven’t been proven in court. email@example.com Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
VICTORIA — Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside says six new rapid response teams will help schools in B.C. identify gaps in COVID-19 safety plans to help reduce exposure risk. The government says in a statement the teams will work with staff at schools, school districts and health authorities to review significant exposures to the virus. They will review school or district safety plans and policies, assist in their implementation and make recommendations for improvements when needed. The teams will also help schools and districts with communication plans. The provincial government is spending $900,000 in federal funding to support one team for each health authority and a separate team to help independent schools. Whiteside says gaps in safety plans and their implementation in some cases have been identified through reviews in cases of exposure, including classroom configuration problems and the sharing of supplies. "We know that when our safety plans in schools are in place and being adhered to and we don't have any gaps in those safety plans, we know that is when our schools are safest," she said on Tuesday. Funding for the teams was first announced Feb. 4. A lead school district has been selected for each health region and in Fraser Health, where outbreaks have been concentrated, the Education Ministry says there has also been additional support. Lead school districts include Surrey for the Fraser Health region, Nanaimo-Ladysmith for Island Health, Central Okanagan for Interior Health, Peace River North for Northern Health and Vancouver for Vancouver Coastal Health. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — Just before two RCMP officers opened fire on a fellow officer and a civilian during last year's Nova Scotia mass shooting, they struggled with congested radio channels and mistook a man wearing a bright vest for the killer. These are among the fresh facts revealed Tuesday in a police watchdog agency report clearing the Mounties of criminal wrongdoing after they fired five shots with high-powered rifles outside the Onslow, N.S., firehall. The six-page report by the Serious Incident Response Team says the "totality of the evidence" prompted the officers to believe the killer was standing just 88 metres away from them on the morning of April 19. "They discharged their weapons in order to prevent further deaths or serious injuries .... The (officers) had reasonable grounds to believe the person they saw, who was disobeying their orders, was the mass murderer who had, in the preceding hour, killed three more persons," it concludes. The six-page document traces the 10:21 a.m. incident — which didn't result in deaths or injuries — to the early hours of the morning, when the two officers were recalled to duty at 3 a.m. for a briefing as the shootings that would take 22 lives unfolded. According to the report, they were told that the spouse of the killer had said the gunman was driving a replica RCMP car and was wearing an orange vest. "They learned that several children had witnessed their parents being shot dead .... The actual total number of victims was unknown at the time of the briefing because several buildings in Portapique were on fire, and whether there were additional victims had not yet been determined," the report says. They also had been briefed that the gunman had high-powered weapons with laser-mounted sights. Several hours after the first briefing, there were radio transmissions saying the killer had murdered a woman in Wentworth, N.S. At that point, the two officers were "transitioned from investigators to being involved in the hunt for the killer," the report says. Through the morning, reports of additional murders came over the radio, including two women in the Debert, N.S., area, which is about a 10-minute drive from the Onslow firehall. As they approached the firehall, which had been designated as a rest area, they saw a marked RCMP car parked in front and a man wearing a yellow and orange reflective vest standing next to the driver's door. According to the report, the two officers didn't realize a uniformed RCMP officer was sitting in the vehicle. The investigation says the two officers repeatedly tried to advise other RCMP officers by radio of what they were seeing but couldn't get through. Felix Cacchione, the director of SIRT, said in an email to The Canadian Press that he didn't have an exact time of arrival. "I can only extrapolate from the radio communications that it was about a minute before shots were fired," he wrote. According to the report, both officers got out of their vehicle with their rifles and were still unable to reach anyone on the radio. The report says they yelled "police," and "show your hands," but the civilian in the vest ducked behind the car before popping back up and running toward the firehall. The Mounties opened fire, with one officer firing four shots and the other a single shot. During the killer's 13-hour rampage, the report found, there were 7,731 radio transmissions over emergency response channels. It says the "sole reason" the reason the officers couldn't transmit before opening fire was because "there was no available talk path due to the heavy volume of radio traffic." It concluded the officers had a "lawful excuse" to fire their guns and didn't break Criminal Code provisions that prohibit officers from using their firearms in a careless manner. "Based on everything (the officers) had seen and heard since coming on duty and what they had just observed, they had reasonable grounds to believe that the (civilian in the vest) was the killer and someone who would continue his killing rampage," says the report. In a statement on its Facebook page Tuesday, the Onslow Belmont Fire Brigade said it is "frustrated and disappointed that there will be no accountability for the RCMP. Their actions that day endangered lives, damaged property and caused mental health issues for many of the people involved." An RCMP spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether any disciplinary action has been taken against the two officers. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said both people shot at outside the firehall were RCMP officers.
On Wednesday, the verdict in Toronto’s van attack trial will be revealed. Alek Minassian has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. Erica Vella reports.
Western Hockey League broadcaster Bob Ridley marked a career milestone Saturday, calling his 4,000th game for the Medicine Hat Tigers. Ridley has been the voice of the team broadcasts since the Tigers' first game, Oct. 15, 1970, and he's called every game since, but one. "Those 50 years and 4,000 games went by real quick, so I guess I might have enjoyed what I was doing," said Ridley on the Calgary Eyeopener. Saturday's game at Co-op Place resulted in a Tigers win, 7-2, against the Red Deer Rebels in the 2020-21 home opener. LISTEN to Ridley's famous voice here: He said that despite the building being empty save the players, it was a "marvellous evening" of tribute from team staff and players. However, the looming achievement was a bit of a distraction. "I'm kind of glad that milestone has come and gone and I can move on with other things," he said. He was originally set to call his milestone game in March 2020, but the pandemic put a pause on that until the team returned to action last month with a shortened season. For 50 seasons, Ridley has done play-by-play for the games; and for 45 seasons, he's also driven the team bus. "That's one way I got to meet and know the players real well," he said. "As a result of it, I became very, very good friends with most of them." Many NHL stars got their start with the Tigers, including Lanny McDonald, Kelly Hrudey, Rob Niedermayer, Trevor Linden, Tom Lysiak and Bryan McCabe. Bob Ridley was honoured by the team and staff on Saturday at Medicine Hat's Co-op Place.(Medicine Hat Tigers) Career in review Ridley, originally from Vulcan, Alta., began broadcasting on the radio on weekends in Drumheller while studying at Mount Royal College in Calgary. He went on to do more radio gigs, and started to call play-by-play for a baseball team in Swift Current, Sask. After moving to Medicine Hat in 1968, he began broadcasting senior hockey. In 1969, the Medicine Hat hockey rink, called Arena Gardens, burned to the ground, but it was replaced a year later with the Medicine Hat Arena. That same year, 1970, the Tigers entered the league as a franchise and Ridley began calling their games. The one game he missed came in 1972, when he was assigned to cover the women's national curling championship in Saskatoon. The game has changed since those early days, says Ridley, who has seen three generations of athletes play, in some cases. "It's so fast now and it seems to change about every three or four years … it's so quick now. And speed and scale is what it's all about," he said. "That's what keeps me going, watching these young kids develop and move on and more kids coming up through the ranks." Last week, the WHL announced a new award, the Bob Ridley Award for Media Excellence, which will be awarded annually in his honour. He was the first recipient of the award, among many in his career. He says he's not fussed about hitting any other major milestone but rather will be "just taking it one game at a time." With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.
Australia's economy expanded at a much faster-than-expected pace in the final quarter of last year and all signs are that 2021 has started on a firm footing too helped by massive monetary and fiscal stimulus. The economy accelerated 3.1% in the three months to December, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed on Wednesday, higher than forecasts for a 2.5% rise and follows an upwardly revised 3.4% gain in the third quarter. The Australian dollar rose about 10 pips to a day's high of $0.7836 after the data while bond futures nudged lower with the three-year contract implying an yield of around 0.3% compared with the official cash rate of 0.1%.
A proposal to revamp Bayfield's downtown is dividing residents and business owners over the future of the Lake Huron village. The debate over the Bayfield Main Street revitalization project is set to come to a head Wednesday at a virtual public meeting, with some locals saying the plan could strip the quaint village of its heritage charm. “There’s a lot at stake for a lot of people here,” Bluewater Coun. Bill Whetstone said. “Our downtown is a reason why a lot of people come here or live here.” A revitalization project has been on the Municipality of Bluewater’s books since the early 2000s, initially developed to address water pooling on Main Street sidewalks. The existing gravel sidewalks present accessibility issues and create hazards including water ponding, mud and ice, a staff report says. The proposed $2.3 million Main Street revitalization would see the gravel sidewalks switched to exposed aggregate concrete. The plan also proposes drive-over curbs to access parking, a narrower roadway and wider boulevards, planting of more trees, unique “welcome mat” surface treatments in front of businesses, additional seating and lighting, along with greenspace “infiltration basins” to help collect storm runoff. Whetstone said the municipality has received an outpouring of community feedback ahead of Wednesday’s meeting and will have to find a “compromise” and tweak the plan. “We have to play with it to make sure we’re not getting too far away from what Bayfield is known for,” he said. “We don’t want it to look the same as any other downtown revitalization plan.” Whetstone added common requests from locals have been to bury utility lines underground, something for which the current plan doesn’t budget, and to increase trees. One major concern is that a construction project could be devastating for small businesses looking to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic. But Whetstone promised construction wouldn't take place during peak summer months, adding “minimal work” could only begin this fall. “We have to reach this balance in which we solve the problem of drainage and dirt, but yet not disrupt the charm,” said Stephen Baker, principal of the Virtual High School on Main Street and a Bayfield resident. But defining charm is “nebulous,” he said, adding some locals want to keep the village’s “quiet, subdued nature,” while others see foot traffic and tourists as a necessity for businesses. He said Bayfield doesn’t want to become a “cookie-cutter rendition” of other beach towns for the sake of added curbs and gutters. “A lot of people are saying we’re going a little bit too far to solve our problems and we’re doing more than what’s required,” to fix the drainage issues, Baker said. Lifelong Bayfield resident Tara Hessel said locals are “cut right down the middle” for and against the plan, with the sidewalk appearance a hot button issue. “The hardest problem is some people aren’t accepting of change, and change is going to happen,” she said. “What some people are trying to do is stop it and keep Bayfield a secret … (but) the businesses need tourists to succeed.” She said though some want to keep the gravel sidewalks for heritage, others feel it’s too messy, particularly when it rains and water pools. Hessel said a plan that provides safe, accessible walkways but still preserves some heritage — she’s suggesting cobblestone, like in the village park — is needed. “This a great opportunity for us to choose our change, make it a positive experience and make it better for the community.” firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter.com/MaxatLFPress Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
Two and a half years ago, longtime safe drug supply advocate Dr. Mark Tyndall imagined an ATM-like machine that could dispense opioids. Now these machines are operating in four cities to help address the overdose crisis. The federal government announced nearly $3.5 million in funding for the MySafe project, an initiative that provides people medical-grade opioids through a biometric vending machine. This comes on the heels of the BC Coroners Service reporting 165 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths in January — the largest-ever number of lives lost due to illicit drugs that month, accounting for an average of 5.3 lives each day. This is a jump from the 4.7 deaths per day recorded in B.C. last year, which saw the most people ever die due to overdose in that province. “We need to meet people where they’re at and that’s what harm reduction is all about,” said parliamentary secretary Darren Fisher, who made the funding announcement Tuesday on behalf of Health Minister Patty Hajdu. “Creative solutions like this one will help us change the course of the overdose crisis.” In order to access the MySafe machines, people must undergo a medical assessment and have a physician prescribe them the hydromorphone pills that the machine supplies. The machines are programmed to only provide the amount prescribed by the physician. They are also tamper-proof, bolted to the floor, and can only be accessed after a person scans their palm. While the machines mean no human contact, people are supervised by a health practitioner and can be connected to treatment and other health and social services. So far, more than 5,000 packets have been dispensed, according to the MySafe Society. The new funding will go towards operating and evaluating the existing five sites that were launched in late 2020. Two machines are in Vancouver, with one each in Victoria, London, Ont., and Dartmouth, N.S. Each machine can provide medication to up to 48 people, totalling about 240 people nationwide, according to Health Canada. This funding is part of the $66 million the federal government pledged in the 2020 fall economic statement to support community-based organizations responding to substance use issues. Tyndall, a University of British Columbia professor who specializes in public health, says the best way to alleviate the problem is through preventative measures. “We really need to step back and not just wait for people to overdose and intervene, but to try to offer them an alternative to prevent overdoses in the first place,” Tyndall said. While Tyndall says the five machines aren’t enough to curb the spiking overdose deaths, he notes they’re able to quickly get a safe supply to those who need it. “We’re going to continue to lose people if we’re just waiting for everybody to get into recovery or drug treatment,” Tyndall said. “All these things need to happen, but it’s just too slow.” There are 15 other machines awaiting deployment, which Tyndall hopes can be put to use in the next few years in other parts of the country. Yasmine Ghania, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern): 6:15 p.m. B.C.’s top doctor says the decision to delay second doses of COVID-19 vaccine by four months is based on scientific evidence as well as real-world data. Dr. Bonnie Henry says the data show protection from a single dose is upwards of 90 per cent and lasts for several months, and delaying second doses will maximize the benefit of vaccines for everyone while reducing mortality and severe illness for those most at risk. She adds that the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means people could be vaccinated sooner than planned as the province launches its campaign to immunize the general population. Henry explained the province’s decision to delay second doses while announcing 438 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, as well as two more deaths, pushing the death toll in B.C. to 1,365. --- 6:10 p.m. Alberta is reporting 257 new infections of COVID-19, including 35 new variant cases of the virus. The variant total in the province is now at 492. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical health officer, says 261 people are in hospital with COVID-19 and 54 of them are in intensive care. She says there have also been two additional deaths linked to the virus. --- 4:45 p.m. Saskatchewan will follow the advice of a national committee that recommends the latest vaccine against COVID-19 be used in people 64 and younger. The province's chief medical health officer says it will soon receive around 15,000 doses of the shot from Oxford-AstraZeneca. Dr. Saqib Shahab says the province will select which age groups will be eligible to be inoculated. He says Saskatchewan is also waiting on national advice about how long it could delay giving people a second dose. Premier Scott Moe says waiting up to four months to give people their second shot could be a "game changer" for the province. He says that could mean thousands more people getting vaccinated by June. --- 3 p.m. Health officials are reporting 134 new cases of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan and two more deaths. The two residents who died were 80 and older. The Ministry of Health says at least one of the approved vaccines has made its way into every long-term care facility in the province. To date, around 80,000 shots have been given provincewide. There are 154 people in hospital, with 20 people in intensive care. --- 2:25 p.m. New Brunswick is reporting four new cases of COVID-19 today and one death attributed to the novel coronavirus. Health officials say the province’s 28th COVID-19-related death involves a resident in their 80s at the Manoir Belle Vue long-term care home in Edmundston. The four new cases are all in the Miramichi region and bring to 36 the number of active reported cases in the province. Three patients are hospitalized with the disease, all in intensive care. Officials say a recent infection reported in the Miramichi region is a suspected case of the B.1.1.7 variant. --- 1:55 p.m. Nova Scotia is reporting one new case of COVID-19 today and confirming seven more variant cases as a result of previous testing. The new case is in the northern zone and is a close contact of a previously reported case and brings the total number of known active cases to 29. The variant cases include two that are the B.1.1.7 or U.K. variant, and five that are the 501.V2 or South African variant. The two cases with the U.K. variant are in western zone and Halifax area and are connected to a previously reported U.K. variant case, while the five South African variant cases are in the Halifax area, with one case related to travel and the other four being household contacts of the traveller. This brings the total number of cases of the U.K. variant identified in Nova Scotia to eight and South African variant to six. --- 1:45 p.m. Manitoba is reporting two additional COVID-19 deaths and 64 new cases. However, eight cases from unspecified dates have been removed due to a data correction, for a net increase of 56. --- 1:20 p.m. The Manitoba government is offering another round of grants to businesses and charities that have been forced to scale back operations by COVID-19 public health orders. The third round, like previous ones, will provide up to $5,000 to help make up for lost revenue. --- 1:20 p.m. Quebec’s health minister says the government has reached a deal that will see 350 pharmacies in the Montreal administering COVID-19 vaccines by March 15. Christian Dube says the vaccines will be available for people as young as 70 and that the locations of the pharmacies will be publicized in the coming days. He is also warning Quebecers that the drop in daily cases across the province may be deceiving because cases of the B.1.1.7 mutation are rising. He says Montreal may be in the “eye before the storm” regarding a possible surge in infections caused by the variant. --- 1 p.m. Ontario seniors won’t receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. Health Minister Christine Elliott says the province plans to follow advice from a national panel of experts who recommend against giving the vaccine to people older than 64. Elliott says the vaccine could be used in correctional facilities as it does not require the same cold storage as the other two vaccines in use. She says the province will share an updated vaccination plan that factors in the new supply soon. --- 1 p.m. Three-hundred thousand of the 500,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine arriving this week expire in just a few weeks' time. Federal government officials note all COVID-19 vaccines do have expiry dates and it's not the time for hoarding doses anyway. Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says all vaccines should be administered as soon as they arrive. She says it is up to provinces to determine who is best placed to get which vaccines, but all are safe and effective. --- 12:55 p.m. Newfoundland and Labrador health authorities are reporting five new cases of COVID-19, including one infection involving a health-care worker at a rural hospital. Four of the cases reported today are in the Eastern Health region, where authorities have been battling an outbreak in the St. John's area. The fifth case involves a health-care worker at a hospital in St. Anthony, a town of about 2,200 on Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula. Public health says there are now 203 active cases of COVID-19 across the province, with nine people hospitalized because of the disease and five of those in intensive care. --- 12:50 p.m. The Manitoba government is loosening some of its COVID-19 restrictions as its case numbers continue to drop. Starting Friday, people will be allowed to have another entire household visit in their home, and outdoor public gatherings can increase to 10 people from five. Maximum capacity at stores and restaurants will increase to 50 per cent from 25, and indoor religious services can run at 25 per cent capacity, up from 10 per cent. Licensed establishments can reopen their video lottery terminals. Some facilities, such as casinos, bingo halls and concert venues, must stay closed. --- 12:45 p.m. The federal procurement minister says there's no reason to doubt delivery of 20 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine set to come from the United States. Anita Anand says she's received assurances from the vaccine manufacturer that it does not see any problems with exporting those doses. But she says a delivery schedule for those doses is up in the air. The U.S. government has said it wants Americans all vaccinated first before it shares vaccine doses with other countries. --- 12:30 p.m. Canada's top public health officials say shifting knowledge of how the available COVID-19 vaccines work is behind the changing guidance on how they should be used. Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo says initial advice for provinces to stick with manufacturers' guidelines on vaccine use was based on that being the best information available at the time. He says there is now real-world evidence those rules can be adapted. A decision by B.C. health authorities to stretch the interval between doses to long as four months has drawn criticism for potentially going too far off existing guidelines. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is set to release updated guidance on how the various vaccines can be used, including the extent to which one dose is effective. --- 12:15 p.m. Canada's chief public health officer says what's been a daily decrease in new COVID-19 cases is now levelling off. Dr. Theresa Tam says there is now a moderate increase in case counts at the national level. Tam says there is an increase of new variants circulating in Canada, and no province has been spared. But she says more ground is being gained on the vaccine front every day with the authorization of new vaccines that will all help to fight the novel coronavirus. --- 12:10 p.m. Federal Procurement Minister Anita Anand says half a million doses of the latest COVID-19 vaccine to be approved for use in Canada will arrive tomorrow. She says the first shipment of the version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India is on the way. Anand says that means Canada is on track to receive about 945,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in total this week. --- 12:05 p.m. The Quebec government has reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. A source close to the provincial government who was not authorized to speak publicly confirmed the agreement, which was first reported today by 98.5 FM. About 50 pharmacies in the Montreal area will be the first to receive shipments of the Moderna vaccine before the program is extended to pharmacies across the province. Health Minister Christian Dube is scheduled to release details of the plan at an afternoon news conference. --- 11:50 a.m. Nunavut is reporting one new case of COVID-19 today. The new case is in Arviat, the only place in Nunavut with active cases of COVID-19. Arviat, a community of about 2,800 people, has been under strict lockdown since November, with all schools and non-essential businesses closed. The community's hamlet council has also put a nightly curfew in place to help curb the spread, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. There are nine active cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut, all in Arviat. --- 11:45 a.m. Health officials in Prince Edward Island are reporting four new cases of COVID-19. The cases involve three men and one woman, all in their 20s, and they are self-isolating. There are now 22 active cases on the Island. Test results from the National Microbiology Laboratory have confirmed that two earlier COVID-19 cases involving two women in Charlottetown are linked to the variant first identified in the United Kingdom. --- 11:15 a.m. Quebec is reporting 588 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. Health officials say hospitalizations rose for a third consecutive day, up by 16 today, for a total of 628. The number of people in intensive care dropped by one, to 121. The province says it administered 16,458 doses of vaccine Monday, the first day of Quebec’s mass vaccination campaign for the general public. Quebec has reported a total of 288,941 COVID-19 infections and 10,407 deaths linked to the virus. --- 10:30 a.m. Ontario is reporting 966 new COVID-19 cases and 11 more deaths from the virus. The new data is based on 30,737 tests. There are 284 hospitalized people in intensive care and 189 people on ventilators. The province says it administered 22,326 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine since the last daily report. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said in the 12:55 p.m. item that all five new cases in Newfoundland and Labrador were in the Eastern Health region. In fact, only four of them were, while the fifth was in the northern town of St. Anthony.