Ariana Grande’s announcement Sunday that she’s engaged to Dalton Gomez came with a close-up look at her ring — and it’s stunning. Fans quickly noticed that it looked a lot like a pearl ring that she showed them back in October 2014.
Ariana Grande’s announcement Sunday that she’s engaged to Dalton Gomez came with a close-up look at her ring — and it’s stunning. Fans quickly noticed that it looked a lot like a pearl ring that she showed them back in October 2014.
An envoy hired to defuse tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous commercial lobster fishermen in Nova Scotia has released a bleak interim report highlighting poor communication and a lack of trust between both sides. The report by Université Sainte-Anne president Allister Surette found perhaps the only thing the fishermen can agree on is blaming the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for the situation. "The lack of trust and respect has been presented to me by many of the individuals I interviewed," Surette said in his interim report filed with Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan and Carolyn Bennett, minister for Indigenous-Crown relations. "Firstly, I have heard from Indigenous and non-Indigenous parties of the lack of trust in government," Surette wrote. "Added to this level of the lack of trust and respect, some interviewed also expressed the lack of trust and respect within parties involved in the fishery and I also heard of the lack of trust and respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals, stakeholder groups and organizations." Appointed by Ottawa Surette was named special federal representative by the Trudeau government after an outbreak of violence and protests at the launch of an Indigenous moderate livelihood lobster fishery by the Sipekne'katik band in St. Marys Bay last fall. The band cited the Mi'kmaq's right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood, recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999 but never defined by Ottawa. The fishery was conducted outside of the regulated season for commercial lobster licence holders in Lobster Fishing Area 34, who objected saying the fishery was a blatant violation of fishery regulations. The reaction included alleged assaults, arson, blockades, volleys of wharfside profanity and online venom. It garnered international attention. The blowup capped years of tensions over an escalating Sipekne'katik food, social and ceremonial lobster fishery in St. Marys Bay that was, in some cases, used as a cloak for a commercial fishery. Lobster caught under food, social and ceremonial licences cannot be sold. In one case, a Crown prosecutor said the lobster caught under those licences from Sipekne'katik supplied an international "black market operation." Despite a number of federal initiatives to integrate the Mi'kmaq into the fishery since 1999 — including half a billion dollars for training and buying out and providing commercial licences — there has been a lack of progress defining moderate livelihood and implementing the fishery. Expectations of the First Nations were not met, leaving many of them to doubt the sincerity of DFO, Surette reported. Debate over enforcement Surette said the issue is complex and will not be easily solved. Non-Indigenous fishermen have argued there is not enough enforcement when it comes to Indigenous lobster fishing while the bands have complained of harassment. "However, the point to note on this matter, and more closely related to my mandate, seems to be the lack of clear direction from the government of Canada and the multiple facets and complexity of implementing the right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood," he said in the report. Surette's mandate is not to negotiate but rather to "restore confidence, improve relations" and make recommendations to the politicians. His interim report calls for more dialogue to build trust, suggesting areas of declared common interest like conservation and marketing. A lack of information from DFO was a recurrent complaint from the commercial fishermen, said Surette. "There should be some type of formal process for the non-Indigenous to be kept up to speed, especially the harvesters, since this could affect their livelihood. Some process, even though they're not involved in negotiation, that they could have input or at least understand what's going on," he told CBC Radio's Information Morning on Friday. Improving communication He made three suggestions for improving communication: a clearinghouse for accurate information, a formal process for talks between the commercial industry and the government of Canada, and forums to create a "safe space" to talk on important issues without extreme emotions. Surette interviewed 85 people — 81 per cent were non-Indigenous. "In some cases, they were heavily focused on the fishery. Others said that they preferred dealing with the ministers at this present time," he told CBC News. Surette said he will be reaching out to gather more perspectives. MORE TOP STORIES
Saskatchewan will start to stretch out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses, as supplies run short. Second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine will be administered up to 42 days after the first dose. Official guidelines say the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is meant to be given as two doses, 21 days apart, while Moderna recommends spacing doses 28 days apart. The National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI), a body made up of scientists and vaccine experts, say provinces should follow the dosing schedule as closely as possible, but the panel is now offering some wiggle room. WATCH | Canada's COVID-19 vaccine advisory committee approves delaying 2nd dose NACI recommends spacing out the doses up to 42 days when necessary. The recommendation is also supported by the World Health Organization and Canada's chief medical health officer. "The flexibility provided by a reasonable extension of the dose interval to 42 days where operationally necessary, combined with increasing predictability of vaccine supply, support our public health objective to protect high-risk groups as quickly as possible," reads a statement released Thursday from Dr. Theresa Tam, as well as the provincial and territorial chief medical officers of health. The same day, Saskatchewan announced it would further space out its doses. "Saskatchewan will be implementing these recommendations of up to 42 days where operationally necessary in order to deliver more first doses to eligible people," the government of Saskatchewan said in a news release. WATCH | Dr. Howard Njoo addresses questions on taking first and second dose of vaccine 42 days apart: Saskatchewan's supply runs short As of Friday, 96 per cent of the province's vaccines have been administered, and new supplies coming in are not enough to replenish what has been used. Pfizer has said it will not ship a single vial of its highly effective vaccine to Canada next week as the pharmaceutical giant retools its production facility in Puurs, Belgium, to boost capacity. Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, says it's very reassuring to have the length between doses extended to 42 days. "When there's a sudden, further disruption that does present challenges," Shahab said during a news conference on Tuesday. "Most provinces are able to give the second dose of both Pfizer and Moderna within 42 days ... and that becomes very important with the disruption of shipment." Scott Livingstone, the CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, agreed. "It does mitigate some of the decreased doses coming in. We also know through contact with the federal government that once the Pfizer plant is back online, they'll be increasing our shipment," Livingstone said during Tuesday's news conference. Livingstone said the new shipments coming in will be allocated for an individual's first and second shot. WATCH | Canada facing delays in vaccine rollout More vaccines on the way Another shipment of vaccines will arrive in Saskatchewan on Feb. 1, says the government. The province is expecting 5,850 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine and 6,500 doses of Moderna's vaccine. The government says they will be distributed to the Far North West, Far North East, North East and Central West. A second shipment of 7,100 doses from Moderna will arrive on Feb. 22, and will be distributed to the Far North East, North East and Central East. "Our immunization team is trying to be as nimble as possible knowing that we could at any time through the pandemic receive more vaccines, but also then having to readjust our targets and still focusing on the most needy in this Phase 1, and we will continue to do that as vaccine supply keeps coming back up," Livingstone said.
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Canada Post is telling customers to expect delivery delays due to a COVID-19 outbreak at a key mail facility in Mississauga, Ont., that has sickened dozens of workers. A spokesman says testing at the Dixie Road site has found 39 positive COVID-19 cases over the last three days. Canada Post says 182 workers at the site have tested positive since the start of the new year. Spokesman Phil Legault says the Mississauga facility is central to the crown corporation's entire national delivery and processing network. Legault says the plant continues to operate and process heavy incoming parcel volumes, but there will be delays. More than 4,500 people work at the Mississauga site. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
On the morning of January 6, the weather was close to minus 10 in Kanesatake. Cheryl Scott Nelson was impatiently waiting for her husband to come home from the hospital, but she never expected him to arrive with barely any clothes on. “No blankets, all of his left side gown opened,” said Cheryl, filled with anger and frustration. “This is a man that had three strokes!” Winston Nelson, 70, was hospitalized at the St. Eustache Hospital on December 30 for heart surgery. Seven days later, Cheryl received a call from the hospital saying that there was nothing they could do for her husband, and that they were sending him back home. “It was taking my heart, after 30 years of being married to the man, and ripping it and stomping all over it,” said Cheryl. Cheryl needed to arrange for special transportation with the community as Winston’s last stroke, back in 2013, left him in a wheelchair. The schedule didn’t work out and Cheryl was forced to send a taxi instead. Worried about the fact that she couldn’t drive her husband back herself, Cheryl recounted that she called the hospital three times the morning he received his hospital leave. She said the first two times, she was told that nurses were getting her husband dressed, and then the third time, someone confirmed her husband was downstairs, ready to go. “This man came home nude. His gown wasn’t even tied in the back, the poor taxi driver gave me his two bags that I put his winter coat in, sweater, pants and undershorts. It came back the same way.” Everything in the bags, except for his hearing aids. Cheryl explained that her husband has needed help to hear for the past eight years, as he became paralyzed on his left side after his last stroke. Once he got home, she noticed that the piece was missing. After Winston indicated that a nurse took it out of his ear, Cheryl called the hospital, asking for an explanation. “The nurse couldn’t find his hearing piece,” said Cheryl, “$1,600 worth of hearing!” The Centre integre de sante et de services sociaux des Laurentides (CISSS), which governs the St. Eustache Hospital, said they are currently investigating Winston’s departure, looking to understand how such an incomprehensible event took place. Myriam Sabourin from the CISSS communication services said that it was important for them to treat patients with respect and dignity. She added that hospital leave must be carried out in a logical, safe and humane way. According to Sabourin, if the person is deemed unfit, the hospital contacts either a family member or a community organization to ensure a good departure. “As a general rule, no patient leaves only wearing a gown,” said Sabourin. “Unless there is a special situation that requires it,” she added. As it took her only a few minutes to clean and dress her husband, Cheryl finds it hard to grasp what “special situation” led a nurse to send him home in such conditions. “I understand the pandemic, the nurses are running here and there, and people are dying everywhere, but don’t throw my husband in a wheelchair with only a gown and a soiled diaper,” she said. It was recommended that Cheryl file a complaint with the St. Eustache administration, but she feels that a single complaint simply won’t do it. Cheryl said she plans on suing the hospital not only to serve justice to her family, but to bring to light what happens to Indigenous people once they enter the health system. Winston’s case, unfortunately, doesn’t go without reminding us of what happened to Joyce Echaquan, last September. The 37-year-old mother from the Atikamekw community of Manawan was hospitalized for stomach pain at the Centre Hospitalier de Lanaudiere in Joliette. Echaquan live-streamed racist and degrading comments, from nurses who didn’t believe her pain was real. All this, only minutes before she died. For Kanesatake grand chief Serge Otsi Simon, this time, what could have turned into another tragic death, was pure negligence and incompetence. “I don’t see any valid excuse coming out for the way they mistreated him,” said Simon. Simon said he received the information from a CISSS health commissioner that the nurse in charge of Winston was an intern who had only been there for a few months. “I don’t care how long you’ve been on the job, you don’t send someone home with only a gown in the middle of winter,” said Simon. Cheryl also feels like it is a little too late for an excuse. “My husband, for the last couple of nights, woke up screaming that he was cold,” she said. “He is traumatized, in his heart and mind - what’s left of it.” firstname.lastname@example.org Virginie Ann, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door
Alix village council heard some residents speak out against changes to a proposed fire protection policy. The policy was then passed at the Jan. 6 regular meeting of council, held via Zoom to meet pandemic requirements. Councillors read a report from Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White on public feedback to the proposed village fire department policy, primarily fees to be charged for certain fire department services. For example, the policy notes if the department responds to a fire call, the fee charges for a fire engine for over the first hour of work will be billed out at $500 for that first hour, while answering false alarms will be billed at no charge for the first one, $100 for the second one, $200 for the third one and $300 for any additional false alarms. The complete list of fire department fees is available on the Village of Alix website. The bylaw states, “NOTE: Fees will not be charged for call outs that are strictly Medical First Response.” She noted the village received two responses from the public from November notices placed on the village website, on the backs of village utility bills and hard copies which were available at the village office. The first response was in written form from Gary Thompson and Jodi Henry and stated, “Concerns regarding the new proposed user fees for emergency service. Will anything be deducted or refunded on the taxes I already pay for this service? “I realize the insurance companies will most likely absorb this cost if needed, however, this gives the insurance company legitimate reasons to raise rates considerably. “I feel this seems like ‘double dipping’ on the part of the county. Why am I paying for this service twice should I ever need it? “I’ve been paying for fire protection coverage for the last 16 years and never used it – Does this mean I get a rebate?” White noted the second response, which came in late and was given to councillors at the meeting, was from Sharon Fazer, who stated the fees are a slap in the face to taxpayers who already paid for everything at the fire hall and Fazer further stated if the fire department can’t afford to operate they should close their doors. White stated her recommendation was to approve the policy. There was no discussion and councillors unanimously approved the fire department policy. Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review
NEW YORK — A raging pandemic, tumultuous presidential election and deadly Capitol insurrection have combined to make the annual tradition of Dry January more moist than air-tight for some. Not Sarah Arvizo. She considers it her easiest yet. As much as the 32-year-old Manhattanite would love to partake in a little “vinopeutics,” she said the abstinence period she's participated in for several years has been made smoother this time around by her at-home pandemic life and the closing of bars and restaurants. “Longing for those days, for sure,” said the social drinker who lives alone. “But unless I want to freeze outside, that's largely off the table this year.” Eight-year-old Dry January, which comes at the height of resolution season after the holidays, has brought on the desired benefits for many among the millions participating around the world. They're losing quarantine weight, experiencing more clarity and sleeping easier. Others with lockdown time on their hands and round-the-clock access to TV news and the home liquor cabinet are struggling to meet the challenge. Some who have already cheated hoisted a glass on Inauguration Day, Dry January's surreal New Year's Eve. Sue Cornick, 52, in Los Angeles, wanted to experience Dry January after her consumption of alcohol rose from three or four days a week to five or six. But she knew pulling the plug wouldn't work before a celebratory Inauguration Day, so it's Dry February for her. “Full disclosure, my Dry February will be more like almost dry. I'll definitely have a cheat day here and there. Just no daily habit,” she said. Others are holding steadfast but said the horrid year that was and the chaotic events of January have made it far more difficult. The odds aren't in their favour. Studies over the years have shown that a small percentage of New Year's resolutions overall are actually achieved. Peta Grafham, a 61-year-old retired IT specialist in Tryon, North Carolina, signed on to Dry January after watching her alcohol intake creep up during the pandemic and months of political and racial turmoil. “I'm a social creature and isolating has been difficult. I found that I would open a bottle of wine and watch TV, usually CNN, and could knock back a bottle in less than two hours. Then I would move on to the Grand Marnier," said Grafham, who lives with her husband. “I announced to my friends and family that I was doing a Dry January, so my pride is what's keeping me sober.” She hasn't had a drop since Dec. 31. Her spouse didn't join, but she said he's an efficient nurser of bourbon or vodka and has supported her effort. “I seemed incapable of limiting myself to just one glass,” Grafham said. According to a recent survey from the American Psychological Association, 78% of adults report the COVID-19 pandemic has been a significant source of stress, and 65% said the amount of uncertainty in the world is causing strain. At 27, Emily Roethle in Encinitas, California, nearly broke on Jan. 6, when a riotous mob descended on the Capitol. “This is my second Dry January,” she said. “It's difficult this year. I've looked to my glass of wine to separate work from home as I work remote, but in ways it's easier as there's no happy hour or dinner invitations.” While addiction treatment experts note that a month of forced sobriety may not have a lasting impact and may lead to binge drinking in February, others believe the show of sobriety can't hurt. Dry January began after a woman training for her first half-marathon, Emily Robinson in the U.K., decided to quit drinking for the month. She later went to work for an alcohol awareness organization that launched a national campaign. The event slowly went global. Well before that, in 1942, Finland began a program called Raitis Tammikuu, meaning sober January, to assist the war effort against the Soviet Union, said Hilary Sheinbaum, who wrote a new book about Dry January, “The Dry Challenge." She said she wrote from personal experience. “On Dec. 31, 2016, moments before the ball dropped, I made a Dry January bet with a friend,” Sheinbaum said. “In the end, I ended up going the full 31 days. My friend did not. He ended up buying me a very fancy meal, but I had the opportunity to see how alcohol was affecting my day-to-day life. With Dry January, I had clearer skin. I was sleeping better. I had so much more financial savings at the end of the month. This is my fifth Dry January.” When she took on her first dry challenge, she was working regularly at booze-infused events as a red carpet reporter, and a food and beverage writer. She was also single and going on a lot of dates. Now in a two-year relationship, she and her live-in boyfriend do Dry January together. “Having someone doing it with you is definitely encouraging,” Sheinbaum said. “For many Americans, we start off the year with a number of resolutions, whether that's saving money, losing weight, just being healthier in general. Dry January checks the boxes for those goals and many more.” She and others note that the ritual isn't meant as a substitute for addiction treatment and recovery. Dr. Joseph DeSanto, an MD and addiction specialist for the recovery program BioCorRx, agreed but said Dry January may give those in trouble "something to rally around, especially if they're not in a 12-step group, and provide a sense of community.” He added: “Any kind of harm reduction is advantageous. If someone is a heavy drinker, they could benefit greatly from switching to moderate to light drinking, even if they can’t stop altogether. I’ve never met an alcoholic that felt worse from drinking less or not drinking.” MJ Gottlieb is co-founder and CEO of the 100,000-strong Loosid, a sober social network with both physical and virtual events and services around the country. He's in recovery himself and launched the company in part to show the world that sobriety doesn't mean the “end of fun.” Since the pandemic, he said Loosid has seen a spike in people posting on its app, messaging its hotlines and accessing its support groups as the pandemic brought on isolation and more drinking at home. That's where Dry January plays a role. “A lot of people who did not have problems previous to the pandemic and were drinking a glass of wine a night are now drinking a couple of bottles a night," Gottlieb said. "They're wondering what's going on. They're wondering, how did I get here?” Leanne Italie, The Associated Press
There were another eight deaths related to COVID-19 reported in Saskatchewan on Friday. This follows 13 deaths that were reported on Thursday by the province. Six deaths were reported in the Regina zone with two from the 80-years-old and over age group, one from the 70 to 79-year-old age group, two from the 60 to 69-year-old age group and one from the 40 to 49 age group reported. There was also one death reported in the 80-years-old and up age group in the Central East zone and one death in the 60 to 69 age group reported in Saskatoon. The number of deaths in the province has grown to 247. There were 312 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the province on Friday. The North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, reported 38 new cases. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 139 active cases. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 58 active cases and North Central 3 has 108 active cases. There was one case with pending information added to the North Central zone. North Central now ranks fourth in the province in Active Case Breakdown behind Saskatoon, Regina and the North West. Seven previously reported cases have been found to be out-of-province residents and removed from the counts. There are currently 175 people in hospital overall in the province. Of the 147 reported as receiving in patient care there are 17 in North Central. Of the 30 people reported as being in intensive care there are four in North Central. The current seven-day average is 275, or 22.4 cases per 100,000 population. Of the 21,643 reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 3,196 are considered active. The recovered number now sits at 18,200 after 203 more recoveries were reported. The total numbers of cases since the beginning of the pandemic is 21,643 of those 55,675 cases are from the North area (2,144 North West, 2,680 North Central, 851 North East) There were 1,448 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered yesterday in Saskatchewan bringing the total number of vaccines administered in the province to 31,275. As of January 22, 96 per cent of the doses received have been administered in Saskatchewan. There were 101 doses administered in North Central on Thursday. An additional 46 doses, not previously reported, were administered in Saskatoon on January 20 Pfizer’s Feb. 1 allocation to Saskatchewan has been confirmed to be 5,850 doses. Moderna shipments are expected for February 1 (6,500 doses) and will be distributed to the Far North West, Far North East, North East and Central West; and February 22 (7,100 doses) and will be distributed to the Far North East, North East and Central East. There were 3,147 COVID-19 tests processed in Saskatchewan on Jan 14. As of today there have been 485,003 COVID-19 tests performed in Saskatchewan. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
Nipissing First Nation Chief Scott McLeod says the public health directive supporting in-class learning in northern Ontario schools is more political than scientific. The community’s high school opted to keep Nbissing students online until at least February 16 after the province extended its COVID-19 pandemic emergency order. The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit is one of the few in Ontario to support in-class learning, a decision panned by many in light of it closing down toboggan hills, outdoor skating rinks and snowmobile trails. “We're just trying to deal with the Covid and we just shut our rinks down and we're just kind of monitoring what provinces and municipalities are doing and making sure that we're consistent or more stringent in areas like our school being closed,” McLeod said about Nbisiing Secondary School Thursday. “It's all online right now, despite the provinces still allowing it, at least in northern Ontario, the high schools are still open,” he said, noting that seems to be out of step with what some provincial experts are saying. “I was listening to Dr. Kevin Brown. He's the co-chair of the Covid Science Table for Ontario,” said Chief McLeod. “He was giving an update to the Chiefs of Ontario and he honestly can't understand why the schools in northern Ontario are still open. And you know, that, to me was troublesome, right? ‘You have one of the top epidemiologists saying that he doesn't understand. I was expecting ‘Here, this is the data, shows this or that,” because I like listening to the data, not just listening to people rant on Facebook. But, yeah, he was lost for an answer as to why it's still open. “And so obviously it's a more political call than a science one,” McLeod said. The school posted the update on its website, as did the community. “In response to Ontario’s second declaration of emergency and to align Nbisiing with Nipissing First Nation’s response to the provincewide stay-at-home order and shutdown restrictions, Nipissing First Nation (NFN) Council has approved changes to Nbisiing’s return to in-person learning date,” it reads. “In order to keep people home as much as possible to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19 in our community, protect vulnerable populations, and keep our school community safe, Nbisiing will continue to teach all classes virtually and will return to in-person learning on Tuesday, February 16th, 2021 (Monday the 15th is Family Day).” Nipissing FN only closed its outdoor rink in Garden Village, which is enclosed with walls and roof, because they don’t want people from outside the community taking advantage of it while their rinks are ordered closed. “Our problem with the skating rinks, as soon as North Bay and Sturgeon closed, we have to close because they all come down hours and we don't want them there,” he said. Chief McLeod did what many others are doing in response by creating their own ice sheets, whether that’s in a yard or on the lake. They can control the numbers and make it safe by following the known protocols, he added. “Well, I made one in my backyard and I Facebooked all my family members saying, ‘You want to come skating with your family, book it … just message me so I know that there's no other family there and you can have it to yourself.’” Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada. Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
English teachers in western Quebec could walk off the job as early as the middle of next month after voting overwhelmingly in favour of striking. On Thursday evening, members of the Western Quebec Teachers Association (WQTA) voted 95 per cent in favour of a five-day strike mandate after a year of negotiations with the province recently stalled. "We are asking for more investments in education, and the government doesn't seem to want to invest," said Heidi Yetman, president of the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers, which encompasses the WQTA. "There's less money in this round of negotiation than there was six years ago under an austerity government under the Liberals." Low pay, heavy workload biggest concerns Teachers have been without a contract since last March, and the major sticking points are salary and workload, Yetman said. Not only do Quebec teachers have the lowest starting salary in the country, she said, but they also have several more rungs to climb than teachers in other provinces before they can make it to the top of the pay ladder. Yetman said while the Coalition Avenir Québec government wants to increase teaching time, the union is looking to decrease it as teachers are already spending a lot of time outside the classroom on work like marking, lesson planning and assisting students — an extra burden that's been brought into focus over the past year. "The pandemic has actually shown that the conditions are not great to begin with," she said. The two sides had started negotiations in January 2020, but those were put on hold when the COVID-19 pandemic shut schools across Quebec. They resumed shortly after, but no agreement has been reached. 'Really frustrating' Tasha Ausman teaches at Philemon Wright High School in Gatineau, Que., and said teachers want smaller class sizes and a guarantee services aren't removed from special needs students. Ausman said teachers can spend 10 to 12 extra hours a week grading a single assignment, and ultimately, it's students who'll suffer if teachers are given even more responsibilities. "It becomes really frustrating for those of us who come to work every day to make sure everybody can learn and everybody has an equitable experience," she said. "We put a lot of heart in. But there's also a limit to the number of hours at home at eight, nine, 10 at night that you can put in." Other local unions across the province are also set to vote by the end of the month on whether to strike. In an email to CBC, Quebec's education ministry refused to comment, citing the ongoing negotiations.
RICHMOND, B.C. — RCMP say a man who allegedly cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet and walked away in Richmond, B.C., has been located. A statement from police says Woon Chan was found Friday. Police issued a warning about 18 hours earlier saying they were contacted by corrections officials who reported Chan was wearing a monitoring bracelet but it had gone offline. RCMP responded to an area of north Richmond near Minoru Park and found the bracelet but no sign of the 57-year-old man. At the time, they described Chan as a risk to the public but did not say why. The police statement doesn't say where he was found or what led to his discovery. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
VICTORIA — British Columbia's oldest residents will be able to pre-register for COVID-19 vaccinations starting in March after the most vulnerable groups have been immunized under a provincial plan announced today. People who register for the age-based plan will get a reminder to book appointments when eligible, but provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says timelines for vaccination will depend on available doses. Residents in long-term care homes and health-care workers who look after them are among those who are currently being vaccinated, followed in February by more residents of Indigenous communities as well as those who are over the age of 80. Those aged 75 to 79 will be vaccinated starting in April as part of the pre-registration strategy that will also include people with underlying health conditions before those in younger age groups are immunized. Everyone who is vaccinated will get a record of their immunization and a reminder of their second dose by text, email or phone call. The aim is to administer vaccines to 4.3 million eligible residents by September using larger facilities including school gyms, arenas and mobile clinics, as well as home visits for those who are unable to attend a clinic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
A military veteran in this province says there should be no compromise when it comes to providing mental health treatment and care for the families of service members. "People often think about the veteran themselves but they don't think about the families and how they're affected," said Mark Gauci, who spent two decades split between the army and air force. "If you've got a service member coming back with PTSD, that's not a singular condition. That affects everyone around them," he said. His comments follow a new report from the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman that is calling for better access to mental health treatment for veterans' families. A year ago, Veterans Affairs Canada brought in a new guideline that limited access to mental health treatment for some family members of veterans. The reason for the change was because of political embarrassment, the CBC's Murray Brewster reported earlier this week. There was an upswell in public criticism after news broke that convicted killer Christopher Garnier received taxpayer-funded PTSD treatment because his father was a veteran. Then-veterans minister Seamus O'Regan ordered a stricter interpretation of existing rules which directly impacted some veterans and their families right across the country — including in Newfoundland and Labrador. Revised but not reversed CBC News documented several cases where military veterans across the country started reporting family members had mental health services reduced or stopped. The ombudsman's office says it urgently requested the new guideline be reversed in January of last year. The guideline was revised in May, but not reversed. In the meantime, the office started an investigation into the need for access to mental health treatment benefits for families. Retired colonel Nishika Jardine issued her findings in a report released earlier this week. The report confirmed that, in some cases, the stricter interpretation resulted in limiting mental health services previously provided to family members. It said there was "a lack of transparency with respect to how these significant changes in interpretation were implemented." It also said "the lack of clear communication caused confusion and frustration among some Veterans and their families, especially since some family members only found out about the changes during their mental health appointments." Recommendations include family members In its recommendations, the report calls on the federal government to provide government-funded mental health treatment to family members of Veterans when their mental health condition is related to military service, regardless of the Veteran's own treatment needs. It also calls for a full gender-based analysis on treatment benefits to see whether anyone is being left out and for Veterans Affairs to be flexible when it comes to the urgent mental health needs of family members of veterans. As CBC reported earlier this week, Veterans Affairs Canada has said it will review the issue but no timeline has been given. Immediately it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. That support was there and it was needed. And that family member is doing much better because of that. - Mark Gauci In a written response to the ombudsman's report, Veterans Affairs said existing regulations "do not provide the department the regulatory authority to offer funding for treatment benefits for a veteran's family member in their own right," although the department will aim to "be as flexible as possible where it can." Meanwhile, Gauci says his own experience with mental health support from Veterans Affairs was a huge help for his whole family. While payments for treatment were briefly stalled last year, they ended up resuming. "Immediately it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. That support was there and it was needed. And that family member is doing much better because of that," said Gauci. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered little clarity when pressed by Global News on whether Julie Payette will get to keep the annuity and expense account granted to former governors general, despite her resigning before completing her term amid a cloud of bullying accusations.
NBC will shut down the NBC Sports Network at the end of the year. NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua announced the move Friday in an internal memo to staff. “At the conclusion of 2021, we have decided that the best strategic next step for our Sports Group and the entire Company is to wind down NBCSN completely,” Bevacqua said in the memo. NBC Sports Network is best known for carrying NHL and English Premier League games as well as NASCAR and IndyCar races. It also carries a significant amount of programming during the Olympics. NBC will parcel out events between USA Network and its Peacock streaming service. Joe Reedy, The Associated Press
Le député fédéral de la circonscription de Mirabel, Simon Marcil annonce qu’il quittera la vie politique au terme de son présent mandat; une décision qui fait suite à un arrêt de travail pour des raisons reliées à sa santé mentale. En prévision de la rentrée parlementaire de cette semaine, l’élu se dit maintenant en parfaite condition et fin prêt pour reprendre ses responsabilités à la Chambre des communes, sise à Ottawa. Simon Marcil quittera la tête haute et sans aucun regret. En entrevue téléphonique, il partage un bilan somme toute chargé, que ce soit en matière de travail dans la circonscription, auprès des électeurs, ou encore au niveau législatif, au parlement canadien. «Ma priorité aura toujours été de servir nos concitoyens de manière efficace, de mentionner le député du Bloc québécois. Et nous continuerons à le faire jusqu’à la fin. Mais, pour ce faire, on souhaitait connaître notre monde. Mirabel est une circonscription vaste, rurale et urbaine. Il s’agit d’en ressortir les réalités différentes pour mieux servir nos concitoyens.» Il faut dire que M. Marcil connaît très bien ce territoire qui l’a vu grandir; et maintenant en tant que père de famille. Face aux défis reliés à la pandémie, son équipe, dit-il, s’est ajustée, afin de toujours mieux servir les citoyens. «Nous travaillions déjà en équipe et nous devions faire face à ces circonstances, comme tout le monde. Je suis très fier de mes collègues, qui ont tenu le fort, toujours, même lorsque j’étais absent. Ensemble, nous avons servi plus de 500 personnes, entreprises et organismes, en ces temps pandémiques.» Au niveau législatif, son passage aura notamment été marqué par ses efforts pour protéger la gestion de l’offre. En 2018, il a déposé un projet de loi afin d’assujettir, à la loi 101, les entreprises de juridictions fédérales, interdire les briseurs de grève et compenser adéquatement les femmes devant se prémunir d’un retrait préventif. De retour à 100 % Simon Marcil a fait les manchettes au cours des dernières semaines, en raison d’une absence à la Chambre des communes qui s’est étendue sur un an, jusqu’au lundi 11 janvier dernier. Le député a dévoilé la raison de celle-ci sur les réseaux sociaux. Atteint d’un trouble bipolaire, il s’était retiré pour prendre du mieux, se familiariser avec une nouvelle médication, trouver le bon dosage, et retrouver un équilibre et une hygiène de vie saine. «Je suis parti, à l’origine, car je me sentais en épuisement professionnel, explique M. Marcil. C’est ce que je pensais. En moyenne, et je généralise ici, une personne en épuisement professionnel se retire de son lieu de travail pendant quelques mois et revient en meilleure condition. Après sept mois, mon médecin s’est rendu compte que je n’allais pas mieux. J’ai passé les tests. Le diagnostic est venu. Je devais prendre une nouvelle médication.» D’un autre côté, Simon Marcil aura passé un an auprès de sa famille. Il se dit, en ce sens, très reconnaissant. «Ce n’est pas pour rien que je m’en vais. J’aime mon travail, la députation, servir la population. Pour une raison d’équilibre, avec mes enfants et ma femme; je dois partir. Avec le diagnostic que j’ai eu, faire 50 000 km par année, en voiture, c’est beaucoup. J’ai besoin de stabilité.» La santé mentale est un tabou. Mais, l’élu est d’avis que les gens, hommes et femmes de tous âges ne doivent pas hésiter à en parler et à consulter. «Il ne faut pas avoir honte, dit-il. Un trouble de santé mentale, ça ne définit pas une personne. Il faut s’informer, ne pas s’isoler, ou penser qu’on est la seule au monde à avoir ce genre de conditions. Nous ne sommes pas seuls!» Le député fédéral dit avoir reçu nombre de messages d’encouragement de la part de concitoyens, de membres de cabinets et de politiciens, de partout au Canada. Et maintenant, il conclura le mandat confié par les électeurs de Mirabel. Par la suite, il a pour projet de s’acheter une terre et de devenir agriculteur, dans sa circonscription. «Pour l’instant, je souhaite vraiment me concentrer sur moi et ma famille. Mais je reste toujours indépendantiste et je défendrai toujours cette idée», de conclure Simon Marcil. Nicolas Parent, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Éveil
While one Northern Ontario health unit has decided to ban some outdoor activities such as snowmobiling, skating and hill sliding, that is not currently in the plans for Sudbury's public health region. As of Thursday January 21, all OFSC (Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs) trails and associated sledding trails on crown land within the jurisdiction of the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit were shut down by order of Dr. Jim Chirico, the medical officer of health. This takes in thousands of square kilometres from the Quebec border to Georgian Bay on Lake Huron. There are roughly 1,900 kilometres of groomed trails. The order will be in effect for the duration of the provincial stay-at-home order and can be reassessed in the future, said the news release. “We have been told to stay home and we need to do this,” said Dr. Chirico in the release. “I have received many complaints about people travelling from other districts to use the local snowmobile trails, thus putting our district at risk of COVID-19. "The OFSC recommends that snowmobilers avoid trailering and travelling to destinations that are outside their health unit region to snowmobile, but people have not taken the direction seriously. “We are also seeing groups of snowmobilers congregating on trails, in parking lots and other locations not maintaining a two-metre distance and exceeding the gathering limits.” The decision sparked an outcry on social media from hundreds of avid sledders who have paid the $270 annual fee for riding OFSC trails across Ontario. Many are upset about the loss of sledding privileges and question the concept of closing down outdoor activities where many believe there is little chance of contracting the coronavirus in an outdoor setting, where most riders wear helmets and face shields. Northern Ontario trails also attract hundreds of riders from Southern Ontario owing to the greater number of long-distance trails. Some local sledders said if anything, police and trail wardens should be sending out-of-town riders back home. The snowmobiling ban came a week after another controversial call by the North Bay Parry Sound health unit. On January 14, it decreed that all outdoor public ice skating rinks, tobogganing hills and skating trails on public property across the district to be closed. It too was done in accordance with the Emergency Management and Civil Protections Act according to a news release. “Travelling to skating rinks and tobogganing hills can increase risk of spread of COVID-19 when individuals choose to travel with people who they do not live with,” said Dr. Chirico. “Skating rinks and tobogganing hills are locations where we have seen a lot of individuals gather without physical distancing and many times without face coverings. While enjoying these amenities COVID-19 restrictions may get forgotten and put our community at risk.” Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD), which also covers large urban and rural areas, has taken a different approach. In response to an inquiry from Sudbury.com, PHSD said outdoor activities would continue and it encouraged people to observe physical distancing and to wear masks. "At this time, Public Health Sudbury & Districts is not recommending the closure of snowmobiling trails, sliding hills, or outdoor skating rinks. Public Health will continue to monitor the local COVID-19 situation closely to protect the health of the community," PHSD said. "There is a higher risk of COVID spread if people are congregating together. Remember to stay with people you live with or in groups of five or less outdoors while keeping at least two metres of distance. Wear a mask if there is a chance you are going to get within two metres of others. As part of the stay-at-home order, avoid non-essential travel. Everyone is required to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise, or for essential work," said the PHSD response. Similar to the Sudbury position, the Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit, has taken the softer approach. On January 19, Simcoe-Muskoka’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Charles Gardner, held a media briefing and said it hadn't occurred to him to take the restrictive action imposed by the North Bay Parry Sound health unit. "At this point in time I’m not considering doing that. I think I would have to see evidence that it is both helpful and necessary to make that kind of restriction," said Gardner in a live-streamed event. Gardner was also quoted as saying that although an argument could be made for keeping snowmobilers at home, there could be some individuals who rely on sledding as a primary means of transportation at this time of year. He said he would need more evidence before shutting down outdoor activities. 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
TOPEKA, Kan. — Republicans on Friday pushed a proposed anti-abortion amendment to the Kansas Constitution through the state House, a bitter reminder of election setbacks for abortion rights Democrats on the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion nationwide. The vote was 86-38 on a measure that would overturn a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court decision that declared access to abortion a “fundamental” right under the state's Bill of Rights. Abortion opponents had two votes more than the two-thirds majority necessary for passage, sending the proposal to the Senate, where a debate could occur as early as next week. The measure would add language to the state constitution declaring that it grants no right to abortion and that the Legislature can regulate abortion in line with U.S. Supreme Court decisions. The measure is not a state abortion ban, but it could allow one if a more conservative U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision protecting abortion rights. “I think’s about as ugly as you can get,” said Rep. Annie Kuether, a Topeka Democrat who supports abortion rights. Republicans said the timing of the debate was a coincidence, but abortion rights Democrats, particularly women, saw it as a pointed message that GOP legislators and anti-abortion groups intend to keep moving toward a state ban. A similar proposal failed last year in the House when four GOP members objected, and elections last year left the Republican supermajority more conservative. “It’s remarkable and it shows you that Kansas, that we are a pro-life state,” said Rep. Tori Arnberger, a Republican from the central Kansas town of Great Bend, who led the anti-abortion side during the debate. Anti-abortion lawmakers said that if the Kansas court decision stands, two decades' worth of restrictions on abortion enacted with bipartisan support could fall in state court challenges. The 2019 ruling put on indefinite hold a law banning a common second trimester procedure — designated as “dismemberment abortion” in its language. Special health and safety standards for abortion providers, described by them as unnecessary and burdensome, have been on hold since 2011 because of a lawsuit. Abortion opponents also worry that also in jeopardy are a 24-hour waiting period for an abortion, a requirement that most minors seeking abortions notify their parents and rules for what providers must tell their patients. “The people, over the last three decades, have supported very strongly reasonable regulations on the abortion industry, and they want those protected,” said Jeanne Gawdun, a lobbyist for Kansans for Life, the state's most influential anti-abortion group. But several Republican said in explaining their yes votes that they would continue to push for a ban on abortion if the amendment is added to the constitution. Freshman Republican Rep Patrick Penn, of Wichita, said his late mother, a survivor of abusive relationships, had been urged by family to abort him “in accordance with every excuse promoted by the pro-death forces.” If the Senate also approves the measure by a two-thirds majority, it would go on the ballot in the August 2022 primary, when approval by a simple majority of voters would add it to the state constitution. “It will almost certainly lead to an abortion ban," said freshman Democratic Rep. Lindsay Vaugh, a Kansas City-area abortion rights supporter, noting moves for near bans in other states, including Alabama, Tennessee and West Virginia. The timing of the statewide vote was a key issue last year, when anti-abortion groups pushed to have the measure on the ballot in the August 2020 primary. Four Republicans voted then against that measure, joining many Democrats in arguing that the larger and broader group of voters in the November general election should decide. In Kansas since 2010, an average of 3.5 times as many Republicans as Democrats have cast ballots in primaries, and the primary electorate tends to be more partisan. Three of those Republican dissenters retired, and another lost his GOP primary race. The GOP had a net gain of two seats in the November election, making its majority 86-38, with one independent House member. In Friday's vote, only Republicans backed this year's proposal, and only Democrats and the independent House member voted no. The failure of last year's proposal led to an intensified focus by both anti-abortion and abortion rights groups on legislative races. They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, sent hundreds of thousands of text messages, made tens of thousands of phone calls and knocked on thousands of doors. The national anti-abortion group Students for Life also became involved in Kansas races for the first time. “It was, ‘This is the time to protect life,’” said Kristan Hawkins, Students for Life's president. “We need to stand up and hold elected officials accountable, regardless of what party they're in.” But Kuether argued that Kansas legislators keep repeating the same decades-old “debates over controlling women" even after the U.S. elected its first female vice-president, Kamala Harris. She said there's no debate over any proposal “to deny a right to men.” “Equality?" she said. "Not in Kansas.” ___ Follow John Hanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjdhanna John Hanna, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — A group of large businesses in Banff National Park is proposing a rapid COVID-19 testing project meant to help reopen the economy safely. Yannis Karlos, the head of the group, said rapid testing can guarantee the safety of the community while allowing the return to a semblance of normality in a place heavily dependent on tourism. "We're just looking for options to take a different approach to ensure that our community remains safe," said Karlos, who owns a distillery and restaurant in Banff, Alta. "Back in March, our community basically fully shut down and we had an extremely high level of unemployment," he said. Karlos said the group of businesses that represent 5,300 employees would cover the costs of deploying COVID-19 rapid tests if the Alberta government will supply them. "The way we envision it is becoming a public-private partnership, so we're looking for some assistance from the municipality as well as from the province," he said. Town of Banff spokesman Jason Darrah said the municipality will support the project. "We want to support however possible, such as offering facilities for doing it," he said. Sandy White, the co-founder of a coalition of academics, medical professionals and business leaders called Rapid Test and Trace Canada, which is working with the businesses in Banff, said millions of rapid tests already bought and distributed by the federal government are sitting in warehouses across Canada because provincial governments are either unable or unwilling to deploy them. "The overall mismanagement of this file in particular, to say nothing of vaccines and everything else, has been depressingly indicative of Canada's response to this thing," he said. White, who himself owns two inns in Banff, said other countries have responded to the pandemic more efficiently than Canada using rapid tests and other measures to reopened their economies safely. "We are drowning in this situation and we've had a year to get all these wonderful things in place and we could be Taiwan or South Korea or Australia or New Zealand but we're not," he said. "That's very frustrating." White said the 90-day rapid-testing project proposed for Banff would aim to test as many of the town's roughly 8,800 residents as possible within the first two days. After that, the program would test between five and 10 per cent of residents every day. "We are quite confident that with a strategy like that, we can eradicate COVID within the community," he said. Banff had close to 200 active cases of COVID-19 at the end of November, when the economy had reopened and tourists were in town. "The goal really is to be able to safely reopen the economy and encourage tourists to come back to town," he said, noting local jobs depend on tourism. He said the program could also be used as a "test case" to prove that a rapid-testing strategy can work to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. White said his organization is speaking with several groups across the country, including universities and Indigenous communities, to prepare rapid-testing project proposals. "It would be us advising and assisting in setting up pilots and executing on them with the government really just provided testing services in the form of the tests and maybe some basic guidance," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press
In this David and Goliath story, David threw a dozen rocks, but couldn’t knock the giant down. David Strachan, treasurer of the Midhurst Ratepayers Association, who fought against the Geranium company’s plans to build two large subdivisions in the small village 10-minutes north of Barrie, is still bitter. “If we’d have thrown lots of money at it in the first place, we might have stood a chance,” Strachan said after news of the bulldozers arriving on-site at the Carson Road subdivision was released last week. But after fighting the good fight and raising more than $250,000 for legal fees and professional planners to oppose 2,500 new homes in their neighbourhood, Strachan and company realized their 12-year battle is over. In 2008, the initial plan for the Midhurst Carson Road development was approved by the township and later by the Ontario Municipal Board, the County of Simcoe, Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority, and several provincial agencies in 2014. It took five more years for the environmental assessment to be approved by the ministry of the environment, conservation and parks in 2019. Water and storm water management work was approved in 2020. Last December, council gave the green light for Phase 1 of the subdivision of 342 homes to begin. A bulldozer sits on the former farmland at the top of Anne Street North, where snowmobilers currently race through a small tract of trees that will remain standing. Inside the cold work trailer, site supervisor Dominic Palombi hunches down inside his coat and pulls out the site drawings of the new subdivision that will be his work address for the foreseeable future. "We start building Monday (Jan. 25)," he said. “We’ll start with the sewers for the subdivision and we’ll start building the sales office there,” added Palombi, pointing to the snow-covered field. “It’s going to be big.” Stretching between Carson Road on the south, along Wilson Drive on the west and near Snow Valley Road on the north, Palombi’s not wrong. There are expected to be more than 340 detached and semi-detached houses available to preview schematically at least this summer, said Geranium spokesperson Cheryl Shindruk. “We expect 2,500 units approximately at full build,” she continued, explaining the Doran Road site will be built along Carson Road in the future. Shindruk won’t comment on the lengthy timeline it took to push the subdivisions through the roadblocks, other than to say “development approval takes the time it needs to take.” President of the Midhurst ratepayers group, Sandy Buxton, said it wasn’t a case of NIMBY-ism (Not In My Backyard), but also to save Minesing Wetlands which border the property. Also at stake are the Hine’s Emerald Dragonflies, which only nest in a few places in Canada, including the Springwater wetlands, she said. “It’s a very fussy animal in terms of the habitat it requires,” said Buxton. “It’s a fragile beast … which is classed as an endangered animal, not just provincially but also federally.” Nicole Audette, Springwater’s communications officer, said it was just one of many requirements that had to be satisfied before the work project could be approved. “The completion of the environmental assessment was a significant condition that needed to be satisfied to ensure the Midhurst developments could be serviced with significant consideration for the environment,” said Audette. It also included jumping through a slew of technical hoops, such as engineering design, species at risk assessments and environmental impact studies, in addition to requiring securities to ensure funding will be available to complete work in accordance with municipal regulations. As soon as weather permits, tree clearing and the installation of services including the watermains, sanitary sewers, storm sewers and a stormwater management pond will begin. For more information, visit www.springwater.ca Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
The situation in Montreal remains critical but there are signs that the spread of COVID-19 is slowing down, according to the region's public health director. "We're seeing that the measures have been working," said Dr. Mylène Drouin at a news conference Friday. "The efforts that you all have made are [having an effect]. Drouin was optimistic but cautious in her approach — a tone that echoed the premier's message from Quebec City Thursday. Montreal's public health director highlighted that infections per 100,000 residents have steadily dipped, going from 46 at the start of the year to 37 more recently. She said she expects that number to soon dip below 30. The drop may seem considerable, but Drouin warned that the number is still high, and well above what would normally have earned the region a red-zone designation under the colour-coded system the province used last year. Drouin also said that for the first time in months, the average number of cases caused by one coronavirus infection in the Montreal area is below one — another sign that outbreaks are being kept under control. The public health director was also quick to point out that the virus continues to place a heavy burden on hospitals with 696 patients in the region, including 112 people in intensive care. Drouin, Legault not on same page regarding rapid tests To make sure the downward trend continues, local public health officials are ready to deploy, if necessary, rapid COVID-19 tests. They have been largely unused since the province received them from the federal government. Details regarding their potential use were scarce, but Drouin appeared to contradict a statement made earlier this week by Quebec Premier François Legault, who said the tests could be used to screen people who don't have symptoms, especially in hard-hit Montreal neighbourhoods such as Saint-Léonard, Montréal-Nord and Rivières-des-Prairies. Drouin said she had no knowledge of this plan, and said rapid tests would only be used with people experiencing symptoms, and in specific settings where the positivity rate appears to be higher than normal due to concerns about the tests' accuracy. "The more we use these tests in contexts where the positivity rates are high, the more reliable the tests will be," Drouin said. "That's why we want to use them where we won't have to redo a test to validate." Public health officials also hope to prevent outbreaks in schools by testing more children aged 12-17. Last week, Drouin sent letters home to parents, encouraging them to have their children tested for COVID-19 immediately if they show any flu-like symptoms, and to keep them at home if they or anyone in their household is awaiting test results.