The Federal Reserve is keeping its ultra-low interest rate policies in place, a sign that it wants to see more evidence of a strengthening economic recovery before it would consider easing its support. (April 28)
The Federal Reserve is keeping its ultra-low interest rate policies in place, a sign that it wants to see more evidence of a strengthening economic recovery before it would consider easing its support. (April 28)
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he learned weeks ago that the military officer overseeing Canada's vaccination campaign was under investigation. Trudeau says he did not know the details of the investigation into Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who was abruptly sidelined from his role on Friday with little explanation. A source who was granted anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly told The Canadian Press that the investigation relates to an allegation of sexual misconduct. CTV News has reported that Fortin is being investigated for having allegedly exposed himself to a woman while he was an officer cadet at the Royal Military College in Saint-Jean, Que., in 1989. Fortin's lawyer says the general only learned of the allegation on Sunday and he categorically denies any wrongdoing. Trudeau says his first thought is with the alleged victim, but that he expects a fair, complete and rigorous investigation. The prime minister sought to reassure Canadians that the vaccination campaign, which is now being overseen by Brig.-Gen. Krista Brodie, will not be negatively affected by Fortin's departure. This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2021. The Canadian Press
A lawsuit against the Yukon government alleges officials ignored an engineer's assessment of Golden Predator's Dawson-area Brewery Creek project, reducing the recommended financial security of $12 million to just $1 million. But Golden Predator is firing back with its own legal action, claiming the engineer made defamatory statements about the company and its CEO during a mining conference in 2020. Former chief mine engineer Paul Christman filed a statement of claim against Yukon's Department of Energy, Mines and Resources (EMR) on April 21, alleging he was professionally punished after raising concerns about the Golden Predator file. He's seeking damages for breach of employment contract, punitive damages and legal costs. EMR spokesperson Sue Thomas declined comment on the lawsuit. Golden Predator CEO Janet Lee-Sheriff also declined to comment on Christman's lawsuit. The company is not named as a defendant but is heavily referenced throughout the statement of claim. Golden Predator and Lee-Sheriff, however, filed their own lawsuit with the B.C. Supreme Court on May 14, claiming that Christman, in his role as a Yukon government employee, "falsely and maliciously" made statements about them during the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference, commonly referred to as "Roundup." They're seeking damages, and for the government to launch an independent review on Christman's influence on any Golden Predator files. Neither case has gone to trial yet. Recommendations ignored, Christman claims Golden Predator's Brewery Creek project, located about 55 kilometres east of Dawson City, was operated as a gold mine by another company from 1996 to 2001. Golden Predator took over the property in 2012. According to Christman's lawsuit, Golden Predator requested in April 2019 that EMR confirm it had a valid quartz mining licence over the Brewery Creek claims, "a task which fell squarely under Christman's purview." Christman completed a financial security assessment for restarting mining activities in August, the statement of claim continues, and, based on the existing plan and proposed work, determined the security should be set at $12 million. In a draft letter, he also stated that environmental and financial security assessments would be required, as well as an amendment to the quartz mining licence. However, the lawsuit alleges his draft was "significantly edited," with the letter that was sent to Golden Predator containing no mention of the requirements for an environmental assessment and licence amendment and stating the company had a valid licence. EMR also "disregarded" Christman's financial security assessment, the statement of claim says, and "instead agreed with Golden Predator to financial security in the amount of" $1 million, including $400,000 provided by the mine's previous owners for "post closure activities" but not for re-opening. The Brewery Creek gold mine near Dawson City.(Golden Predator) Confrontation at Roundup The rift only widened from there. The lawsuit alleges Christman noticed a Golden Predator news release claiming Brewery Creek was fully licenced to resume mining activity when it didn't have a valid water licence, but was "discouraged from reporting the issue" after raising it with his director. He was then excluded from closed-door meetings between Golden Predator and EMR's assistant deputy minister, deputy minister and minister at Roundup. During the same conference, Christman was involved in a "brief incident" with Lee-Sheriff and Golden Predator executive chairman Bill Sheriff, whom the lawsuit alleges "confronted and accused Christman of criticizing Golden Predator at the Roundup and threatened to get him fired." Golden Predator's lawsuit offers a different view of the "incident," alleging that Christman "loudly and publicly" called Lee-Sheriff a "liar" when she stated in a presentation that her company held valid quartz mining and water licenses for Brewery Creek. Lee-Sheriff, according to her claim, invited Christman over to Golden Predator's conference booth to address his concerns but Christman allegedly "yelled at and publicly berated" her over the water licence, and when she walked away, made "sexist and gendered statements" to Sheriff, including telling him to get his wife "under control." On the second-last day of Roundup, Christman anonymously reported Golden Predator to the British Columbia Securities Commission, his lawsuit says; the next day, the company threatened a defamation suit against him for the "incident," and also demanded he be removed from all Golden Predator files. The "incident" and threat of legal action led EMR to launch an investigation, according to Christman's statement of claim, with his director removing him from Golden Predator files. Christman eventually left the department to work for the Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board, the lawsuit says, taking a pay cut in the process. He also alleges he was the victim of a "retaliatory" complaint from the Public Service Commissioner after he started his new position. Golden Predator and Lee-Sheriff, meanwhile, allege that Christman's conduct at Roundup damaged their reputations and while they emailed Christman inviting him to issue an apology on Jan. 22, 2020, he has yet to do so. Mine securities often 'problematic,' analyst says Lewis Rifkind, a mining analyst with the Yukon Conservation Society, told CBC he would be following Christman's lawsuit closely, describing the overall process of how the government arrives at financial securities for mines as "problematic" and largely opaque. "We've always been concerned about the role of Energy, Mines and Resources — are they a promoter of mining or are they a regulator of mining?" he said. "There seems to be an institutional conflict of interest when it comes to promoting and regulating mining by this one department." Rifkind acknowledged that the claims in Christman's lawsuit are, at this point, unproven. However, he said that it was "unusual" that the financial security for the Brewery Creek project was exactly $1 million, noting that the figure is typically a less rounded number, and that he would consider even the alleged original assessment of $12 million low. He also said the claim of closed-door meetings at Roundup between senior EMR officials and Golden Predator were concerning, and was curious to see if any allegations of "backroom shenanigans" would be substantiated. "It's always been a concern that we've got the regulators going to these promotional events," he said. "It's not right."
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, indicated that the most important factor in the declaration for the COVID-19 epidemic curve in Canada is how public health measures are applied by provinces and territories. "How fast we go down that curve and if we get to bottom of that curve is contingent on the work that they’re doing together with their communities," Dr. Tam said at a press conference on Tuesday. "With variants at play, while vaccinations are going up, we have to be very cautious about that downward path."
Iceland spent its two years as chair of the Arctic Council with a focus on sustainability in marine life, climate and green energy, and a stronger council for Arctic communities. This week, their term as chair comes to an end and will be passed to the Russian following their bi-annual meeting, the 12th Arctic Council Ministerial Meetings kick off in Reykjavik, Iceland, this week. There will be briefings on the effects of climate change on the Arctic, the future of shipping in the Arctic, human health and what we can learn from Arctic and Indigenous peoples when looking to the future. Delegates and representatives from all eight Arctic states and six Indigenous groups will sum up all the work Iceland has completed between 2019 and 2021. This is also the 25th anniversary of the Arctic Council and ministers are expected to sign the council's first ever strategic plan. Background on the Arctic Council The Arctic Council was established in 1996 and is comprised of Canada, the United States, Finland, Iceland, Russia, Norway, Denmark and Sweden. Every two years the chairmanship is passed on to another Arctic state. The council's main priorities include examining the effects of climate change and pollution on the Arctic, improving the wellbeing of Arctic residents, studying changing ice and increased marine traffic in Arctic waters, monitoring biodiversity and species, and encouraging international cooperation. Six Indigenous groups, known as permanent participants, also sit on the Council and have full consultation rights in any decision or negotiation made by the Arctic States. They include the Aleut International Association, Arctic Athabaskan Council, Gwich'in Council International, Inuit Circumpolar Council, Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North and Saami Council. There are also six groups that manage, coordinate and report on projects started by a new chairmanship or continuing on from previous years. They focus on sustainable development, Arctic contaminants, conserving Arctic flora and fauna, marine protection, Arctic monitoring and emergency prevention and response. Russia plans to focus its next two years on the Arctic Council promoting sustainable development.
NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s total virus cases since the pandemic began swept past 25 million on Tuesday as the country registered more than 260,000 new cases and a record 4,329 fatalities in the past 24 hours. The numbers continue a trend of falling cases after infections dipped below 300,000 for the first time in weeks on Monday. Active cases in the country also decreased by more than 165,000 on Tuesday — the biggest dip in weeks. But deaths have continued to rise and hospitals are still swamped by patients. India has recorded nearly 280,000 virus deaths since the pandemic began. Experts warn that both the number of deaths and total reported cases are likely vast undercounts. Infections in India have surged since February in a disastrous turn blamed on more contagious variants as well as government decisions to allow massive crowds to gather for religious festivals and political rallies. In the last month, cases have more than tripled and reported deaths have gone up six times — but testing has only increased by 1.6 times, according to Bhramar Mukherjee, a biostatistician at the University of Michigan tracking India's battle with the virus. With infections outrunning testing capabilities, there are fears that many cases are going undetected. Experts also say India has lagged behind in doing the testing needed to track and better understand a worrisome virus variant first detected in the country. On Monday, the Health Ministry said 17 new labs will be brought online to help track variants. The variant first identified in India has prompted global concern — most notably in Britain, where it has more than doubled in a week, defying a sharp nationwide downward trend in infections. Meanwhile, ever since India opened up vaccinations to all adults this month, the pace of administering shots has plunged. Many states have said they don't have enough stock to give out. The southern state of Karnataka, for example, has temporarily halted its drive to inoculate those aged between 18 and 44 at government-run centers due to a shortage of doses. The Associated Press
The number of people from Myanmar seeking shelter in India has swelled to more than 15,000, with more likely to cross over as fighting intensifies in parts Myanmar following a coup, an Indian government official said on Tuesday. The influx into the small, northeast Indian state of Mizoram, which shares a porous, mountainous border with Myanmar, began in late February as policemen fled to avoid having to take orders from a junta trying to suppress opposition to the Feb. 1 coup. By April, about 1,800 people from Myanmar - including several lawmakers - had crossed the border but the number has recently grown to more than 15,400, according to the vice chairman of Mizoram's State Planning Board, H. Rammawi.
As an upper cold front sweeps across much of British Columbia, Environment Canada has issued a weather alert warning of lightning strikes in parts of the province. By 5:00 p.m PT, 995 lightning flashes had hit the central eastern region of B.C. over a 12 hour period according to Environment Canada. There were also isolated sparks over the Sunshine Coast and Fraser Valley. "We definitely expect to see continued lightning activity in the south Omineca area from Prince George and further into the Cariboo and into the Columbia Mountains," said meteorologist Armel Castellan. The storms, which are also bringing hail and winds of up to 60 km/h have sparked concerns about wildfire activity as the season moves into its early stages. The B.C. Wildfire Service map of current fire risks in the province shows pockets of high to extreme danger in south central and eastern B.C., while approximately one quarter of the province has a moderate fire risk. Pockets of high to extreme fire danger can be seen in the B.C. Wildfire Service daily rating of danger zones in the province which was released at 12:00 p.m. PT.(Government of B.C.) Farther south, steep slopes and trees have made it challenging for crews to gain control of a 13 hectare fire burning 5 kilometres north of Harrison Mills, according to B.C. Wildfire Service. The fire, which is now under control, started Saturday on Chehalis Forest Service Road and was human caused, according to the service. It is now under investigation. Thick smoke in the Lake Koocanusa area in the southeast fire district prompted a high volume of calls Monday. But B.C. Wildfire Service says the smoke is due to some prescribed burning in northern Montana and is not from any wildfires burning in the province. Another front will move through later in the week bringing cool, wet weather at first, but temperatures will rise above normal into the long weekend — creating dry conditions and adding to the concern for forest fires. "The chance of something smouldering is not impossible because we are going to set up for a ridge in the second half of this week," said Castellan. As of May 16, the B.C. Wildfire Service has recorded 182 fires this year, burning a total of 2,057 hectares. The majority of these were in the Kamloops area.
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. Health Canada says up to 37 million doses of vaccine could be shipped in May and June, but only 20.3 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and 1.04 million doses of Moderna are confirmed. The remaining 11.3 million doses of Moderna, and another four million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca from various sources are still tentative. Provinces initially suspended giving AstraZeneca shots to people under the age of 55 based on an advisory committee's advice, but their recommendation changed on April 23 to reflect that the shot is safe for anyone aged 30 and older. More than 655,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from the global vaccine sharing alliance known as COVAX, are scheduled to arrive and be distributed to provinces this week, but most provinces have already said they plan to put them on ice in reserve for second doses. Health Canada, meanwhile, approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children 12 and older on May 5. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says almost 50 per cent of eligible adults in Canada have received at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccine. He says by the summer, Canada will have enough vaccines so that every eligible resident will have gotten their first dose, and by September, it will have enough doses for everyone to be fully vaccinated. Here's a list of the inoculation plans throughout Canada: Newfoundland and Labrador All people in the province aged 12 and older are now able to book an appointment for a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. --- Nova Scotia Nova Scotia is stopping the use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine as a first dose. The Health Department says the "decision is based on an abundance of caution'' due to an observed increase in the rare blood-clotting condition linked to this vaccine. The department also says it has enough mRNA vaccine to immunize people age 40 and older, and it will reschedule anyone who was to receive AstraZeneca to instead be inoculated with Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna "in a timely manner." People aged 35 and older can book appointments for the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines at clinics across the province. Bookings opened May 17 for vaccine appointments for people 30 to 34 years of age, as the province reports having administered 430,856 doses of COVID-19 vaccine as of Sunday, with 39,235 people having received their second dose. --- Prince Edward Island In Prince Edward Island, residents as young as 16 can book a COVID-19 vaccine. People 16 years and older who have certain underlying medical conditions, pregnant woman and eligible members of their household can also get a vaccine. --- New Brunswick In New Brunswick, all residents 30 and older can book vaccine appointments. Individuals 16 and older who have two or more chronic health conditions are also eligible. --- Quebec In Quebec, all residents 18 and older are able to book a COVID-19 vaccination appointment. The province's health minister says Quebecers 12 to 17 years old will be offered a first dose of COVID-19 by the end of June and will be fully vaccinated by the time they return to school in September. --- Ontario All adults in Ontario are eligible to book COVID-19 vaccine appointments as of May 18. People turning 18 in 2021 can book Pfizer-BioNTech shots. Appointments for children aged 12 to 17 can be booked starting the week of May 31. The province aims to see all eligible Ontarians fully vaccinated by the end of September. The province is distributing shots to regions on a per capita basis, after two weeks sending half of its vaccine supply to hot spots for COVID-19 infections. Ontario has halted use AstraZeneca for first shots due to an increased risk of a rare blood-clotting syndrome linked to the vaccine. Officials say a second dose plan for AstraZeneca recipients is in the works. --- Manitoba Manitoba is using the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for all people aged 18 and up. These are available through a few channels including so-called supersites in larger communities. Health officials plan to continue reducing the age minimum, bit by bit, down to age 12 by May 21 at the latest. The province is also allowing anyone 40 and over to get an Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine through pharmacies and medical clinics, subject to availability. People 30-39 can get a shot if they have certain underlying health conditions such as chronic liver failure or severe obesity. --- Saskatchewan Saskatchewan residents aged 20 and older are now eligible to book their first COVID-19 vaccine appointment. All adults - those 18 and older - in the Far North, as well as front-line workers with proof of employment, are also eligible. Effective 8 a.m. Tuesday morning, eligibility will expand to age 16 and older for the entire province. Beginning today, anyone 85 and older, or anyone who received their first vaccine dose before February 15, is eligible to book their second dose. Individuals diagnosed with cancer and solid organ transplant recipients will be receiving a letter of eligibility in the mail which will allow them priority access to a second dose. The province previously expanded its vaccine delivery plan for people in more vulnerable groups to include all pregnant women and 16- and 17-year-olds who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable. Saskatchewan also dropped the age at which people can receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to 40 from 55. The province says all Saskatchewan residents over 12 will be eligible for vaccination by May 20. There are drive-thru and walk-in vaccination clinics in communities across the province. --- Alberta Every Albertan aged 12 and older is now eligible for a vaccine. For the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, the province lowered the minimum age to 30. They are, however, reserving the remaining supply for second doses when people are eligible. Officials say the second dose will be given 12 weeks after the first. More than 250 pharmacies are offering immunizations. Ten physicians' clinics across the province are also providing shots as part of a pilot project. About 15,000 workers at 136 meat-packing plants across the province can also get shots at on-site clinics, pharmacies and clinics. Alberta has said it is extending the time between the first dose and the second to four months. But some cancer patients, transplant recipients and anyone being treated with an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody such as Rituximab are able to book a second dose 21 to 28 days after their first. --- British Columbia People who've had a first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will have the option of choosing their second shot within a four-month interval in B.C. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says 20,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are set to expire at the end of June and were reserved for people who may not be able to get an mRNA vaccine, such as the one made by Pfizer-BioNTech. But she says more information that’s expected by the first week of June from a study in the United Kingdom on the effectiveness of switching vaccines for the second dose will be shared with B.C. residents. "You will have the option of receiving the second dose of AstraZeneca and we have stock coming in to be able to support that,” she said Monday. “Or you can take the information once we have it and make your own decision about what you want for your second dose." Henry says an increase in the supply of vaccines in the coming weeks means everyone can expect to have their second dose moved up. Details about vaccination of children aged 12 to 17 are expected to be announced later this week. --- Nunavut Chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson says Nunavut has placed an order for doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine with the federal government to vaccinate people ages 12 to 17 in the territory. The Moderna vaccine is currently the only one available in Nunavut. Nunavut has opened vaccinations to anyone 18 and older. It is also offering shots to rotational workers coming from Southern Canada. The territory had expected to finish its vaccine rollout of first and second doses by the end of April. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories is now offering vaccinations against COVID-19 to young people between 12 and 17. The territory, which has only been using the Moderna vaccine, recently exchanged some of that for doses of the Pfizer product, which Health Canada has now approved for anyone as young as 12. --- Yukon The Yukon government says more than 75 per cent of all eligible adults have now received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. That amounts to 26,242 adults who have received their first dose, while the territory says 23,236 have received their second dose. Anyone 18 years of age or older can get a COVID-19 vaccine. It says in a release that vaccine uptake is increasing in every age group, with rates ranging from 65 per cent for first doses among people aged 18 to 29, to 90 per cent in people 70 and up. It adds that vaccination clinics will soon begin for youth aged 12 to 17, with first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine set to be administered before the end of the school year. The goal is to provide a second dose by the end of July. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2021. The Canadian Press
CARWAY, Alta. — Linda Neilson had waited a long time to get her second COVID-19 vaccination and thanks to the generosity of the Blackfeet Tribe in Montana her wait ended at the Canada-United States border on Tuesday.Neilson, who is from nearby Cardston, Alta., was in one of hundreds of vehicles lined up at the Carway crossing in southern Alberta.The Blackfeet Tribe, based 150 kilometres south of Lethbridge, Alta., had an abundance of vaccine and decided last month to share it with Canada rather than let it go to waste. Initially it was just open to First Nations, but the tribe soon decided to offer it to everybody."I'm going to be all done, finally. It feels great. It's been a bit of a wait, but it's worth it," said Neilson, who received her first shot of Moderna in March."I was amazed and grateful because it's too slow getting it any other way. We're just glad they were able to help us."Albertans who attend the clinic are given exemptions from having to quarantine for 14 days. They line up in their cars, drive through a loop that takes them just across the border, receive their shots through the window, are monitored for 15 minutes and return home. Health workers from the Blackfeet Tribe and members of the Montana National Guard administer the vaccine.Tuesday marked the second offering of shots. The lineup was more than a kilometre long by 9 a.m. Some people slept in their cars on the highway and on road allowances to ensure they got a turn before supply ran out.That's what happened to Ken Sawatzky when he drove from Calgary a couple of weeks ago. He wanted to get his booster shot because his wife is a cancer patient.He drove down again Tuesday."She's fully inoculated. This will make sure we're both safe, because I'm her caregiver, too. I think it's a great thing," said Sawatzky."I'm looking forward to getting this done. I'll sleep better."Bonnie Healy, health director for the Blackfoot Confederacy, helped co-ordinate the vaccination clinic. She said the response has been overwhelming."I had a hard time believing it was that hard to get a shot in Canada. A lot of people are coming for a second dose," Healy said.One man flew in from Toronto the last time around, drove to the site, got his shot and flew home, she said."We had a car full of 18-year-old girls and another car full of 18-year-old boys," Healy said."They were all coming to get their first vaccination. They were all celebrating it."Catherine Bechard, regional Indigenous Affairs adviser for the Canada Border Services Agency, said she jumped at a chance to help out at the clinic."It's just an amazing thing what they're doing and a gift they're giving to Canadians," Bechard said.Dave and Cathy Goodbrand also drove the 260 kilometres from Calgary to get their second shots."We're happy to get down here. It's a relief. Four months is too long to wait in between vaccines," said Cathy Goodbrand."It's absolutely beautiful. The Blackfoot Indians are just coming through (for us)."This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2021.Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press
P.E.I. is beginning to process applications for seasonal residents and family reunifications for this summer. Premier Dennis King outlined the new plan at the province's regular weekly COVID-19 pandemic briefing Tuesday. With outbreaks happening across the country, the province had paused processing applications to come to P.E.I. Applicants can start arriving June 8. As with last year, arrivals will be staggered, with no more than 500 households granted entry per week. Travel will need to be pre-approved, which will include a 14-day self-isolation plan. This year, people entering the province will have to have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arriving. They will also be tested at their point of entry to the province. This will be required whether the people arriving have been vaccinated or not. "In addition, and new this year, our enforcement teams will conduct random isolation checks to ensure the highest level of compliance possible," said King. He said he is hopeful some of these protocols will change as pandemic conditions change through the summer. Bubble delayed King said he had hoped the Atlantic bubble would be open by now, but outbreaks in other parts of the region have delayed it. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison mentioned during the briefing that Atlantic Canada currently has 1,659 active cases. When the bubble opened in July there were five. "The mental well-being of families being reunited has been at the top of our list of priorities. We know that the last 15 months or so have been very, very difficult and that far too many of us have not seen our loved ones and we need to address that," said King. "The Atlantic bubble will open as soon as it is safe to do so and I'm hopeful that will happen prior to Canada Day although as of today we have no firm date." The province will continue to be careful, King said, but it is also important to move forward toward normal conditions. He said the province will do that, as it has throughout the pandemic, while referring to the best science available. More from CBC P.E.I.
Recent developments: Ottawa is reporting 50 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday and two more deaths. What's the latest? Ottawa Public Health (OPH) has confirmed another 50 COVID-19 cases and two more deaths. Renfrew County's health unit reported its eighth COVID-19 death Tuesday. Quebec Premier François Legault is set to announce a roadmap to reopen the province at a 5 p.m. ET news conference. Sources tell Radio-Canada that could mean a return to dining out and an end to the curfew on May 28. Ontario has lowered its general elegibility age for a COVID-19 vaccine to 18. Anyone born in 2003 or earlier can now reserve an appointment through the provincial booking system. However most health units in eastern Ontario including Ottawa Public Health say all available slots were quickly claimed. Anyone who missed out is being advised to watch for more openings. How many cases are there? The region is coming down from a record-breaking peak of the pandemic's third wave, one that has included more dangerous coronavirus variants. The rate of spread is still high. As of Tuesday, 26,161 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 1,007 known active cases, 24,616 resolved cases and 538 deaths. Public health officials have reported more than 47,600 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 45,100 resolved cases. Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 184 people have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 208. Akwesasne has had more than 680 residents test positive and 10 deaths between its northern and southern sections. Kitigan Zibi has had 34 cases. Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had 11, with one death. Pikwakanagan hasn't had any. The transfer of COVID-19 patients from other regions to Ottawa hospitals continues. As of the most recent update Tuesday, there were 24 COVID-19 patients from other communities in Ottawa ICUs. CBC Ottawa is profiling those who've died of COVID-19. If you'd like to share your loved one's story, please get in touch. What can I do? Eastern Ontario: Ontario is under a stay-at-home order until at least June 2. People should only leave home for essential reasons like getting groceries, seeking health care and exercising in their immediate area. A young man wearing a life jacket paddles in his kayak on the Gatineau side of the Ottawa River on May 15, 2021. (Olivier Plante/CBC) The vast majority of gatherings are prohibited. Exceptions include small activities with households and small religious services. Golf courses and tennis and basketball courts are among the closed recreation venues. Ontario has moved to online learning. Daycares remain open and the plan is to open summer camps. WATCH | Lessons from a full school year of pandemic disruptions: Most non-essential businesses can only offer curbside pickup. Access to malls is restricted and big-box stores can only sell essential items. Gyms and personal care services are closed, while restaurants are only available for takeout and delivery. Police checkpoints between Ontario and Quebec are not running 24/7. Officers in Ontario have the power to stop and question people if they believe they've gathered illegally. Local health units and communities can also set their own rules, as Ottawa is doing around playgrounds and the Belleville area is doing for the agriculture industry. Western Quebec Western Quebec is under red zone rules. High schools, gyms, theatres, personal care services and non-essential businesses are now able to reopen, albeit with restrictions. The curfew is now in place from 9:30 p.m. until 5 a.m. WATCH | Latest legal arugment against curfew rejected: Private gatherings remain banned, except for a person who lives alone seeing one other household. Small religious services are allowed and people can go to theatres. Older secondary school students will be going to classrooms every second day. Distanced outdoor exercise is allowed in groups up to eight people. People can't travel to yellow or green zones or risk a fine. Distancing and isolating The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets that can hang in the air. People can be contagious without symptoms, even after getting a vaccine. Coronavirus variants of concern are more contagious and are now established. This means it is important to take precautions now and in the future like staying home while sick — and getting help with costs if needed — keeping hands and surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don't live with, even with a mask on. Masks, preferably ones that fit snugly and have three layers, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec. OPH says residents should wear masks outside their homes whenever possible. The wind blows sand into the air as three masked beachgoers take in the warm weather at Mooney's Bay beach in Ottawa May 15, 2021.(Justin Tang/Canadian Press) People have to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter Canada by land without a fine and have to pay for their stay in a quarantine hotel if entering by air. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their public health unit. The length varies in Quebec and Ontario. Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions get help with errands. Vaccines Four COVID-19 vaccines have been deemed safe and approved in Canada. Ontario and Quebec have both stopped giving first doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, but plan to give second doses. Canada's task force said first doses offer such strong protection that people can wait up to four months to get a second. About 1,040,000 doses have been given out in the Ottawa-Gatineau region since mid-December, including about 470,000 doses to Ottawa residents and more than 210,000 in western Quebec. Eastern Ontario Ontario is vaccinating people 18 and older and 17-year-olds turning 18 in 2021. People can look for a provincial appointment online or over the phone at 1-833-943-3900. Pharmacies continue to offer vaccines through their own booking systems as supply allows. Ontario plans to allow everyone over age 12 to make an appointment starting the week of May 31. Individual health units and First Nations can choose to vaccinate that age group at pop-up clinics. Local health units have other kinds of flexibility in the larger framework, including around booking, so check their websites for details. Western Quebec Quebec is vaccinating everyone age 18 and older. Teens age 16 and 17 are eligible if they have certain jobs or a chronic illness or disability. The province plans to reach children as young as 12 in June. People who qualify can make an appointment online or over the phone. There are currently no local walk-in options. WATCH | U.S. sharing more vaccines: Symptoms and testing COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and loss of taste or smell. Children tend to have an upset stomach and/or a rash. If you have severe symptoms, call 911. Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic, and resources are available to help. WATCH | The sudden, dramatic increase in young people needing mental health care: In eastern Ontario: Anyone seeking a test should make an appointment. Check with your health unit for clinic locations and hours. Ontario recommends only getting tested if you fit certain criteria, such as having symptoms, exposure or a certain job. People without symptoms but who are part of the province's targeted testing strategy can make an appointment at select pharmacies. Shoppers Drug Mart stores can now offer rapid tests. Travellers who need a test have very few local options to pay for one. In western Quebec: Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts. People can make an appointment and check wait times online. Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby. First Nations, Inuit and Métis: First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, or someone travelling to work in a remote Indigenous community, are eligible for a test in Ontario. Akwesasne has a COVID-19 test site by appointment only and a curfew of 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days. People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-1175. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 and in Kitigan Zibi, 819-449-5593. Tyendinaga's council is asking people not to travel there to camp or fish. Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing and vaccines, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays. For more information
The recent decision by five Canadian provinces to change the way they administer the AstraZeneca vaccine should not deter anyone from getting vaccinated, or to regret getting AstraZeneca if they already did, one expert says. Samantha Yammine, a neuroscientist and science communicator, says that with more than a billion vaccines already given out worldwide, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see any major, common issues develop with other vaccines now.
With a warming climate melting more Arctic ice cover and global industries eager to exploit the region for shipping, fishing, drilling and mining, the United States and Russia sounded a rare, cooperative note going into an Arctic meeting this week. The conciliatory tone was encouraging to governments, local residents, investors and environmental groups worried about a lack of regulations and potential environmental damage as industries look northward to the world's largest remaining oil, gas and mineral deposits. "Our vision ... is very much one of cooperation," U.S. State Department Arctic Envoy Jim de Hart told Reuters in an interview ahead of the biennial meeting of the eight Arctic Council nations.
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — If Richard Moore is executed, he will have some say in how he goes — the electric chair or the firing squad. Moore is one of three prisoners on South Carolina's death row who have run out of appeals in the past six months and could be among the first to face the grim choice under a new state law. But his supporters — including the state's former prisons chief — say he deserves better. The state Supreme Court set and then stayed the prisoners' executions after the Corrections Department said it didn’t have the drugs needed to carry out lethal injections. Now, Gov. Henry McMaster has signed a law requiring the condemned to choose to die by gunshot or electrocution if lethal injection drugs aren’t available. South Carolina once had one of the nation’s most prolific death chambers, but a shortage of the drugs has caused a decadelong lull in executions. The state is one of only nine to still use the electric chair and the fourth to allow a firing squad. Moore, 56, has lived on death row for two decades after being convicted in 2001 for the fatal shooting of convenience store clerk James Mahoney. The Spartanburg man hasn't made a choice, said his attorney Lindsey Vann, because he is focused on a current petition to the state Supreme Court. As his lawyers continue to mount court challenges, they're also preparing a case for clemency. Among his supporters is the former director of South Carolina's Department of Corrections, Jon Ozmint, who asserts Moore is a reformed man who deserves life without parole instead of death. “Circumstances took place inside the store that certainly made him guilty of killing another man, but in most counties in this state, I doubt you could even find a jury to recommend the death penalty on those facts,” said Ozmint, a self-described supporter of the death penalty who helmed the department between 2003 and 2012 — one of the death chamber’s busier periods. Moore's lawyers argued in front of the state Supreme Court this month that Moore’s crime simply doesn’t rise to the level of heinousness in other death penalty cases. Inmates most recently executed in the state include a man who strangled his cellmate while serving time for a double murder and a man who secretly took out life insurance policies on his wife and son before killing them and burning their bodies. “Richard's case just wasn’t like theirs,” Ozmint told The Associated Press. No one contests that Moore killed Mahoney, who was working at Nikki’s Speedy Mart in Spartanburg County on Sept. 16, 1999. During the 2001 trial, prosecutors said Moore entered the store looking for money to support his cocaine habit and got into a dispute with Mahoney, who drew a pistol that Moore wrestled away from him. Mahoney pulled a second gun, and a gunfight ensued. Mahoney shot Moore in the arm, and Moore shot Mahoney in the chest. Prosecutors said Moore left a trail of blood through the store as he looked for cash, stepping twice over Mahoney. At the time, Moore claimed that he acted in self-defense after Mahoney drew the first gun. His appeals lawyers have said that because Moore didn't bring a gun into store, he couldn't have intended to kill someone when he walked in. Lawyers for the attorney general's office argued this month that Moore was trying to turn the court's attention away from “the damning evidence presented against him” and toward “generalities, innuendo and speculation." Mahoney’s relatives haven’t spoken publicly on the case in recent years. At the sentencing, family members described the 42-year-old clerk as a beloved uncle and friend who loved NASCAR and dutifully worked the third shift at the store, according to The Spartanburg Herald-Journal. “We’re pleased with the verdict, and exceptionally pleased with the manner in which the case was prosecuted,” Mahoney's father, James Mahoney, said at the time. Moore, who is Black, is the last person to enter death row with a trial where the state struck all potential African American jurors, according to Justice 360, the nonprofit that represents Moore and many others on South Carolina's death row. During Moore's trial, the jury learned of his rap sheet, ranging from weapons charges to burglary and assault convictions. But in prison, Moore has grown into a man remorseful for his crimes who's built up relationships with his family and his Christian faith, supporters say. In his two decades on death row, he has received just two minor infractions. “His life in the Department of Corrections has been exemplary. He’s a giver, not a taker," Ozmint said. Even with the new law, Moore’s fate remains a waiting game for all involved. “There’s never anything definite, and it leaves your mind wondering: When’s the last time I’m going to talk to him? When’s the next time I can see him, because of the pandemic? Is this going to go in his favor or not?" said Moore's daughter, Alexandria Moore. “It definitely makes you get stuck in your own head, thinking about the hypotheticals.” Retired state Rep. Gary Clary, who as a state judge presided over Moore's case, says it's inevitable that lawsuits will follow the bill's signing. On the House floor, he argued against similar legislation, noting it would continue costing the state more money in court. “When a jury convicted Richard Bernard Moore, I think I set his execution ... 90 days later. We all knew when those arbitrary dates were established, it wasn’t going to happen anytime soon," Clary said. "And here we are, 20 years later.” ___ Liu is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Michelle Liu, The Associated Press
As violence continues in Gaza, a former refugee living in Ottawa is pleading with the federal government to help get her three young children out of the area.
This weekend, Arjan Bhullar of Richmond, B.C., was declared the mixed martial arts (MMA) heavyweight champion of the world, becoming the first person of South Asian descent to win the title. His second-round technical knockout win against five-year champion Brandon Vera is the result of "a lifetime of work," Bhullar said. "I feel amazing," the 34-year-old told CBC's Gloria Macarenko. "I feel very fortunate, very blessed and excited for what comes next." Sportsnet radio host Randip Janda, who has been following Bhullar's career for 15 years, called Bhullar a local legend and a stand-up fighter. "Knowing his history ... it was a special moment," Janda said. "When he sets out to do something, there's no half measures." Wrestling roots Bhullar has wrestled for Canada in the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and Pan American Games. He said he was "born into" wrestling, after his father took up the sport upon immigrating to Canada from India. "Wrestling is a big deal back home," Bhullar said. "My dad picked it up pretty quick when he got here, didn't know the language, family didn't have much in our pocket, but they knew wrestling." He's been wrestling, he said, "since I was in diapers." Bhullar's MMA coach, Adam Ryan, said he knew Bhullar had the skills needed to be successful in MMA from his history of wrestling, including how to train, follow diet and nutrition plans, and how to work hard. "I knew he was coming in with a tremendous foundation," Ryan said. He's been coaching Bhullar for about seven years, the entirety of his professional MMA career, and they've travelled all over the world together for training and matches. Unfortunately, due to quarantine rules, Ryan was unable to accompany Bhullar to Singapore for the championship match. "It was a hard decision," he said. The night of the big fight, Ryan was driving home after practice with some of Bhullar's teammates, and felt emotion rush over him. He pulled over and wrote a poem expressing his desire to be at the fight with Bhullar, and he sent it to him that night. "Anyone that's ever done anything dangerous and intense can understand," he said. "It's a special feeling." "I wish I could've been there." Indian heritage Bhullar takes pride in his Indian background, particularly in the context of his athletic achievements. "Every step of the way I've been representing my culture and my roots," he said. "My parents weren't able to do that when they came over, they stood out. It was racist times back then, and they were told that it wasn't okay to be different. I'm born and bred Canadian and I'm proud of that, and part of that is I can honour my culture, so I speak to that whenever I can." Bhullar hopes to get to India to share his win with the people of his family's hometown. "[I] want to take the belt back to our village where the family originally came from," he said. That trip, however, will have to wait as that country deals with a nationwide outbreak of the B1617 coronavirus variant. More than 25 million people have been infected with the virus in India. "There's someone in each family that's dealing with this," Bhullar said. "In certain parts of India, it's so bad that they're not even able to give proper funerals, like there's no place to cremate the bodies, even." He said he plans to use his platform, as MMA heavyweight champion, to help with the situation there. "This is the first time a fighter of Punjabi background, of South Asian background, has won a title in MMA," Sportsnet's Janda said. "There's always discussions about a pioneer and what a pioneer means — Arjan Bhullar has lived that life." Janda described Bhullar as an international role model, and said one of the things he loves most about Bhullar is his authenticity. "The guy you see in the ring making those post-match comments, the guy you listen to on the radio, or maybe you've seen him in the community, he's that guy." LISTEN | Arjan Bhullar's interview with CBC's On the Coast:
Just a few weeks ago, Janine Fisher was on the brink of death. The healthy, active 51-year-old Sherwood Park mother had been diligently following public health guidelines and was just two weeks shy of becoming eligible for her coronavirus vaccine when she suddenly fell ill with the variant first discovered in the U.K. Doctors battled to save Fisher — placing her on a ventilator and then moving her to ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), the most extreme form of life support available — and while she survived, she's not sure if she'll ever fully recover. "There was no reason for me to get very sick — no previous conditions — and yet I almost died," said Fisher. "This variant is insidious. It just seemed that it was unstoppable." One of her family members caught the B117 variant in late March, and the virus swept through her household. One by one, each person tested positive despite their attempts to stay apart and follow the rules. "Everyone was struck down by it," said Fisher. 'I was afraid I was going to die' Fisher tested positive and immediately checked into an isolation hotel on April 7, the day after developing a sore throat and cough. Two days later, she was struggling to breathe and was rushed by ambulance to hospital. With her entire immediate family in isolation, she was alone — and frightened. "I was afraid that I was going to die," Fisher recalled. "I spent several days feeling like I was … drowning." Within five days her condition was so critical she was sedated and placed on a ventilator. A single, hazy memory lingers from that traumatic time. "My son sat beside me and held my hand and sang to me for hours," she recalled. "And my husband also would come … and sing to me. Even though I wasn't conscious, I do remember." Janine's husband took this photo of Janine Fisher (and her son, Cohen) when she was hooked up to an ECMO machine, a treatment considered a last line of defence. As a safety precaution, visitors are not allowed to remove their phone from plastic bags in this intensive care unit.(Janine Fisher) Cohen Fisher, 25, was the first family member out of isolation and allowed to visit. As she lay, eyes closed and hooked up to a ventilator, he sang the same children's hymns his mother sang to him years earlier. "My first impression was she looks pretty lifeless … And I was dying for any ounce of response," he said. But his mother's lungs were so severely infected it became clear she wouldn't survive on a ventilator alone. Doctors decided to try ECMO, the most advanced form of life support. It gives the lungs a chance to heal by pumping blood through a heart and lung machine, and is considered a last line of defence for patients who will otherwise die. "That was one of the worst days of my life," said Cohen. 'They saved my life' Fisher is one of a just a few dozen Albertans with COVID-19 who have been treated with ECMO since the start of the pandemic, and one of fewer yet who have survived. As her lungs improved, doctors and nurses weaned her off the machine and later off the ventilator. She was released from hospital just in time for Mother's Day. "They're heroes. They saved my life," she said. Janine Fisher and her son Cohen pose for a photo after she was moved out of the ICU onto the COVID-19 ward. She says she's grateful to her medical team and to members of her faith community who prayed for her during her ordeal.(Janine Fisher) Fisher is now recovering at home. But her battle is far from over. She relies on a walker to get around, she's extremely short of breath and she needs help with basic tasks. It's unclear whether she'll ever fully recover and she hopes her story prompts other Albertans to follow public health rules and get vaccinated. "I would not wish my experience on anyone. It was a traumatic, debilitating, painful experience for me and for all of my family," Fisher said. "Respect the virus that's still with us. The variant is no joke. It nearly killed me. And it is ferocious." 'It's easy to say it hasn't affected you and it won't affect you … and everyone's over-reacting, until your mom almost dies," said Cohen, pictured here with his mother a week after she was released from hospital. He's urging Albertans to take the virus seriously.(Janine Fisher)
BRUSSELS/BERLIN (Reuters) -European Union foreign ministers called on Tuesday for a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and boosted humanitarian aid for Gaza, but failed to reach the unanimity that might give the EU leverage in peacemaking. Hungary, Israel's closest ally in the bloc, declined to join the other 26 foreign ministers in calling for a truce on their video call, convened by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
LAMPEDUSA, Sicily (AP) — The tiny Mediterranean island of Lampedusa is in the throes of yet another season of migrants arriving by sea, and Ibrahima Mbaye and Waly Sarr can only watch from shore as their fellow Africans risk their lives to get here via unsafe smugglers’ boats. Mbaye and Sarr arrived in Italy legally years ago and found work as fishermen on a Lampedusa-based fishing boat, the Vincenzo Padre, which has a mixed Senegalese-Italian crew. They live in town and are part of the community, whereas most other newly arrived Africans pass through, heading to destinations further north after the perilous Mediterranean crossing. “If somebody had told me that in Lampedusa, everyday, 30 or 25 boats arrive, I wouldn’t have believed it. But now that I came here, I saw it with my own eyes,” Mbaye said during a break checking the nets as their fishing boat was docked. Lampedusa is closer to Africa than the Italian mainland, and it has long been the destination of choice for migrant smuggling operations leaving Libya. Over the years, it has witnessed countless numbers of shipwrecks and seen bodies floating offshore, only to be buried in the cemetery on land. Last week, more than 1,200 migrants arrived within a span of 12 hours, as traffickers in Libya took advantage of calm seas and warm weather to launch several decrepit, overcrowded vessels north. It was the first major influx in over a year after a COVID-19-induced lull in arrivals. “If you take that risk, it’s because you want people back home to survive,” Sarr said. “If you have nothing back home you say ’I go, and if I die, I die. If I arrive, I’ll arrive.” Sarr and Mbaye were lucky: Both arrived in Italy by plane with their papers in order. Sarr arrived in 2012 and joined his father, who was already working aboard the “Vincenzo Padre.” Mbaye spent four years in Milan before arriving in Lampedusa nearly two years ago and also found work on the ship. They both earn enough to send money home to their wives and children in Senegal. “It’s painful for me when I see young people coming here to find a better future when it’s not sure they can find it,” Mbaye said. “They come without papers, and here if you don’t comply with the rules, it’s hard to find work.” ___ Follow AP’s global migration coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/migration Andrea Rosa, The Associated Press
TORONTO — "Canada's Drag Race" crossed the finish line as the big winner on the first of four nights of presentations for the Canadian Screen Awards.The inaugural season of Crave's drag-queen competition took a leading five trophies in a pre-recorded livestream, including best reality/competition program or series, and honours for production design, direction and writing.The show's judges Brooke Lynn Hytes, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman and Stacey McKenzie also won an award for best host or presenter on the series, which is similar to "RuPaul's Drag Race" and has been renewed for a second season.Monday's CSA presentations honoured nominees in the TV categories of lifestyle, reality, news and documentary.The livestreams are running through Thursday on the website and social media channels of the Academy Of Canadian Cinema & Television.The CBC's "Enslaved: The Lost History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade" had the second-highest count with three awards, including best history documentary program or series.Canadian-Israeli director Simcha Jacobovici executive produced the six-part project alongside actor Samuel L. Jackson, who is seen on camera tracing his roots and the tragedy of the sunken ships during the transatlantic slave trade.Several projects won two awards apiece, including the CBC documentary "Toxic Beauty," about chemicals in cosmetics products. It took writing and directing honours for Phyllis Ellis.CTV's cooking show "Mary's Kitchen Crush" was named best lifestyle program or series, while its culinary star Mary Berg nabbed best lifestyle host.Best entertainment news program or series went to CTV's "Stronger Together, Tous Ensemble," a star-studded fundraiser and show of support for frontline workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The special from last year also got a trophy for picture editing.Also getting two CSAs apiece were "CBC News: The National" and "CTV National News with Lisa LaFlamme.""The National" won best live news special and best national reporter for Christine Birak, while "CTV National News" was named best national newscast and best national news anchor for LaFlamme. This is the second time the CSAs, which honour TV, film and digital media, have had to present virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic.Thursday's presentation is the big event, with prominent awards and narration by actors Stephan James and Karine Vanasse.This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2021. Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press