LONDON — Buckingham Palace said Wednesday it was launching an investigation after a newspaper reported that a former aide had made a bullying allegation against the Duchess of Sussex. The Times of London reported allegations that the duchess drove out two personal assistants and left staff feeling “humiliated.” It said an official complaint was made by Jason Knauf, then the communications secretary to Meghan and her husband, Prince Harry. He now works for Harry’s elder brother, Prince William. The palace said it was “clearly very concerned” about the allegations. It said in a statement that the palace human resources team “will look into the circumstances outlined in the article” and would seek to speak to current and former staff. “The Royal Household has had a Dignity at Work policy in place for a number of years and does not and will not tolerate bullying or harassment in the workplace,” it said. American actress Meghan Markle, a former star of the TV legal drama “Suits,” married Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, at Windsor Castle in May 2018. Their son, Archie, was born the following year. In early 2020, Meghan and Harry announced they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. They recently bought a house in Santa Barbara, California, and are expecting a second child. The bullying allegations were reported four days before the scheduled broadcast of an Oprah Winfrey interview with Meghan, which is anticipated to draw a huge audience. It also comes less than two weeks after the palace announced that the couple’s split from official duties would be final. A spokesman for the duchess said she was “saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself and is deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma.” In a 30-second clip released by CBS Wednesday night, Winfrey asks Meghan how she feels about the palace “hearing you speak your truth today?” “I don't know how they could expect that after all of this time we would still just be silent if there was an active role that the firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us,” Markle says. “And if that comes with risk of losing things, I mean, there's been a lot that's been lost already.” The Associated Press
Les technologues en imagerie et en électrophysiologie médicales revendiquent leur droit aux primes salariales instaurées par le gouvernement Legault. Les technologues en imagerie et en électrophysiologie médicales effectuent quotidiennement les examens qui permettent de diagnostiquer et de faire le suivi des patients ayant contracté la COVID-19. Or, ils ne sont pas reconnus comme des travailleurs « de première ligne » aux yeux du gouvernement et n’ont pas droit aux mêmes avantages pécuniaires que d’autres professionnels du réseau de la santé au front depuis le début de la pandémie. Depuis plusieurs mois, ils tentent de revendiquer leur droit à la prime d’exposition à la COVID-19 de 4 % octroyée aux professionnels de la santé œuvrant « en première ligne », ainsi qu’à la prime d’attraction et de rétention octroyée au personnel des centres hospitaliers situés en « zone chaude », qui peut atteindre jusqu’à 1000 $ par mois. Pendant près de cinq mois en 2020, Jude Donacin a été appelé à faire des quarts de nuit à l’urgence de l’hôpital de la Cité-de-la-Santé situé à Laval, l’un des établissements les plus touchés dans la province lors de la première vague de COVID-19. Travaillant en « zone rouge », le technologue en électrophysiologie médicale d’origine haïtienne a été régulièrement en contact avec des patients infectés par le virus ou soupçonnés de l’avoir contracté. « C’est injuste que nous n’ayons pas droit à ces primes, car nous portons le même risque que les infirmiers et les préposés qui travaillent avec des patients COVID. Même les travailleurs en entretien ménager qui n’ont pas de contact avec des patients les reçoivent, mais pas nous autres », soutient M. Donacin, qui déplore l’épuisement des technologues qui mettent les bouchées doubles pour éviter une rupture de service. « Lorsque des collègues sont mis en isolement préventif, le reste des employés doivent combler les besoins du département. On a travaillé les fins de semaine et beaucoup d’heures supplémentaires durant la semaine, c’était assez dur à vivre », poursuit M. Donacin, qui estime que les actions des technologues pour revendiquer leur droit aux primes n’a pas eu assez d’effets jusqu’à présent pour faire bouger les choses. « On essaie d’être diplomates dans les actions qu’on pose pour éviter d’être réprimandés ou avoir des sanctions qui pourraient nuire à nos opportunités de carrière », note-t-il. Sa collègue Mélissa Boissonneault renchérit dans la même direction. « Ça va faire un an qu’on attend une réponse concrète au gouvernement pour savoir pourquoi nous ne touchons pas aux primes », dit la technologue en électrophysiologie du même hôpital à Laval. « Nous avons été au front dès le début de la pandémie à l’urgence et aux soins intensifs, avec les mêmes conditions de travail que les infirmières ou les préposés, mais sans droit aux mêmes conditions salariales », dénonce-t-elle, précisant que tous les patients soupçonnés d’avoir la COVID-19 doivent passer des tests effectués par les technologues de l’hôpital. « C’est ironique car, si un préposé doit faire un ECG au triage parce qu’on manque de personnel, il reçoit ses primes même s’il n’a pas la formation adéquate pour faire ou interpréter cet examen. Il y a une inégalité intense, c’est une aberration », lance-t-elle. Les technologues de l’hôpital de la Cité-de-la-Santé ont lancé un cri du cœur vers le ministère le mois dernier en envoyant une centaine de lettres aux différents représentants. « Nous avons ajouté des petits brillants pour symboliser le virus qui est petit, volatil et se faufile partout », explique Mme Boissonneault, qui est l’autrice de la lettre. « En espérant qu’ils [les brillants] vous rappelleront notre dévouement face à cette crise, à chaque fois que vous allez constater leurs présences », peut-on lire en fin de texte. « On ne sait plus quoi faire pour que le gouvernement nous écoute. À un moment donné, il va falloir qu’on arrête de travailler pour qu’on reconnaisse qu’il n’y a pas juste des médecins, des infirmiers et des préposés dans un hôpital », insiste-t-elle, soulignant la difficulté à trouver de la relève chez les technologues, dont le taux de démission est supérieur à 30 %. « Nous sommes souvent appelés à faire des rayons X au chevet des patients aux soins intensifs pour voir le progrès de leurs poumons, certains de mes collègues peuvent faire jusqu’à dix patients par jour aux soins intensifs, sans compter les autres étages », affirme Carine Nkulu, technologue en imagerie médicale à l’hôpital Santa Cabrini, originaire du Congo. « Nous pouvons nous retrouver aux côtés des inhalothérapeutes et des infirmières dans la salle d’opération, mais nous ne sommes pourtant pas considérés comme courant le même risque qu’eux », dénonce la travailleuse originaire du Congo. « Quand les patients arrivent en détresse, nous sommes au front, il n’y a pas de journée où nous ne sommes pas en contact avec des patients qui ont la COVID-19 », ajoute-t-elle découragée. Les technologues se mobilisent pour demander la reconnaissance du gouvernement de leur droit aux primes. Une pétition en ligne a été créée sur le site de l’Assemblée nationale du Québec. D’autre part, une pétition collective envoyée par écrit au ministère a recueilli près de 500 signatures. Enfin, la page Facebook « Regroupement de technologues sans prime » compte plus de 2000 membres à ce jour. Louise Giguère, technologue en électrophysiologie médicale à l’Hôtel Dieu à Québec indique que plusieurs lettres ont été envoyées également au ministère de la Santé ainsi qu’au directeur général de l’institution. « La seule réponse que nous avons eue est de faire affaire avec notre syndicat », note-t-elle. Mme Giguère souligne que les technologues peuvent avoir à faire « une quinzaine d’examens par jour » et, malgré cela, ils se voient toujours refuser la prime de 4 %. « On n’est pas considérés être assez à risque, même si nous devons porter un masque N95 pendant tout le quart de travail aux urgences et nous devons travailler à une grande proximité avec les patients pour réaliser les examens », signale celle qui a été testée pour la COVID-19 13 fois de septembre à octobre en raison de son exposition aux patients positifs. « Il y a des technologues qui ont été testés près d’une vingtaine de fois. On est fatigués et essoufflés », dénonce-t-elle. « On a l’impression que le gouvernement connaît mal le réseau, car il n’y a aucune raison qui explique que les technologues ainsi que tous les emplois de la catégorie 4, mis sur le feu de la rampe avec l’arrivée de la COVID, soient oubliés », dit Steve St-Onge, représentant national à l’Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux (APTS). « On est en négociation pour le renouvellement de la convention collective et on a tenté d’amener le sujet de la prime auprès du Conseil du trésor, mais on n’a aucune réponse concrète. C’est dans le néant », dit M. St-Onge, qui souligne que la demande de reconnaissance des technologues, c’est une revendication d’équité. « On a un coup de barre à donner pour redresser l’état de notre réseau de santé publique. On s’est rendu compte cette année à quel point un pays s’en sort si son réseau est fort », conclut M. St-Onge. La présidente du conseil d’administration de l’Ordre des technologues en imagerie médicale, en radio-oncologie et en électrophysiologie médicale du Québec, Mélanie Ratelle, réitère de son côté l’épuisement des membres, mobilisés pour prêter main-forte au dépistage et désormais appelés en renfort pour la vaccination. « La qualité des services au public passe aussi par le bien-être de nos professionnels », s’inquiète-t-elle. « On n’est pas partie prenante des négociations ni des mobilisations de nos membres, mais on comprend leurs revendications », affirme Mme Ratelle. Au 3 mars 2021, l’Ordre compte 6671 membres, dont 205 provenant d’un autre pays que le Canada. Karla Meza, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
The man they call Father T now has the appropriate headwear to be Chaplain Father T. Father Thomas Dorward was given the white helmet last week that signifies him as the Fire Rescue Chaplain of the Rideau Lakes Fire Department. "It's wonderful to be recognized by your peers and by the township and village," said Dorward. Fire Chief Scott Granahan considered it to be "absolutely an honour" to entrust the helmet to Dorward. "We sometimes look past the roles that are often supportive," said Granahan. "But I don't forget, nor does our Deputy (Chief) forget, that we have that ability to pick up the phone and have somebody that can not just help, but also bring us back to where we need to be. "He's been just an absolutely amazing resource, not just for our members in the community, but also for our members' families." Dorward, who began serving with the fire department shortly after moving to Westport in 2002 following retirement, made the decision last year to step back from being a full-time responding volunteer firefighter. "As they say, 'time marches on,'" said Dorward. "It seemed the right time to step down from the rigours of firefighting." "We really wanted to keep him in our family, so that’s where this little bit of a change to him becoming a face within our command team came from," said Granahan, who is chief of the just over 80 other members of the fire department. There are many roles of a Chaplain within a fire department. Some include offering support and assistance at emergency incidents, conducting or assisting with fire department funerals or memorial services and acting as a confidential listening ear to personnel and family members. Granahan said the role is vital, as one call cannot drag into the next. "He offers such a level place to focus to get our members and our department as a whole back to where they need to be," Granahan said. Before his run with the township's fire department, Dorward's previous work experience included serving in the Canadian Forces medical services, an emergency EMS responder, and a full-time Toronto International Airport Emergency Services and volunteer firefighter. The last job he held before retirement was as security director for the Toronto District School Board. "It seemed a natural fit to be able to utilize the skills I had learned to serve our new home community," said Dorward on why he joined the volunteer fire department after he and his wife Brenda moved to Westport. When Dorward moved to Westport, he was a Religious Brother in the Order of Saint Andrew. Upon joining the fire department, he assumed the dual role of firefighter-chaplain. Soon after completing his studies, Dorward was ordained as a priest. Something that both Dorward and Granahan stressed was that Dorward's role as fire chaplain is not limited to Rideau Lakes. "With our mutual aid services and partners… this isn't a service that is limited to our own membership. It is something that is absolutely available to everybody in the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, Lanark and beyond," said Granahan. "There's been issues where a chaplaincy was required in other departments," said Dorward. "It's like any other fire department resource. If another department requires it, all they have to do is ask. "We're there for everybody." Marshall Healey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
A Nunavut judge has granted Baffinland Iron Mines an injunction against a group of protesters who blockaded the Mary River mine airstrip and trucking road for a week in February. The court injunction bans protesters, and anyone else who knows about the injunction, from obstructing land used by the mine, especially the airstrip and trucking road. While the blockade is over, the company wanted the injunction to make sure it doesn't happen again. "While the defendants have left the project site, their counsel was not able to confirm that they have agreed to not return and continue the protest," Justice Susan Cooper said in a decision released March 3 by the Nunavut Court of Justice. The blockade started on Feb. 4. It led to a shut down of all operations at Mary River. In court documents, mine officials said it cost the company $14 million. Baffinland accused the small group of protesters of trespassing, unlawful interference with economic interests, and mischief. The protest was over damage to the environment from mining, which demonstrators said could get worse if the company is approved to double production at Mary River. That expansion is currently under an environmental review required by the territory's land claim, the Nunavut Agreement. The RCMP can enforce this injunction order by removing tents or sleds from the mine site, or detaining anyone who knowingly breaches the order. Land around the mine can still be used for activities like hunting. Judge says protest could happen again The mine is located on northern Baffin Island, around 160 kilometres from the community of Pond Inlet. While protesters said they would let planes out for medical needs or to change staff, Cooper imposed a temporary court order Feb. 10 to make sure over 700 staff at the mine could leave. When that order was made, the protesters left the mine. Their lawyer says it shows they were law abiding. But the blockade also ended because Inuit leaders promised to meet in person with the protesters to talk about their environmental concerns. A Baffinland facility at Milne Inlet. The mine is hoping to double their output from the Mary River mine, which hunters are concerned will impact animals in the area.(Nick Murray/CBC) Nunavut Impact Review Board hearings about potential environmental or socioeconomic impacts were happening in Pond Inlet and Iqaluit when the protest started. "If the defendants are not satisfied with their meetings with Inuit leadership, the continued process of the [Nunavut Impact Review Board] hearings, or any other aspect of the mine project, there is a real possibility that the protest will continue," Cooper wrote. Cooper said the injunction doesn't stop people from protesting. "There are other locations within the territory where a protest would be seen and heard," she said. The injunction granted is called an interlocutory injunction. "An interlocutory injunction is intended to remain in place until the trial has concluded and there has been a final determination on whether there should be a permanent injunction," the court decision states. A permanent injunction can only be granted if a trial is finished. The court decision allows the protesters to argue against the injunction. Protesters stand by their actions In a press release responding to the decision, the protesting group, known as the Guardians, said they are disappointed with the injunction and will have more to say in court. "The Guardians stand by their actions at Nuluujaat [the Mary River Area] and feel confident that they can carry forward their active opposition to mine expansion in many other ways," the statement says. The release also says that the protesters have met via telephone with the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA). "The Guardians asked questions about the support they can expect and explained that they want to meet to discuss impacts on caribou migration, marine wildlife and QIA failing to recognize what communities are really telling them," the release says. The Guardians, who identify as concerned hunters and not a political group, say an in-person meeting with Inuit leadership needs to happen in Pond Inlet soon.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. There are 875,559 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 875,559 confirmed cases (29,930 active, 823,524 resolved, 22,105 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 2,812 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 78.75 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20,365 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,909. There were 60 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 299 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 43. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.11 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 58.16 per 100,000 people. There have been 24,676,396 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 997 confirmed cases (153 active, 838 resolved, six deaths). There were three new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 29.3 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 35 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is five. There were zero new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.03 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 199,347 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 137 confirmed cases (22 active, 115 resolved, zero deaths). There was one new case Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 13.78 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 20 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 107,377 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,646 confirmed cases (30 active, 1,551 resolved, 65 deaths). There were three new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 3.06 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 30 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.64 per 100,000 people. There have been 343,260 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,438 confirmed cases (38 active, 1,372 resolved, 28 deaths). There were three new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 4.86 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There were zero new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.04 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 3.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 238,399 tests completed. _ Quebec: 289,670 confirmed cases (7,336 active, 271,908 resolved, 10,426 deaths). There were 729 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 85.56 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,198 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 743. There were 19 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 81 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 121.59 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,320,910 tests completed. _ Ontario: 303,763 confirmed cases (10,397 active, 286,352 resolved, 7,014 deaths). There were 958 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 70.56 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 7,590 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,084. There were 17 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 121 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 17. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.6 per 100,000 people. There have been 10,964,481 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 32,000 confirmed cases (1,146 active, 29,953 resolved, 901 deaths). There were 50 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 83.09 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 413 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 59. There were three new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 14 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.15 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 65.32 per 100,000 people. There have been 535,163 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 29,059 confirmed cases (1,431 active, 27,239 resolved, 389 deaths). There were 121 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 121.41 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,079 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 154. There were two new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 10 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is one. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33 per 100,000 people. There have been 579,326 tests completed. _ Alberta: 134,454 confirmed cases (4,649 active, 127,903 resolved, 1,902 deaths). There were 402 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 105.14 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,421 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 346. There were 12 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 36 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 43.01 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,414,903 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 81,909 confirmed cases (4,718 active, 75,819 resolved, 1,372 deaths). There were 542 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 91.65 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,559 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 508. There were seven new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 34 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.09 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.65 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,941,589 tests completed. _ Yukon: 72 confirmed cases (zero active, 71 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.38 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,183 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 42 confirmed cases (two active, 40 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 4.43 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 14,664 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 359 confirmed cases (eight active, 350 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 20.33 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of eight new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,718 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
Although Alek Minassian was found guilty of all counts in the Yonge Street van attack, the judge has set a Canadian precedent by considering autism a “mental disorder” under the Criminal Code. Kamil Karamali reports.
WASHINGTON — Cheered on by President Joe Biden, House Democrats are hustling to pass the most ambitious effort in decades to overhaul policing nationwide, confident they can avoid clashing with moderates in their own party who are wary of reigniting a debate they say hurt them during last fall's election. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act was set for a House vote late Wednesday. The sweeping legislation, which was approved last summer but stalled in the Senate, was named in honour of Floyd, whose killing by police in Minnesota last Memorial Day sparked protests nationwide. The bill would ban chokeholds and “qualified immunity” for law enforcement and create national standards for policing in a bid to bolster accountability. Democrats say they are determined to pass the bill a second time, to combat police brutality and institutional racism after the deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans following interactions with law enforcement — images of which were sometimes jarringly captured on video. Those killings drew a national and international outcry. But the debate over legislation has turned into a political liability for Democrats as Republicans seized on calls by some activists and progressives to “defund the police” to argue that Democrats were intent on slashing police force budgets. This bill doesn't do that. Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said it was a reason the party, after talking confidently of growing its majority in November, instead saw it shrink to just 10 seats, 221-211. “We played too much defence on ‘defund the police,’” Perez said. Moderate Democrats said the charge helped to drive Democratic defeats in swing districts around the country. “No one ran on ‘defund the police,’ but all you have to do is make that a political weapon,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar, a moderate Texas Democrat who has pushed for more police funding in places like his city of Laredo, where law enforcement presence is especially concentrated given the close proximity to the Mexican border. While Democrats used their then-larger majority to pass the police reform measure in the House last summer, it stalled in the then-Republican-controlled Senate, where GOP senators pushed an alternate plan that Democrats blocked from consideration, calling it inadequate. Democrats now control both chambers of Congress, but it seems unlikely the bill could pass the Senate without substantial changes to win GOP support. The bill had been set for a vote Thursday, but House leaders abruptly changed the schedule after U.S. Capitol Police warned of threats of violence by a militia group seeking to storm the Capitol two months after the Jan. 6 siege. Democratic control in the House is now so narrow that the loss of even a handful of moderate votes can sink legislation. But senior Democratic congressional aides said Wednesday they were confident the policing bill would clear the House and were eager to get it to the Senate, where negotiations will take longer. Despite the political attacks by Republicans, even the House's more centrist lawmakers, some representing more conservative districts, appear ready to back the bill. Aides pointed to the moderate New Democrat Coalition saying this week that its members would support it. “Black Americans have endured generations of systemic racism and discrimination for too long, and this has been painfully evident in their treatment by law enforcement," said Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash, who chairs the coalition. That endorsement came despite the bill's prohibitions on so-called qualified immunity, which shields law enforcement from certain lawsuits and is one of the main provisions that will likely need to be negotiated in any compromise with the Senate. Police unions and other law enforcement groups have argued that, without such legal protections, fears of lawsuits will stop people from becoming police officers — even though the measure permits such suits only against law enforcement agencies, rather than all public employees. California Rep. Karen Bass, who authored the bill, understands the challenge some House members face in supporting it., “My colleagues, several of them, I do not make light of the difficulty they had getting reelected because of the lie around defunding the police,” Bass said. She called provisions limiting qualified immunity and easing standards for prosecution “the only measures that hold police accountable — that will actually decrease the number of times we have to see people killed on videotape.” Bass said she was not planning to make concessions before the bill clears the House. Changes would only serve to weaken it while failing to shield Democrats from the false “defund the police” narrative surrounding it, she said. “Even if they were to vote against the bill, even if they were to have a press conference denouncing the bill, they are still going to be hit with the same lie,” Bass said of Democrats. She also acknowledged the challenges Democrats faced last November — and may likely see again — when former President Donald Trump's reelection campaign and other leading Republicans crowded the airwaves with images of cities around the country burning. But Bass said those attacks, like much of the opposition to the bill, are built on racism, promoting fears about how, “The scary Black people are going to attack you if you try to rein in the police.” “That's as old as apple pie in our history,” she said. “So do you not act because of that?” Still, she conceded that changes are likely to come if the measure is to win the minimum 60 votes it will need to advance in the Senate, which is now split 50-50s. Bass said she'd been in contact with South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the only Black Republican in the chamber, and was confident he would help deliver some GOP support. Scott said this week that the legislation's sticking points were qualified immunity and prosecutorial standards and that in both areas, “We have to protect individual officers.” “That's a red line for me,” Scott said, adding “hopefully we'll come up with something that actually works.” That could prove a tall order, despite the White House's vocal support for police reform. Biden has promised to combat systemic racism and signed executive orders he says will begin doing that, though advocates are expecting the new administration to go further. Biden has tweeted that he hopes "to be able to sign into law a landmark police reform bill.” Will Weissert And Padmananda Rama, The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — Endangered southern resident killer whales would have a much better chance of survival if chinook were in their hunting grounds during winter off the coast of British Columbia, a new study says. The whales expand their menu and the distance they travel as they forage for food from October to March in the waters off California up to Alaska, which leaves them with little energy, says the study published Wednesday in the scientific journal Plos One. Brad Hanson, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said this is the first study that looks at the diet requirements of killer whales from their perspective. Hanson, fellow author Robin Baird and others collected and analyzed the prey and fecal samples of northern and southern resident killer whales for 13 years, starting in 2004. They found that chinook salmon made up almost all of the whales' diet in spring but fell to around 70 per cent in mid-winter and plunged to about 50 per cent heading into the fall. Baird said the animals supplemented their diet with coho and chum salmon, as well as other fish including lingcod, halibut and flounder, which are bottom dwellers. Of all the fish in the sea, whales prefer chinook salmon because they are the largest, richest, most energy dense and easily intercepted, said Baird, who is a research biologist at Washington's Cascadia Research Collective. "The whales have become these chinook specialists probably over tens of thousands of years because of the great availability of those fish," he said in an interview Wednesday. "If the whales have to expend a lot more energy getting that prey then they basically get less bang for the buck." The whales then don't have enough energy to store fat that helps them keep warm in the cold waters. This leaves them weak and unable to reproduce, he said, adding most mothers are not able to feed a calf even if they do give birth. "Reproduction of southern residents is directly or indirectly related to chinook abundance," he added. Chinook populations have fallen dramatically over the last 100 years by human actions including farming, the construction of dams, industrial activity and the destruction of estuaries, he said. All 14 stocks of chinook salmon that are preferred by whales are threatened, he said. These fish would move in and out of inshore waters at different times of the year and ensure a steady supply of food for the orcas. "Let's say, just for sake of argument, there was one river that had 100 million chinooks that all came back during the same time of the year," Baird said. "That's going to be a lot less beneficial to the whales than 100 rivers, each of which have a million chinook and those chinooks all come back at different times of the year." One way to ensure a steady chinook supply for orcas is to catch fish at the mouths of rivers after they've passed through areas where whales forage, he said. "Unfortunately, there is no one simple solution." Overfishing and large-scale degradation of spawning and rearing habitat are some of the biggest threats to chinook salmon and by extension the southern resident killer whales, Baird said. The southern resident killer whale population is just over 70. Killer whales are top predators, which means they are often ecosystem indicators, he said. A reduction in the southern resident killer whale population is indicative of a degraded environment, which affects everyone, he said. "So, I think that killer whales are an indicator," Baird said. "And the big question is whether or not we're listening." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Hina Alam, The Canadian Press
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) officers will soon receive a powerful new tool to assist patrols in B.C. waters for illegal fishing and infringements on marine protected areas. Sometime in April the DFO base in Campbell River will take possession of a new De Havilland Dash-8-100 long-range surveillance aircraft for a suite of missions up and down the coast and into the western Arctic. “The aircraft has lots of sophisticated surveillance sensors and arrays on board that captures information we can present to courts in prosecution situations, but also present it to flag states as evidence of illegal activities. The other aspect is to direct our support vessels to suspected illegal activity so they can carry out inspections,” Brent Napier, DFO’s director of enforcement policy and programs, conservation and protection said. The plane will keep within 200 nautical miles of the coast with the ability to stay aloft for eight to 10 hours, twice the flight time of DFO’s current plane, a Beechcraft King Air. This new capacity is critical to reach remote protected areas. “We’d like to spend a lot more time outside of our traditional patrol sites, because what we’re seeing really is a changing pattern in the Pacific, as large fleets look for ever-new stocks to fish," Napier said. "We want to be there to make sure we’re protecting those stocks. This [aircraft] will give us a whole new capacity that we never had before.” The new plane will be a vital enforcement tool under an ever-growing mandate of the fisheries and oceans ministry to restore ocean health and fisheries, protect southern resident killer whales and expand ocean-based economies with sustainable industries. In 2019 DFO signed a five-year, $128-million contract with PAL Aerospace in St. John’s, N.L. for a fleet of four new aerial surveillance aircraft. The other three are headed to the Atlantic provinces. B.C.’s Dash-8 will also be used in partnership with the US government agencies to patrol the western arctic as new vulnerabilities arise due to the melting ice sheets. “This aircraft will let us know what’s going on up there. There are emerging fisheries and science that’s being conducted, and we want to make sure everyone’s following the rules, that we aren’t getting foreign vessels as the ice clears," Napier said. The Dash-8 will strengthen Canada’s ability to uphold obligations with other Pacific nations to police the “scourge” of illegal fishing in international waters, particularly with B.C.-bound Pacific salmon. The plane will also serve as a scientific platform to more accurately map and monitor the migratory routes of specific salmon populations to help guide fisheries management decisions. Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View
The owner of a Calgary cafe has started a letter-writing campaign aimed at convincing city council to reverse a decision that will result in the eatery being evicted from a historic building in Eau Claire. The city, however, says its decision is irreversible — and has been in the works for a long time. The 1886 Buffalo Cafe has been running out of the historic Eau Claire Lumber Company building for about 40 years. Next month, however, the city will not be renewing its lease, in order to undertake some long-anticipated area refurbishment. City councillors said the cafe owners were given notice in 2017 that the city would need to move the building to do some major flood work, and as part of the redevelopment that was happening in Eau Claire. But owner Joanna McLeod told CBC News she feels the city led her astray with confusing communications that made her think they'd be able to stay in the building longer. It prompted her to start a letter-writing campaign and petition in the hopes of saving the cafe. "I just think there's a lot of missing information for the city's aspect," she said. "We've been the best tenants for 40 years … and we would really just love to stay in that building." 'Timeline of assurance' McLeod said they were in negotiations with the city to renew its lease in 2018. At the time, they were on a month-to-month lease, she said, because of the developments that were planned for Eau Claire. The cafe owners were told the revitalization of the area would have the cafe moved closer to the river, and in the same building. In February 2020, McLeod said, she was offered a five-year lease by the city that went unsigned after a realtor told her the language wasn't typical for a commercial lease, and the cafe owners wanted a few details changed before they committed. According to the city, the lease was rescinded in November 2020, after the tenant failed to sign and the city received confirmation of $8.6 million in funding from the province to proceed with the Eau Claire Plaza reconstruction project. But McLeod said there are documents and emails that showed a "timeline of assurances given to us by the city, and kind of leading us down a path of security with them." The owners were blindsided, she said, when they were eventually given notice by a leasing agent that they had 90 days to vacate the premises. And thinking they were going to be staying in the building, McLeod said they invested money into the place. "Had we known that it was a possibility that we wouldn't be able to continue business out of that building … we would have chosen to do business a little differently," McLeod said. Development plans not a secret, councillor says If the decision isn't reversed by the city, McLeod said, she is hoping they will be compensated for the business decisions they made "under bad faith." However, Coun. Druh Farrell told the CBC that while she is very sympathetic with the owners, they have known for a very long time that these developments were in the works. "It's not a secret, and the information has been shared with council, and we've been working on this for a number of years," said Farrell, who represents Ward 7. Significant changes are coming to the area, including essential flood work, that will be very disruptive — but there is a commitment to restore the building and put it in a new designated location, Farrell said. It will be available again in 2023. "There will be no reversing this decision," Farrell said. Still, McLeod is hoping the city might budge. "We're imploring them to change their mind. It's a building that's not only close to our hearts, it's a building that's close to many hearts," McLeod said. "It's just such an iconic piece of Calgary."
Pembroke-- Concerns about a lack of housing for seniors and the needs of the homeless population have Renfrew County council looking at options for developing a strategy looking at new housing opportunities and solutions. The wait list for County of Renfrew housing units continues to be substantial with 964 applicants representing seniors, adults and families. As well, since the COVID-19 pandemic began 153 homeless people in the county, where the population is slightly over 100,000, have been provided with some form of assistance. “Right now, 33 of them are in hotels across our county,” Warden Debbie Robinson noted at Renfrew County council last Wednesday. “These aren’t numbers. These are people. “Are these invisible victims of the pandemic we haven’t identified yet or are we seeing the growth in a housing crisis?” she questioned. Her comments came following a presentation on a Seniors Housing Strategy presented by Ken Foulds and Scott Robertson of Re/fact Consulting. They had been hired by the county last year to do a study. “The real intent was to address senior housing and needs,” Mr. Foulds said. The consultants were looking at solutions including “outside brick-and-mortar opportunities” in the report, he said. The concern about housing for seniors is great in the county. He pointed out 20 per cent of the population is seniors. “Over the next 20 years that segment will grow to 30 per cent,” he added. All seniors are not alike and this was reflected in the presentation. He said while some are independent, others are moderately independent and the final group is heavily reliant on assistance. While the independent senior needs community supports, later it becomes more community care and finally long-term care. Mr. Roberts said the consultants did a questionnaire, had focus groups and a community round table among other initiatives to come to their findings. He said there were several findings including the fact seniors have a desire to maintain independence. “There is a lack of appropriate housing,” he added, as well as pointing out there is a demand for both housing and long-term care needs. Another area of concern is expanding services to rural areas and affordability for seniors is an issue. Five strategy directions were presented. The first was expanding suitable housing options. “Pursue greater housing flexibility with local municipalities in the Official Plan,” Mr. Foulds said. Zoning and approval practices can help in this, he said. As well, the county has a 10-year housing and homelessness plan and this can be built upon. The second strategy was improving support to enable seniors to age in place appropriately. “Maximize programs that exist out there,” he said. Expanding paramedicine initiatives would be a positive move. “One third of those on the wait list for long-term care are not considered in the severe category and could be helped to age in place,” he said. The third strategy was to increase the supply of higher-level care facilities. He said expanding care campus type options and creating slack for respite care are options as well. The fourth strategy was creating the right environment to identify and facilitate housing options. “The county can be a catalyst for development,” he said. “Continue to engage the private sector to get them involved.” The final strategy was improving seniors’ access to care and support. Mr. Foulds said having a community round table and facilitating information sharing were good steps. County councillors received the complete report on the strategy. “It has been very proactive for the county to take a leadership role in developing this strategy,” he said. “It is very forward thinking.” Warden Robinson said dealing with seniors housing it will be important to work with other groups in the county. “Facilitating the implementation involving many other groups will be essential for us,” she said. “We have this magnificent report and now we need to share it.” The reality of the aging population was not lost on her or the members of county council, she said. “There are more than 30 per cent seniors staring at you right now,” she said. It will also be important to look at the diverse needs of seniors, including the aging-at-home strategy. “The folks on the wait list that could stay at home, age at home with the right supports,” she said. Admaston/Bromley Mayor Michael Donohue said it is good to look at different ways of addressing the housing needs for seniors. “Bricks and mortar long-term care is not going to be a viable way of meeting the needs of this particular demographic,” he said. “New beds won’t meet the need.” Having this report shows the county what is possible, he added. Renfrew Reeve Peter Emon asked what the consequence would be of doing nothing about the senior housing crunch. Mr. Foulds said one result was out migration. “When people can’t get the housing and supports they need, they leave,” he said. Warden Robinson said the status quo is not an option. “Doing nothing we are just welcoming a crisis to happen,” she said. The issue of homelessness in the county has made her realize the precarious situation many people live in, she added. Knowing there are 33 people being housed in hotels across the county because they are homeless is a reminder of the crisis. “That also includes people over 65,” she pointed out. North Algona Wilberforce Mayor James Brose asked what can be done in planning policy to assist in the seniors housing crunch. “Are there specific planning policies which will encourage development to allow for more senior housing?” he asked. Mr. Foulds said ideas like allowing granny suites or second suites is a start. “Allowing an Abbey Field home – a congregate living arrangement,” he said, adding smaller lot single homes and more town houses are other ideas. As part of the Community Services report, Warden Robinson later pointed out a full report will be coming to the county about the homeless issue and showing who the people are who are homeless. “We need to have a really close look at what is happening in our communities as far as housing is concerned,” she said. “I can’t imagine where we can find homes for these folks,” she added. The report also showed there are 129 senior applicants looking for county housing, 417 adults and 418 individuals who are part of a family unit. Most seniors and adults are looking for a one-bedroom unit. Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
A promotional photo and video shoot was produced at McGeachie Trails in Limerick Township on Feb. 27 to highlight the trails’ suitability for various winter sports for residents and tourists alike, and to promote economic development. The photo and video materials, focusing on cross country skiing and snowshoeing, were produced by Hastings Destination Trails Inc. with a grant from the Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization, in cooperation with Hastings County. It is set to be used to promote McGeachie Trails after the pandemic has subsided, likely for the 2021/2022 winter season. According to HDTI’s Cathy Trimble, the organization had received a $2,500 digital marketing grant from the OHTO recently, and decided to do a photo and video shoot to market McGeachie Trails as a winter tourist destination for the 2021/2022 winter season. Luisa Sorrentino is the marketing coordinator for economic development and tourism with Hastings County, and emphasizes that the photos and video will not be used to publicize McGeachie Trails this year, due to COVID-19, but will be used to do so next year for the 2021/2022 winter season. “So, we are not promoting the area this time during COVID-19. We are all local within Hastings County. We’re wearing masks and we’re doing everything according to protocol,” she says. While there was an uptick in local tourism to the area in 2020, with some businesses seeing a 30 per cent increase in revenues, Sorrentino wants to prepare for when the pandemic is behind us and tourism from other parts of Ontario, Canada and the world can start to resume. “We’ve been busy helping businesses survive and pivot during COVID-19, and also to be ready with services when [COVID-19] ends and tourists come back to the area,” she says. To that end, HDTI and Hastings County highlighted the trails’ suitability to use for cross country skiing and for snowshoeing. They had Clive Emery, the owner and operator of Trips and Trails Adventure Outfitting (tripsandtrails.ca), and an avid skier and sportsman, to teach a handful of people how to cross-country ski on the trails and take them on a short journey for the video. Trimble confirmed that Emery was there that morning teaching skiing fundamentals and that the photo and video shoot went well. “He was the instructor and supported us with equipment for the event. They [his students] were novice cross country skiers and they really enjoyed themselves. Clive just showed them the ropes and they went for a short ski,” she says. Bernie Hogan was also there that afternoon to teach a small group of people how to snowshoe for the afternoon’s video segment and to take them on a brief snowshoeing excursion. They were the Card family; Meredith, Shayne and son Maxwell, and Rick Cassidy and Mary Ann Pierce. An award-winning long-distance runner and snowshoe racer, Hogan is also the athlete ambassador for northern Ontario with Snowshoe Canada (snowshoecanada.ca/contact). He works at CP Rail as a track maintenance technician. He’s been snowshoeing since he was a kid, but took up snowshoe racing a few years ago to keep his conditioning for running in place over the winter. Racing snowshoes are smaller and lighter than traditional snowshoes. “I started getting injured running in the snow, so I was looking for a different kind of sport and found it with snowshoe racing,” he says. Hogan has seen more people on snowshoes this winter than he did last year, and says it’s even hard to buy snowshoes at all as they’re selling out. Grooming the trails that day was Don Stoneman, a retired editor and journalist, director of Canoe Kayak Ontario and an avid canoeist. He used his specialized extra wide track snowmobile and its grooming attachment. “It was a bit of a challenge as the snow was so wet, so I just packed it down with the snowmobile. I’ll track it when it gets a bit colder,” he says. The cross-country skiing and snowshoeing were captured for posterity that day by local photographer Emily Musclow (emilymaeannphotography.com) and local videographer Erica Tripp (ericasorensonmedia.ca). Tripp, who recently moved back to Gilmour from British Columbia, captured the action along the trail with her digital video camera and her gimbal, which is a camera mount that uses three motors within the mount to compensate for unwanted movements and keep the camera steady. “The weather was pretty interesting this morning. It was a bit of a challenge shooting with the snow, but we made it work,” she says. Overall, the photo and video shoot went great that day and Trimble and Sorrentino were happy with the results. “The idea is for people, not during COVID-19 but next year, to come up here as tourists or even if they buy a place up here,” says Sorrentino. “They want to be able to have opportunities to go out and live an active lifestyle and try new experiences, something they’ve never done before, like snowshoeing or skiing.” Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times
The Duchess of Cornwall said the royal family is keeping its fingers crossed.
Sherbrooke — Avec le passage d’une grande partie du Québec au palier orange, les salles à manger de nombreuses cabanes à sucre obtiennent le feu vert pour ouvrir. Même si de nombreux Québécois attendaient cette nouvelle, bon nombre d’entre elles risquent de demeurer fermées par peur de voir leur situation s’empirer. C’est notamment le cas du Chalet des Érables, à Cookshire-Eaton. La propriétaire, Joannie Paquette, confie avoir le sommeil difficile depuis janvier. « Je ne m’attendais vraiment pas à ça aujourd’hui, commentait-elle mercredi à la suite du point de presse de François Legault. Je pense que c’est la décision la plus difficile que j’aurai à prendre de toute ma carrière. Mais si je suis entièrement transparente, je dirais que je ne pense pas rouvrir. » Son entreprise a investi temps et argent dans une formule de repas prêt à emporter, notamment en se joignant à l’offensive provinciale Ma cabane à la maison, mais c’est la sécurité qui pesé le plus lourd dans la balance pour l’acéricultrice. « Je compte sur de la famille et des amis pour m’aider dans mon entreprise. Je me verrais très mal les mettre à risque dans une salle à manger alors que je ne peux même pas les recevoir chez moi. » Et si quelqu’un devait tomber malade, toutes les opérations seraient paralysées, poursuit-elle. Ce qui signifierait une perte des revenus liés aux boîtes pour emporter. « Ça ne vaut pas le risque », dit-elle. Stéphanie Laurin, présidente de l’Association des salles de réception et érablières commerciales du Québec, était elle aussi sous le choc, mercredi soir. « On nous a fermé sans préavis l’an dernier, et là on nous rouvre sans préavis, s’indigne l’acéricultrice. Ce n’est vraiment pas merveilleux, en toute honnêteté. » Dans les zones déjà au palier orange, seulement quelques cabanes ont choisi d’ouvrir quand même, témoigne-t-elle. Nombreux sont ceux qui ont opté pour les boîtes à emporter, comme une majorité des érablières commerciales à travers le Québec. « Quand ça fait un an qu’on est fermé, rouvrir pour quelques semaines et peut-être devoir refermer dans deux semaines, ce n’est pas un risque à prendre. Ce serait le début de la fin, parce que c’est beaucoup d’investissement ouvrir les salles à manger. Tout le monde s’est adapté pour faire des repas pour emporter. Ils utilisent leurs salles à manger comme zone de préparation de commandes. Mais là, il faudrait tout défaire ce qu’ils ont fait pour réinstaller des tables. Je ne suis pas certaine que les cabanes à sucre voudront rouvrir. Il aurait fallu savoir en janvier qu’on allait pouvoir rouvrir début mars. Là on se serait préparés. Mais ce n’est pas ce qui a été dit. » Pas si facile donc de tout changer, une semaine après avoir lancé Ma cabane à la maison. Cette campagne, regroupant 70 cabanes à sucre, permet aux Québécois de réserver leur boîte gourmande du temps des sucres tout en soutenant leur cabane locale. Les boîtes peuvent être réservées au macabanealamaison.ca et être récupérées directement à la cabane ou bien dans une des épiceries Metro participantes. La plateforme a déjà connu 1 million de visites et 23 000 commandes, se réjouit Mme Laurin. Intérêt à ouvrir France Demers, copropriétaire de l’érablière Magolait, à Magog, a toujours de nombreuses interrogations. « C’est une bonne et une mauvaise nouvelle en même temps », dit-elle, incertaine des aménagements qu’elle devra faire et du nombre de personnes qu’elle pourra recevoir. Celle-ci aimerait rouvrir dès le week-end du 12 mars, mais se montre très déçue des conditions imposées, soit les mêmes qu’en restauration : un maximum de deux adultes par table (avec leurs enfants), la réservation obligatoire, la tenue d’un registre des clients et l’exigence d’une preuve de résidence dans une zone du même palier. « Deux adultes par table, ça ne fonctionne pas vraiment bien avec le modèle d’affaires d’une cabane à sucre, ce sont de grandes tablées, de grandes salles... » laisse tomber Stéphanie Laurin. « J’ai l’habitude d’avoir des groupes de collègues, des groupes d’amis... c’est certain que je ne pourrais pas avoir ça du tout. Il ne nous reste déjà que sept fins de semaine, avec des toutes petites familles ici et là... On va annoncer notre ouverture, et on verra comment ça ira. Mais ça va être compliqué. » Même si le gouvernement a annoncé il y a deux semaines que la période d’ouverture autorisée pour les cabanes à sucre serait prolongée, Mme Demers croit que l’exercice n’en vaut pas la chandelle. « Les gens auront passé à autre chose. Début mai, il fait beau et chaud, ils ont plus envie d’aller marcher en ville et de prendre un cornet de crème glacée », dit-elle. Ni Mme Demers ni Mme Laurin n’ont eu vent de quelconque consigne sanitaire concernant la tire sur la neige. Les propriétaires devront certainement se montrer créatifs pour éviter que cette activité ne soit source de contagion. Jasmine Rondeau, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
More people visited Kelowna and stayed overnight in 2020 than the year before, but that has not translated into more revenue for hotels and other businesses in the region, according to Tourism Kelowna. Tourism Kelowna's latest data indicates nearly 1.9 million overnight visitors stayed in the city last year — five per cent more than in 2019 — but the hotel occupancy rate for the year was down 24 per cent. The data also shows incoming travellers were up 25 per cent year-over-year in June since the B.C. government started encouraging within-province travel, but dropped nine per cent year-over-year in December after the government banned non-essential travel across regions and provinces in November due to the escalating daily COVID-19 cases. "Those numbers actually align with the different stages of the health restrictions," Lisanne Ballantyne, president and CEO of Tourism Kelowna, told Chris Walker, host of CBC's Daybreak South. Tourism Kelowna believes many travellers stayed at short-term rentals instead of hotels. The organization painted a bleak picture of the state of local businesses in a report presented to city council on Monday — 65 per cent of businesses it surveyed reported a winter revenue plunge of more than 20 per cent, compared to the same period a year earlier. The survey also found 76 per cent of businesses are expecting a drop in revenue this spring. Ballantyne says hotels and other businesses are slated to earn less due to public health protocols. "If you're a restaurant and you're adhering … to all of the health and safety precautions, you've automatically knocked out close to 50 per cent of your seating capacity," she said. "The same things are happening in other tourism businesses as well." Tourism Kelowna's report says because tourists have spent less in the Central Okanagan city, the organization has set its budget for this year at $2.7 million, a whopping drop from the $4.7 million budget it had for 2020, pre-COVID. Change of strategy Ballantyne says with various travel restrictions still in place, Tourism Kelowna will have to change its marketing strategy to focus on travellers from within the region. "We traditionally market externally, of course, trying to bring people in, but we're finding now we're having to change some of our tactics to talk more to a regional audience, to keep the money at least circulating here in the province," she said. Ballantyne also says her organization encourages local tourism businesses to join the B.C. Small and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant Program announced in late December, because over 70 per cent of them haven't applied for the money. Tap the link below to hear Lisanne Ballantyne's interview on Daybreak South:
LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — A woman in southern Alberta is accused of murdering her former common-law husband by running him down with a pickup truck. Lethbridge police say 30-year-old Austin James Forsyth was struck by a yellow Dodge Ram in the city on June 1, 2020, and died later in hospital. Police say the pickup fled the scene. Officers arrested Melissa Whitegrass on Tuesday following an investigation by the Violent Crimes Unit. The 37-year-old is charged with first-degree murder, dangerous driving causing death, and assault with a weapon. "The accused and Mr. Forsyth were involved in a common-law relationship up until 2017 at which point they obviously became separated," Insp. Jason Walper said Wednesday at a news conference. "Our investigators deemed that this was a domestic violence situation." Whitegrass has been remanded in custody and is to appear in court on Tuesday. -- With a file from LethbridgeNewsNow This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021 The Canadian Press
P.E.I.'s new Minister of Social Development and Housing Brad Trivers received a dressing down in the provincial legislature Wednesday, apologizing for remarks he made the day before where he dismissed the financial toll the pandemic has taken on young Islanders, referring to accounts of "precarious employment" among young people as "employment opportunities." Those comments came during debate on a motion introduced by the Green Party to recognize the contributions of Island youth in the province's fight against COVID-19, and to acknowledge those same youth have borne much of the "economic risks and harms related to COVID-19, as a result of inadequate wages, inconsistent paid sick leave, precarious employment and challenges obtaining gainful employment." "I have to say that, I think what we need from our elected officials is we need people who are going to support the youth, and not encourage them to be victims," Trivers said Tuesday in response to the motion. "On Prince Edward Island, I personally don't see a lot of precarious employment out there, I see a lot of employment opportunities." Trivers went on to describe growing up on a farm, working for no wages. "I wasn't making money doing that, but that was very gainful employment," he said. "Those were the type of experiences that made me the person I am today, and they made me appreciate every dollar I've earned." On Wednesday Trivers offered a short apology, saying the comments he made were "misinformed." But the Official Opposition was not satisfied with that apology. "Yesterday, the Minister of Social Development and Housing told us that he doesn't understand what precarious unemployment is and that he doesn't believe it exists in PEI," said Hannah Bell, the opposition social development critic during question period. MLA Hannah Bell, official opposition critic for social development and housing, says Islanders need to know that all cabinet ministers support the message of equality and inclusion. (Laura Meader/CBC) "He described low-wage precarious work, even unpaid work, as an opportunity for character building. He also said that we should stop pointing out the problems with precarious or low paying work, lest we make our youth victims." Bell had previously delivered a written statement to the house, describing constituents she said were struggling to work multiple low-paid jobs, raise children, pay tuition fees and make the rent. "This is what precarious employment looks like. It is unstable, poorly paid, unreliable, with few if any worker rights," said Bell. "While this may not be the experience of members of this house, it is the experience of thousands of Islanders." Asked by Opposition leader Peter Bevan-Baker whether he supported his minister's statements, Premier Dennis King said, "I don't support that statement at all. I think we're here to help Islanders, that's our job, and if we're not here to help Islanders, none of us should be in here." Minister should show 'empathy' "The Department of Social Development and Housing is a place where many marginalized Islanders seek support," said Bevan-Baker. "Do you think it's important for the cabinet minister in that portfolio to have a deep understanding of, and an empathy for the people that their department serves?" he asked the premier. The Greens also brought up previous comments Trivers has made on housing. At a committee meeting in January, before Trivers was housing minister, he said Islanders receiving rental support from the province living in substandard housing "have the freedom to choose to make their own decision about whether they stay there or not." At a meeting in October he calculated that two people earning minimum wage could buy a home, accessing a provincial funding program to make the down payment, and afford mortgage payments of $1,200 per month. "It may not be right in Charlottetown, maybe people will have to travel," he said. In question period Wednesday, Bell said anyone who was "precariously employed … can't actually qualify for a traditional mortgage." Minister hasn't shared 'life experiences' "These are very serious issues," Trivers said in the legislature Wednesday. "We're all learning, we're all growing and the comments I made yesterday, when I say they were uninformed, it's simply because I haven't shared the life experiences of people who were impacted in that way in many cases and I will freely admit that." At one point during the session Trivers committed to creating a rental registry to track rental rates on P.E.I., something the Opposition has been asking for. After question period, Bell said the point of questioning Trivers about his comments was to get him to acknowledge there are problems with issues like wages, employment and sick leave benefits. "Premier King needs to have his cabinet ministers on board" with the vision of equality and economic security delivered in last week's throne speech, Bell said. "Trivers' comments show a pretty huge gap. It makes it hard for Islanders to know what to believe, and who to trust."
In Vancouver, it's geese who reign over the green space in town. Thousands of the birds — and counting — waddle as they please through the city's oceanfront parks, leaving an impressive trail of feathers and excrement in their wake. They foul public swimming pools, gobble young grass from freshly seeded fields, dig holes around water sprinklers and nip at passersby who get too close during mating season. The Vancouver Park Board, by its own admission, cannot keep up. "It is a constant challenge for the trades and operations staff," it said in a statement. The board announced on Wednesday it is officially enlisting the public in its effort, asking for help to control the growing population of 3,500 geese. Staff are developing a Canada Geese Management Plan to find and remove nests, sterilize existing eggs and reinforce a ban on feeding geese. Canada geese are shown at Trout Lake in Vancouver in March 2020. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC) To sterilize eggs, the City of Vancouver uses a technique called egg addling. Eggs can be shaken, frozen or covered in oil soon after they are laid, according to a 2016 report. Once the eggs are sterilized, they're placed back in nests to reduce the chances of the goose laying more. (If eggs are removed from the nests, the birds simply lay more to replace them.) The board said Wednesday the practice has been in place since the 1990s and is approved by organizations including the B.C. SPCA and PETA. But urban geese have caught on. They now try to hide their nests, laying their eggs away from parks and around private homes. The board is asking the public to report goose nests on their property so staff can respond. Geese thrive in coastal city Geese flourish in Vancouver as the city's parks provide an ideal habitat with no natural predators. The birds were re-introduced to the area in the 1970s, to boost the population for hunting and consumption purposes. Humans took to feeding the brown-and-black feathered birds regularly, which has encouraged them to gather in high-traffic areas and lay more than one clutch of eight eggs per season — a reproductive rate that wouldn't be possible if people weren't supplementing their diets. Canada geese block traffic while crossing the road in Vancouver in 2019. (Ben Nelms/CBC) "In nature, without food from humans, this wouldn't happen," the statement read. The other problem with all that feeding, the board said, is the sheer amount of waste that follows. Canada geese produce a disproportionate amount of poop for their size and diet because they don't have a very efficient digestive system, compared to similar species. "Wedding venues in parks and gardens struggle with keeping the areas clean of goose droppings, as do water parks," the board said. Officials said the amount of egg addling happening in the city needs to triple in order to have an effect on the size of the goose population.
The top public health officials in Southwestern Ontario pulled in hundreds of thousands in overtime pay last year for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic. At least two of the region’s medical officers of health received more than $100,000 each in overtime, including Middlesex-London’s top public health doctor, Chris Mackie, and Haldimand-Norfolk’s Shanker Nesathurai. The overtime pay is part of a provincial program to compensate local health units for extraordinary expenses incurred relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was one of the initiatives set up by the province to recognize some of the frontline healthcare workers,” said London city councillor Maureen Cassidy, who chairs the Middlesex-London board of health. “They’ve asked us to keep a tally of all the overtime hours and the dollars for every one of our employees who have worked overtime directly related to the COVID-19 response," she said. Between March 22 and Nov. 14 of last year, the health unit had 47 staff log overtime ranging from 44 to 716 hours. The global pandemic was declared in mid-March. Mackie, the London area's medical officer of health, logged 611 overtime hours during that period, earning a payout of $100,072. His base salary in 2019 was $300,000. “That reflects the leader of an organization that has gone from five days a week, 8:30 to 4:30, to seven days a week, 8:30 until some days, 10 at night,” Cassidy said about the overtime pay. The total staff overtime spending at the Middlesex-London Health Unit was $730,000. Cassidy said public health staff are making “incredible sacrifices” in their personal lives while battling the pandemic. As Haldimand-Norfolk’s medical officer of health, Nesathurai logged 1,100 overtime hours, worth $160,000, on top of a base salary of $240,000. Joyce Lock, the medical officer of health for Oxford and Elgin counties, received just more than $62,000 in overtime pay “for hours worked over and above the regular schedule as well as unused vacation,” according to Larry Martin, Southwestern Public Health’s board chairperson. “The Ministry of Health has provided provincial health units with clear guidelines for allowable COVID-19 expenditures eligible for reimbursement,” Martin said in a statement. “(Lock’s) employment contract . . . allows for overtime payments in specific circumstances – such as those that have unfolded over the course of what is now a year-long pandemic response.” Lock’s salary in 2019 was $288,000. The base salaries of medical officers of health are paid by local health boards based on member municipalities' professional salary scale and benefits policies. Whether an individual medical officer of health is eligible for overtime pay, and how they're compensated, depends on each board’s contract and municipal policies. In Ontario, overtime is paid at 1.5 times the regular pay rate. Most managers and supervisors, usually paid a salary rather than by the hour, aren't typically paid overtime. “In September 2020, public health units were provided with an opportunity to request additional one-time funding from the ministry for COVID-19 extraordinary costs incurred,” Anna Miller, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, said in an email. “Examples of eligible COVID-19 extraordinary costs included overtime for staff if local board of health policies related to overtime allowed for this.” Meanwhile, Lambton’s medical officer of health, Sudit Ranade, did not receive any overtime pay as the County of Lambton’s overtime policy sees employees take time off in lieu. Shari Sterling, executive assistant for Lambton County’s public health services, said Ranade has “some banked hours” but did not specify how many. Lambton submitted $848,429 to the province for reimbursement for COVID-19 extraordinary costs, including staff salaries, accommodation, supplies, equipment and communications. Health units in Huron-Perth, Chatham-Kent, Windsor-Essex and Grey-Bruce did not immediately respond to Free Press requests about overtime expenses during the pandemic for medical officers of health and other staff. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation slammed the overtime pay. “Ontarians hand over nearly half – 45 per cent – of their household income to governments every year in taxes, yet we're still a province struggling with hallway healthcare and chronic problems in long-term care,” said Jasmine Moulton, the federation’s Ontario director. “Then you see governments handing out six-figure top-ups and seven-figure severances to top health officials, and you start to see where the problem truly lies." Moulton said 355,300 Ontarians lost their jobs last year amid the pandemic. “This story is further proof that we're not all in this together." email@example.com Twitter.com/MaxatLFPress Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
Renfrew -- The County of Renfrew may have been expecting a different response from Renfrew council regarding the official plan review, but that didn’t happen. Renfrew council did not agree with the recommendation of its own planner, Eric Withers, to support the amendments to the official plan, fearing it may stifle growth in neighbouring municipalities, as well as its own. Councillor Sandi Heins also felt there was not enough time to review the document. To open discussion at the February 23 ZOOMmeeting, Mr. Withers said this was the latest in the saga of the County of Renfrew Official Plan Review. It was approved last March by the province, but with changes that were different than what the county adopted, he said. However, the province did give the county approving authority, which means amendments can be made without sending them to the province, he said. And, even though this provides the county with “flexibility and freedom,” it does not give carte blanche as the provincial policy which the county must follow still exists, Mr. Withers stressed. Following a quick review, Mr. Withers noted while there are elements that don’t affect the town of Renfrew, the one that does affect it relates to development within serviced, settlement areas. While this is not new for Renfrew, it is for surrounding municipalities that will be affected, including Admaston/Bromley Township and Horton Township, he said. This means municipalities cannot allow builds within a one-kilometre boundary of any settled serviced area, water and/or sewer, and this does not necessarily mean the boundary of adjoining municipalities, he said. The idea is to provide guidance to what appropriate urban development is, he said, explaining that instead of building in an area that does not have services, but wants to provide it by going over vacant land, that won’t be allowed. “It allows for long-range planning,” Mr. Withers said. “As things develop, it happens near existing development, not jumping all over the place. It’s hard to design services.” This does cause concern for property owners who want to develop their property but can’t in the way they want, he noted. “You want to be continuous, orderly and as you develop or extend services, make it as efficient as possible,” he said. Reeve Peter Emon said this issue was raised six months ago and caught the attention of rural municipalities near settled areas. He did not approve accepting the recommendation, noting if council approves the recommendation, and doesn’t agree with the one kilometre boundary around settled serviced areas, it could mean it won’t have the services of its own staff and a consultant would have to be hired. Mayor Don Eady agreed, saying he would not support the recommendation of Mr. Withers. Council should have first discussed the issue with Admaston/Bromley and Horton councils, because services could be provided by the town if that is what they wanted. However, by approving the amendments, this does not provide that opportunity. If the opportunity to negotiate with neighbouring municipalities is included, then that would be fine, he continued. “This is like shoving something down our neighbours’ throat, which I feel is very, very unfair.” Coun. Heins agreed. “It’s very disturbing that we would shut our neighbours out like that,” she said., adding council wants to work with its neighbours and selling services to other municipalities is what the province wants to see happen. “That’s what the provincial government wanted us to do, share services and do what we can to enhance different opportunities to working together,” she said. “I’m not happy with it. I think it’s very important we provide comments to the county.” The concern of building a circle around the town and not letting anyone in is just not right, Coun. Heins added. Council agreed to receive the report for information but did not pass a motion accepting the recommendation to support it. Coun. Heins pointed out there are 32 items in the official plan and all council members should have an opportunity to say what they are happy and not happy with. Mayor Eady agreed. “I don’t understand the whole thing,” he said. “We need to know how others (recommendations) affect us. There’s probably really good stuff in there.” Mr. Withers said he could draft a letter to the county that reflects council’s discussion at this meeting and bring it to the next meeting, which council agreed to. Following that meeting, county council met and the one kilometre buffer was removed. However, the draft plan then went back to county committee level for further evaluation Connie Tabbert, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader