Fred VanVleet passed DeMar DeRozan for the most points in single Raptors game and the undrafted star made the 54 points against Orlando look effortless.
Fred VanVleet passed DeMar DeRozan for the most points in single Raptors game and the undrafted star made the 54 points against Orlando look effortless.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials began expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 22, opening community clinics for people aged 80 years and older. Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, has said the province's plan is to open another 10 clinics in March for 48,000 people who will be mailed a letter informing them how to book an appointment. Strang said the vaccination program will then expand to the next age group in descending order until everyone in the province is offered the chance to be immunized. The age groups will proceed in five-year blocks. Future community clinics are to be held March 8 in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro; March 15 in Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth; and March 22 in Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth. The province began its vaccination campaign with residents of long-term care homes, those who work directly with patients, those who are 80 and older, and those who are at risk for other reasons including First Nations and African Nova Scotian communities. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island The province says the first phase of its vaccination drive, currently slated to last until the end of March, targets residents and staff of long-term and community care, as well as health-care workers with direct patient contact at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure. Those 80 and older, adults in Indigenous communities, and truck drivers and other rotational workers are also included. The next phase, which is scheduled to begin in April, will target those above 70 and essential workers. The province intends to make the vaccine available to everyone in late summer and fall. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors on Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. The province says the vaccination of children and pregnant women will be determined based on future studies of vaccine safety and efficacy in those populations. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry also says first responders and essential workers may be eligible to get vaccinated starting in April as the province also decides on a strategy for the newly authorized AstraZeneca vaccine. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
WARSAW, Poland — The European Union's top court ruled Tuesday that Poland’s new regulations for appointing judges to the Supreme Court could violate EU law. The ruling obliges Poland’s right-wing government to discontinue these regulations and observe the principles of judicial independence and the right to judicial protection. In a decision that could have a powerful effect on future court verdicts regarding judicial appointments, the ruling also allows Poland's courts to refrain from applying the regulations introduced by the government in 2018 and 2019. The legislation in Poland strengthened political influence over a top judicial body, the National Council of the Judiciary, and the body's procedure of appointments to the Supreme Court. It also curbed the right to appeal the council's decisions. The regulations “which have the effect of removing effective judicial review of that council’s decisions ... (proposing) candidates for the office of judge at the Supreme Court — are liable to infringe EU law," the European Court of Justice said in its ruling. The ruling was in response to a query by Poland's top administrative court to the European court regarding a complaint by some judges. The judges said the new regulations stripped them of the right to appeal a decision rejecting them as candidates for the Supreme Court. Based on Tuesday's ruling, Poland's Supreme Administrative Court can now review the appeals by the five judges. Some lawmakers praised the court's decision. The ruling on Polish government’s “political interference in the judiciary is concrete evidence that the government is blatantly flouting the rule of law, despite multiple warnings. It is also destroying Europe’s trust in the legal system there," said Jeroen Lenaers, a European Parliament member. ___ This story has been corrected to say Poland's top administrative court turned to the ECJ, not the judges themselves. The Associated Press
China was the biggest source of applications for international patents in the world in 2020 for the second consecutive year and extended its lead over No. 2 filer the United States, the U.N. patent agency said on Tuesday. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which oversees a system for countries to share recognition of patents, said China filed 68,720 applications last year while the United States filed 59,230. The rate of increase was higher for China with a 16.1% year-on-year increase versus 3% for the United States, it added.
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 66,691 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,949,643 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 5,144.275 per 100,000. There were 500 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 2,442,170 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 79.83 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 3,827 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 20,285 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 38.739 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 33,820 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 59.98 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,485 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 12,176 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 76.758 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 14,715 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 9.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 82.75 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 5,335 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 32,856 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 33.667 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 61,980 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 53.01 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 7,424 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 33,741 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 43.255 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 46,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 72.13 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 6,560 new vaccinations administered for a total of 438,815 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 51.284 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 537,825 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 81.59 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 17,424 new vaccinations administered for a total of 704,695 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 47.974 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 903,285 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 78.01 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 1,222 new vaccinations administered for a total of 76,670 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 55.679 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 108,460 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 70.69 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 1,063 new vaccinations administered for a total of 79,289 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 67.242 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 74,605 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 106.3 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 7,830 new vaccinations administered for a total of 235,508 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 53.50 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 274,965 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 85.65 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 23,308 new vaccinations administered for a total of 275,681 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 53.722 per 1,000. There were 500 new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 323,840 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 85.13 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 897 new vaccinations administered for a total of 16,071 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 385.109 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 18,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 85.03 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 16,454 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 364.68 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 19,100 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 42 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 86.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 126 new vaccinations administered for a total of 7,402 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 191.138 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 23,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 62 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 30.97 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
Ground will likely be broken later this month on a new $7.2-million greenhouse facility for the city's parks department. It will be built on the site of a current baseball diamond in Jackson Park at McDougall Street and and Memorial Drive, just south of Windsor Stadium. It will replace the aging greenhouses at Lanspeary Park, some of which are 100 years old. The new 22,000-square-foot greenhouse will be twice the size of the old facility. It will allow the city to grow plants for hanging baskets, which it currently has to buy from outside sources. It will also be one large greenhouse with more room for the tropical plants that have to be housed over the winter. "Many of the plants can't be replaced. These aren't the type of things you can go to your local garden centre in the spring and simply purchase. They're expensive. They're exotic, " said James Chacko, senior manager of parks. James Chacko, senior manager of parks for the City of Windsor. The new facility will be more energy efficient and could be used for school programs, horticultural workshops, a place to grow food for food banks and a winter garden open to the public. Chacko says neighbours need not fear light pollution such as the type being experienced from the greenhouses in Leamington and Kingsville. "The plants go to sleep over the night, just like you and I do, so that there won't be any light disturbance or light pollution," said Chacko, explaining there are no ongoing operations in the night time. The city will hear from the Lanspeary Park neighbourhood about how to utilize the three acres where the old greenhouses sit, but care will be taken to incorporate one greenhouse which originally came from Willistead. The 100 year-old building is on the city's heritage registry. The current greenhouse facility at Lanspeary Park is around 100 years old, inefficient and too small. Most will be torn down and the greenspace will be incorporated into Lanspeary Park. "That may involve it remaining in place as it is, may involve moving it slightly within the footprint of this property," said Chacko. "So certainly we're not in a rush to knock down anything that is heritage designated or we will go through all the proper channels and do our best to ensure that it can be incorporated into the new Lanspeary Park " The new greenhouse is expected to be finished by the end of the spring next year. The city will also try to rework some baseball diamonds at Mic Mac Park to accommodate fast ball as a replacement for the ball diamond that will be lost in Jackson Park.
Alibaba and Ant Group founder Jack Ma has lost the title of China's richest man, a list published on Tuesday showed, as his peers prospered while his empire was put under heavy scrutiny by Chinese regulators. Ma and his family had held the top spot for China's richest in the Hurun Global Rich List in 2020 and 2019 but now trail in fourth place behind bottled water maker Nongfu Spring's Zhong Shanshan, Tencent Holding's Pony Ma and e-commerce upstart Pinduoduo's Collin Huang, the latest list showed.
With several businesses ranging from restaurants to big retail stores recently labelled as potential COVID-19 exposure sites on P.E.I., things are getting busy once again for companies offering disinfection services. Jordan Fraser, owner of United Janitorial, said calls for disinfection services are up. "We've also seen a substantial drop in generic cleaning, considering a lot of buildings are now shut down on P.E.I." Fraser said that isn't entirely a bad thing — it means he is able to move staff who would be doing general cleaning to his disinfecting team to deal with the increased demand. "We actually — going back to last year — began cross-training the majority of our employees for these exact scenarios," he said. The company has been dealing with some of the businesses listed as possible exposure sites. Other customers are just worried, said Fraser. This is just one type of electrostatic fogging gun being used to disinfect and protect against COVID-19. "We have been called out to some of the known exposure sites, but then we have also been called out to what we're calling precautionary disinfects," he said. "Business who may not have had an active case at their location are just wanting to make sure they are doing all their due diligence by doing precautionary disinfecting." Fraser said he is booking into next week when it comes to disinfection services — but if new exposure sites come up, he said, things will only get busier. On top of using fog to disinfect, Jordan Fraser says United Janitorial also uses a three-step spray and wipe down method. Two main methods are being used. The first is a "triple clean," where high-touch surfaces are sprayed with disinfectant and wiped down. Another is "fogging," using a type of backpack equipment for disinfecting, said Fraser. "It takes one droplet of solution and it turns it into 10,000 droplets of a dry mist. It allows us to ensure an entire area is really disinfected completely." Staff doing disinfecting work are supplied with full personal protective equipment, Fraser said. United Janitorial isn't the only company on P.E.I. getting more calls for disinfecting. First on Site Restoration has also been busy, said Jim Mandeville, senior project manager with the company. 'They're really cleaning every nook and cranny very closely,' says Jim Mandeville, senior project manager with First on Site Restoration. "We've actually seen a larger spike this past weekend than, you know, back to the original outbreak last spring," he said. Mandeville said the company has received calls from grocery stores and other large Island businesses."What we are doing is more of a decontamination than a cleaning," he said. "They're really cleaning every nook and cranny very closely, and then we are applying a disinfectant after that cleaning process to kill anything that may be left behind." In terms of staff, the business is managing with the aim of completing cleanings in a single shift — but if things get overwhelming, Mandeville said his staff are listed as essential workers and members from other provinces could be brought in. More from CBC P.E.I.
The death of 16-year-old Lexi Daken last week set off a searing wave of grief across the province. But it has also triggered a reckoning, with mental health experts taking a hard look at a worsening mental health crisis and legal experts saying her death was at least partly brought on by years of government underfunding. Lexi, a Grade 10 student who had previously attempted suicide, was taken to the emergency room at Fredericton's Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital on Thursday, Feb. 18, by a school guidance counsellor who was concerned about her mental health. She waited for eight hours without receiving any mental health intervention. After she was told by a nurse that calling a psychiatrist would take another two hours, Lexi said later, she left the hospital with a referral for followup. Her mother said no one ever contacted the family. Less than a week later, Lexi died by suicide. In an interview with Information Morning Fredericton on Monday, the executive director at the Canadian Mental Health Association of New Brunswick was overcome with emotion while discussing Lexi's death. Christa Baldwin, executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association of New Brunswick, said Lexi's death was shattering. "I don’t think I’ve ever cried as much as I have in the past week." 'This has to be the piece that moves us forward' Christa Baldwin noted that last week had started off with the promise of change, with a new mental health action plan, unveiled by Health Minister Dorothy Shephard, "that would allow us to move forward." "But then later in the week, hearing the news about Lexi — it broke our hearts, to be honest. … I don't think I've ever cried as much as I have in the past week." But Lexi's death has also been a turning point, Baldwin said. She noted that Lexi's father, Chris Daken, said in an interview last week that "Lexi's death cannot be in vain." "This has to be a piece that moves us forward .... we can't have this happening to our youth in our province, we can't have this happening to anyone in our province." Baldwin said that resonated with her. "It feels like we have entered a new chapter in this province, building a service that is client-focused, client-centred," she said. "It has ignited a fire within me and within the CMHA to advocate and use our voice to make change happen. We need something to happen for Lexi's family … and for so many other individuals who have died by suicide in this province." The new mental health action plan has put some plans and pilot projects in place, Baldwin said. Those are positive steps, but more needs to be done, she said, noting barriers to service need to be removed and attitudes toward mental health issues need to change. "I think what bothered me most is after eight hours to ask about whether to call a professional to come in to asses Lexi further — if you went in with a broken leg, you would not be asked if someone should be called in to cast your leg," Baldwin said. "We need mental health parity. Mental health is a human right equal to physical health." In an op-ed, lawyer Jody Carr, above, and UNB law professor Kerri Froc say Lexi's death is a violation of her rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. A violation of Lexi's charter rights, lawyers say It's a point some legal experts are also making. In an op-ed, lawyer Jody Carr and University of New Brunswick law professor Kerri Froc said Lexi's rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms were violated. "Under Section 7 of the charter, 'Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice,' " Carr and Froc wrote in the op-ed. "Because successive provincial governments have wilfully under-resourced this sector of health care, leading to delays in access to mental health services anchored in the Mental Health Act, violations of New Brunswickers' rights to personal security, and ultimately to life, results. "While it is true that the direct cause of these deaths and injury is self-harm, the Supreme Court of Canada has said that government is responsible for actions that enhance the risk of these violations." Carr and Froc argued that "New Brunswick has a duty to ensure that they can talk to a psychiatrist or psychologist at their and their family's time of greatest need." In an email Monday, Horizon noted it does provide around-the-clock psychiatric services. "Horizon provides emergency psychiatric services 24 hours per day, seven days a week at our regional hospitals," Dr. Edouard Hendriks, vice-president of medical, academic and research affairs at Horizon. "Medical psychiatry staff are available for consultation as required, in collaboration with the on-site care team." Nevertheless, some questions remain unanswered. Horizon did not immediately answer questions about whether it is tracking how often an on-call psychiatrist is called to come in to see a patient, or how often they decline or are unable to do so. It also did not answer questions about why Lexi was told she would face a two-hour wait for a psychiatrist, citing "confidentiality reasons." Pandemic taking deepening toll on mental health Meanwhile, the pandemic's toll on the mental health of almost every demographic in the province continues to deepen, Baldwin said. In the 2019-20 fiscal year, the Canadian Mental Health Association worked with more than 86,000 New Brunswickers, she said. "In the first three-quarters of this fiscal year, we were already at over 117,000 New Brunswickers. … Organizations are feeling that, hospitals are feeling that, Horizon and Vitalité are feeling that. We need to recognize what's happening here in terms of demand for service." Carefully developing programs and reaching out to certain demographics to make sure people are not falling through the cracks are more crucial now than ever, she said. But so is talking "openly" with people when you see they are struggling, even if it feels uncomfortable. "Asking someone if they're suicidal, having suicidal thoughts ... actually saying those words can help," Baldwin said. "We need to have these conversations, we can't sweep it under the rug. Not talking about mental health openly has done us no favours." If you need help: CHIMO hotline: 1-800-667-5005 / http://www.chimohelpline.ca Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566.
Austria and Denmark, chafing at the slow rollout of COVID-19 vaccines within the European Union, have joined forces with Israel to produce second-generation vaccines against mutations of the coronavirus. The move by the two EU member states comes amid rising anger over delays in ordering, approving and distributing vaccines that have left the 27-member bloc trailing far behind Israel's world-beating vaccination campaign. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said it was right that the EU procures vaccines for its member states but the European Medicines Agency (EMA) had been too slow to approve them and lambasted pharmaceutical companies' supply bottlenecks.
Living near the volcano is no easy task for locals, as they have to clear huge amounts of ash from the streets, and sometimes even run for cover.View on euronews
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — After more than a decade in power and a year spent battling the virus, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's popularity — boosted by his handling of the pandemic — remains high two weeks before a general election. But amid a tough COVID-19 lockdown, that support is showing signs of eroding as the Dutch grow weary of pandemic restrictions. The election is being held over three days, starting with a limited number of polling booths opening on March 15 and 16 for people who are extra vulnerable to the coronavirus before the main voting day on March 17. Some 2.4 million people aged over 70 are entitled to vote by mail. It's shaping up as a referendum on the government's handling of the unprecedented health crisis and political parties' differing plans for the country's economic and social recovery when it finally ends. Rutte's conservative People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, or VVD, is currently projected to win about twice as many seats as its nearest rival in the 150-seat lower house of parliament. Political science professor Tom van der Meer of Amsterdam University says the VVD's huge lead in the polls is partly a result of the pandemic. “The popularity of Mark Rutte ... got a big boost last year due to the COVID-19 crisis,” Van der Meer said. Rutte’s regular TV appearances — to explain new lockdown measures, relax some restrictions or announce multibillion state support packages for ailing businesses —have cast him as a strong, dependable leader working tirelessly to protect his nation from the worst of the pandemic. But with the election approaching, support for the virus lockdown is fading and many Dutch businesses are growing increasingly angry at being shuttered for months. The Netherlands has seen over 15,700 deaths in the pandemic and officials fear the impact of the highly transmissible and more deadly U.K. virus variant. “We see that this rally-around-the-flag effect has diminished,” Van der Meer said. “But at the same time, voters for the VVD haven’t really yet had this clear reason to move away.” If the VVD emerges as the largest party in parliament, the 54-year-old Rutte will be first in line to form the country's next governing coalition and begin a fourth term in office. That would make him the longest-serving Dutch prime minister, overtaking the 12-year tenure of Ruud Lubbers. Opposition parties, however, are keen to stress their differences with Rutte, even though they have largely supported his government's efforts to rein in the pandemic. Parties on the left accuse him of running the country's health service down with years of market-driven reforms. Rutte's ongoing popularity is all the more striking because his government resigned in January over a scandal involving tax office attempts to root out fraud among parents claiming child benefit payments, leaving Rutte as a caretaker leader. A parliamentary inquiry concluded last year that tax office policies that included racial profiling violated “fundamental principles of the rule of law.” In the campaign's first major televised debate on Sunday, Rutte was confronted by one of the parents, Kristie Rongen, who told him: “You have failed me.” “Why do you think that you can stay on as the person who is ultimately responsible in the benefit scandal?” she asked. “I asked myself the same question,” Rutte replied. “This is such a stain, such a debacle, but I weighed up that so many things have gone well in the last 10 years and that I’m proud of and I decided in the end to keep going." The largest Dutch opposition party is the Party for Freedom led by populist, anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders, who has harshly criticized the government's handling of the COVID-19 crisis, from the slow start of its vaccination program to its imposing a curfew. But most mainstream parties reject the idea of working in a coalition with Wilders because of his strident anti-Islam rhetoric, effectively putting his party out of the running to join a new government. The right-wing populist Forum For Democracy, which performed strongly two years ago during a provincial election, has imploded over the last year amid reports of anti-Semitism in its ranks. Some key members have left and set up a rival party that is fielding candidates in the March election. That new party is among a record 37 groups registered to take part in the election, a further fragmentation of the Dutch political landscape that could make forming a new ruling coalition tricky. After the last election in March 2017, it took a post-World War II record 225 days to form Rutte's third Cabinet. Labor Party leader Lilianne Ploumen has appealed to left-leaning parties to work together, saying “if we don't, the only one laughing will be the VVD.” ___ Follow all AP developments on the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic. Mike Corder, The Associated Press
Casey Babb says when he opened a letter from Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) last Friday, he was shocked at what he read. Due to an error made by the federal department's Public Service Pay Centre, the Ottawa man has been paying into the wrong pension plan group for nearly six years. The result: he owes the government about $7,000 and was given a little over a year to pay the sum back into the right pension plan. "They've dropped this on me during a pandemic," he said. "And I mean, even at the best of times, this would be totally outrageous." Babb — currently on paternity leave with a newborn child — calls it a "gut punch" and worries he's not the only one who will be receiving a letter. He believes the problem dates back to when he changed jobs, moving from the Department of National Defence to Natural Resources Canada, and how the federal government altered its pensions plans in 2013. Casey Babb says having to pay back $7,000 in pension contributions is a 'gut punch.' Anyone who worked for the federal government before then would pay more into their pension but retire sooner, Babb said. Conversely, those who started work after 2013 pay less into their plan each paycheque but need to work longer to receive full pension. Although he worked for the federal government before 2013, the government switched him into the newer pension plan when he changed jobs, he said. "So what that means is: for the last six years, I've been paying – because of the Government of Canada pay centre – I've been paying too little every paycheque into my pension," he said. "It's been this cumulative drip over the last six years, every two weeks, that they didn't catch and ... didn't address," he said. About 1,000 enrolled in wrong plan: government While Babb was given options for how to pay the $7,000 back, at most he has 16 months unless he can prove financial hardship. He also wasn't given the chance to continue paying into the same pension plan and suspects he won't be afforded that option. Babb said he caught the mistake years ago and flagged it to the federal government. He said if the problem had been addressed sooner, he wouldn't owe as much money. "They [knew] that this is happening and I'm still paying into the wrong pension," he said. According to the PSPC, all employees with overdue pension contributions from more than one pay period will be receiving letters. They will have a month to respond and confirm their preferred method for repayment. "When Phoenix was first implemented in 2016, there were delays in enrolling some employees into the Public Service Pension Plan (PSPP), and unfortunately close to 1,000 employees were enrolled in the incorrect group within the plan," said Jean-François Létourneau, a spokesperson for the department. "These errors are regrettable, and PSPC has taken steps to support employees experiencing financial difficulty as a result." Take responsibility, urges Babb According to Létourneau, some of those affected may be entitled to receive a refund in contributions if they contributed too much into their pension. The department began sending letters to employees in October and recovery has either started or been completed for 426 cases, he said. For Babb, the federal government should either excuse these debts or at least come up with better repayment options. "There needs to be some responsibility here," he said. "You can't just start sending out dozens or hundreds or thousands of letters to Canadians."
The head of the breast imaging section of The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) says the department has a backlog of about 20,000 patients who haven't received routine screening during the pandemic — and is worried about seeing more advanced cancers in patients who skip appointments. Dr. Jean Seely said the department has rebuilt some of the capacity it lost early in the pandemic — but some people have not shown up for appointments. "They're so focused on COVID that they're not actually coming in," Seely said. She said the estimated backlog is based on the normal number of screenings performed in a year. Some patients and even family doctors weren't aware that mammography was resuming at the hospital, she said. The hospital is sending invitations to remind people to book and follow up on appointments. However, some patients are showing signs they should have been screened earlier, she said. "More women are coming in with lumps that are palpable," Seely said. "The more advanced cancers are when you're diagnosed, the more likely they're going to need more surgery, more expensive chemotherapy ... and more time off work. It's really critical to our health-care system to do this kind of early diagnosis." Seely said women between ages 50 and 74 who qualify for the Ontario Breast Screening Program will be getting appointment reminders. "Cancer doesn't stop with COVID." Expanding capacity The Champlain region, an area that covers the nation's capital and stretches across rural Ottawa under the Champlain Local Health Integration Network, reported a major drop in the number of MRIs and CT scans performed in April 2020 compared to February of that year — each fell by about 5,000 procedures. Dr. Richard Aviv, head of the medical imaging department at TOH, said the backlog was at its worst in November in the region, but both MRI and CT capacity was expanded and the health system is catching up. "We're not quite out of the woods yet but we're very, very close." Aviv said. "Our CT and MRI wait times have both reduced to lower than pre-COVID levels." Overnight bookings were reduced at The Ottawa Hospital because patients weren't taking them up, says Dr. Richard Aviv. Last June, there were about 22,000 patients in the backlog for MRIs in the region, which reduced to about 12,000 by mid-February, Aviv said. There were about 28,000 CT scans in the backlog in June and that number has been reduced to about 25,000 this past month, Aviv added. About 14,000 of those patients waiting don't have appointments booked, he said. However, he said, the hospital's efforts to have more scanners working 24/7 didn't help increase capacity, because patients weren't taking those appointments. Those overnight hours have since been reduced, he said. "Patients wouldn't show up. I'd really like to have a model where we could do our well, young outpatients overnight," he said, adding that this would allow health professionals to focus on more severely ill patients during the day. Aviv said the imaging department is building a more effective patient booking system.
March has lived up to the old adage — coming in like a lion — after a relatively mild winter that didn't physically arrive until February. Both a snow squall watch and a frostbite advisory were in effect for the nation's capital on the first day of the month. Yet, it follows a late fall and first couple of months of winter that seemed questionable if it was truly the season the calendar displayed. "Some people are going to say this winter was missing in action. Others will say, 'oh my gosh, it was too cold at the end,'" said David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada. November, December, and January were two to three degrees warmer than normal, until the polar vortex hit last month. Don't write the obituary on winter quite yet. - David Phillips, Environment and Climate Change Canada February temperatures were close to normal — even though the first and last days of the month were above zero. "I give [this winter a] nine out of ten. It was actually ideal," Phillips said. "It wasn't painful or brutal at all and what I think was so interesting is that when you wanted the snow and the cold to freeze things up, it came in February." Ottawa had a few days at the end of January and mid-February where the temperature fell below –20 C, but that's only about a third of the usual three weeks worth the city would normally get in winter, he said. For those who enjoy the cold and snow, winter could not have come soon enough. The Rideau Canal Skateway didn't open until Jan. 28, and closed a mere 26 days later. One thing this winter did lack — and something most people were likely happy to live without in the dead of winter — was rain. Phillips said Ottawa normally sees about 45 millimetres of rain in January and February, but only saw about one millimetre, at least until Sunday. Looking north on Ottawa's Rideau Canal Skateway toward the Château Laurier and Shaw Centre in February 2021. The canal was open a mere 26 days this winter. The warmer winter was also helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said. "I think this winter was particularly good for getting out and about when you could social distance," Phillips said. "Nature could have been far crueller." March prime maple syrup weather March may indeed bring along more of a chill, at least this week, with overnight lows ranging between –12 and –15 C. Phillips expects most of March to be prime maple syrup weather, with below freezing nights and melting daytime temperatures. This spring could bring ideal weather for maple syrup producers, says Phillips. Despite spring being a few weeks away, he said people shouldn't put away their shovels just yet, because the last month of winter and beginning of spring can also be unpredictable. "Don't write the obituary on winter quite yet ... You still get 50 cm of snow in Ottawa in an average spring."
Ontario says front-line essential workers will be inoculated as part of Phase 2 of its COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan, but the province has yet to define who will be on the list and when they will get the jab. Unions that represent workers who deal with the public every day, however, are already wondering whether their members will qualify. Joel Thelosen, spokesperson for United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Canada Local 1006A, said the union would like to know which workers will be deemed essential during the pandemic. UFCW represents thousands of grocery store and food processing workers in Ontario. "As of this time, we have not been able to get any clarification from the Ontario government as to who fits their front-line worker criteria for Phase 2," Thelosen told CBC News on Monday. "We are seeking more clarity generally." Thelosen said members are feeling anxious and stressed as they continue to work during the pandemic and are eager to be vaccinated. "Grocery workers have been on the front lines since day one of the pandemic. As a result, they are exposed to hundreds of members of the public every time they go into work. They deserve the vaccine for protection and should be considered priority recipients," he said. Thelosen said the union has faith in Ontario public health officials to determine who first should get the vaccine, but grocery store workers should be considered part of the equation. "When Ontario locks down, they still go to work and proudly serve their communities." Janitors 'are sanitizing the spaces where the illness might exist' and should be considered essential workers, according to Assya Moustaqim-Barrette, spokesperson for the Service Employees International Union Local 2. Assya Moustaqim-Barrette, spokesperson for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 2, said the union wants to make sure janitors who work outside of health-care settings are on the essential list. The local represents thousands of janitors in Ontario. "The majority of our union members have been going into work every day since the start of the pandemic. They have been working hard, keeping spaces safe and clean, while facing the risk of contracting COVID-19," she said. "We feel that if the Ford government has an interest in quickly mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and ending the pandemic, it should definitely prioritize workers who are often in contact with other people as well as spaces in which these people are," she said. That means making the vaccine available as soon as possible to front-line workers, including janitors in settings outside health care, she said. "They are sanitizing the spaces where the illness might exist. They are cleaners and janitors and so it makes complete sense that someone who is interacting with potentially contaminated surfaces should have a vaccine to prevent them from getting sick," she said. Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of health, says the province has not yet answered the question of who is essential when it comes to workers and its vaccine rollout. Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of health, told reporters on Monday that the province has not yet decided who is essential when it comes to workers in Ontario and its vaccine rollout. That question is under consideration by the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force, he said. Williams, however, said he understands the need for clarity as the vaccine rollout picks up speed. "At the same time, everyone has some perspective of why there is a criticality that they would be vaccinated right away," Williams said. "What is a good thing, I think, is that we have a real strong desire of everyone to get vaccinated. I would really applaud that. We would like to get that done as soon as possible." Phase 2 projected to run from April to July The province is now working through what it calls immediate and next priority groups as part of Phase 1. On its website, it says priority groups in Phase 2 include: Older adults, starting with those 79 years of age and decreasing in five-year increments. People who live and work in high-risk congregate settings, for example, shelters. Front-line essential workers, including first responders, education workers and the food processing industry. Individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their caregivers. Other populations and communities "facing barriers related to the determinants of health across Ontario who are at greater COVID-19 risk." Phase 2 is expected to run from April to July, depending on vaccine supply, and an expected 8.7 million people will be vaccinated. According to the government, the task force will use what it calls the ethical framework for COVID-19 vaccine distribution and the best available data to identify other priority groups for this phase.
YANGON, Myanmar — Police in Myanmar repeatedly used tear gas and rubber bullets Tuesday against crowds protesting last month's coup, but the demonstrators regrouped after each volley and tried to defend themselves with barricades as standoffs between protesters and security forces intensified. Myanmar authorities have escalated their crackdown on the protests in recent days, making mass arrests and firing into the crowds. The United Nations said it believed at least 18 people were killed on Sunday by security forces. Foreign ministers from Southeast Asian countries were meeting Tuesday to discuss the increasingly volatile crisis. Despite the crackdown, demonstrators have continued to flood the streets — and are beginning to more rigorously resist attempts to disperse them. Hundreds, many wearing construction helmets and carrying makeshift shields, gathered in Myanmar's largest city of Yangon, where a day earlier police had fired repeated rounds of tear gas. They dragged bamboo poles and debris to form barricades, chanted slogans and sang songs at the police lines. They even threw banana skins onto the road in front of them in a bid to slow any police rush. The mainly young demonstrators fled in panic each time tear gas canisters were fired but soon returned to their barricades. Videos posted on social media showed similar chaotic scenes in the Insein neighbourhood of northern Yangon. Protesters also took up their flags and banners to march through the streets of Dawei, a small city in southeastern Myanmar that has seen almost daily large demonstrations against the coup. One group of demonstrators was targeted by the security forces as it entered a narrow street on its way to pay respects at the house of a man killed in Sunday’s crackdown. Another was attacked on the main street in the city’s centre. Yangon and Dawei were among the cities where security forces reportedly fired live ammunition into crowds Sunday, according to the U.N. Human Rights Office. There were reports that they also fired live rounds Tuesday, but they could not immediately be confirmed. Some fear the junta’s escalating use of force is meant to provoke a violent backlash by the demonstrators — who have largely remained nonviolent — in order to discredit them and justify an even harsher crackdown. Videos from recent days show a greater number of protesters trying to stand their ground and throw objects at the police. “I beg the people in Myanmar not to fall in this trap, so to stay peaceful,” U.N. Special Envoy on Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener said in interview with CNN, acknowledging that it was easier for her, safely away from the violence, to urge peaceful protesting. She also accused the authorities of spreading rumours about the conditions of people in detention to stir up even more anger on the streets. The Feb. 1 coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy in Myanmar after five decades of military rule. It came the day a newly elected Parliament was supposed to take office. Ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party would have been installed for a second five-year term, but instead she was detained along with President Win Myint and other senior officials. The military government has charged Suu Kyi, 75, with several offences that critics say are trumped up merely to keep her jailed and potentially prevent her from participating in the election promised in a year’s time by the military. Her party says it does not know where Suu Kyi — who has a long history of campaigning for democracy in Myanmar — is being held. The weekend crackdown drew international condemnation. In addition to the use of force, authorities also detained more than 1,000 people over the weekend, according to the independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Those detained included at least eight journalists, among them Thein Zaw of The Associated Press. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the use of force and arbitrary arrests “unacceptable,” according to his spokesperson. The U.S., British and other governments issued similar statements of concern. But the military has showed no sign of backing down. The protesters and their supporters have appealed for help from abroad, but there are few prospects for major intervention. The results of Tuesday's special meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, held by video conference because of the coronavirus pandemic, were expected to be announced in the evening. But the 10-nation regional group's policy of seeking a consensus among its members makes it unlikely to take strong action. The U.N.’s independent expert on human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, has proposed that countries could institute a global embargo on the sale of arms to Myanmar and “tough, targeted and co-ordinated sanctions” against those responsible for the coup, the crackdown and other rights abuses. But any kind of co-ordinated action at the United Nations would be difficult since two permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, China and Russia, would almost certainly veto it. Some countries have imposed or are considering imposing their own sanctions. ___ Associated Press writers Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, contributed to this report. The Associated Press
A Black History Month research project by the Probation Association of Ontario (POAO) says Windsor-born Lew Taylor was likely one of the first Black probation officers in the province. President of the POAO, Chris Podolinsky says that people who knew Taylor, described him as "legendary." "He used a lot of colourful language but he sounds like the kind of guy who said what needed to be said," Podolinsky said. "I think that was part of his allure." Chris Podolinsky is the President of the Probation Officers Association of Ontario. Podolinsky, who also lives in Windsor, says he felt a sense of pride knowing Taylor was from Windsor and finding other parallels. "I found it interesting to figure out he went over to Wayne State, it's close by a lot of friends that I grew up with [who] went to Wayne State so it's another connection there." But the association has a bit of a challenge on its hands in terms of learning more about Taylor. Podolinsky and the team are in the process of finding more information, such as photos of Taylor. So far it has been sparse due to limited archival data and the association has had to rely largely on interviewing former members. "Everything seems to be accessible on Google, but it was a real challenge trying to pin down the rough decade or trying to look to Wayne State yearbooks, some of the high schools locally and I just couldn't find any record of him in the area," Podolinsky said. Looking to the past Ray Williams is a retired probation and parole officer and area manager and co-chair of the Systemic Change Program Working Committee. It was through Williams, that POAO discovered that Tayor was born in Windsor and was a descendant of the original Black settlers who came to Canada via the Underground Railroad. The two men met in 1975 and Williams told the POAO that Taylor was someone who was very interested in history. Ray Williams is a retired Probation and Parole Officer and Area Manager and co-chair of the Systemic Change Program Working Committee. According to Williams, Taylor studied at Wayne State University in Detroit, earning a degree in social work, before relocating to Toronto. Williams says he remembers Taylor as, "a man who had a heart of gold, which attracted people of all walks of life to this unique individual." He added that, "[Taylor] was just at ease with senior officials as he was with the most challenging of his probation clients." Taylor worked between the late 1960s and early 1970s and retired in the late 1980's. He died soon after, leaving behind a partner, a son and a daughter. Diversity among probation officers throughout the decades The POAO was created in 1952 and is a voluntary non-profit organization with the goal of representing probation officers and fostering greater dialogue on issues in criminal justice. While researching Taylor, the POAO found that diversity among probation officers really began to shift in the 1970's following loosening of immigration policies. During that decade, diversity among probation officers increased and also started reflecting the population at large. But in the 1950's, the faces of the association were predominantly white men. Podlinsky notes Taylor was way ahead of his time, being a person of colour in the field. In doing peripheral research about Taylor, Podlinsky cites Canadian author Cecil Foster's book 'They Call Me George: The Untold Story of The Black Train Porters'. "That book really helped me because [Foster] really goes into the history of immigration in the country," he said. Reflection among probation officers today Asked about the level of representation among probation and parole officers, the Ministry of the Solicitor General said in an emailed statement that the Ontario Public Service (OPS) does not collect race-based data on employees. Staff are able self-identify to "help with the OPS goals of diversifying the labour force." When asked about how important it was to have probation officers of diverse backgrounds, Podolinsky said: "We're learning a lot now about anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism and I think there is a sense that people from a certain community need to see people like them in the field." "You can't get a full understanding necessarily of all the cultural nuances, so I think it's important to have representation, everywhere — because I don't think any one probation officer can understand every avenue — I think the diverse officers will help that." READ: You can find out more about the association's project here For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
Nova Scotia's film and TV industry is expecting the 2021 production season to be the busiest in years. While the pandemic has disrupted Hollywood's production pipeline, locales like Nova Scotia that have managed to control the infection rate and continue to produce film and television are appealing. Interest from American streaming companies and broadcasters increased by an estimated 100 per cent in 2020, according to Screen Nova Scotia. "I'd say probably between August and December of 2020, I was on the phone all day long with studios that were wondering what was happening in Nova Scotia," said executive director Laura Mackenzie. She wouldn't disclose which companies inquired about shooting in the province, but said she's heard from all the large U.S. streaming services. Predictable shooting schedule The Stephen King adaptation Chapelwaite, starring Adrian Brody and Emily Hampshire, shot last summer in Halifax, Dartmouth and Cole Harbour, while the new CBC series, Feudal, filmed on the South Shore. Local independent producer Marc Tetreault said it's the predictability of shooting in Nova Scotia during the pandemic that's put the province on the radar of American studios. "If you think about shooting in L.A. or Toronto or New York right now, you don't have any predictability or certainty," he said. "Film is like a really slow-moving train, and once it gets going, it's really hard to stop. And when it does stop, it costs a lot of money to get it going again." Local independent producer Marc Tetreault says quarantine costs are 'a drop in the bucket on a larger show.' He said even halting production for a day, let alone weeks, can be very costly. Tetreault said bigger shows can manage the costs associated with the pandemic, including the two-week quarantine in Nova Scotia, because those costs are quantifiable. "If you're in Nova Scotia, you should be reasonably confident that you should be able to complete your production without a major shutdown or hiccup, and I think that's really attractive to a lot of out-of-town producers," he said. The costs related to the province's quarantine rules are "a drop in the bucket on a larger show," Tetreault added. "What I think it comes down to is convincing the people who are quarantining that they're going to quarantine for two weeks — less so, you know, paying the 200 bucks a night for a hotel," he said. Is N.S. prepared to support productions? The challenge will be providing the infrastructure and support to visiting productions. In 2015, the Stephen McNeil government axed the provincial film tax credit, a 50 to 65 per cent fully refundable corporate income tax credit offered to productions hiring Nova Scotia film personnel. It was eventually replaced with the Production Incentive Fund, which offers a refund to foreign service production of 25 per cent and 26 per cent for local content. It also offers a refund of up to 32 per cent in an all-spend model on any money spent in the province for labour, accommodations and locations. Laura MacKenzie is the executive director of Screen Nova Scotia. That helped make Nova Scotia competitive with other provinces, but the film business still isn't as robust as it was in the tax credit era. "We've had amazing momentum in building our industry here over the past five years," said Mackenzie. "But we did lose quite a few crew members in 2015 when the tax credit was changed. "And so that, alongside with the loss of some production studio spaces, it's put us at a disadvantage because we can't possibly supply the demand." That's why she's putting a call out to any Nova Scotian working elsewhere. "Time to come home. We need you here," she said. Mackenzie also said finding studio space so that out-of-town productions can shoot interior scenes is as much of a challenge this year as finding skilled crew. She's looking for anyone who has comparable warehouse space. Diggstown creator struggling to cast show While it's a challenge to build up enough skilled crew for shows that may be coming to the province, it could also provide opportunity for film workers who are traditionally under-represented on film and TV sets and in front of the camera. Diggstown, a CBC legal drama shot in Dartmouth and Halifax, has also benefited from the American production slowdown — the first two seasons were recently bought by the Fox Network in the U.S. With the third season set to go to camera in April, producer and creator Floyd Kane said he's struggling to cast his show. Floyd Kane is the writer, executive producer and showrunner of Diggstown. Diggstown tells stories from Nova Scotia's Black communities, and Kane said it feels like he's seen and chosen almost every local actor of colour in the province. Now, he has to fly in racialized cast from Toronto or elsewhere, which, for a low-budget TV series, is very expensive. "I came up in the industry in Nova Scotia where I would be the only Black person or person of colour in the room," Kane told CBC Radio's Mainstreet recently. "I want to have more Black people, more people of colour working in our industry. I want to encourage that. The acting piece of this is a huge challenge. Frankly, we've done a very poor job of developing the talent pool [for people of colour] and retaining that pool by there being opportunities to work." Richard Hadley is the Maritime branch representative for ACTRA, the actor's union. He said his organization is very aware of that need. "We are looking at ways to go into those communities and let people know what the opportunities are," said Hadley. "And that is a specific area of our membership that we really want to encourage to grow, absolutely." Richard Hadley is the Maritime branch representative for ACTRA. Mackenzie from Screen Nova Scotia said it's also one of her organization's top priorities to increase diversity behind the camera. The organization has formed a diversity outreach committee to work on a strategy to come up with long-term fixes. While the industry has proven that the health and safety protocols are a draw for service production — shows that come from elsewhere to shoot here — they do still pose a challenge for lower-budgeted local shows, as Kane is finding with Diggstown. 'You will be hired on something' Tetreault said he fully supports the health protocols that are in place to keep Nova Scotians safe, "but they definitely are a hindrance to the local, usually lower budget, independent films." He said paying for supplies such as masks and hand sanitizer, and for the extra set space to allow for physical distancing, can also stretch a local production's limited budget. That said, Tetreault is still planning to make a feature film this year — and he's looking for a crew. "Now's the time," said Tetreault. "Call the unions, get the referral. Figure out what it is you're interested in and you will be hired on something." MORE TOP STORIES
VANCOUVER — Essential workers who are more likely to contract and transmit COVID-19 should be prioritized for immunization with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine now that a national panel is not recommending it for seniors, two experts say. Caroline Colijn, a COVID-19 modeler and mathematician at Simon Fraser University, and Horatio Bach, an adjunct professor in the division of infectious diseases at the University of British Columbia, also say the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine could be better promoted by provincial health officials as a strong contender to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has recommended that the Oxford-AstraZeneca not be used for people 65 and over due to concern about limited data on how it will work in older populations, even after Health Canada authorized its use last week for all adults. Oxford-AstraZeneca reported about 62 per cent effectiveness at preventing COVID-19 while Pifzer-BioNTech and Moderna have said the efficacy of their vaccines is about 95 per cent. Colijn and Bach say the fact that there have been no hospitalizations from severe illness and no deaths among those using Oxford-AstraZeneca needs to be underscored because people awaiting immunization seem to be fixated on the higher efficacy data for the first two vaccines approved in Canada. "If the AstraZeneca vaccine will prevent you from getting really sick that's still a win for you," Colijn said. "I see this huge, huge benefit of vaccinating young people, particularly people with high contact, essential workers, sooner." The national committee made its recommendation against vaccinating seniors with Oxford-AstraZeneca after several provinces announced their plans Monday to ramp up vaccination programs. However, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, Dr. Supriya Sharma, said after the vaccine was approved last Friday more information is forthcoming showing efficacy may be higher for Oxford-AstraZeneca. Canada has ordered 24 million doses of the vaccine, with most of them expected to arrive from the United States between April and September. British Columbia's provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said essential workers including first responders, teachers and those who work in poultry factories where outbreaks have occurred may be offered the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine sooner, depending on availability. She said that while people will have limited choice on whether they could wait for the other two vaccines they should take the first vaccine that is offered. Colijn said that's all the more important if the wait for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines is several weeks or even months off, meaning fewer people would be protected from the virus. She suggested giving people a choice isn't the way to go when it comes to distributing the valuable resource of vaccines. "Maybe it's political, but from a public health standpoint it feels like vaccination is a huge collective benefit," she said. "The more vaccines that we can get out, the more robust we're going to be, the more reopenings we're going to have, the more social and economic activity we're going to enjoy and the less pandemic we're going to have." However, Bach said it would be unethical to not offer people a choice of vaccines in the same way they can make their own decisions on other aspects of their health care, though everyone should take the first vaccine they can get. "I think the way we can attract more people is to tell them that is the reality. And repeat, repeat, repeat that more than likely you're not going to be hospitalized with disease." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Camille Bains, The Canadian Press
Newfoundland and Labrador's four health authorities have signed a deal with a U.S.-based health-care company that promises financial incentives — totalling tens of millions of dollars — if it cuts costs at hospitals and long-term care homes across the province. The contract puts the Change Healthcare Canada — its Canadian headquarters are in British Columbia — in charge of building software that involves health-care scheduling and collaborating with the health authorities on "improved operational efficiency and anticipated cost savings." Those savings could come from reducing staffing costs, overtime, sick time, payroll errors and time-keeping labour, the contract states. The contract comes with a lucrative possibility: the more savings Change Healthcare helps find, the more money it makes, up to $35 million over the course of the deal. The provincial government, however, said the goal of the project is not to cut spending but to avoid staff burnout. The contract came into effect in June with no public announcement before or after the deal was done — a signing that gave $3 million up front to Change Healthcare to begin months of preparation prior to the five-year operational side of the deal kicking in. The contract's signatures include those of a Change Healthcare executive vice-president, the chief executive officers of Eastern, Central, Western and Labrador-Grenfell Health, and the CEO of the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information, an entity that oversees the province's health-care information system and electronic records. The deal also states the health authorities will cover sales tax and fees for any work Change Healthcare does beyond the contract's original scope. The authorities will also have to pay up to $5 million in penalties if they don't achieve 95 per cent adoption of the program within the organizations. Eastern Health, where the program will roll out first, did not respond to CBC's request for an interview or comment by deadline. Fears of job cuts: union The deal came as a surprise to at least one union, representing 3,000 health-care workers in the province, which learned about it months later. Sherry Hillier, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador branch of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, attended a virtual meeting in the fall to discuss details of the deal with stakeholders. "I was kinda like, 'Holy God, what is this all about?'" said Hillier. The contract doesn't get into the fine details of where savings will be achieved, and how much, but in a slide presentation from October, Change Healthcare stated its software will anticipate peak demand in the system, and will "align staffing to demand" as well as "optimize staff effectiveness." Sherry Hillier, president of the provincial branch of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, says members of her union who are employed in health care are overworked and racking up overtime because there aren't enough people to do the work before them.(Heather Gillis/CBC) Hillier said she doesn't see how that can happen, as her members are stretched thin as it is. To her, the contract means job cuts, and she questions whether an algorithm can match up to the reality of people's day-to-day duties. "My biggest fear is for our members out there. Our members are overworked right now, they're understaffed, and this system is only going to make the health-care system that much worse," Hillier said. When the meeting ended, Hillier said, she "didn't leave with a good feeling about this company," and contacted CUPE counterparts across the country. In Manitoba, CUPE's experience with Change Healthcare was one of widespread job cuts, she said, leaving those still employed struggling to manage their workloads. "It's actually made for a devastating workforce in a couple of the hospitals in Winnipeg that CUPE represents there. It's been bad times in Winnipeg just with this company, because of the cuts," she said. A spokesperson for a government health agency in Manitoba, however, disagreed, saying the company's software has "improved patient flow" and reduced reliance on overtime staffing. "We strongly dispute the assertion that there were any 'job cuts' related to the implementation of this software," the spokesperson said in an email, "and have continued to actively recruit for CUPE support staff during this time." According to its website, Change Healthcare is "focused on accelerating the transformation of the healthcare system through insight and innovation," and says it is one of the largest health-care networks in the United States. Hillier questions the motives of Change Healthcare to make changes — "This corporation is actually in it for the money," she said — and asks why the health authorities could potentially give millions of dollars to an American company when the province is in dire financial straits. After the story was published, and after Hillier originally spoke to CBC News, CUPE issued a media release late Tuesday afternoon stating it wanted the four health authorities to "cancel their deal" with Change Healthcare. The union draws a connection from the contract to Ronan Seagrave, chief operating officer of Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre, who was on hand when the company's plan for N.L. was presented to stakeholders last fall. Seagrave, according to the union's release, was a KPMG consultant working on a report for the Manitoba health care system. "His health system transformation team made 'title changes' to hundreds of full-time jobs, converting the hours of work to part-time. At least 500 nurses received 'job deletion notices' that fall, along with more than 700 hospital support staff," reads CUPE NL's media release. Unions were at the table from the 'get go': Haggie Health Minister John Haggie said he is surprised to hear CUPE take issue with the contract. "The unions were there from the get-go.… I don't understand where they are coming from," he told CBC News on Tuesday. "You have a company that is incentivized to produce the best results because they share in our success. And I think over the term of the contract they get somewhere around 10 or 15 per cent of the value of the savings. The health authorities, the health-care system, the province keep the rest, if there are savings." After Haggie's interview, CUPE said it was not informed that the contract had already been signed when members were invited to a presentation about it last fall. Health Minister John Haggie, seen here in a Skype interview with CBC, said the contract with Change Healthcare Canada also aims to reduce worker burnout, too. (CBC/Skype) Haggie said the project originated in 2016 and came out of discussions at the time with the Registered Nurses' Union. He said former president Debbie Forward was "enthusiastic" about the approach. Haggie said the approach and contract may be new to the province, but Vancouver Coastal Health has used the approach and "their reports were very favourable." "It's not new, it's simply just not paper-based, it's electronic. Where it stemmed from was from our desire to help avoid burnout among staff. So they're not being mandated back or they're not doing extra shifts and overtime, since you can match the needs for staff and the right mix and right numbers, with the number of patients, and the level of illness you see on the floor." "All scheduling on health care and front lines is done on paper and this was a way of getting that all sorted out, so that it was electronic,and you could match the staffing in a two-week period to the expected demand on the unit." CBC News asked the Registered Nurses' Union if, in fact, Forward did support the contract. A spokesperson said the union "did not see or have any input on a contract. What we have been doing is pushing for government to move to acuity-based staffing." A statement from the union went on to say: "The current staffing model for nursing is not meeting the needs of patients and results in chronic understaffing, excessive overtime and burnout among registered nurses." It also said the union supports "staffing based on the real time needs of patients, not the number of beds or allocated budget," and added its executive will be "monitoring the rollout of the new system and remain hopeful that it will improve workloads, better align staffing to meet patient needs, and improve scheduling and patient flow." Haggie, meanwhile, challenged those who see this as a roundabout way of making cuts. "They are mistaken," he said. "The motivation behind this was to match better the needs of patients and meet them, also with the needs of our workforce. We have heard how hard people have worked during the pandemic, this tool will help make their life easier." PCs, NDP slam the contract Opposition House leader David Brazil says the financial incentives in the deal are a non-starter for him. "I have a real problem with that. I would think the people in Newfoundland and Labrador would have a problem with that. And I would think the health-care professionals would first be asking, 'Why not engage with us?'" he told CBC News on Tuesday. "Taking a company that looks at a software package to decide how we better access health care, and the particular needs, to me is not the best solution." While the contract was part of a competitive public tender process, NDP Leader Alison Coffin asked why there has been no information about it, until now. "If this was good news for our hospitals, clinics, and long-term care homes, you can bet the Liberals wouldn't have kept this a secret," said Coffin in a statement. Dire need for savings It's no secret Newfoundland and Labrador has a money problem. With a net debt of $16 billion, the province is close to insolvency, and the prospect of cuts to many sectors looms as a distinct possibility. Health-care spending, comprising more than 37 per cent of the last provincial budget, is a target. The economic task force was scheduled to deliver an interim report on Sunday with potential recommendations for change, before announcing on Saturday it would miss that deadline by up to six weeks. Under those harsh realities — complicated further by the pandemic and the provincial election — Hillier said hiring Change Healthcare still isn't the right move. While overtime and sick leave may be a spending issue, she said a larger problem is not having enough staff in the first place, particularly in long-term care, causing people to rack up overtime to get the job done. She said the province needs to instead train and hire more workers to drive overtime costs down. "To increase the workload on our members is just crazy. It can't be done," she said. The contract states the Health Sciences Centre in St. John's will be the pilot site for the new system before it expands to the rest of the province.(CBC) She also said any cuts will have a clear impact on patients, causing service reductions and longer wait times. The deal hasn't been brought to union members' attention yet, she said, in part because it took six weeks after CUPE-NL found out about it to even get a copy of the contract to peruse. With the contract signed months ago, the project is now well into the first of three phases. The goal is to begin implementing the plan by September, starting at the Health Sciences Centre in St. John's. The program will then roll out through the rest of the health authorities' acute-care facilities, including hospitals and long-term care homes throughout the province, with the contract set to conclude in September 2026, with an option to renew the contract after that point. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador