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
The Transportation Department’s watchdog asked the Justice Department to criminally investigate Elaine Chao late last year over concerns that she misused her office when she was transportation secretary under President Donald Trump but was rebuffed, according to a report released Wednesday. The report said the Justice Department’s criminal and public integrity divisions declined in December to take up the case for criminal prosecution following the inspector general’s findings that Chao used her staff and office for personal tasks and to promote a shipping business owned by Chao's father and sisters, in an apparent violation of federal ethics rules. That company does extensive business with China. “A formal investigation into potential misuses of position was warranted,” deputy inspector general Mitch Behm wrote in a letter to lawmakers. Chao, the wife of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, stepped down from her job early this year in the last weeks of the Trump administration, citing her disapproval over the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol by Trump’s supporters. Chao has denied wrongdoing. In the report released Wednesday, she did not specifically respond to allegations, instead providing a September 2020 memo that argued promoting her family was an appropriate part of her official duties at the department. “Asian audiences welcome and respond positively to actions by the secretary that include her father in activities when appropriate,” that memo said. The watchdog report cited several instances that raised ethical concerns. In one, Chao instructed political appointees in the department to contact the Homeland Security Department to check personally on the status of a work permit application for a student who was a recipient of her family’s philanthropic foundation. Chao also made extensive plans for an official trip to China in November 2017 — before she cancelled it — that would have included stops at places that had received support from her family’s business, the New York-based Foremost Group. According to department emails, Chao directed her staff to include her relatives in the official events and high-level meetings during the trip. “Above all, let’s keep (the Secretary) happy," one of the department’s employees wrote to another staffer regarding Chao’s father. “If Dr. Chao is happy, then we should be flying with a feather in our hat.” The report found that Chao also directed the department’s public affairs staff to assist her father in the marketing of his personal biography and to edit his Wikipedia page, and used staff to check on repairs of an item at a store for her father. The IG report said Justice Department officials ultimately declined to take up a criminal review, saying there “may be ethical and/or administrative issues” but no evidence to support possible criminal charges. As a result, the inspector general's office said in the report it was now closing its investigation “based on the lack of prosecutorial interest” from the Justice Department. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, chairman of the House transportation committee, who requested the investigation, expressed disappointment that the review was not completed and released while Chao was still in office. “Public servants, especially those responsible for leading tens of thousands of other public servants, must know that they serve the public and not their family’s private commercial interests,” he said. Hope Yen, The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — A lawyer for British Columbia's attorney general says the provincial health officer understands the importance of balancing any COVID-19 restrictions on in-person gatherings against the charter right to freedom of religion. In a hearing over a petition challenging Dr. Bonnie Henry's health orders, Gareth Morley told the B.C. Supreme Court that Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders both verbally in public briefings and in writing. He says Henry's statements described how rapidly rising COVID-19 cases in B.C. last fall threatened exponential growth that could have overwhelmed the health-care system, and further restrictions were necessary to prevent transmission while keeping schools and essential workplaces open. Paul Jaffe, a lawyer for the group of petitioners that includes three Fraser Valley churches, told the court this week the restrictions substantially and unjustifiably interfere with his clients' charter right to freedom of religion. Morley told Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson that Henry believed accelerating cases constituted a health hazard, allowing her to issue orders that she acknowledged may affect charter rights in a reasonable and proportional way. However, Hinkson questioned whether Henry fully appreciated the right to religious freedom based on Morley's description of her statements related to the orders last November and December. "She talks about needs of persons to attend in-person religious services, but that really wouldn't capture the charter right that's asserted by the petitioners ... would it?" he asked. The orders have since been amended and now include specific reference to the charter and freedom of religion, Morley said, adding Henry has always recognized the importance of religious practice and in-person worship. Morley told the court Henry consulted with faith leaders before issuing the orders last year and invited churches to submit requests for case-specific exemptions in proposals outlining how they could conduct services in ways that minimize the risk of COVID-19 to her satisfaction. Jaffe said during his argument this week that his clients — which include the Riverside Calvary Chapel in Langley, Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church in Abbotsford and the Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack — have been careful to adopt safety protocols similar to those approved by Henry in places that remain open. He said during a separate hearing last month that his clients applied for an exemption in December and did not receive a response. More legal challenges to B.C.'s public health rules have been filed by representatives of 10 other churches that are part of the Canadian Reformed Churches, and by the Roman Catholic archbishop of Vancouver. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Some of the most active companies traded Wednesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange: Toronto Stock Exchange (18,320.67, down 100.93 points.) Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU). Energy. Up 14 cents, or 0.54 per cent, to $26.25 on 17 million shares. Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ). Up $1.45, or 4.01 per cent, to $37.65 on 11.7 million shares. BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE). Telecommunications. Up nine cents, or 0.16 per cent, to $55.57 on 8.2 million shares. The Supreme Cannabis Co. Inc. (TSX:FIRE). Health care. Down one cent, or 3.45 per cent, to 28 cents on eight million shares. Manulife Financial Corp. (TSX:MFC). Financials. Up 12 cents, or 0.46 per cent, to $26.10 on 7.7 million shares. Kinross Gold Corp. (TSX:K). Materials. Down six cents, or 0.74 per cent, to $8.07 on 7.3 million shares. Companies in the news: TransAlta Corp. (TSX:TA). Down 65 cents, or 5.8 per cent, to $10.58. Power generator TransAlta Corp. says it has set a goal to be carbon neutral by 2050 and to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 60 per cent below 2015 levels by 2030. The 2050 target means the company will fully offset all carbon dioxide released from its activities with avoided emissions or by capturing emissions, said chief operating officer John Kousinioris on a conference call to discuss the company's fourth-quarter results on Wednesday. Kousinioris, who is to take over as CEO at the end of March from retiring CEO Dawn Farrell, added achieving the 2050 goal will not require game-changing new technologies. The Calgary-based utility is in the process of retiring its Edmonton-area thermal coal mining operations and converting all of its coal power generation in Canada to natural gas by the end of 2021, while eliminating its last coal generation unit at a facility in Washington state by the end of 2025. Laurentian Bank (TSX:LB). Up $3.62, or 9.9 per cent, to $40.15. Laurentian Bank Financial Group's chief executive says the company will double down on its residential mortgage business as part of a deep review of the bank's business. Rania Llewellyn said on Tuesday the bank will try to simplify the customer and broker experience around mortgages going forward. The bank's announcement came after the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers said on Tuesday that residential sales in metropolitan Montreal fell in February for the first time in six years. The bank said it has acquired some residential mortgage loans from third parties, and has also seen growth in commercial real estate lending. Laurentian Bank beat expectations as it reported its first-quarter profit rose compared with a year ago. The bank earned $44.8 million or 96 cents per diluted share for the quarter ended Jan. 31, up from a profit of $32.2 million or 68 cents per diluted share a year ago. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
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
In spite of a pandemic, or perhaps because of it, home prices in the Toronto region are now selling for an average of more than $1 million. Selling prices shot up by 15 per cent in the last year. As Sean O'Shea reports, even just a place to park your will cost a small fortune — and its price has spiked, too.
EDMONTON — Five Black Muslim women, all Somali-Canadians wearing hijabs, have been attacked or threatened in Edmonton in the last 10 weeks. The city's Al-Rashid Mosque began offering Muslim women self-defence lessons following the attacks. The classes are full. Trent Daley is a member of Edmonton's Anti-Racism Advisory Committee. He says someone approaches him or his network on a weekly basis about an assault. Most victims are Black and Muslim women. "There's been a notable marked increase (in assaults) following the pandemic. It's so pervasive right now," Daley says. "It's full of racial epithets, full of disgusting language targeting them based off the scarf that they wear and the identity they presumed that this person has. It's dehumanizing." Calgary police say they received 80 hate crime complaints between January and November 2020. Cheryl Voordenhout with the Edmonton Police Service says it received 60 reports of hate crimes last year. So far in 2021, three of seven hate-crime related investigations have involved Somali-Muslim women. On Dec. 8, a mother and daughter were violently attacked in the Southgate mall parking lot. A week later, near the same mall, another woman was subject to racial slurs as someone tried to hit her head with a shopping bag. In February, a man made racial comments and became aggressive toward a woman at the University of Alberta transit centre. The same day, a man came up behind a woman walking in a popular neighbourhood, pushed her to the ground and made threats to kill her and tear off her burqa. The latest attack happened Feb. 17. The National Council of Canadian Muslims said a man approached a Black Muslim woman wearing a hijab at the Century Park transit station, swore at her and threatened to kill her. Political leaders, including Premier Jason Kenney, have spoken out against the attacks. But the CEO of the national Muslims council says condemnation is not enough and government leaders at the local and provincial level need to take action. "Anti-Black racism is a real problem in Alberta," says Mustafa Farooq. "Black-Muslim women tend to face greater challenges than almost anyone else, because racism and gendered Islamophobia are real problems. "We can look, for example, at street harassment bylaws. We can look at ways in which anti-racism initiatives are being funded. We can look at hate crime units and their advocacy in dealing with these challenges." "So much can be done immediately, but it's not happening." Daley added that recent rallies and marches in Edmonton and Calgary in opposition to COVID-19 measures are examples of how the pandemic has exacerbated racism in Alberta. Some participants were seen carrying tiki torches, which many say are a symbol used by white supremacists. Edmonton police Chief Dale McFee said the police service is doubling down in its effort to work with the Somali community to address racially motivated assaults. "We've got to listen to what they need and then we've got to figure out how we can ... actually get some of the changes that they need," he said at a news conference Tuesday. McFee also alluded to the suspects in the assaults possibly having mental-health issues. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021 ___ This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This story has been edited. An interview subject was removed from the original version because of concerns raised about her safety.
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi’s largest city is still struggling with water problems more than two weeks after winter storms and freezing weather ravaged the system in Jackson, knocking out water for drinking and making it impossible for many to even flush their toilets. Residents in the city of 160,000 are still being warned to boil any water that does come out of the faucets. “I pray it comes back on,” Jackson resident Nita Smith said. “I’m not sure how much more of this we can take.” Smith has had no water at home for nearly three weeks. Smith is concerned about her mother who has diabetes. Her mother and most of the other older people on her street don’t drive, so Smith has been helping them get water to clean themselves and flush their toilets. A key focus of city crews is filling the system's water tanks to an optimal level. But, public works director Charles Williams said Wednesday that fish, tree limbs and other debris have clogged screens where water moves from a reservoir into a treatment plant. That caused pressure to drop for the entire water system. “Today was not a good day for us,” Williams said. He said about a fourth of Jackson's customers remained without running water. That is more than 10,000 connections, with most serving multiple people. City officials on Wednesday continued distributing water for flushing toilets at several pick-up points. But they're giving no specific timeline for resolving problems. Workers continue to fix dozens of water main breaks and leaks. The crisis has taken a toll on businesses. Jeff Good is co-owner of three Jackson restaurants, and two of them remained closed Wednesday. In a Facebook update, Good said the businesses have insurance, but he’s concerned about his employees. “We will not be financially ruined,” Good wrote. “The spirits of our team members are my biggest concern. A true malaise and depression is setting in." Mississippi's capital city is not alone in water problems. More than two weeks have passed since the cold wave shut down the main power grid in Texas, leaving millions in freezing homes, causing about 50 deaths and disabling thousands of public water systems serving those millions. Four public water systems in Texas remained out of commission Wednesday, affecting 456 customers, and 225 systems still have 135,299 customers boiling their tap water, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Also, 208 of the state’s 254 counties are still reporting public water system issues. Bonnie Bishop, 68, and her husband, Mike, 63, have been without water at their Jackson home for 14 days. Both have health problems. She's recovering after months in the hospital with the coronavirus. She's home but still in therapy to learn how to walk again and deals with neuropathy in her hands and feet. She has not been able to soak her feet in warm water, something that usually provides relief for the neuropathy, or to help her husband gather water to boil for cooking for cleaning. Mike Bishop just had elbow surgery. The first week the couple was without water, he still had staples in his arm and was hauling 5-gallon containers from his truck, his wife said. Bonnie Bishop said she told him not to strain himself, but he wouldn’t listen. They feel they have no choice. On Monday, the couple drove 25 miles (40 kilometres) to Mike’s mother’s house to do laundry. Jackson's water system has not been able to provide a sustainable flow of water throughout the city since the mid-February storms, city officials say. The system “basically crashed like a computer and now we’re trying to rebuild it,” Williams said at a recent briefing. The city's water mains are more than a century old, and its infrastructure needs went unaddressed for decades, Democratic Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba has said. “We more than likely have more than a $2 billion issue with our infrastructure,” he said. Jackson voters in 2014 approved a 1-cent local sales tax to pay for improvements to roads and water and sewer systems. On Tuesday, the city council voted to seek legislative approval for another election to double that local tax to 2 cents a dollar. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves would have to agree to letting Jackson have the tax election. “I do think it’s really important that the city of Jackson start collecting their water bill payments before they start going and asking everyone else to pony up more money,” Reeves said Tuesday. Jackson has had problems for years with its water billing system and with the quality of water. Melanie Deaver Hanlin, who was without water for 14 days, has been flushing toilets with pool water and showering at friends’ homes. She said Jackson’s water system “needs to be fixed, not patched.” “That’s the issue now — poor maintenance for far too long," Hanlin said. "And Jackson residents are paying the price.” ___ Associated Press writer Terry Wallace contributed from Dallas. Martin reported from Marietta, Georgia. Jeff Martin, Leah Willingham And Emily Wagster Pettus, The Associated Press
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
The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is again being accused of discrimination in how it treats migrant farm workers. Haldimand-Norfolk is already infamous in farming circles as the only jurisdiction to put a cap on how many offshore workers can quarantine together in a bunkhouse, a controversial policy upheld after a lengthy court battle last year. Now medical officer of health Dr. Shanker Nesathurai has decreed that newly arrived farm workers self-isolating in hotels cannot leave their rooms. While federal rules allow “limited and monitored outdoor time” for returning Canadian travellers staying at isolation hotels, the latest directive from the health unit confines migrant workers to their rooms for their entire 14-day quarantine. “I think any time people are treated differently than a Canadian, that’s discrimination,” said Leanne Arnal, a farm worker advocate and member of the Norfolk Seasonal Agricultural Workers Community Committee. “If we were to lock a dog in a room for 14 days — I don’t care how nice the room is — you’re going to have the police there. You’re going to have a community of upset people. So why are we keeping the farm workers in there for 14 days? Even criminals can go outside and get a fresh air break.” Nesathurai defended the new restriction as necessary to contain the more contagious variants of COVID-19. “This past summer, an outbreak among Haldimand-Norfolk’s migrant worker community led to hundreds of infected individuals, multiple hospitalizations, and a death. The Haldimand-Norfolk experience shows that some workers arrive in Canada carrying COVID-19, and this can have deadly consequences,” he said. “The risk is not theoretical. We’re trying to keep as many people safe as possible, given the resources that we have.” Nesathurai said the policy also protects other hotel guests and staff, and farm workers can take smoke breaks or get fresh air on their balcony, “if available.” Not every room has a balcony, Arnal noted, adding that all workers are tested for COVID-19 before leaving their home countries. Norfolk County Mayor Kristal Chopp said she was “perplexed” by the new rule. “As chair of the board of health, I have consistently supported Dr. Nesathurai, even when there were rules I didn’t agree with. He’s a medical professional and I am not,” Chopp said. “However, when I see rules that now are not treating the migrant workers the same as Canadians, I do start to question that, when Canadians themselves are entitled to be able to get some fresh air while they’re in quarantine.” Kevin Daniel from Trinidad and Tobago, who works at a farm in Simcoe, said he “strongly believes” the new rule discriminates against migrant workers, who cannot protest the conditions set out by the health unit due to their precarious employment status. “What they tell us to do, we have to comply with it,” he said. Daniel will be spared another quarantine because he remained in Simcoe over the winter after being unable to fly home thanks to border restrictions. But he said he is still feeling the debilitating mental effects of spending two weeks in a hotel room after a COVID-19 outbreak at his farm last November. “It was very terrible, the experience I had being locked up those 14 days,” said Daniel, who said he continues to suffer from insomnia. “I experienced it in the quarantine, and when I came out, I would be up until 3, 4 o’clock in the morning. It’s a consistent problem that I have,” he said. Daniel said allowing workers daily outdoor exercise would not alleviate the anxiety of quarantine, but it would help. Arnal helped Daniel’s employer manage that quarantine. She proposed having workers use a dedicated stairwell to safely spend time outdoors in a secluded yard. “(Nesathurai) said ‘absolutely not,’ with no reason for it,” Arnal said. “Using the variants as an excuse right now — what was his excuse in November, when there were no variants?” Nesathurai contends the health unit does not have enough staff to monitor workers’ outdoor breaks, but Chopp said the farmers themselves would pay for supervision. According to Nesathurai, the health unit has asked Ottawa “numerous times” to take over the migrant worker self-isolation program, most recently in a March 1 letter in which he warned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that federal inaction would “likely contribute to more workers becoming infected.” Arnal sees this rule as the latest in a string of questionable health unit decisions — such as issuing ID cards she considered “racial profiling” — that demonize farm workers, who she said spend most of the year in Canada and make an incalculable contribution to the national food supply and local economy. “They are not a risk, they are at risk, just like the rest of us,” she said. J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
Pembroke -- The Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) is counting on ultra-fast gig internet in the region and has submitted an ambitious proposal to the federal and provincial government for funding for a $1.6 billion project. “A regional project is the best approach,” Renfrew County Warden Debbie Robinson noted on Monday morning following the submission of the proposal. “A county project alone would be hugely expensive.” The project would use a competitive process to choose a telecommunications partner and maximize coverage across the region. In this massive undertaking, EORN seeks to fund the $1.2 to $1.6 billion project through a combination of funding, with $200 million each from the federal and provincial governments and the remainder from the Canada Infrastructure Bank and the private sector. The timing is right according to the proponents, who are supported not only by the Eastern Ontario Warden’s Caucus, where Warden Robinson serves as chair, but also the Eastern Ontario Mayor’s Caucus and represent some 1.2 million people in the region. “Every day we hear from our constituents about their frustrations with poor or limited high-speed broadband services,” a letter from Eastern Ontario wardens and mayors stated. “A co-ordinated, comprehensive regional project for the 113 municipalities of Eastern Ontario is the best way to address the challenge of getting the region from 65 per cent coverage with access to even 50/10 speeds to 95 per cent coverage.” Right now, both the federal and provincial governments are investing in broadband. The federal government established the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) and the Government of Ontario created the Improving Connectivity in Ontario (ICON) fund. Both funds focus on local projects. EORN is seeking support through a flexible use of these programs, or any other appropriate funding streams. “We appreciate how committed both governments have been to improving broadband access,” said Warden Robinson, in her role as chair of the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (EOWC). “We all share the same goals, and we look forward to working together on a solution that is both comprehensive and cost-effective.” Delivering Gig service generally involves a fibre optic or cable connection to the home or business. The EORN Gig Project leverages previous investments in infrastructure and services. This includes a fibre 2 optic backbone and other infrastructure across the region built to handle the speed and capacity of the Gig project. EORN anticipates it could provide up to 95 per cent of the region or more than 550,000 premises with Gig service by 2025-2026 if fully funded. The County of Renfrew has had huge success in the past with EORN projects bringing broadband to the area but recently there has been some concern the province is looking at individual areas to develop their own projects instead of having this more regional approach which has worked so well. Last Wednesday at Renfrew County council there was some discussion on having a Renfrew County plan and developing a local plan to bring in broadband. Warden Robinson noted the collaborative approach and regional approach through EORN is the best way to bring broadband to the area, but there still needs to be a back up plan. “We are going to look at a broadband strategy for the county in conjunction with what is happening here,” she said. “You don’t want to put all your hopes on one project.” Warden Robinson said while there is funding available from the provincial and federal government, EORN is looking for a provider to work with. The goal is to have the same reliable broadband service people in the larger cities take for granted. Having a regional project also means broadband would be delivered in areas where people actually live and work in Eastern Ontario and not just where the telecom providers decide to invest. “A patchwork process in the area would be telecom providers building out from existing infrastructure,” she said. That strategy means areas with little or spotty coverage might not see much improvement. In Renfrew County there are still areas with no access to reliable broadband. For anyone trying to work from home, participate in a virtual meeting or access the internet the way people in more built-up urban areas take for granted, the poor connectivity is very frustrating, she said. With a prevalence of ZOOM or virtual meetings for the last year, the importance of reliable broadband has been highlighted, the warden added. “On Wednesday, during county council even my internet connection at the county was showing up as unstable,” she said, noting she was in the County of Renfrew building just outside Pembroke. “You can’t conduct business like that.” The COVID-19 pandemic has forced people to work from home or spend more time at home. As well, students are learning from home and people are moving to rural areas. All this has made the need for faster broadband all the more urgent. “We can grow, but not without decent broadband,” Warden Robinson said. “If we have that here, the growth would be incredible.” Speed is an issue and that is why this Gig project is being pursued. Instead of going for slightly faster speeds, the goal is to fix the system with the speed required not just in 2021 but for years to come. “Speed is important and even people who think they have good broadband discover it is not as good as they thought,” she said. “So why not fix the problem now for the long term?” EORN covers all of Eastern Ontario and is currently working on a $213 million project, funded by the public and private sector to improve and expand cellular services across the region. From 2010 to 2014, EORN helped improve broadband in Eastern Ontario with a $175 million public-p Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
WHITEHORSE — Yukon's premier says COVID-19 vaccine uptake has been "fantastic" as just over half the territory's residents have received their first dose, but he's concerned about rising numbers of variants elsewhere in Canada.Sandy Silver says the territory is focusing on meeting its goal of vaccinating 75 per cent of the population to reach herd immunity before lifting current restrictions despite zero cases in Yukon. He says a clinic for everyone aged 18 and over opened in Whitehorse this week and mobile clinics are returning to smaller communities to provide second shots to people over 60.Silver says as of Monday, 11,503 Yukon residents had received their first shot while second shots were administered to about half that number.He joined chief medical health officer Dr. Brendan Hanley in saying numbers on vaccine uptake would not be provided for specific areas to prevent pitting communities against each other.Hanley is urging residents to continue taking all precautions as clinics go "full tilt" in the territory. "If cases, and particularly variants, lead to increased COVID our risk of importing variants will go up day by day," he says.Seventy-one Yukoners have recovered from the illness and one person has died since the pandemic began.Hanley, who received his shot on Wednesday, says 850 people were immunized in the mass clinic on Tuesday. Yukon and other territories have received a higher allocation of vaccine doses because remote areas have limited access to specialized care."While we recognize that immunizing the territories is the right thing to do for Canada this incredible opportunity should provide us with extra motivation to step up and get a vaccine," Hanley says.However, he says "vaccine hesitancy is a reality" and it will be important to address people's questions so they're comfortable being immunized in order to protect everyone.Hanley says despite four weeks without any active cases, the restrictions will remain because the territory is in a "nebulous" time and on guard against variants."This is a huge consideration for us because regardless of whether we have zero or 10 cases right now we are always managing risk of importation," he says."Vaccine uptake is so critical to getting to a place where we can be much more confident about being able to propose a solid framework for opening up."This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
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
You've got to love a movie that credits its dogs before it does its executive producers. “The Truffle Hunters," Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw’s exquisitely charming documentary about old Italian men who scavenge truffles and the dogs they're bound to, lists the canines with the appropriate respect in the end credits. Birba. Biri. Charlie. Fiona. Nina. Titina. Yari. These are some of the stars of “Truffle Hunters," a profoundly lovely movie that delights in the noble scavengers of a dog-eat-dog world. “The Truffle Hunters,” which is shortlisted for best documentary at the Academy Awards and which Sony Pictures Classics will release in theatres Friday, is set in the northern Italy forests of Piedmont. Dweck and Kershaw, both cinematographers, film the truffle hunters — aging, sweet men practicing an ancient and secretive tradition — in painterly, pointillistic tableaux as they walk through autumnal forests, foraging with their dogs. They seep into the landscape. The film, scored by composer Ed Cortes with retro Italian pop mixed in, conjures an otherworldly enchantment. In between backwoods trips where their dogs smell their way to the high-priced delicacies, the hunters live humbly in old country homes. Our main characters are never explicitly introduced, but we're drawn intimately into their world, as if we just passed through a magical portal. Aurelio, 84, dines with his companion, Birba, sitting on the table. Carlo, 88, never seems to stop smiling, especially when he manages to get past his wife (who sternly believes him too old to truffle hunt at night) and slip into the woods with his dog, Titina. The younger, long-haired Sergio, a kindly but passionate soul, bathes with his pups — Pepe and Fiona — in a pink-tiled tub. This, surely, is a gentle realm every bit as bewitching as Narnia. But the hunters' earthy endeavour isn't as simple as it seems. Their way of life is a dying one. The rare white Alba truffle is increasingly hard to find because of effects on the soil connected to climate change. The hunters are often pressed for their secrets. “If tomorrow something happens, your wisdom would be lost," one man urges Aurelio. So sought-after are the truffles that their dogs are perpetually at risk of being poisoned by competitors. Sergio, terrified of losing his, pounds on his drums for catharsis. Another hunter, intent on putting something down, hammers furiously at his typewriter. “Dogs are innocent,” he writes. The sense that the hunters — who are really in it for the dogs more than money or anything else — are, like their four-legged friends, innocents in a corrupt world only expands when the filmmakers follow the truffle food chain. Haggling over prices by headlight, the hunters seem always lowballed by a well-dressed buyer. Higher up, still, are the Michelin-starred restaurants and auction houses that feast on the hunters' finds. This commercial world, miles removed from the muddy forests of Piedmont, is seen in “The Truffle Hunters” like an antiseptic, colorless modern life that has lost the taste of the simple and eternal. Wonder and whimsy is back in the forest. “The Truffle Hunters” — surely among the greatest dog movies — even wryly occasionally shifts to a dog’s point of view. We see — via dog cam — like one of the hunters’ dogs when he's let out of the car and runs down a path, panting. Just as last year’s beekeeping beauty “Honeyland,” “The Truffle Hunters” is a richly allegorical documentary of a vanishing agricultural pastime. The truffles, weighed and sniffed at market, are delicacies. But the finer things rhapsodized here are not expensive rarities. What's worth savoring is natural splendor, the charms of tradition, and, above all, a good dog. Those things aren't delicacies, but they're fragile just the same. “The Truffle Hunters,” a Sony Pictures Classics release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for some language. Running time: 84 minutes. Four stars out of four. ___ Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP Jake Coyle, The Associated Press
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."
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
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
Saskatchewan's Opposition Leader wants a public inquiry into the province's COVID-19 response. Sask. NDP Leader Ryan Meili said the province's decision-making throughout the last 12 months should be examined. "I think a public inquiry into the COVID-19 response would be very appropriate to get to the bottom of exactly what happened," Meili said Wednesday. Meili said if Premier Scott Moe and the government are confident in his government's pandemic response, they should be able to answer questions. "The government would like us to just say we're past this and let's not look back and see what mistakes were made. But the fact is, we need to look. This government made serious mistakes." Meili pointed to the second wave of cases in the province, which over the last two months has at times led other provinces in per capita COVID-19 cases. "We lead the nation in the number of cases, daily new cases, death rates, things we should not be leading in. We should be leading an economic recovery," Meili said. "I wonder if Mr. Moe continues to believe that he wouldn't change a thing. If he does, he should certainly be willing to answer some questions." Meili also requested a special meeting of the province's human services committee, which considers matters relating to health, education, social services and labour. He said if the committee is recalled, the NDP member would focus on issues including: Government response to the second wave in 2021. Testing capacity. Vaccination plan. Measures taken to protect people in long-term care. Meili said the committee has met only once since the spring budget, to establish membership following the election. In January, the provincial government asked Saskatchewan's ombudsman to investigate the outbreak and subsequent deaths of residents at Regina's Parkside Extendicare. Meili calls budget promise 'a lie' This week, Saskatchewan's Finance Minister Donna Harpauer told the Canadian Press the province's plan to reach a balanced budget by 2024 would be "very, very difficult." The 2021-22 budget will be introduced on April 6. On Tuesday, Moe said budget details would be announced on budget day. Meili said Moe misled voters last October. "Every day in the campaign the premier stood up and said he was going to balance the budget by 2024. He was lying," Meili said on Wednesday. "He knew very well that wasn't something he was going to be able to do, but he sold people a lie." NDP request rapid testing for Saskatoon-based food plant On Tuesday, the NDP and the union representing workers at Saskatoon-based Prairie Pride Natural Foods called for the province to set up rapid testing at the facility. A COVID-19 outbreak was declared there last month after nine cases were found. The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1400 said a further 50 employees of the 260 who work at the facility had to self-isolate. Last week, the province announced plans to distribute 700,000 rapid tests to places like care facilities, schools and first responders. "The workers [at Prairie Pride] are really fearful of returning to work, and they're doing it in spite of it, only because they have to put food on the table," said UFCW Local 1400 President Norm Neault. Neault said the employer has done its part to protect employees, but due to the outbreak and the nature of the work, rapid testing would be welcomed by the workers. On Tuesday, the Saskatchewan Health Authority said it was interested in working with the employer to offer testing.
CALGARY — As the Calgary Flames try to snap out of their malaise, the return of their star goalie appears imminent. Sidelined five games with lower-body injury, Jacob Markstrom put in a full practice Wednesday with the Flames. "He's close," Flames head coach Geoff Ward said. "Right now he's going through hurdles to get clearance from our medical staff. "He should be ready to go moving forward here based on sort of what we saw, but we'll leave that decision up to the medical people ultimately." Markstrom was pulled midway through a 7-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Feb. 20 to open a six-game road trip. A 2-3-1 swing, including a pair of losses to the division cellar-dwelling Ottawa Senators, dropped the Flames below the .500 mark (10-11-1) heading into Thursday's rematch at home against the Sens. Markstrom was Calgary's best player the first quarter of the season with an 8-4-1 record, a .924 save percentage and 2.36 goals against average. The coveted free agent signed a six-year, US$36-million contract with the Flames in October after seven seasons in the Vancouver Canucks organization. In his seventh straight start, and 14th of Calgary's first 16 games of the season, the six-foot-six Swede twice collided hard with Canucks players while coming out his crease to challenge them Feb. 17. Three days later in Edmonton, Markstrom was replaced by David Rittich after giving up five goals to the Oilers on 15 shots. Whether he returns Thursday against Ottawa, or in the weekend's back-to-back games against the Oilers and Senators respectively, Markstrom is hungry to help restore his team's confidence. "Stop the puck. That's my top and only priority," Markstrom said. "It sucks not being out there to battle with the team. You want to be out there for the good times, but also, when we're not playing our best and guys are battling, you want to be out there with them and get us out of this little slump." Veteran forward Derek Ryan also skated Wednesday and appears ready to return to the lineup after missing 12 games with a broken finger. "Things are a little heavy around here," Ryan said. "Guys are gripping the sticks, and it's just not the happiest place right now. "So I was trying to bring a little positivity today in practice and then when I get in the lineup, it's more of that, the energy, positivity." The Flames are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games and scored one goal or less in seven of them. Calgary sits three points back of fourth-place Montreal with the halfway point of the pandemic-shortened season looming March 13 when the Canadiens come to Calgary. "We've got some guys coming back from injury, which is a positive thing for us," Ward said. "There's no panic in our situation. We understand exactly where we're at. But we also understand the only people who can get us out of this is ourselves. "We need to come together collectively, we need to do the things that we need to do to, to make positive plays, we need to look after what's important on a daily basis, and we'll start to go the other way again." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
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: