A woman living in central Alberta says she nearly crashed her vehicle when she saw a Nazi flag and Confederate flag flying side-by-side at a rural property. For at least the past five years, a rural property owner who lives outside of Breton, southwest of Edmonton in Brazeau County, has displayed a Confederate flag at the entrance. On May 1, the owner added a Hitler Youth Nazi flag on the other side of his driveway. When a neighbour drove past his property on May 9, she said she couldn't believe her eyes, so she took a photo. CBC News has agreed to protect her identity for personal safety reasons. "I nearly drove off the road," she said. "It shocked me because that's not the community. That's why I lost my biscuit and started contacting people." She said she called the local RCMP detachment, Brazeau County and the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC) in Toronto. Owner refused to take down flags: police The FSWC contacted RCMP and filed a criminal complaint. Officers went to the property the same day and confirmed the existence of the flags. They asked the landowner to take the flags down and he refused, an RCMP spokesperson said. "Unfortunately, it doesn't surprise me," said Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, the FSWC's director of policy. "I think you can imagine that anybody that's motivated to put up a Confederate or a Nazi flag has some kind of agenda." Last week, a Hitler Youth flag was also spotted on a flagpole south of the village of Boyle in northern Alberta. The property owner there agreed to take it down when asked by RCMP. RCMP Const. Chantelle Kelly told CBC news that flying a flag is not in itself a criminal offence. Investigators are now trying to determine if flying those particular flags is enough to be charged with wilfully promoting hatred or inciting the public. She said RCMP would likely consult with the Crown to see if there's the necessary intent to file hate crime criminal charges. She was not able to provide a timeline on how long it would take to make a decision. The FSWC is encouraging RCMP to lay criminal charges. "These symbols are promoting hatred," Kirzner-Roberts said. "Here in Canada, the wilful promotion of hatred is illegal. It is a criminal act." Politician calls for removal of flags Brazeau County Reeve Bart Guyon said he doesn't know the homeowner, but hopes he'll decide to take down the flags he described as disturbing. "There's no time for this type of symbol of hatred and racism to be displayed anywhere, let alone in Brazeau County," Guyon said. "People are pretty stressed these days from all the different things going on and the last thing we need is one more thing to worry about." The woman who blew the whistle on the flags flying outside Breton hopes the property owner will have a change of heart. "I hope there's enough pressure that it makes it uncomfortable for him," she said. The incident has made the Guyon, the Brazeau Country reeve, very uncomfortable. "The world is changing," he said. "I hope this isn't the direction it's going."
NEW DELHI (AP) — Scores of dead bodies have been found floating down the Ganges River in eastern India as the country battles a ferocious surge in coronavirus infections. Authorities said Tuesday they haven't yet determined the cause of death. Health officials working through the night Monday retrieved 71 bodies, officials in Bihar state said. Images on social media of the bodies floating in the river prompted outrage and speculation that they died from COVID-19. Authorities performed post mortems on Tuesday but said they could not confirm the cause of death due to the decomposition of the bodies. More corpses were found floating in the river on Tuesday, washing up in Ghazipur district in neighboring Uttar Pradesh state. Police and villagers were at the site, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Monday’s incident. “We are trying to find out where did these dead bodies come from? How did they get here?” said Mangla Prasad Singh, a local official. Surinder, a resident of Ghazipur who uses one name, said villagers didn't have enough wood to cremate their dead on land. “Due to the shortage of wood, the dead are being buried in the water,” he said. “Bodies from around 12-13 villages have been buried in the water.” Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are experiencing rising COVID-19 cases as infections in India grow faster than anywhere else in the world. On Tuesday, the country confirmed nearly 390,000 new cases, including 3,876 more deaths. Overall, India has had the second highest number of confirmed cases after the U.S. with nearly 23 million and over 240,000 deaths. All of the figures are almost certainly a vast undercount, experts say. The Associated Press
The Higgs government is cutting income taxes to offset the impact of carbon taxes on the majority of New Brunswickers. Finance Minister Ernie Steeves introduced legislation Tuesday that would lower the tax rate on the lower income bracket from 9.68 per cent to 9.4 per cent, a rate that applies to the first $43,835 of income. The tax cut accounts for $28 million of the $163 million in carbon tax revenue the province will collect this year under a pricing system it adopted to comply with the federal government's requirements. "It is anticipated to benefit over 420,000 taxpayers, putting money back in the pockets of the taxpayers," Steeves said, as he introduced the bill. The Progressive Conservatives had faced calls to use the revenue on climate fund projects. Tax cut 'a sensible approach' But returning the money to New Brunswickers falls in line with calls by many economists and environmentalists. "It's a sensible approach," said University of Ottawa economist Nic Rivers, an expert on carbon pricing, who said it creates a disincentive to burn fossil fuels while giving people more money to stimulate the economy. Nic Rivers, an economist at the University of Ottawa, commended the province's tax cut in the context of offsetting the carbon tax.(Nicholas Rivers) "This is 'tax what you burn, not what you earn,'" Rivers said. Premier Blaine Higgs said it was always the goal of the federal plan to have at least a portion of carbon tax revenue refunded to consumers. "That was kind of the principle, and that's why we did it," he said. In provinces that have refused to adopt carbon prices, Ottawa is applying the tax and is sending people rebates. The national climate plan requires provinces to tax greenhouse gas emissions at $40 per tonne this year, which translates into 8.8 cents per litre of gasoline. Last year Higgs opted to slash the provincial gas excise tax to partially offset the carbon tax. But this year, rather than slash it even more — an approach Ottawa frowns on — he said he wanted to find another way to return some of the money to New Brunswickers. Use extra revenue to further reduce emissions, says opposition Opposition Liberal Leader Roger Melanson said he calculated the tax cut would work out to $68 per person per year. "It's not significant when you stop and do the math." Melanson said he'd rather see the $28 million used to pay for more government programs to reduce emissions. Opposition Liberal leader Roger Melanson says he wants to see the $28 million earned from income tax cuts used to fund programs to reduce emissions.(CBC News) Higgs said Melanson's per-person math "wouldn't be far off," but he said the reduction is an important signal the province wants lower taxes. "This is a start to continue the momentum that we're feeling right now in our province, the people who want to live here, who want to work here," he said. But he ruled out using the entire $163 million in carbon tax revenue for a much larger income tax cut. "There's a balance here," he said. The income tax cut only accounts for a small portion of the total carbon tax revenue this year, and $36 million will still be devoted to climate change projects, about the same as last year. Ottawa requires the carbon tax to increase each year, and the premier said he could lower income taxes further each year in tandem with carbon price hikes. "I'd like to say yes," he said. "A tax reduction is as good as a wage increase." Steeves's bill also raises the low-income tax threshold to $17,840 from $17,630. People below that threshold pay no provincial income tax.
TORONTO — The Toronto Zoo says an endangered tiger cub born just over a week ago has died after experiencing serious health issues. The zoo says in a Facebook post that the Amur tiger cub, one of three born on April 30, was euthanized Sunday evening. It says the decision was made after the cub's health deteriorated despite days of critical care by veterinarians. The zoo says the male cub started looking lethargic last Friday, and tests eventually showed it had severe liver damage and life-threatening electrolyte imbalances. The organization says an autopsy has since confirmed the liver damage and indicated the cub was not properly digesting milk. It says the two other cubs appear to be doing well and continue to be monitored by zoo staff. The cubs were born after their mother, an Amur tiger nicknamed Mazzy, was paired with the male tiger Vasili through a program meant to promote conservation. This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2021. The Canadian Press
ROME (AP) — Pope Francis on Tuesday formally created a new lay ministry to encourage greater participation of secular women and men in the teaching of the Catholic faith, especially in places where priests are in short supply. The new law creating the lay ministry of catechists officially recognizes for the universal Catholic Church a practice that has been used for centuries in local dioceses, and goes out of its way to emphasize women's participation in it. In many parts of the world, lay men and women introduce people to the Catholic faith, educate them on receiving the initial sacraments of baptism and Communion and accompany them in their faith journey. Soon, the Vatican’s liturgy office will publish a specific rite of installation to be used around the world when these lay catechists formally begin their ministry. Individual bishops conferences are being asked to develop guidelines to train them. It’s the latest reform by Francis to address longstanding complaints that lay people — and specifically women — have been shut out of all levels of church decision-making, governance and participation in favor of the all-male clerical class of priests, bishops and cardinals. Earlier this year Francis issued another law decreeing that women can be installed in the lay ministries of lectors, to read Scripture, and acolytes to serve on the altar as eucharistic ministers. Such roles had been officially reserved to men even though exceptions were made. Francis has firmly upheld Catholic doctrine that women cannot be ordained priests. He remains under pressure, however, to allow women to be deacons — ministers who perform many of the same functions as priests, such as presiding at weddings, baptisms and funerals. Currently, the ministry is reserved for men even though historians say the ministry was performed by women in the early church. The head of the Vatican’s evangelization office, Monsignor Rino Fisichella, denied that Francis' new lay ministries were a substitute for a possible female diaconate. He told reporters Tuesday that “each ministry has its uniqueness” with the lay faithful called to different ones. The Women’s Ordination Conference, which advocates for women priests, welcomed the new law as a long overdue affirmation of the “authentic vocational calls many women experience and the unique ways women enrich the church.” While repeating its call for the inclusion of women in ordained ministries of deacon and priest, it said the new law was evidence that “glacially, the Vatican is beginning to open its eyes to the possibility that women might be equal collaborators in faith.” In the new law, Francis recalled that throughout the history of the church, lay catechists have been fundamental in spreading the faith, particularly in mission territories. Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press
The final chapter of a land claim dating back more than 100 years has finally been closed. On Monday, the Mosquito-Grizzly Bear's Head-Lean Man First Nation announced a final settlement with the federal government for $141 million, plus interest. In January, the Specific Land Claims Tribunal gave the First Nation a $121 million settlement, acknowledging that the surrender of the land was invalid and that the Crown had breached its duties to the First Nation. The increase in the settlement money came from the passage of time since the land was appraised in 2017, as well as loss of use stemming from the time of the appraisal. The settlement came after decades of advocacy by the First Nation's members over 5,800 hectares of reserve land taken by the federal government in the Battlefords area in 1905. "The award of $141 million is a huge success for the Mosquito-Grizzly Bear's Head and Lean Man First Nation," read a statement from Chief Tanya Aguilar-Antiman. "Our people have been seeking a fair and just settlement for the unlawful taking of our lands for more than 26 years." The land claim was started back in the 1990s and the First Nation spent decades negotiating with the government. "Although the facts in this claim were egregious, the Chief and Council are proud that Canada and the First Nation have taken a meaningful step toward reconciliation, as reflected in the agreement of the parties," said Chief Aguilar-Antiman.
NAXOS, Greece (AP) — A vaccination program for Greek islands is being accelerated to cover all local residents by the end of June, the government announced Tuesday ahead of the launch of the tourism season. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said a nationwide priority system for age groups and medical vulnerability was being waived for permanent residents of nearly 100 islands. “This initiative is aimed at supporting local island communities and their economy and it also aspires to send a positive overall message for our tourism,” Mitsotakis said after a video conference with island mayors and regional governors. Greece is fighting to revive its key tourism sector that was battered by the pandemic in 2020 but its vaccination rates remain below the European Union average and the country has only recently stabilized a surge in cases. On the island of Naxos, a popular family holiday destination, officials welcomed the initiative. Mayor Dimitris Lianos told The Associated Press that the single dose vaccine manufactured by Johnson & Johnson was also being deployed to speed up the program. “By the end of June, all our year-round residents will be vaccinated and that’s very important for us because it creates a sense of safety for the people that live here and for the people who will visit our island,” Lianos said. Robin Rose Varthalitou, and 69-year-old Naxos resident from Wales said she was relieved the vaccination drive was expanding. “There's been no problem. No worries. It’s fine,” she said of the immunization program so far. "I reckon everybody should do it by law... This (pandemic) is a tragedy everywhere, financially and for people. A tragedy.” Islanders make up around 1.5 million of Greece’s population of 10.7 million. Many holiday islands have a year-round population of under 10,000, while Crete has the largest with more than 600,000 residents, followed by Evia, Rhodes, Corfu, Lesbos, and Chios. The tourism season officially opens Friday. ___ Derek Gatopoulos and Theodora Tongas in Athens contributed. Thanassis Stavrakis And Srdjan Nedeljkovic, The Associated Press
Health Minister Paul Merriman recently challenged Saskatchewan millennials to match the high COVID-19 vaccination numbers recorded so far among the province's older populations. Like the cool kids say: Challenge accepted. Statistics reported daily by the Ministry of Health show Saskatchewan residents in their 30s are taking their first doses at a rapid clip. As of May 9, just over a quarter of Saskatchewan residents aged 30 to 39 — or 27 per cent of the province's estimated 183,246 thirtysomethings — had received their first dose of vaccine. That level of vaccination, among one of the province's largest age populations, was reached only six days after the first chunk of the 30s cohort, people aged 37 to 39, were allowed to book vaccine appointments starting on May 4 —aside from any young workers or vulnerable people offered early doses, that is. In the days since, eligibility has opened up to people aged 32 to 36. But the 27-per-cent vaccination level reported Monday was reached even though remaining cohort members aged 30 and 31 only became eligible on Monday morning and therefore did not factor into those latest vaccine takeup numbers. (Government of Saskatchewan) What's more, Saskatchewan residents in their 30s reached the benchmark of one quarter of their population receiving one dose more quickly than either people in their 40s or 50s. By comparison, one quarter of fortysomethings were vaccinated with a single dose as of April 28 — 13 days after the first segment of that group, people aged 48 and 49, could book an appointment. Meanwhile, 26 per cent of Saskatchewan people in their fifties had been inoculated once against COVID-19 as of April 12 — 11 days after the first segment of that group, people aged 58 and 59, became eligible for vaccination. Seniors prioritized in rollout Data on when people in their 60s reached the 25-per-cent first-dose level was not available at the time due to an update in the province's reporting systems, according to the ministry. Exactly when people in their 70s and 80s hit that goal is also unclear because the ministry's table on vaccine uptake did not become a staple of its daily reporting until late March, by which point the vaccination of Saskatchewan's seniors was well underway. However, by March 23, 30 per cent of Saskatchewan residents in their 70s had received one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. That's 11 days after the first segment of people in that age group, people 76 and older, became eligible. Many caveats should be noted when comparing vaccine take up between age groups, not the least of which is vaccine supply, which has ebbed and flowed at various points in Saskatchewan's vaccine rollout but increased considerably as of last week. More location options, including drive-thrus and pharmacies, have launched since the early days of the vaccine rollout. Also worth considering is that young prioritized health care workers may have been vaccinated early. On the other hand, seniors and others living in care homes were also among those prioritized for early vaccination ahead of younger portions of the general population and had vaccine clinics come to them, as opposed to having to travel to a clinic or drive-thru. As of Sunday, 88 per cent of Saskatchewan seniors aged 80 and over had received one dose — the highest uptake rate of any age group. Initially, the Ministry of Health reported separately on vaccine levels among care home residents and seniors living independently. Now all seniors are simply recorded in the same age categories, regardless of whether they were inoculated while in a care home or not. Merriman, the health minister, expressed hope late last week that the strong vaccination numbers among seniors would be bested by younger generations. "It'd be very interesting to see if the millennials could take up that challenge," Merriman said. "They seem to be very interested in challenges these days. It seems to be the trending thing online." For more stories of vaccinated Saskatchewan thirtysomethings, click here.
A New Brunswick mom whose seven-year-old was hospitalized after eating what he thought were Oreo cookies is calling for a crackdown on cannabis-product packaging. Tobi Russo, who lives on Eel Ground First Nation southwest of Miramichi and is recovering from surgery, says she was having a rest on the couch Saturday morning when her youngest son, Moises, came upstairs to tell her he wasn't feeling well. Russo said it was plain to see he was in distress — his pupils were dilated and he was having heart palpitations — and she asked him what had happened. He told her he'd eaten some cookies, and she asked him to bring her the package. Russo was astonished: the packaging looked strikingly similar to the packaging for Oreo cookies, right down to the distinctive shiny blue cellophane wrap, and the font on the image of a chocolate creme cookie against a splash of white cream in the background. Except that they were in fact Stoneo cookies, by "Dabisco," which is not a legal product, and contained a total of 500 mg of THC. For comparison, a typical legal edibles product for sale at Cannabis NB contains between 2.5 and 10 mg of THC. Moises had eaten both of the cookies in the package. Alarmed, Russo called the poison control line and an ambulance. Moises was taken to Miramichi Regional Hospital, where he was diagnosed with an overdose and was hospitalized and monitored for 24 hours. He's home now and safe, and is not expected to have any long-term health issues because of the incident, but it has left Russo badly shaken. Stoneo cannabis cookies are sold in packaging that is almost identical to Oreo cookies packaging. (Weed Deals ) Cookies brought into home without her knowledge Russo said she had no idea the cookies had been brought into the house. "I live a drug- and alcohol-free life," said Russo, who has worked as an addictions counsellor. "If I would have known they were in the house, I would have destroyed them." There are adult relatives and four children, including teenagers, in the house, and there are friends who come and go, Russo said. She is quick to point out that she isn't trying to spark a "witch hunt" in her household or in her community. If anything, she said, she blames herself. "I am his mother and I'm responsible for what comes into this house," Russo said. Her real beef is with the companies that appear to directly target children with packaging that is dangerously similar to that of products they love. Stoneo cookies, by Canadian online dispensary Weed Deals, are just one example. There are Stoner Patch Kidz gummies, whose packaging mimics the distinctive packaging of Sour Patch Kids gummy candies, Fruit Gushers medicated gummies, Nerds Rope candy, and others. All of them mimic the original candies, from the packaging colour to the font to the graphic design. Oreo brand tries to stop 'misappropriation' "These big corporations should have a responsibility to not make it so inviting" to children, Russo said. "Adults would buy these products whether they had fancy packaging or not, they would buy it for the effect, so there's really no need to make it look all fun and fanciful." CBC News has reached out to Weed Deals, which sells the Stoneo cookies and other edibles, but did not immediately receive a response. On Tuesday, Mondelez International, which owns Oreo and many other snack brands, said in a statement that it takes the misuse of its products and brands seriously and "will act as necessary to protect consumers from actions that misrepresent" them. "In this case, the misappropriation of our OREO name and our packaging to sell THC-containing products is particularly troubling as the use of our designs may make the products more attractive and appealing to children," the statement said. "While we have reported the misuse to various agencies globally, we feel strongly about taking action to defend the OREO brand and to prevent its use by third parties to sell unregulated and infringing products. …Our products are safe to consume." Oreo cookies packaging. (Mondelez International) First Nation dispensary drops products The sale of cannabis in Canada has had some grey areas from the start. While Cannabis NB is the only legal retailer of cannabis in New Brunswick, First Nations leaders have argued that their communities weren't consulted when the Cannabis Act was being established, and that they do in fact have the right to sell cannabis in their own territories. Federal cannabis laws will come up for a three-year review this fall, giving First Nations an opportunity to make a new deal with the Canadian government that would allow them to sell legally. Cannabis NB does not sell Stoneo or other edibles that do not conform to Health Canada's quality control standards and guidelines, including packaging and THC levels. But such products are available online and at some dispensaries throughout the province, including some First Nation dispensaries, and calls for something to be done about their packaging are mounting. On Monday night, the co-owner of a cannabis dispensary on the Eel Ground First Nation, also known as Natoaganeg, posted a statement on Facebook announcing it will be dropping all products that employ the brand-mimicking tactic in the wake of Moises' accidental overdose. Although we may not be able to convince a company to alter their marketing strategies, we can make a difference by choosing not to offer these products in our store. - Devin Ward, co-owner of Lefty's Canna dispensary Lefty's Canna did not sell the Stoneo product in question, Devin Ward noted in his statement. However, he said, distributors have a responsibility to ensure that "incidents like the one this past weekend are avoided." "Ultimately, we are a collection of families that operates Lefty's. We have kids of our own and really sympathize with this unfortunate situation," he said in the statement. "Although we may not be able to convince a company to alter their marketing strategies, we can make a difference by choosing not to offer these products in our store." In an interview Monday night, Ward, himself a father of young boys, explained that Moises' hospital scare "hit close to home." "Moises is the same age as my son, they were in kindergarten together a few years ago. We know them on a personal level, so it was upsetting," he said. Devin Ward, with wife Kayla and their sons, Dexter, left, and Jackson. Ward co-owns a dispensary on the Eel Ground First Nation and said Monday night that the dispensary will be dropping all products whose packaging mimics brands known to children.(Submitted by Devin Ward) Public Health to discuss incident with Health Canada In an email Tuesday, New Brunswick's Public Health department said it was not aware of the packaging, but now plans to share the information with Health Canada. "We will share with Health Canada colleagues for followup as they are responsible for packaging," department spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane said. He noted individuals can also report concerns to Health Canada, via the Cannabis Reporting Form section on Health Canada's website. Health Canada said Monday that it is looking into the matter. MLA commends Russo for coming forward Michelle Conroy, the People's Alliance MLA for Miramichi, also knows Russo and Moises. On Monday, Conroy called Moises' close call "horrifying," and questioned how companies can be allowed to blatantly target children in their marketing of adult products. "We've been seeing posts about Doritos bags, candies and gummies, all of which are pointed towards children's treats. … it's very concerning." Conroy praised Russo for sharing her story, knowing that she would face online trolling and posting hurtful comments. "I really commend her for having the bravery to come forward because it will bring a lot of awareness to people who have no idea this is even happening," Conroy said. "I have two teenage boys here and you never know who's coming and going half the time, they're in the basement, they're bringing in treats and snacks … it can easily happen." Conroy said she'd like to see "stronger rules" around the packaging of such products, similar to the rules around cigarettes, and plans to look into the matter further. "It's really alarming that this can be done on any level," she said. "I don't think they should be able to do this at all."
A shutdown of the Windsor Assembly Plant that started in late March has been extended once again. The Stellantis factory is one of many in the auto sector affected by a global shortage of semiconductors, which are used in electronics. Other automakers, such as Ford and General Motors, have slashed production. The plant, which produces minivans including the Chrysler Pacifica, Voyager and Grand Caravan, was slated to be closed for a four-week period starting on March 29. The reopening has been delayed several times. On Monday, Unifor Local 444 said the plant will be closed for the week of May 17. "The company has informed the Union that the Windsor Assembly Plant will be down the week of May 17th," the union said in a social media post. A spokesperson for Stellantis confirmed the plant will be shut down next week because of the "unprecedented global microchip shortage." "Stellantis continues to work closely with our suppliers to mitigate the manufacturing impacts caused by the various supply chain issues facing our industry," spokesperson LouAnn Gosselin said in a statement. The auto company, formerly known as Fiat Chrysler, employs roughly 5,000 people at the Windsor Assembly Plant. The factory has been shuttered twice this year because of the semiconductor shortage. In February, production was halted for three weeks. During the plant's downtime, workers are eligible to receive Employment Insurance benefits, and some get a union-negotiated top up that brings their wages up to about 80 per cent of their regular earnings. Nick Dimitriou, who has been an employee for 26 years, said he's lucky to get that supplement. But he worries about those who are not eligible, including some junior workers. "Those that don't have that negotiated into their contracts, my heart goes out to them and it is a struggle," he said. He said he's been helping out family and his community during the extended downtime. "You try to keep busy. You gotta stay healthy, right?" he said.
REGINA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canadians can expect a “one-dose summer" as more COVID-19 vaccines are delivered, but Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says people in his province can expect better than that. "The fact of the matter is, we’re not going to have a Trudeau summer here in Saskatchewan," Moe told a news conference Tuesday. “We’re going to have a one-dose spring and quite likely a two-dose summer, as we are planning to have second doses available to everyone in the province by sometime in the middle of July.” About 40 per cent of Canadians are vaccinated with at least a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Saskatchewan is running ahead of national numbers, with about 50 per cent of adults — and more than 70 per cent of those aged 40 and over — having already received their first dose. That 70 per cent marker is one of the key thresholds in the first step of Saskatchewan's reopening plan, which Moe said he expects will come into effect on May 30. That will be three weeks after 70 per cent of adults over 40 have had a first dose, and the province expects all Saskatchewan adults will be eligible to be vaccinated by that date as well. Moe said this gradual reopening plan meets the province’s public health and economic needs, even if the initial vaccination threshold is lower than the federal government’s recommendation to vaccinate 75 per cent of adults before loosening restrictions. “I think it’s important for us to recognize — and important for the prime minister to recognize — that we’re not going to just turn a switch and the economy comes on when we hit 75 per cent or some magic number,” said Moe. “You need to gradually reopen the economy, bring people back into their communities and allow people time to reintegrate back into what life used to be like.” The province is expecting to start administering second doses later this month. There were 186 new infections reported Tuesday, and four more deaths due to the virus. The province said there were 2,064 active cases and 162 people in the hospital, with 38 in intensive care. After hundreds of demonstrators attended protests over COVID-19 restrictions in Regina and Saskatoon over the weekend, Moe reminded those who are frustrated that vaccines — not protests — are the best way to get those measures lifted. “The absolute, bar-none, best way to have the public health measures removed is to make your appointment, go receive your first vaccine and as soon as you’re eligible … get your second shot,” he said. With "a very, very few" number of Oxford-AstraZeneca shots left in the province, Moe said health officials are also tweaking some of their vaccine rollout plans. Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone said the province is no longer using AstraZeneca vaccines for first doses due to a lack of supply. “We simply don’t have enough of the vaccine in the province,” he said. Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, said he is following ongoing studies about the efficacy of mixing and matching vaccines. “There is good information emerging — and we will be confirming the same over the next two weeks — that Pfizer especially as a second dose is perfectly safe and effective if your first dose was AstraZeneca,” he said. “And if we have AstraZeneca at that time, it can be offered as well. (But) either vaccine is fine and, likely, based on supply, Pfizer would be the second dose." This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2021. — By Julia Peterson in Saskatoon The Canadian Press
A former prison guard at the Nova Institute for Women in Truro, N.S., is going to trial next March on charges of sexual assault and breach of trust involving five inmates at the prison. A lawyer for Brian Lee Wilson, 54, appeared before Justice Timothy Gabriel of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court Tuesday morning to discuss logistics for the jury trial, which is expected to take two weeks. Wilson faces 13 charges including sexual assault, communicating for the purposes of obtaining sexual services and breach of trust of a public official. The Crown alleges Wilson assaulted the five women during the summer of 2018 when he was a guard and they were all inmates. He no longer works at the prison and some of the women have since been released. During Tuesday's conference call, Wilson's lawyer indicated the criminal histories of the five complainants will be a factor in the trial. The Crown said a sitting senator is among the witnesses he expects to call, and that may require special security for the trial. While the Crown didn't name the senator, Kim Pate's name is on a long list of people Wilson must stay away from. Pate has been a leading advocate for prison reform in Canada and is the former executive director of the Elizabeth Fry societies. Wilson remains free on conditions. Earlier this year, a Halifax law firm launched a lawsuit against the federal attorney general, alleging the office has failed to do enough to protect women in custody from assaults by prison staff. MORE TOP STORIES
With record numbers of COVID-19 patients in Nova Scotia, a team at Nova Scotia Health has been working around the clock to fine-tune a program that will monitor those who are sick at home. It's a system they believe is the only one of its kind in the country — and it's why the health authority has been pleading with those who are waiting for test results to answer their phones. Dr. Ashley Miller, the chief medical information officer for the province, and Graeme Kohler, the director of primary health care in the northern zone, came up with COVID Community Virtual Care during the first wave. Aggressive variants have put new pressure on their ability to stay in contact with hundreds of people at a time as the province grapples to contain the coronavirus. "We're actually looking to intervene quicker because we don't want people to be at home, unwell, and missing the window of opportunity to be treated in the hospital," said Miller. The nasopharyngeal test to detect COVID-19 involves inserting a swab into the nasal cavity.(Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images) So what happens if you test positive in Nova Scotia? It starts with that phone call. On the other line is a physician or clinician who will deliver the test results, and then do an immediate assessment on the patient. They'll ask about any other medical conditions, and flag any high-risk people to a separate group that will be monitored closely. Miller said she has made many of those phone calls herself. Many express fear, but Miller said she tries to ease their concerns. "I will say overwhelmingly that people have communicated to us that they feel reassured that they're hearing from a health-care provider and they're connected with this team," she said. At-home monitoring The patient will then be asked if they want a pulse oximeter. It's a small monitor that is easily placed on the finger and tracks oxygen levels. If the patient agrees, one will be sent to their doorstep within 24 hours. Miller said they've sent hundreds of them out in the last 72 hours alone. The package comes with instructions on how to use the monitor, as well as a phone number to reach an on-call physician directly. If an otherwise healthy person's oxygen level is below 92, they are told to call the physician immediately. For pregnant women, that threshold is 94 per cent. Those numbers mean the patient needs to be admitted in the hospital. Pulse oximeters are shipped to a patient's door within 24 hours. They're told to check their oxygen levels at least twice a day. If their oxygen drops below a certain level, they're immediately admitted to the hospital.(Antonio Calanni/The Associated Press) The percentages are actually higher than the 90 per cent benchmark that was used in the first wave — a reflection of how fast the new variants progress, said Miller. Tracking oxygen can be crucial in showing what is really going on. Miller points to cases where people have died suddenly at home. Sometimes, people who have low oxygen levels can still talk without getting out of breath. "That's the rationale for our program," she said. "We recognized very early on that sometimes people can have quite low oxygen levels but they don't really feel it." Nova Scotia Health received 1,000 pulse oximeters through a grant from the QEII Health Foundation, and the health authority recently bought thousands more to ensure that anyone who wants home monitoring will receive one. Miller said home monitoring has already led to several Nova Scotians being admitted in the third wave, and they were taken to hospital with minimal contact with others. "They actually were able to bypass the emergency department, and that's a pretty incredible feat," she said. Missed calls a significant issue Miller and Kohler said the program hinges on people picking up their phones, so the physicians don't have to spend their time trying to find other contact information. Kohler estimated 20 per cent of calls go unanswered, even though people know they're waiting for their test results. He acknowledged part of the problem has been that call display shows an unknown caller, and they won't leave a voicemail. Some people refuse to answer calls from unknown numbers because they assume it's a scam. Kohler, the director of primary health care in the northern zone, worked with Miller to create the home-monitoring program. He says one of their biggest problems is that people aren't answering their phones. (Carolyn Ray/CBC) Kohler said nearly all physicians and clinicians who are making the diagnosis calls will have phones that read NS Health on the display as of Wednesday. He said they'll also send text messages, telling people they are about to call and they need to answer their phones. Once someone picks up, they'll be asked for the last four digits of their health card number and their birthdate. "You have every right to ask for us to repeat back to you your full health card number and also to provide something else," Kohler suggested for those who still feel uncertain. But after spending nearly a year figuring out this system, Kohler and Miller are hopeful they are helping people before they realize they need it. MORE TOP STORIES
As some experts continue to warn of very rare side effects associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, Canadian health officials are now reviewing the research on mixing various COVID-19 shots. A study of a "mismatched" vaccine regimen is underway in the U.K. — but some scientists say there's reason to believe that administering two doses of different products could boost a person's immune response beyond what can be achieved by giving the same shot twice. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) caused some confusion earlier this month when it said the viral vector shot from AstraZeneca is not the "preferred" product given its associated risk of vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) — a condition that causes blood clots. That warning came out after hundreds of thousands of Canadians had received the AstraZeneca vaccine already. According to the Ontario Science Table, estimates of the frequency of VITT in individuals who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine now range from 1 case in 26,000 to 1 case in 127,000 doses administered. The risk of developing this side effect, combined with an uncertain delivery schedule for future supply, has prompted some provinces to consider pausing AstraZeneca vaccinations altogether. Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief provincial public health officer, said Sunday a temporary suspension "has been discussed at many levels, and certainly discussed at our provincial program right now." Christine Elliott, Ontario's health minister, said Monday that recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine may receive a different shot for their second dose. While the AstraZeneca product has been deemed safe and effective repeatedly by Health Canada regulators, some people who already have received that vaccine are now looking at their options. What does the research say about mixing vaccines? Researchers at Oxford University in the U.K. launched a study in early February to explore the possible benefits of alternating different COVID-19 vaccines. According to the lead scientists, the study is "looking for clues as to how to increase the breadth of protection against new virus strains." The study — otherwise known as the COVID-19 Heterologous Prime Boost study, or "Com-COV" — is collecting data to determine whether receiving two different types of vaccine generates an immune response at least equal to the response that follows receiving the same product twice. (A "heterologous" vaccination regimen is one that uses more than one product.) Some early results may be available soon; the study team told CBC News it's "anticipating sharing data in the next week or so." People line up outside an immunization clinic to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton on April 20, 2021.(Jason Franson/The Canadian Press) All of the shots currently in use in Canada and the U.K. follow the same two-dose schedule, with a "prime" dose followed by a second "boost" dose some weeks later. (The one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot has been approved for use in Canada but it has not yet been administered.) The Oxford researchers are evaluating the effects of vaccine combinations — comparing the results of a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine followed by either the Pfizer vaccine or a second AstraZeneca dose, or a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine followed by either the AstraZeneca or a second dose of the Pfizer. A second study, called Com-COV 2, includes the products from Moderna and Novavax as booster vaccines. Jonathan Van-Tam is the deputy chief medical officer for England and one of the senior officials responsible for this study. He said this research will "give us greater insight into how we can use vaccines to stay on top of this nasty disease." "It is possible that by combining vaccines, the immune response could be enhanced, giving even higher antibody levels that last longer," he said in a statement. "Unless this is evaluated in a clinical trial, we just won't know." Dr. Helen Fletcher is a professor of immunology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the U.K. She said a "mismatched" vaccine program would deliver some practical benefits — vaccine delivery logistics would be greatly simplified — but there could be another good reason to pursue a mixed-dose regimen. The prospect of a 'stronger immune response' "I'm excited about the study because I think it's likely that the immune response will be even better if you mix and match vaccines," Fletcher said in an interview with CBC News. "Mixing vaccines could give you a stronger immune response, or it could give a broader type of immune response — generating a wider range of antibodies, or T cells as well as antibodies. It's also possible that a mix and match regimen could strengthen our immune response against virus variants because of this stronger or broader immunity." Vaccines teach the immune system — which includes both antibodies and T-cells — to recognize part of a virus. A T cell is a type of white blood cell that responds to viral infections and boosts the immune function of other cells. Vials of the COVID-19 vaccine are seen on a filling machine at the Serum Institute of India, Pune, India, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021.(Rafiq Maqbool/Associated Press) A single dose of either the AstraZeneca or Pfizer shots has been found to generate a significant antibody response to the novel coronavirus. But a recent study by the U.K. Coronavirus Immunology Consortium and the University of Birmingham found that the AstraZeneca vaccine may actually induce a stronger cellular immune response than the Pfizer shot. So a combination of the two shots "could lead to a higher quantity of antibody, but it can also broaden the immune response," Fletcher said. Is there any history of mixing different vaccines like this? Yes. Fletcher said people have been combining vaccine types for several decades in an effort to boost immune responses to malaria, tuberculosis, HIV and cancers. A mixed vaccine regimen was approved for Ebola last year. "When we give immunizations to infants, we use several different types of vaccine over a period of months and years with no safety concerns," Fletcher said. Are there any risks associated with a mismatched regimen? Fletcher said there have been no reports of any side effects beyond the ones already reported when the vaccines are administered individually. "The Com-COV study will, of course, be looking very closely at safety and it's great that this is being carefully monitored as part of a clinical trial, but I would not anticipate any safety problem with mixing vaccines," she said. Different vaccines administered as part of a two-dose regime do not directly interact with each other, as the vaccine particles are swiftly cleared by the immune system within days of immunization, Fletcher said. "There's no remaining vaccine mRNA or vaccine viral vector around when you give a second dose," she said. Jorg Fritz, a microbiology and immunology professor at McGill University, said he doesn't see why there would be any additional danger involved in receiving two different vaccines. Fritz said he also thinks it would be better to mix two vaccines that use different technologies than to wait too long to give the second shot. "I think it's more important to get a booster vaccination to have a more robust and more durable immune response against the viral proteins than using the same technology," Fritz told the Canadian Press. What have Canadian officials said about this? Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said last week the current guidance is for AstraZeneca recipients to get a second dose of the same product, but NACI is now reviewing the Oxford research on mixing AstraZeneca with an mRNA shot. "There will be further advice forthcoming on that second dose based on the evolving science. We should watch this space," Tam said. "All of the vaccines being used in Canada are targeting the virus' spike protein, so I think the science will look not just at whether the mixed schedule is safe, but whether that's actually an even better approach than using exactly the same vaccine for the two doses. Those questions remain to be answered." Would we have enough mRNA doses for a mix-and-match program? Probably. According to Health Canada, at least 1,540,000 AstraZeneca doses have been administered in Canada as of May 1. Thousands of Canadians have been vaccinated since then. With delivery of millions more mRNA shots expected over the coming months — Pfizer alone will deliver 2 million shots each week in May before ramping up to 2.4 million a week next month — there should be enough shots on hand to vaccinate AstraZeneca recipients with a second dose of a second product. But provinces may have to hold back some Pfizer supply to make this work. Canada has ordered 48 million Pfizer doses — 5.5 million were delivered in the January-through-March period, 24.2 million will arrive in the second quarter of this year and 18.3 million more are to follow between July and September. That's enough shots to vaccinate 24 million people with two doses. If some of that product is earmarked for people who already have doses of AstraZeneca, that leaves less product for first doses. Moderna is also expected to deliver 12.3 million doses of its mRNA product in the April-through-June period, with millions more doses expected in the third quarter of this year. WATCH: Canada will soon have enough doses to offer vaccines to all who want them Maj. Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading vaccine logistics at the Public Health Agency of Canada, said last Thursday that officials are "only starting to do deliberate planning on second doses." "What I would tell you is provinces and territories have a good handle on what they need. They keep tabs on who is getting which vaccine," he said. "Everybody is working on a very deliberate plan making sure people get the right vaccine when they're supposed to receive it." Will Canada shorten the time between shots? Possibly. NACI said in early March that, given the limited vaccine supply, provinces and territories may want to wait up to 16 weeks between first and second doses to give more people at least some level of protection. The provinces have since followed this guidance, with a few exceptions. For example, many long-term care home residents have been fully vaccinated on the timeline recommended by the vaccine makers. Pfizer calls for a second dose 21 days after the first, while Moderna stipulates the second shot should come 28 days later. Ontario announced Monday that it would begin offering second doses to some high-risk groups this week. "As more vaccines come in, that interval can be shorter," Tam said.
EDMONTON — Alberta's environment department has known for years that toxins from old coal mines are contaminating populations of the province's official animal, the bighorn sheep. Jeff Kneteman, a now-retired senior biologist with Alberta Environment, says the department failed to follow up his research showing high selenium levels in sheep living on the sites of old mines. The government's own management plan for bighorns acknowledges the problem as far back as 2015. But Kneteman says he was unable to interest the department in finding out what was going on. Kneteman says his research showed selenium in those sheep were "miles higher" than in any other population in the province. He says those sheep have some of the worst reproductive success of any herd he's measured, which is one of the effects of selenium contamination. The news comes as the United Conservative government tries to convince Albertans that its regulatory and monitoring system can protect against the negative effects of more coal mining in the Rocky Mountains. The Canadian Press
TAIPEI (Reuters) -Taiwan's foreign minister criticised what he called China's "shameless lies" on Tuesday in an escalating dispute about Beijing blocking the island from the World Health Organization (WHO), saying China clearly did not care about Taiwan's people. The United States and the rich-nation Group of Seven (G7) have called for Chinese-claimed but democratically ruled Taiwan to attend the WHO's decision-making body, the World Health Assembly, which meets from May 24. Taiwan is excluded from most global organisations such as the WHO because of the objections of China, which considers the island one of its provinces not a country.
Ellie sits like so many Great Dane do....what we call "sitting like the peoples do". Dane problems!
A woman who says she was sexually assaulted by a man she met online told a Charlottetown jury on Tuesday that she felt shocked and violated by what happened. Stephanie Douglas was testifying at the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island trial of the accused man. He is Edward Thomas Mundle, 58. The Charlottetown man has pleaded not guilty to the single charge of sexual assault. Douglas's name is not covered by a publication ban, as is usually the case in Canadian sexual assault trials, because she has told the Crown she wants people to hear what she has to say. Consensual relationship began in 2013 On Tuesday, Douglas testified that she had been in "a no-strings-attached relationship" with Mundle after they met on the dating website Plenty of Fish in 2013. This photo shows Stephanie Douglas in 2013, the year she met Edward Mundle through the dating website Plenty of Fish. (Court exhibit) That relationship included sex with dominant and submissive role-playing, both sides agree. "It was consensual so I had no issues with it," Douglas testified about those early dates. Yet Douglas told the court she did not give her consent for what she alleges happened to her in the early hours of New Year's Day, 2014. It was more painful than trying to give birth. It was the most physical pain I had been subject to up to that point in my life. - Stephanie Douglas She testified that Mundle disregarded their pre-arranged safe word, "Rumpelstiltskin," and sexually assaulted her using a handheld sex toy. "All I felt was excruciating pain," she said in court. "It was more painful than trying to give birth. It was the most physical pain I had been subject to up to that point in my life." Douglas said she couldn't at first process what had happened, as she'd been drinking rum: "I didn't have the capacity to think clearly." More than a week after the incident, she said, having experienced bleeding, fever and chills, she called for an ambulance. She was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown and spent three weeks there. She testified that the diagnosis was life-threatening sepsis, a severe type of bacterial infection. "I walk with a cane now," she said. "Back in 2013 I did not. I was quite active … I did not have chronic pain, PTSD, liver damage [or] kidney decline." Reliability, cause of infection disputed Mundle's lawyer's cross-examination is focusing on the reliability of Douglas's version of events — and the cause of her infection. Defence lawyer Peter Ghiz is pointing to hundreds of pages of medical records that he says suggest Douglas was dealing with psychiatric issues at the time of the incident, and for years leading up to it. Edward Thomas Mundle, 58, has pleaded not guilty to the charge of sexual assault against Stephanie Douglas. (Brian Higgins/CBC) On Tuesday afternoon, he cross-examined her about a diagnosis of PTSD in British Columbia in 2016, and her treatment by a psychiatrist in Halifax before she moved to P.E.I. for the second time in 2013. He also asked about prescription medications she had taken. Then he moved on to questions about the sex toy she said had been used to assault her. Douglas acknowledged it was hers. She said she took it home with her after the New Year's Day incident and threw it away years later. Complaint laid in 2017 Douglas told the court that she wrestled for a long time with the pros and cons of going to police, not sure they would believe she was assaulted. She finally laid a complaint in 2017, about three years after the alleged incident. Mundle elected trial by judge and jury, so a panel of four women and eight men is hearing the case. Proceedings resume on Wednesday. More from CBC P.E.I.
Nova Scotia reported 118 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, but with more recoveries than new cases, the province's active caseload has dropped. There are now 1,591 known active cases, down from Monday's caseload of 1,655. Of the newly reported cases, 98 cases are in central health zone, 11 in eastern zone, five in western zone and four in northern zone. There are 64 people in hospital, including 10 in the intensive care unit. Labs in the province finished processing 4,421 COVID-19 tests on Monday. Nova Scotia expanded eligibility Tuesday morning for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to those aged 40-44. As of Tuesday's update from the province, 374,903 doses of vaccine had been administered. Nearly 35 per cent of the population has received at least one dose. Resumption of low-risk exposure notifications On Tuesday, Nova Scotia's health authority announced Public Health was resuming its practice of issuing low-risk exposure notifications. "If at these low-risk locations, such as retail and grocery stores, it is recommended that those present during the date and time listed get tested," said a news release. "Unless you have symptoms, you do not need to self-isolate. Public Health strongly encourages all Nova Scotians to regularly get tested for COVID-19." Shutdown at part of Halifax Shipyard On Tuesday evening, Irving Shipbuilding said production work for ship repair operations on HMCS Ville de Québec would be shut down Tuesday night and through the day shift Wednesday. Spokesperson Mary Keith said approximately 350 shipbuilding employees, contractors and subcontracted labour are affected by the shutdown. HMCS Ville de Québec heads past the Irving-owned Halifax Shipyard on Dec. 4, 2017.(Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press) She said a worker tested positive for COVID-19, so rapid testing was held at the shipyard Tuesday and three additional cases were detected. Keith said those workers are now at home self-isolating and awaiting the results of PCR tests. "Out of an abundance of caution, we are shutting down work," she said. Health Protection Act violations Halifax Regional Police said Tuesday three people were fined $2,000 each in Dartmouth for violating the Health Protection Act. Police received a report that a woman was not self-isolating as required. She was ticketed Monday morning after officers investigated. That night, police fined a woman and a man after getting a report about a gathering on Nadia Drive in Dartmouth that appeared to violate the restrictions. Atlantic Canada case numbers MORE TOP STORIES
Major crimes investigators in B.C.'s southeast say they've located a person of interest in the suspicious death of 35-year-old Brenda Ware near Radium, B.C. The BC RCMP Southeast District Major Crime Unit announced that 41-year-old Philip Toner was found Tuesday morning by officers with the Lake Country detachment. "Major crime investigators continue to pursue all avenues of investigation into the suspicious death of Brenda Ware," RCMP Supt. Sanjaya Wijayakoon said in a statement. "There continues to be no known threat to public safety at this time." Police have said Toner and Ware were known to each other, but they have not released information about the nature of their relationship. They have also not described Toner as a suspect. Ware's body was found May 6, 54 kilometres northeast of Radium, along Highway 93. She had been travelling from Didsbury, Alta., through Kootenay National Park. Police have deemed her death suspicious but have not released any details about what happened. Investigators have asked anyone who saw Ware or her vehicle from May 4 to May 6 to contact them at 1-877-987-8477. They'd also like to speak with anybody who may have encountered hitchhikers in the area or who has dashcam video from Kootenay National Park between May 5 and 6.