After genetic testing revealed two Saskatchewan sisters had a mutation that increased their chances of developing a deadly type of stomach cancer, they face agonizing decisions to save their lives.
After genetic testing revealed two Saskatchewan sisters had a mutation that increased their chances of developing a deadly type of stomach cancer, they face agonizing decisions to save their lives.
An envoy hired to defuse tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous commercial lobster fishermen in Nova Scotia has released a bleak interim report highlighting poor communication and a lack of trust between both sides. The report by Université Sainte-Anne president Allister Surette found perhaps the only thing the fishermen can agree on is blaming the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for the situation. "The lack of trust and respect has been presented to me by many of the individuals I interviewed," Surette said in his interim report filed with Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan and Carolyn Bennett, minister for Indigenous-Crown relations. "Firstly, I have heard from Indigenous and non-Indigenous parties of the lack of trust in government," Surette wrote. "Added to this level of the lack of trust and respect, some interviewed also expressed the lack of trust and respect within parties involved in the fishery and I also heard of the lack of trust and respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals, stakeholder groups and organizations." Appointed by Ottawa Surette was named special federal representative by the Trudeau government after an outbreak of violence and protests at the launch of an Indigenous moderate livelihood lobster fishery by the Sipekne'katik band in St. Marys Bay last fall. The band cited the Mi'kmaq's right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood, recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999 but never defined by Ottawa. The fishery was conducted outside of the regulated season for commercial lobster licence holders in Lobster Fishing Area 34, who objected saying the fishery was a blatant violation of fishery regulations. The reaction included alleged assaults, arson, blockades, volleys of wharfside profanity and online venom. It garnered international attention. The blowup capped years of tensions over an escalating Sipekne'katik food, social and ceremonial lobster fishery in St. Marys Bay that was, in some cases, used as a cloak for a commercial fishery. Lobster caught under food, social and ceremonial licences cannot be sold. In one case, a Crown prosecutor said the lobster caught under those licences from Sipekne'katik supplied an international "black market operation." Despite a number of federal initiatives to integrate the Mi'kmaq into the fishery since 1999 — including half a billion dollars for training and buying out and providing commercial licences — there has been a lack of progress defining moderate livelihood and implementing the fishery. Expectations of the First Nations were not met, leaving many of them to doubt the sincerity of DFO, Surette reported. Debate over enforcement Surette said the issue is complex and will not be easily solved. Non-Indigenous fishermen have argued there is not enough enforcement when it comes to Indigenous lobster fishing while the bands have complained of harassment. "However, the point to note on this matter, and more closely related to my mandate, seems to be the lack of clear direction from the government of Canada and the multiple facets and complexity of implementing the right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood," he said in the report. Surette's mandate is not to negotiate but rather to "restore confidence, improve relations" and make recommendations to the politicians. His interim report calls for more dialogue to build trust, suggesting areas of declared common interest like conservation and marketing. A lack of information from DFO was a recurrent complaint from the commercial fishermen, said Surette. "There should be some type of formal process for the non-Indigenous to be kept up to speed, especially the harvesters, since this could affect their livelihood. Some process, even though they're not involved in negotiation, that they could have input or at least understand what's going on," he told CBC Radio's Information Morning on Friday. Improving communication He made three suggestions for improving communication: a clearinghouse for accurate information, a formal process for talks between the commercial industry and the government of Canada, and forums to create a "safe space" to talk on important issues without extreme emotions. Surette interviewed 85 people — 81 per cent were non-Indigenous. "In some cases, they were heavily focused on the fishery. Others said that they preferred dealing with the ministers at this present time," he told CBC News. Surette said he will be reaching out to gather more perspectives. MORE TOP STORIES
Saskatchewan will start to stretch out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses, as supplies run short. Second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine will be administered up to 42 days after the first dose. Official guidelines say the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is meant to be given as two doses, 21 days apart, while Moderna recommends spacing doses 28 days apart. The National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI), a body made up of scientists and vaccine experts, say provinces should follow the dosing schedule as closely as possible, but the panel is now offering some wiggle room. WATCH | Canada's COVID-19 vaccine advisory committee approves delaying 2nd dose NACI recommends spacing out the doses up to 42 days when necessary. The recommendation is also supported by the World Health Organization and Canada's chief medical health officer. "The flexibility provided by a reasonable extension of the dose interval to 42 days where operationally necessary, combined with increasing predictability of vaccine supply, support our public health objective to protect high-risk groups as quickly as possible," reads a statement released Thursday from Dr. Theresa Tam, as well as the provincial and territorial chief medical officers of health. The same day, Saskatchewan announced it would further space out its doses. "Saskatchewan will be implementing these recommendations of up to 42 days where operationally necessary in order to deliver more first doses to eligible people," the government of Saskatchewan said in a news release. WATCH | Dr. Howard Njoo addresses questions on taking first and second dose of vaccine 42 days apart: Saskatchewan's supply runs short As of Friday, 96 per cent of the province's vaccines have been administered, and new supplies coming in are not enough to replenish what has been used. Pfizer has said it will not ship a single vial of its highly effective vaccine to Canada next week as the pharmaceutical giant retools its production facility in Puurs, Belgium, to boost capacity. Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, says it's very reassuring to have the length between doses extended to 42 days. "When there's a sudden, further disruption that does present challenges," Shahab said during a news conference on Tuesday. "Most provinces are able to give the second dose of both Pfizer and Moderna within 42 days ... and that becomes very important with the disruption of shipment." Scott Livingstone, the CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, agreed. "It does mitigate some of the decreased doses coming in. We also know through contact with the federal government that once the Pfizer plant is back online, they'll be increasing our shipment," Livingstone said during Tuesday's news conference. Livingstone said the new shipments coming in will be allocated for an individual's first and second shot. WATCH | Canada facing delays in vaccine rollout More vaccines on the way Another shipment of vaccines will arrive in Saskatchewan on Feb. 1, says the government. The province is expecting 5,850 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine and 6,500 doses of Moderna's vaccine. The government says they will be distributed to the Far North West, Far North East, North East and Central West. A second shipment of 7,100 doses from Moderna will arrive on Feb. 22, and will be distributed to the Far North East, North East and Central East. "Our immunization team is trying to be as nimble as possible knowing that we could at any time through the pandemic receive more vaccines, but also then having to readjust our targets and still focusing on the most needy in this Phase 1, and we will continue to do that as vaccine supply keeps coming back up," Livingstone said.
Indigenous leaders in the Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo area say the recent cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline is a worrying sign for the oilsands and could hurt Indigenous investments. The cross-border pipeline expansion was cancelled hours after Joe Biden was sworn in as president. Biden had spent months on the campaign trail promising to cancel Keystone XL on his first day in office. This was the second time the project has been cancelled. Then-president Barack Obama rejected a permit application for Keystone XL in 2015. His successor, Donald Trump, reversed that decision in 2017. Much of the pipeline has already been built and already crosses the U.S. border. Last March, Premier Jason Kenney agreed to fund the first year of construction with a $1.5 billion investment and $6 billion in loan guarantees. “It almost appears this project was cursed,” said Ron Quintal, president of the Fort McKay Métis Nation. “It’s absolutely frustrating.” This was the second time the project has been cancelled. Then-president Barack Obama rejected a permit application for Keystone XL in 2015. His successor, Donald Trump, reversed that decision in 2017. Much of the pipeline has already been built and already crosses the U.S. border. Last March, Premier Jason Kenney agreed to fund the first year of construction with a $1.5 billion investment and $6 billion in loan guarantees. “It almost appears this project was cursed,” said Ron Quintal, president of the Fort McKay Métis Nation. “It’s absolutely frustrating.” “If we were able to refine the bitumen here in Canada, we’d be in a better place to use it here and export it ethically.” Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) said the cancellation puts an emphasis on other projects moving oil to markets. “It’s going to be a struggle but it’s better to struggle first and get everything right,” he said. He also criticized the Alberta government’s financial investments in the project, calling it a bet that Trump would be re-elected. “The investment went south and it’s never going to come back north,” he said. Dale Swampy, president of the National Coalition of Chiefs, said the decision implies long-term unemployment for those working in exploring and developing conventional and oilsands projects in Western Canada. “It’s quite a blow to the First Nations that are involved right now in working with TC Energy to access employment training and contracting opportunities,” said Swampy, who is a member of the Samson Cree First Nation. Keystone XL, which is owned by Calgary-based TC Energy, was first proposed in 2008 when the company was known as TransCanada. Had it been built, a 1,897-kilometre pipeline would have carried 830,000 barrels of crude oil a day from storage facilities in Hardisty, Alta., to Nebraska. The expansion would connect to the original Keystone pipeline, which runs to Gulf Coast refineries in Texas. -with files from Canadian Press firstname.lastname@example.org Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
RICHMOND, B.C. — RCMP say a man who allegedly cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet and walked away in Richmond, B.C., has been located. A statement from police says Woon Chan was found Friday. Police issued a warning about 18 hours earlier saying they were contacted by corrections officials who reported Chan was wearing a monitoring bracelet but it had gone offline. RCMP responded to an area of north Richmond near Minoru Park and found the bracelet but no sign of the 57-year-old man. At the time, they described Chan as a risk to the public but did not say why. The police statement doesn't say where he was found or what led to his discovery. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
Nipissing First Nation Chief Scott McLeod says the public health directive supporting in-class learning in northern Ontario schools is more political than scientific. The community’s high school opted to keep Nbissing students online until at least February 16 after the province extended its COVID-19 pandemic emergency order. The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit is one of the few in Ontario to support in-class learning, a decision panned by many in light of it closing down toboggan hills, outdoor skating rinks and snowmobile trails. “We're just trying to deal with the Covid and we just shut our rinks down and we're just kind of monitoring what provinces and municipalities are doing and making sure that we're consistent or more stringent in areas like our school being closed,” McLeod said about Nbisiing Secondary School Thursday. “It's all online right now, despite the provinces still allowing it, at least in northern Ontario, the high schools are still open,” he said, noting that seems to be out of step with what some provincial experts are saying. “I was listening to Dr. Kevin Brown. He's the co-chair of the Covid Science Table for Ontario,” said Chief McLeod. “He was giving an update to the Chiefs of Ontario and he honestly can't understand why the schools in northern Ontario are still open. And you know, that, to me was troublesome, right? ‘You have one of the top epidemiologists saying that he doesn't understand. I was expecting ‘Here, this is the data, shows this or that,” because I like listening to the data, not just listening to people rant on Facebook. But, yeah, he was lost for an answer as to why it's still open. “And so obviously it's a more political call than a science one,” McLeod said. The school posted the update on its website, as did the community. “In response to Ontario’s second declaration of emergency and to align Nbisiing with Nipissing First Nation’s response to the provincewide stay-at-home order and shutdown restrictions, Nipissing First Nation (NFN) Council has approved changes to Nbisiing’s return to in-person learning date,” it reads. “In order to keep people home as much as possible to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19 in our community, protect vulnerable populations, and keep our school community safe, Nbisiing will continue to teach all classes virtually and will return to in-person learning on Tuesday, February 16th, 2021 (Monday the 15th is Family Day).” Nipissing FN only closed its outdoor rink in Garden Village, which is enclosed with walls and roof, because they don’t want people from outside the community taking advantage of it while their rinks are ordered closed. “Our problem with the skating rinks, as soon as North Bay and Sturgeon closed, we have to close because they all come down hours and we don't want them there,” he said. Chief McLeod did what many others are doing in response by creating their own ice sheets, whether that’s in a yard or on the lake. They can control the numbers and make it safe by following the known protocols, he added. “Well, I made one in my backyard and I Facebooked all my family members saying, ‘You want to come skating with your family, book it … just message me so I know that there's no other family there and you can have it to yourself.’” Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada. Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
For years, Jordan Murphy longed to complete her weight-loss transformation with another round of cosmetic surgery. It was a matter of finding the right time. The Toronto social media influencer knew from her prior procedures that going under the knife could require weeks of bedrest. She was also conscious of the fact that medically altered beauty doesn't come cheap. But when the COVID-19 crisis cleared her calendar, Murphy found herself with a sudden abundance of time and money she would typically spend on travel and recreation. The 27-year-old filled the hours by scrolling through social media, sizing up how her body compared to others, particularly the before-and-after photos plastic surgeons posted to their feeds. "I think it just put the idea into my head: This is the perfect time to do this," said Murphy, adding that she's been barraged by questions from her online followers since documenting her "360 lift," an operation that removes excess skin and fat from the abdomen, waistline and back, last summer. "(The only downside is) that I haven't been able to dress up cute and go out anywhere to rock the new bod." Murphy is one of many Canadians who plan to emerge from lockdown looking leaner, lifted or augmented in all the right places as several clinics report an uptick in demand for cosmetic procedures during the pandemic. Some cosmetic physicians say more patients are seeking out their services as the crisis has afforded people more time to scrutinize their perceived flaws, and the flexibility to get work done without raising eyebrows among friends and coworkers. But critics worry that people could be rushing into serious medical procedures as the psychological toll of the pandemic has fuelled body image issues, in part because of the distorting powers of video-chat platforms and social media. Others in the medical community, including a Quebec doctors' association, say private clinics shouldn't be performing cosmetic surgeries as COVID-19 caseloads have strained the health-care system, forcing many patients to wait for medically necessary operations. There's little data available on the number of cosmetic procedures that are performed in Canada. But according to a Google Trends analysis published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, U.S. searches for some of the most popular ones dropped off in the early months of the pandemic, before rebounding to hit two-year peaks over spring and summer of last year. This is consistent with what Dr. Mathew Mosher, president of the Canadian Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, is hearing from members who, in some cases, have been struggling to keep up with the increased interest in their services. "The sustained nature of the added interest has surprised many of us," said Mosher, who operates out of the YES Medspa and Cosmetic Surgery Centre in Langley, B.C. When private clinics started to reopen last spring, Mosher said surgeons were bracing for a backlog of postponed procedures, but didn't expect they'd be fielding an influx of calls from first-time patients and regulars. It's hard to gauge whether this spike in inquiries is translating into more surgical bookings, Mosher said, noting that COVID-19 precautions have curtailed many clinics' operational capacity. It also seems that demand has ebbed to some degree as many jurisdictions ramped up lockdown measures. Still, he said, it's clear that the pandemic has opened up new possibilities for patients to revamp their natural assets. While job losses have forced many Canadians into financial precarity, Mosher said those fortunate enough to have maintained a steady paycheque may have more money to spend on esthetic concerns. Moreover, he said, patients are able keep up with their professional duties while recouping at home. "Doing something that is in some ways empowering and positive has come up on the to-do list for a few more patients." While most of his patients are seizing the chance to move ahead with procedures they've been thinking about for a while, Mosher said he's also sensed a concerning "urgency" among clients who seem to be fixated on a newly detected imperfection or acting on an impulse to make a change during a stressful time. "I've seen more patients coming to the office where they frankly have been given poor advice," he said. Toronto dermatologist Dr. Julia Carroll said she credits the surge in demand for cosmetic services such as Botox, lip fillers and laser peels in part to what some have dubbed the "Zoom boom." As our conversations have shifted to video conference calls, many people are spending more time staring at their own faces, and some don't like what they see. "Most people get up in the morning, brush their teeth or put on their makeup, and they don't look at themselves for the rest of the day," said Carroll. "But now, you're seeing yourself in animation all day long.... So you see things that bother you." Carroll cautions that these virtual visages probably aren't accurate, because most webcams use short focal lengths that can warp how certain features appear onscreen. But while she doesn't think anyone "needs to look a certain way," Carroll says cosmetic procedures can boost a person's confidence. "For some people, there's a real disconnect between how they feel on the inside and what they present to the world," Carroll said. "I think a lot of patients are just trying to reconnect those two parts of themselves." Catherine Sabiston, a University of Toronto professor and Canada research chair in physical activity and mental health, says the lack of in-person social interaction under lockdown means people are spending more time online comparing themselves with filtered images of others, which can negatively impact body image. The internet is also filled with counterproductive messages about the COVID-19 crisis being a time for self-improvement, feeding into the guilt many feel about changes to their exercise and eating habits, she said. As these forces conspire to make people feel bad about themselves, Sabiston said it's no surprise that people are turning to the scalpel as a quick-fix solution. The fact that cosmetic surgeries are moving forward when many patients can't access cancer treatments speaks to the social disconnect that seems to prioritize people's appearance over their health, said Sabiston. She urged authorities to adopt a more balanced approach that would allow people to access the services they need to ensure their bodies are healthy and help them feel better in them. "Our bodies are miracles in so many ways, and yet, we hone in on the appearance aspects when there's so much more to what our bodies can do," she said. "We should be putting our emphasis on how to help people so that more plastic surgery isn't necessarily the bottom line." In a statement Wednesday, the Quebec College of Physicians called for all non-essential cosmetic procedures to be postponed in light of the measures the province is taking to limit COVID-19 spread. Health Minister Christian Dube told reporters last week that the province is considering how to address the medical staffing crisis, but suggested it would be easier to bring in intensive care personnel from other regions than to enlist nurses from private care and cosmetic surgery clinics. A spokeswoman for Quebec's health ministry added that staff from private cosmetic surgery clinics can still volunteer in the public health sector without shutting down operations. In Ontario, some clinics that offer cosmetic procedures have opted to scale back services or shut down altogether. While health practices remain open under the province's latest directive, a spokesman for Ontario's health ministry said "it's up to each professional's clinical judgment to determine what services should be offered," in accordance with the rules set out by their regulatory colleges. On its website, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario says regional restrictions on personal care services, such as facials and hair removal, apply to medical practices, but clinics can continue to offer procedures that can only be performed by health-care professionals. Mosher appreciates the frustrations front-line medical workers feel as the recent surge in infections pushes health-care systems to their limits, but argues that closing private clinics will do little to assuage capacity concerns. Cosmetic surgeons report relatively low rates of complications, so there's little risk that their patients will need urgent care in overburdened hospitals, he said. Mosher said the cosmetic surgery industry isn't large enough to provide the reinforcements that hospitals require, and while some cosmetic surgery providers work in both the private and public sector, many don't have the expertise to help much with urgent care. "Health-care workers that are involved in delivering (cosmetic surgery) services would be more than happy to step up and assist if we were called upon," he said. "But like everybody else, we rely on the guidance from the health authorities." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021 Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press
Two Vancouver residents travelled to Beaver Creek, Yukon, on Thursday and were able to get doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the mobile vaccination clinic there. Yukon Community Services Minister John Streicker, who said he learned about the situation late Thursday, confirmed the news to CBC on Friday. "I'm very, very frustrated," he said. According to Streicker, the two individuals filled out self-isolation declaration forms upon entering Yukon but then didn't comply with them. Members of the mobile clinic team alerted Yukon Civil Emergency Measures Act (CEMA) officers about the situation after the fact, according to Streicker. Two intercepted at Whitehorse airport Officers were then able to intercept the individuals at the Whitehorse airport. The minister couldn't confirm if they were leaving the territory at the time. A man and a woman from Vancouver have since been charged with two counts each under the CEMA — failure to self-isolate, and failure to follow a declaration. The maximum fine for CEMA violations is a $500 fine for each charge, and up to six months in jail. Streicker said the government immediately alerted Yukon RCMP about what happened. He could not confirm how the two were able to travel to Beaver Creek, which is near the Alaska border about 450 kilometres northwest of Whitehorse. Allowances for out-of-territory vaccinations He said the fact that the two didn't have Yukon health cards wouldn't have excluded them from getting Moderna doses. There are Yukon residents who still hold out-of-territory health cards, he explained, and there are also certain allowances for workers from out-of-territory to get vaccinated. "I don't think the problem is so much that a couple of vaccines have been used up that were meant for Yukoners," Streicker said. "I think the problem is if someone thinks that they can come here to get a vaccine, that concerns me, and if they do so in a way that puts people at risk, that really concerns me, so I'm sure there'll be lots of conversation to come." I'm pretty angry at the whole thing. - Yukon Community Services Minister John Streicker "I'm really upset at these individuals," he said. "Effectively what they did was they put our community and our isolation team at risk. "I'm pretty angry at the whole thing." Yukon is currently prioritizing vaccinations for people in care homes, jails and border communities, like Beaver Creek, because there's a greater risk of people travelling in and out of the territory. Streicker said he's spoken to health and social services deputy minister Stephen Samis, as well as the mobile vaccination teams about the situation, and that the government is looking for other ways to "be alert" and prevent a situation like this from happening again.
Speaking to reporters outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he is thinking about getting Canadians the COVID-19 vaccine "when I wake up in the morning, when I go to bed, and every hour in between."
The federal government is mulling a mandatory quarantine in hotels for returning travellers as the country's top doctor warns that easing COVID-19 restrictions too quickly could cause case numbers to shoot up again. The federal government is also looking at other options that would make it harder for people to return from foreign trips, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday. He said it's time to "kill the second wave of the virus." Monday will mark a year since the first recorded appearance of the novel coronavirus in Canada. Trudeau said it is understandable that Canadians are tired and fed up, but they must remain cautious. “We need to hang on and hold tight for the next few months,” he said. “We must get through to the spring and mass vaccinations in the best shape possible.” Trudeau said the next few weeks will be challenging for vaccine supply as Pfizer-BioNTech slows deliveries to Canada and other countries while the company retools its plant in Belgium. The prime minister said Pfizer-BioNTech has committed to ensuring Canada will receive four million vaccine doses by the end of March. Provinces have reported a total of 738,864 vaccine doses used so far. That's about 80 per cent of the available supply. COVID-19 cases began to spike across the country in December and January, which put a strain on hospitals. Quebec and Ontario were particularly hard hit and officials responded with restrictions. Quebec instituted a curfew, while Ontario brought in an order for people to stay at home except for essential purposes such as work, food shopping or health care. Daily case numbers have slightly decreased in Ontario in the last week. There were 2,662 new cases Friday and 87 more deaths. The seven-day average of new daily cases was 2,703, down from a high of 3,555 on Jan. 11. There were 1,512 people in hospital on Friday, a decrease of 21 from the previous day. COVID-19 continued to pressure some local hospitals, so Ottawa said it would send two federal mobile health units to the Greater Toronto Area, adding an additional 200 hospital beds. Quebec has been under its provincewide curfew for nearly two weeks. Health officials reported 1,631 new cases and 88 deaths Friday. Hospitalizations decreased by 27 people to 1,426. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said that bringing down the second wave of COVID-19 has been a "trickier path" than the first wave last spring. Daily case counts are higher than they were then and have put increased pressures on the health-care system. "If we ease up too soon or too quickly, resurgence will be swift," she said. She also expressed concern that 31 cases of the United Kingdom COVID-19 variant, and three of the South African variant have been found in Canada. It's believed that both are more contagious. The cases were identified through screening smaller batches of tests. Tam said more needs to be done to understand the level at which new variants are circulating in communities. Nova Scotia reported four new COVID-19 infections on Friday, two of which were variant cases. Health officials said both cases were related to international travel. There were 731,450 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada and 18,622 deaths as of Thursday. Over the past seven days, there were a total of 42,555 new cases. The seven-day rolling average was 6,079. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
On the morning of January 6, the weather was close to minus 10 in Kanesatake. Cheryl Scott Nelson was impatiently waiting for her husband to come home from the hospital, but she never expected him to arrive with barely any clothes on. “No blankets, all of his left side gown opened,” said Cheryl, filled with anger and frustration. “This is a man that had three strokes!” Winston Nelson, 70, was hospitalized at the St. Eustache Hospital on December 30 for heart surgery. Seven days later, Cheryl received a call from the hospital saying that there was nothing they could do for her husband, and that they were sending him back home. “It was taking my heart, after 30 years of being married to the man, and ripping it and stomping all over it,” said Cheryl. Cheryl needed to arrange for special transportation with the community as Winston’s last stroke, back in 2013, left him in a wheelchair. The schedule didn’t work out and Cheryl was forced to send a taxi instead. Worried about the fact that she couldn’t drive her husband back herself, Cheryl recounted that she called the hospital three times the morning he received his hospital leave. She said the first two times, she was told that nurses were getting her husband dressed, and then the third time, someone confirmed her husband was downstairs, ready to go. “This man came home nude. His gown wasn’t even tied in the back, the poor taxi driver gave me his two bags that I put his winter coat in, sweater, pants and undershorts. It came back the same way.” Everything in the bags, except for his hearing aids. Cheryl explained that her husband has needed help to hear for the past eight years, as he became paralyzed on his left side after his last stroke. Once he got home, she noticed that the piece was missing. After Winston indicated that a nurse took it out of his ear, Cheryl called the hospital, asking for an explanation. “The nurse couldn’t find his hearing piece,” said Cheryl, “$1,600 worth of hearing!” The Centre integre de sante et de services sociaux des Laurentides (CISSS), which governs the St. Eustache Hospital, said they are currently investigating Winston’s departure, looking to understand how such an incomprehensible event took place. Myriam Sabourin from the CISSS communication services said that it was important for them to treat patients with respect and dignity. She added that hospital leave must be carried out in a logical, safe and humane way. According to Sabourin, if the person is deemed unfit, the hospital contacts either a family member or a community organization to ensure a good departure. “As a general rule, no patient leaves only wearing a gown,” said Sabourin. “Unless there is a special situation that requires it,” she added. As it took her only a few minutes to clean and dress her husband, Cheryl finds it hard to grasp what “special situation” led a nurse to send him home in such conditions. “I understand the pandemic, the nurses are running here and there, and people are dying everywhere, but don’t throw my husband in a wheelchair with only a gown and a soiled diaper,” she said. It was recommended that Cheryl file a complaint with the St. Eustache administration, but she feels that a single complaint simply won’t do it. Cheryl said she plans on suing the hospital not only to serve justice to her family, but to bring to light what happens to Indigenous people once they enter the health system. Winston’s case, unfortunately, doesn’t go without reminding us of what happened to Joyce Echaquan, last September. The 37-year-old mother from the Atikamekw community of Manawan was hospitalized for stomach pain at the Centre Hospitalier de Lanaudiere in Joliette. Echaquan live-streamed racist and degrading comments, from nurses who didn’t believe her pain was real. All this, only minutes before she died. For Kanesatake grand chief Serge Otsi Simon, this time, what could have turned into another tragic death, was pure negligence and incompetence. “I don’t see any valid excuse coming out for the way they mistreated him,” said Simon. Simon said he received the information from a CISSS health commissioner that the nurse in charge of Winston was an intern who had only been there for a few months. “I don’t care how long you’ve been on the job, you don’t send someone home with only a gown in the middle of winter,” said Simon. Cheryl also feels like it is a little too late for an excuse. “My husband, for the last couple of nights, woke up screaming that he was cold,” she said. “He is traumatized, in his heart and mind - what’s left of it.” email@example.com Virginie Ann, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door
OTTAWA — A group of large businesses in Banff National Park is proposing a rapid COVID-19 testing project meant to help reopen the economy safely. Yannis Karlos, the head of the group, said rapid testing can guarantee the safety of the community while allowing the return to a semblance of normality in a place heavily dependent on tourism. "We're just looking for options to take a different approach to ensure that our community remains safe," said Karlos, who owns a distillery and restaurant in Banff, Alta. "Back in March, our community basically fully shut down and we had an extremely high level of unemployment," he said. Karlos said the group of businesses that represent 5,300 employees would cover the costs of deploying COVID-19 rapid tests if the Alberta government will supply them. "The way we envision it is becoming a public-private partnership, so we're looking for some assistance from the municipality as well as from the province," he said. Town of Banff spokesman Jason Darrah said the municipality will support the project. "We want to support however possible, such as offering facilities for doing it," he said. Sandy White, the co-founder of a coalition of academics, medical professionals and business leaders called Rapid Test and Trace Canada, which is working with the businesses in Banff, said millions of rapid tests already bought and distributed by the federal government are sitting in warehouses across Canada because provincial governments are either unable or unwilling to deploy them. "The overall mismanagement of this file in particular, to say nothing of vaccines and everything else, has been depressingly indicative of Canada's response to this thing," he said. White, who himself owns two inns in Banff, said other countries have responded to the pandemic more efficiently than Canada using rapid tests and other measures to reopened their economies safely. "We are drowning in this situation and we've had a year to get all these wonderful things in place and we could be Taiwan or South Korea or Australia or New Zealand but we're not," he said. "That's very frustrating." White said the 90-day rapid-testing project proposed for Banff would aim to test as many of the town's roughly 8,800 residents as possible within the first two days. After that, the program would test between five and 10 per cent of residents every day. "We are quite confident that with a strategy like that, we can eradicate COVID within the community," he said. Banff had close to 200 active cases of COVID-19 at the end of November, when the economy had reopened and tourists were in town. "The goal really is to be able to safely reopen the economy and encourage tourists to come back to town," he said, noting local jobs depend on tourism. He said the program could also be used as a "test case" to prove that a rapid-testing strategy can work to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. White said his organization is speaking with several groups across the country, including universities and Indigenous communities, to prepare rapid-testing project proposals. "It would be us advising and assisting in setting up pilots and executing on them with the government really just provided testing services in the form of the tests and maybe some basic guidance," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press
It was a normal shift for Value Village manager Jeffrey Stonehouse. He and a colleague were in the back room of a Vancouver store on Monday, sorting through donations. Then, while going through "a very old bag," he noticed there were some envelopes mixed in with the other household items. That's not too uncommon, says Stonehouse, who expected to find some personal papers stuffed inside. But when Stonehouse and his colleague opened up the envelopes, they found much more than personal papers. "This was certainly the largest sum of money I have ever come across," he said. Inside the envelopes was $85,000 in cash. Stonehouse says the cash appeared very old, as if someone had stashed it away and forgotten about it. "When you're dealing with this you know immediately that the person didn't intend to have it come your way," he said. "We take every step we can to make sure it gets reunited with the person it belongs to." Stonehouse then contacted police who, thanks to an old bank receipt in the bag, were able to identify the money's owner — an elderly woman who now lives in a retirement home. Her family had cleared out her storage locker and unknowingly donated the bag containing the envelopes full of cash. "It was nice to get that money back to her," Stonehouse said.
HALIFAX — Two COVID-19 variants have been identified in Nova Scotia, the province's chief medical officer of health said Friday, adding that in both cases, the variant wasn't able to reproduce in the community. Tests conducted at Canada's national laboratory in December identified the U.K. variant in one COVID-19 sample from Nova Scotia and the South African variant in another case from the province, Dr. Robert Strang told reporters. "We know that neither case resulted in spread into the community," Strang said. He said, however, that household members of one person infected with a COVID-19 variant had tested positive, adding that those results identified viral loads that were too small to be analyzed at the national lab. Strang said those cases were likely connected to the South African variant. He said health officials weren't surprised to learn the variants had landed in the province, adding that their detection shows Nova Scotia's surveillance system works. "It reinforces why we need to maintain federal and provincial border measures and it certainly is another reason why we need to continue our cautious approach to COVID-19." Strang said the province was still awaiting results from the national lab on another 20 to 30 test samples. Health officials on Friday reported four new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of active reported cases in the province to 22. Strang said one case involves a student at Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S., who tested positive shortly after completing a 14-day quarantine. Strang also announced that most of the restrictions imposed across the province would be extended until at least Feb. 7, including 10-person gathering limits and the requirement that restaurants end service by 10 p.m. and close by 11 p.m. "We are still in the middle of a severe second wave that is all around us including our closest neighbour in New Brunswick," he said. As of Thursday, 10,575 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered, while 2,705 Nova Scotians had received their second dose. The Nova Scotia Nurses' Union launched a campaign Friday aimed at convincing as many people as possible to get vaccinated. The union uploaded a series of video testimonials to its website that offer insight and firsthand accounts from nurses who discuss their vaccinations. "We did it because we believe that our patients look up to nurses and physicians, they look up to us for direction," union president Janet Hazelton said in an interview. "We think it's important that we get the message out that the nurses' union supports the vaccine." Hazelton said while the majority of people are keen to get a shot there are still some who are "vaccine hesitant," adding that the union wants the public to know its members are confident the vaccine is safe and effective. She said annual flu vaccination rates among health Nova Scotians are usually relatively low — except this year, she said, which has seen a large uptake. People, however, need to be far more willing to take the COVID-19 vaccine than they are with the flu shot, she added. "We don't and can't have that same (lower) percentage for the COVID-19 vaccine," Hazelton said. "We need to have higher than 50-60 per cent." Front-line nurses were among the first to be vaccinated in Nova Scotia and Hazelton said so far none of her members have refused to get a shot. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press
Northern Saskatchewan community leaders are upset that health officials are no longer sharing daily reports of how many confirmed cases of COVID-19 are in their communities. Pinehouse Mayor Mike Natomagan, whose community is emerging from a widespread outbreak earlier this month, said he needs those figures to plan a response and keep the community informed. He said Pinehouse currently receives reports on Tuesdays and Thursdays. "We just don't want to work blind here," Natomagan said. "We like to know on a daily basis what we're up against." The Saskatchewan Health Authority's vice-president of integrated northern health, Andrew McLetchie, said the far north was the only place in the province where leaders received such regular reports about COVID-19 transmission in their communities. The SHA chose to stop that service around the new year because it couldn't continue without affecting other services, he said. "Really, this came down to the ability to do it daily, on a regular basis. And ultimately, we just were not able to do that without impacting care that we needed to provide to people across the far north." As of Jan. 22, the province reports that the far north west has 259 cases of COVID-19, the far north central has 69, and the far north east has 179. On a per-capita basis, those are some of the highest rates of COVID-19 in the province. Natomagan said the north's lack of resources makes it more vulnerable. He's asked Health Minister Paul Merriman and Government Relations Minister Don McMorris to provide the capacity for more regular reports. Natomagan said he hasn't received a response to the request. Buffalo Narrows Mayor Robert Woods said the numbers are needed for northern communities facing an uptick in cases so leaders can inform residents accordingly. He's worried the loss of daily, locally-specific information will hold those efforts back. "It doesn't help if we don't know what we need to be prepared for," he said. McLetchie said the SHA is considering other avenues to keep leaders in the loop, such as town halls. He also said the daily number updates could be misleading "because there's often people in the community who are positive but haven't been tested yet." La Loche Mayor Georgina Jolibois, whose community was hit hard by COVID-19 in April and continues to see new cases, said daily information is key for warning residents. "If we're on the increase, we need to know that." Nick Pearce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix
When drug companies like Pfizer and Moderna learned to successfully incorporate messenger RNA technology into a COVID-19 vaccine, experts say they likely opened the door to a significant shift in the future of immunization.The milestone in vaccine development was met with enthusiasm from most, but the seemingly swift pace and novel approach is causing hesitancy in others. Experts say the new technique shouldn't dissuade people from getting the vaccine. While the mRNA method is new to inoculations, the actual technology has been around for decades. The difference now, they say, is scientists have ironed out the kinks to make a useful product."It sounds fancy, mRNA, but there's nothing outlandish about it," said Dr. Earl Brown, a virology and microbiology specialist with the University of Ottawa. "This is the way our cells operate — we live by mRNA."Vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna were the first inoculations approved for humans to use mRNA, which provides our cells with instructions to make proteins. In the case of COVID vaccines, the injected material shows cells how to make a harmless piece of the coronavirus spike protein, which then teaches our immune system to recognize the virus and fight off a future infection.Scientists made the vaccine by programming genetic material from the spike protein into mRNA, a process that theoretically could work for other viruses."As long as you know how to create those instructions — that genetic code you need to convince your body to create that target — you can design an mRNA vaccine against any antigen," said Nicole Basta, an associate professor of epidemiology at McGill."But the question is whether it will be effective, and whether it will be safe."The development of future mRNA vaccines might be quick, Basta says, but they would need to go through the usual evaluation process and clinical trials to ensure safety and efficacy. So vaccines for other viruses won't be popping up overnight.Still, Basta adds, there's potential for using mRNA to either improve upon existing vaccines or to develop new ones against other pathogens.Dr. Scott Halperin, a professor at Dalhousie University and the director of the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology, sees mRNA vaccines as "evolutionary rather than revolutionary."Part of the reason COVID vaccines came together so quickly was the technology had been developing for years, Halperin said. The global pandemic offered scientists a pressing opportunity — and unprecedented funding and collaboration — to try again for a viable injection.Previous research had been done on creating mRNA vaccines against Zika and other viruses, Halperin added, and there were earlier efforts focused on cancer treatments. Coronavirus-specific research was further sped up by spike protein analysis from SARS and MERS.While the mRNA technology itself is impressive, Halperin says improvements need to be made to create a more temperature-stable product before these types of vaccines and treatments "truly take over.""The logistics of delivering mRNA vaccines right now, we wouldn't want to have to do that for every vaccine we produce," he said, referencing the ultra-cold storage temperature that's currently needed. "But I do think it's an important milestone."Scientists are expected to continue advancing the technology, just as they did recently in solving two confounding problems with mRNA — its fragility and instability.Brown says fragility was resolved by packaging the mRNA in a fat coating, giving it something to help bind onto cells so it wouldn't disintegrate upon injection. The instability was conquered by modifying the uracil component of RNA, one of the four units of its genetic code."The technology application is new, but the science is mature," Brown said. "We've just reached the point at which we can apply it." Traditional vaccines typically contain a killed or weakened virus, Brown said. Those methods are still being used in COVID vaccine development, including by AstraZeneca-Oxford, whose product has not yet been approved in Canada.A benefit to using mRNA is the speed at which a vaccine can be developed or updated once scientists know what to target, Brown says. While experts believe current vaccines will work against recent variants of the COVID virus — including one originating in the U.K. that's more transmissible — Brown says mRNA's adaptability could theoretically come in handy if new strains emerged that necessitated an update. "In six weeks they could produce something," he said. "It would still have to go through Phase 3 trials, but it does give you more flexibility and a big leg up."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
Nearly a year to the day after the Chinese city of Wuhan went into lockdown to contain a virus that had already escaped, President Joe Biden began putting into effect a new war plan for fighting the outbreak in the U.S., Germany topped 50,000 deaths, and Britain closed in on 100,000. The anniversary of the lockdown Saturday comes as more contagious variants of the coronavirus spread and efforts to vaccinate people against COVID-19 have been frustrated by disarray and limited supplies in some places. The scourge has killed over 2 million people worldwide. In the U.S., which has the world's highest death toll at over 410,000, Dr. Anthony Fauci said a lack of candour about the threat under President Donald Trump probably cost lives. Fauci, who was sidelined by Trump, is now the chief medical adviser to Biden in an ambitious effort to conquer the virus. He told CNN that the Trump administration delayed getting sound scientific advice to the country. “When you start talking about things that make no sense medically and no sense scientifically, that clearly is not helpful,” he said. Biden signed a series of executive orders Thursday to mount a more centralized attack on the virus and has vowed to vaccinate 100 million people in his first 100 days, a number some public health experts say is not ambitious enough. Dr. Eric Topol, head of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, said the U.S. should aim to vaccinate 2.5 million a day. “This was already an emergency,” Topol said, but with more contagious mutations of the virus circulating, “it became an emergency to the fourth power.” In Britain, where a more transmissible variant of the virus is raging, the death toll hit close to 96,000, the highest in Europe. And the government's chief scientific adviser warned that the mutated version might be deadlier than the original. Patrick Vallance cautioned that more research is needed but that the evidence suggests that the variant might kill 13 or 14 people out of every 1,000 infected, compared with 10 in 1,000 from the original. Germany extended its lockdown this week until Feb. 14 amid concern about the mutant viruses. Some nations are imposing or considering new travel restrictions for the same reason. France said it will require a negative test from travellers arriving from other European Union countries starting Sunday. Canada said it may force visitors to quarantine in a hotel at their own expense upon arrival. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned the country: “No one should be taking a vacation abroad right now. If you’ve still got one planned, cancel it. And don’t book a trip for spring break,." In another apparent setback, AstraZeneca said it will ship fewer doses of its vaccine than anticipated to the 27-country EU because of supply chain problems. Amid the crisis, Japan is publicly adamant it will hold the postponed Olympics in July. Many experts believe that to pull that off, the nation will have to vaccinate all 127 million citizens, an effort that may not even begin until late February. The 76-day Wuhan lockdown began a year ago with a notice sent to people’s smartphones at 2 a.m. announcing the airport and train and bus stations would shut at 10 a.m. It eventually was expanded to most of the rest of Hubei province, affecting 56 million people. By the time of the lockdown, the virus had spread well beyond China's borders. Wuhan has largely returned to normal. The rollout of shots in the U.S. has been marked by delays, confusion and, in recent days, complaints of vaccine shortages and inadequate deliveries from the federal government as states ramp up their vaccination drives to include senior citizens as well as teachers, police and other groups. At the same time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday that of nearly 40 million doses distributed to the states so far, just 19 million have been dispensed. Why there are reports of shortages when so many doses are apparently going unused is not entirely clear. But some vaccination sites are believed to be holding back large quantities to make sure that people who got their first shot receive the required second one on schedule a few weeks later. At the rate vaccines are being delivered, Alabama officials said it would take two years to vaccinate all adults in the state of 5 million people. “Every state had the idea that they were going to get much more vaccine than they ultimately got,” said Scott Harris, head of the state Department of Public Health. “There just wasn’t enough vaccine to go around.” Louisiana said it plans to set up mass vaccination events but can’t do so until it receives larger quantities of vaccine. The state said it has been receiving about 60,000 doses weekly for the last few weeks and was told by federal officials to expect similar allocations for the next month or so. “We all are asking for the exact same thing,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said of the nation’s governors. “We want more vaccine as soon as we can possibly get it, and we want more lead time to know how many doses we’re going to get so that we can do a better job of planning at the state level.” In Boston, nearly 2,000 doses vaccine were spoiled at a Veterans Affairs hospital after a contractor accidentally unplugged a freezer. Biden pledged to set up Federal Emergency Management Agency mass vaccination sites, but some states said they need more doses of the vaccine, not more people or locations to administer them. “We stand ready, willing and able to handle it,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said. “Trying to find FEMA set up sites, first of all, that would take like 30 days. It’s not necessary in Florida. I would take all that energy and I would put that toward more supply of the vaccine.” Brian Melley, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's admission Friday that he might have to improve the vetting for high-level appointments sparked criticism over why he didn't figure that out before he chose Julie Payette as governor general. Trudeau named the former astronaut as Canada's 29th governor general in 2017 after disbanding a non-partisan, arm's-length committee created by the previous Conservative government to recommend worthy nominees for viceregal posts. Thursday, she resigned over allegations she created a toxic work environment at Rideau Hall, an unprecedented move for a monarch's representative in Canada. Trudeau faced questions Friday about his judgment and his government's failure to check with Payette's former employers at the Montreal Science Centre and the Canadian Olympic Committee, where she faced similar allegations of harassing and bullying subordinates. "We will continue to look at the best way to select people for viceregal appointments," Trudeau told a news conference Friday outside his residence at Rideau Cottage. "It's an important role for Canadians and we will look at how we can improve it." But Trudeau would not commit to reinstating the non-partisan, arm's-length committee to choose her successor. Payette announced her resignation about a week after the government received the damning findings of an independent investigation into allegations of harassment and other workplace issues at Rideau Hall. Trudeau said he spoke with the Queen by telephone Friday to inform her that Chief Justice Richard Wagner is stepping in until a new governor general is named. A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said earlier that the Queen was being kept informed and will leave the matter in the hands of the Canadian government. Trudeau said everyone deserves a safe and healthy workplace, including employees at Rideau Hall. He also said the work they have done has been "exceptional." But he deflected a question over whether he owed those employees and all Canadians an apology. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said the choice of Payette was one of style over substance. "Really it comes down to Justin Trudeau, who was more interested in a flashy announcement of a governor general rather than doing the work of making sure it was the right selection," Singh said Friday. "And it seems to be an ongoing trend, this pursuit of a flashy headline instead of working to get the job done." Patricia Faison Hewlin, of McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management, said leaders with authentic leadership skills have never been more important than now. "During these uncertain and devastating times, we are in critical need of leaders who are skilled at connecting to people in meaningful ways — building unity, allaying concerns, and showing empathy," she said. "The days are over when leaders could skimp on emotional intelligence and building relationships. Employees are demanding more from their leaders." Trudeau's minority Liberal government could be defeated at any time and, were that to happen, it would fall to the governor general to decide whether to call an election or give Opposition Leader Erin O'Toole a chance to see if he can command the confidence of the House of Commons. Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said Thursday the government has begun discussions with those responsible for vetting, but the prime minister hasn't had time yet to reflect on the best way to choose Payette's successor. The government will have more to say on that likely next week, he said. He agreed the debacle of Payette's tenure shows a need to strengthen the process for vetting viceregal appointments. LeBlanc said the government report came to "compelling" and "stark" conclusions and that Payette's tenure shows that the vetting system for such appointments needs to be strengthened. "There always has been a process of vetting, of checks that are made when somebody is appointed to any government job. But clearly, the process can be strengthened, can be improved," LeBlanc said in an interview shortly after Payette's resignation. The government does not intend to release the report due to privacy issues and the promises of confidentiality made to all complainants, LeBlanc said. It will instead release a redacted version of the report in response to requests made under the Access to Information Act. LeBlanc would not discuss the contents of the report, but said it found Rideau Hall "was obviously an unacceptable workplace." LeBlanc said federal public servants "have the right to a secure, safe and healthy workplace and we are adamant … that standard be upheld at every institution of the government of Canada." He said the report "painted a picture that was not consistent" with that standard. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation called on Trudeau to stop paying the expenses of former governors general after they have left office. Former governors general also qualify for a pension of more than $140,000, the federation said. "Two years ago, the prime minister said he would review this program," said federation director Aaron Wudrick. "Nothing has happened since. It's time to save taxpayers money by scrapping this outrageously wasteful program." The Senate recently agreed to pay $498,000 in compensation to nine former employees of ex-senator Don Meredith, who was accused of sexually harassing, belittling and humiliating his staff. LeBlanc said there's been no consideration thus far — and no mention in the report — of paying compensation to Rideau Hall employees, some dozen of whom complained anonymously to the CBC about Payette yelling at, belittling and publicly humiliating staff, reducing some to tears and prompting some to quit. He said such questions will be handled by senior federal officials, who are planning to talk with all employees at Rideau Hall to plan next steps. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Mike Blanchfield and Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has suspended the sale of decommissioned RCMP vehicles, two days after a man in Nova Scotia was arrested for allegedly impersonating an officer while driving a fake police car. The suspect's 2013 Ford Taurus was a decommissioned police car and was allegedly altered to look like an unmarked police vehicle. The car was similar to the replica RCMP cruiser used by a gunman who killed 22 people in Nova Scotia during a 13-hour rampage on April 18-19. Blair issued a statement today saying the RCMP's resale process for decommissioned vehicles ensures they cannot easily be misused for criminal purposes. The minister said, however, such sales will be suspended to ensure the process is not flawed. Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said today he was pleased with Blair's decision. "It's a great first step," McNeil said, adding that the province's justice minister, Mark Furey, has been working with Blair on the police vehicle file. "We have a piece of legislation that will be introduced during the next session. It deals with (police) accessories and how to deal with municipal (police) vehicles in our province." On Wednesday, the Mounties said that in the most recent case, a 23-year-old suspect from Antigonish, N.S., may have used the car in question to pull over other vehicles in the Halifax region and Antigonish County. The vehicle was outfitted with LED lights in the rear window, a microphone on the dashboard, a public address system, citizens band radio and a push bar with LED lights mounted on the grill. Police also confirmed the suspect did not appear to have any police clothing or firearms of any kind. "It remains illegal to impersonate a police officer and we will take every step possible to prevent such crimes from taking place," Blair said in the statement. "We will continue to work so that all Canadians feel safe in their communities." The vehicle used in the April mass shooting was heavily modified with an emergency light bar on the roof and decals that looked exactly like those found on marked RCMP cruisers. Early in the RCMP's investigation of the mass killing, a senior officer said the killer's vehicle allowed him to "circulate around the province, steps ahead of our investigators." The replica vehicle was so convincing that questions were raised about the availability of former police vehicles for public purchase. The Mounties have confirmed that on the night of April 18, the killer set fire to several homes and killed 13 people in Portapique before evading police later that night while disguised as an RCMP officer. The next morning, he resumed killing people he knew and others at random before he was fatally shot by a Mountie at a gas station in Enfield, N.S., which is just north of Halifax. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
Two teachers at Rothesay Park School will be able to get their students outside and moving with the help of new grants. Julie Cyr, who teaches art, wellness and French, was awarded a $1,250 Innovation and Engagement Grant from the Anglophone South School District. With that, she bought outdoor classroom equipment, including clipboards, tarps and rope. "The planet is in great need of some change. And research is showing that students or kids who spend time outside in nature, form bonds with nature," Cyr said. She also received a First Nations Education Grant from ASD-S for $3,000 to purchase drums kits. Once the region returns to the yellow phase of COVID recovery, Cyr said she'll bring in an elder to teach the kids how to make the instruments and how to play them, as well as teach lessons about sharing circles and First Nations culture. Meanwhile, her colleague Jeanette Fisher, who teaches music and physical education, has received four grants for a project to overcome the obstacles of gym classes during the pandemic. With the school district encouraging teachers to stay away from team sports during the pandemic, Fisher found she couldn't use many of the regular equipment she would use for her gym classes. "I was thinking, 'What can I do? What kind of sports can I do that will engage the kids and keep them active during this time?'" she said. So Fisher decided to give the kids sticks and get them to try drumming with them. So far the kids love it. "It helps the body, the brain, and for the students, it helps strengthen the heart and the lungs, and increases muscular strength and endurance," Fisher said. "It builds brain connections, promotes social emotional learning, improves coordination. And with the student, it builds confidence and self-expression." Fisher received a $500 Education Improvement Grant for online training for cardio drumming, a $1,800 Innovation and Improvement Grant, and a $1,500 Teacher-Designed Professional Learning Grant. Those grants will go toward a training course, equipment and the continued development of integrating the drumming into courses. Fisher also received a $1,000 grant to purchase an iPad, which allows students to use GarageBand on the iPad to compose music. Fisher said drumming also gives an opportunity for kids who aren't getting regular exercise or participating in team sports like usual. Less exercise, she said, is affecting their social, emotional and mental well-being. Cyr said she's nice to be able to get outside during the pandemic, which has kept many people inside. She hopes to secure grant funding in the future to create an outdoor classroom as well. In the meantime, she plans to lay some groundwork for teachers through her new programming to get their kids outside, and she's open to letting other teachers use her equipment for their classes. "It's maybe a stress reliever to be outside. But [for teachers] it can also be just an extra thing to plan and prepare for," she said. "And I think it's what I'm hoping to do with this is to create an easier way for teachers to be able to go outside" The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. L'initiative de journalisme local est financée par le gouvernement du Canada. Caitlin Dutt, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal
The Town of St. George has voted to approve an amendment to allow residential uses on the second floors of its downtown stretch. A public hearing and third and final reading of the bylaw were held on Jan. 11 at a regular council meeting, where the amendment to the bylaw was passed, according to town CAO Jason Gaudet. "We have a very great need for housing and rental space in St. George so allowing some of the properties to allow rental apartments in the area would be a big help to a lot of people in St. George and the area," said Pat Wilcox, Realtor for Fundy Bay Real Estate. Wilcox, who's been a Realtor in St. George for 30 years, said Charlotte County is in a "crunch" and there are not many properties on the market. She said there's a need for affordable housing for the working-class person. Xander Gopen, planner with the Southwest New Brunswick Service Commission, discussed the amendment at the public hearing on Jan. 11. St. George's C1 downtown commercial area didn't allow for residential uses under four units and on the second floor unless they are grandfathered in. Therefore, a building or development permit can't be issued for the residential use, he said. The main reason for this amendment is connected to a resident's request for an exterior staircase to second floor residential use in zone C1. The previous zoning bylaw's restrictions on new second-floor residential use couldn't allow the new development. C1 covers mostly Main Street in St. George. Gopen noted in his presentation to council that some policies in the municipal plan state that the town should be increasing residential opportunities. In addition, he said the town's the municipal plans stated mixed used developments in the downtown area should be encouraged as long as the first floor is dedicated to commercial, office, institutions or retail space. "You want to have mixed uses, you want to have residential uses in that downtown commercial zone, you just don't want them on the ground floor," he said in summary. Town CAO, Jason Gaudet, said there are several residential units in the second floors of the downtown commercial zone which have existed since before the first zoning bylaws in the '80s and been grandfathered in ever since. He said this amendment makes those units conform to the zoning bylaws. "This pairs with the reality that is there ... [The amendment] doesn't say that Main Street is going away." He said he's not sure if it will help the need for housing in St. George. According to the Southwest New Brunswick Service Commission’s 2020 Municipal Housing Study, in which St. George contributed 41 entries, 43 per cent of respondents experienced higher than average difficulty finding the right home and 67 per cent found there was an extremely low availability of rental housing. Nineteen per cent of respondents consider their shelter costs in the town unaffordable. That study collected data from landlords and renters in Grand Manan, McAdam, Campobello, Blacks Harbour, Saint Andrews, St. Stephen, St. George and Harvey. The study surveyed 352 residents made up of 85 renters and 267 homeowners. A total of 80 landlords were also spoken to for the study. The service commission held the study by forming a working group with representatives from Vibrant Communities Charlotte County and community developers working within Horizon Health. Gopen said the request for the staircase brought up some more issues that the commission will "definitely" be looking at. "We'll be thinking more about this. [For example] how to structure the downtown with mixed uses [and if] are there other types of uses? But those are bigger questions and should be looked at more fully." The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. L'initiative de journalisme local est financée par le gouvernement du Canada. Caitlin Dutt, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal