Well into the second wave of the pandemic, Global News visited two east Toronto hospitals to find out how frontline healthcare workers are keeping up with the demand and caring for COVID-19 patients. Caryn Lieberman reports.
Well into the second wave of the pandemic, Global News visited two east Toronto hospitals to find out how frontline healthcare workers are keeping up with the demand and caring for COVID-19 patients. Caryn Lieberman reports.
A Dartmouth MLA has launched a petition in support of more accessible mental health and addictions services for her constituents. Three downtown clinics — Connections Dartmouth on Portland Street, Belmont House on Alderney Drive and a clinic on Wyse Road — are preparing to consolidate and move to a single building in Portland Hills as their respective leases expire this year. Nova Scotia Health has said the new location is fully accessible and on a bus route. However, Susan Leblanc, the MLA for Dartmouth North, has said the move could create hardships for some people getting from her area to the new location. Leblanc is seeking public support for a satellite clinic in her constituency, something health authority officials have said is being considered. Serving people where they live Leblanc said bringing the services closer to where people live makes it even more likely people will reach out for help. "An investment in a community means that the community is being seen and that somebody is making an effort to make their life easier, that they matter as much as everyone else," she said. Gathering signatures for a petition means Leblanc can bring the issue to the floor of the Nova Scotia legislature during the spring sitting. MLAs return to Province House next week. A spokesperson for the health authority said talks continue with potential partners for a satellite clinic, but there are no firm plans yet. While clinicians are doing community outreach with clients, the health authority would like to see a situation similar to what happens in north-end Halifax, where mental health services are available within family practice settings. MORE TOP STORIES
BRUSSELS — An inquiry into claims that the European Union’s border and coast guard agency was involved in illegally pushing back migrants has cleared Frontex of links to most of the incidents but has been unable to establish what happened in five cases, according to the official report into the allegations. The report is by a special working group set up to investigate media allegations that staff, ships or aircraft working with Frontex took part in or were near more than a dozen pushback incidents in the sea between Greece and Turkey last year. Its findings will be the focus of an extraordinary meeting of the agency’s management board on Friday. Frontex, which is responsible for patrolling the external borders of the 27-nation EU, has rejected the pushback allegations and said that its own internal inquiry could find no evidence to substantiate the claims. Greece, which is in charge of operations involving co-ordinating Frontex on its territory, has also denied reports of pushbacks by its border officers. Pushbacks are forcibly preventing people from entering a country when they might want to apply for asylum. They are contrary to refugee protection agreements, which say people shouldn’t be returned to a country where their life and safety might be in danger due to their race, religion, nationality or political views. They also contravene EU law and policy. The working group cleared Frontex of any wrongdoing in 8 cases, but said in five cases “it has not been possible to completely resolve the incidents beyond any reasonable doubt,” according to part of the restricted report, dated March 1 and seen by The Associated Press. Investigators could not determine whether the people involved in the five incidents were picked up by Turkish authorities or made it safely onto Greek soil. “There is no indication of anybody injured, reported missing or having died in connection with the respective incidents,” the report said. The probe, by experts from seven European countries and the European Commission, was set up weeks after reports of collective migrant expulsions were revealed in an October joint investigation by media outlets Bellingcat, Lighthouse Reports, Der Spiegel, ARD and TV Asahi. ___ Follow AP’s global migration coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/migration Lorne Cook, The Associated Press
Saskatchewan's COVID-19 vaccine clinics have lists of "alternate" recipients in the event extra doses are available after as many of the original priority targets as possible are immunized, according to the province's chief medical health officer. Dr. Saqib Shahab spoke about the little-known practice earlier this week during a news conference. He said it has helped keep Saskatchewan from wasting the limited Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna vaccines offered so far. "Out of the 80,000 vaccines given away, our wastage rate has been very low," Shahab said, adding that the vaccines need to be used quickly once they are thawed. Under Phase 1 of Saskatchewan's COVID-19 vaccine program, residents and staff at long-term and personal care homes are among the few priority groups designated for early vaccination, ahead of the general public. Each care home in the province has to provide health officials with a list of residents and staff who have agreed to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. There's also an alternate list. Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchenwan's chief medical health officer, said the practice of alternate vaccine recipient lists helps prevent wastage. (CBC) "If, for some reason, the people who are [originally] booked were not able to get the vaccine, all vaccine providers have an alternate list that they can call, and they have been calling sometimes at short notice," Shahab said. Eden Care CEO received early vaccine That's what happened to Alan Stephen in early January. Stephen is the CEO of Eden Care Communities, which operates care homes in Regina, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw. He said direct-care providers — residents, nurses, continuing care aides, recreation workers, housekeeping staff and food service providers — at Regina Lutheran Home were given first dibs on doses on Jan. 13. The home was given 90 minutes notice of the clinic and not all staff on the priority list were able to make it to the home, Stephen said. Some elders and workers were not vaccinated because they were COVID-19 positive and, at that time, not eligible for the vaccine, he added. "We vaccinated the priority list and then once they realized there was additional shots in the vials, they started calling people on the other list so we wouldn't waste [doses]," he said. "Because of the time frames involved, you had [as little as] 15 minutes to come in. So they called and I said, yeah, I could come in." Regina Lutheran Home was in the middle of a COVID-19 outbreak at the time, as were other Eden Care facilities in Regina. Workers from other locations couldn't go to Regina Lutheran Home to get vaccinated due to "cohorting," the Saskatchewan Health Authority practice of limiting health workers to one home during the pandemic, Stephen said. Red Cross workers helping out at the home were also vaccinated, he said. Alan Stephen, the CEO of Eden Care Communities, says everyone was given the opportunity to receive a vaccine at Regina Lutheran Home. (Eden Care) The alternate list included administrators, human resource staffers, finance people and executives like Stephen, he said, adding that those people have helped with tasks such as screening and overseeing outside visits. "I don't think there are many of our team in home offices that did not work at one of the [care] homes during the pandemic. I don't mean just once. Over weekends, at nights. We all sorta chipped in to help out," Stephen said. Stephen said he normally visits Eden Care homes quite often, although not as much during the pandemic. He had been inside a home within a few days before the Jan. 13 clinic, he said. "It's leadership by wandering," he said. Stephen said he's aware of public sensitives around people who do not provide direct care receiving vaccines early. "I'm pretty sure I was near the end of [the list]," he said. Premier Scott Moe announced Tuesday that 91 per cent of long-term care home residents across the provide had received their first dose. The remaining nine per cent didn't receive vaccines either because they refused them, weren't available to take them or had "a change in health status." The ministry did not provide a breakdown of those categories. The health authority said it does not track its vaccine data to that level of detail.
Accommodations in Cape Breton are feeling the effects of tighter pandemic restrictions in other parts of the province. Nova Scotians are being asked to avoid non-essential travel to and from the Halifax Regional Municipality and parts of Hants and Lunenburg counties after a growing number of COVID-19 cases. For some year-round accommodations along Cape Breton's Cabot Trail, the changes introduced last week have resulted in a rash of cancellations. "We were just getting really excited actually, the snow finally hit ... and then boom, these new restrictions," said Bricin Lyons, co-owner of the Highlands Hostel in Cape North. Thousands of dollars refunded Lyons said he's lost most of his bookings for this month. His partner spent two days going through reservations and refunding thousands of dollars. The hostel — a converted, 100-year-old church — has been operating at 50 per cent capacity, which means it fills up quickly. Lyons is hoping that means some would-be visitors from non-restricted areas of Nova Scotia will snap up the open spaces. "These bookings were huge for us," he said. "We're trying to get through a winter here, so it's tough." The view from Knotty Pine Cottages during fall in Ingonish Beach, N.S.(Brittany Wentzell/CBC) The owner of Knotty Pine Cottages near Ski Cape Smokey is also losing bookings. David Li and his wife have owned the brightly coloured cottages for four years. Li said he's lost about a third of his March business, starting with the cancellation of a mountain biking event at Ski Cape Smokey last weekend due to the new restrictions. Since then, he's also lost bookings for March break. Li predicted those cancellations will only rise once he takes a look at the remaining reservations. "We have to look at each individual booking, so if a customer is from Halifax, we have to call them, we have to cancel them," said Li. Unexpected silver lining Kody Fraser will also be taking a look at his bookings to see where customers are coming from. Fraser is the co-owner of Valley View Chalets in Margaree Valley. The chalets opened just a couple weeks before the first lockdown in 2020. "Most [customers] are good to message me, but I do have to touch base with some just as a reminder," he said. Kody Fraser says his business is seeing snowmobilers who normally travel to New Brunswick, but are instead choosing to come to Cape Breton because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.(Submitted by Kody Fraser) But there might not be many bookings to cancel as Fraser has been welcoming visitors he didn't expect to see when the chalets opened last year — snowmobilers from the southwestern part of the province. That's been a silver lining in an unpredictable year for tourism. "That's actually been a bit of a boom for us, which was kind of surprising," said Fraser. 'Nobody is going to be able to keep up' Fraser said most of the snowmobilers are from the Annapolis Valley and the South Shore and normally go to New Brunswick to snowmobile. Now they've flocked to Cape Breton and he said many want to come back. "It just didn't occur to them, I guess, and now they're saying, 'Well, geez, this is great.'" Lyons is also looking for the silver linings. He believes when people get vaccinated against COVID-19 and more of the province opens up, places like Cape Breton will get a banner year for tourism. "Nobody is going to be able to keep up," he said. "Everyone is going to want to get out." MORE TOP STORIES:
Veteran Philippine journalist Maria Ressa, who runs a website known for its tough scrutiny of President Rodrigo Duterte, took the witness stand for the first time on Thursday to counter tax evasion charges that she maintains were politically motivated. Ressa, a Time Magazine Person of the Year in 2018 for fighting media intimidation, is facing several government lawsuits that have stoked international concern about harassment of journalists in the Philippines, a country once seen as a standard bearer for press freedom in Asia. Speaking to reporters after testifying for two and a half hours in Manila, Ressa asked the government to allow journalists to work freely and independently.
BRUSSELS — The European Union's top court dealt a blow to Barcelona, Real Madrid and two other Spanish soccer clubs on Thursday by upholding a decision from the bloc's executive arm ordering they should pay back illegal state aid. In its final ruling, the European Court of Justice cancelled a previous legal decision two years ago by a lower EU court that found the clubs’ tax regime was lawful, and said the action brought by Barcelona is “definitively rejected." In 2019, the Luxembourg-based General Court annulled a decision by the European Commission dating back to 2016 ordering the clubs to repay several million euros in tax compensations. The EU's executive arm had found at the time that public support measures granted by Spain to several professional soccer clubs gave them an unfair advantage over other teams, in breach of EU state aid rules. When the General Court annulled the decision, it said the commission had not proved the tax regime constituted an unlawful economic advantage. But the ECJ ruled that the lower court committed an error in law and observed that the measures which also benefited Osasuna and Athletic Bilbao indeed constituted an aid scheme covering an unspecified amount of money and time, and was not linked to a specific project. The Commission said the four clubs were treated as non-profit organizations and paid a 5% lower tax rate on profit than rivals during more than 20 years, without an objective justification. It said the money to be recovered would be limited to 5 million euros ($6 million) per club but that the precise amount should be fixed by Spanish authorities. Barcelona has been going through a turbulent week after former president Josep Bartomeu appeared before a judge following a night in jail while being investigated for possible irregularities during his administration. Bartomeu and other officials were arrested on Monday after Catalan police raided Barcelona’s headquarters in a search and seizure operation. The arrests came less than a week before the club holds presidential elections. Barcelona is coming off its first season without a trophy since 2007-08 and has a debt of more than 1.1 billion euros ($1.3 billion), largely because of the coronavirus crisis. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Samuel Petrequin, The Associated Press
Britain's Prince Philip, the 99-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth, underwent a successful procedure for a pre-existing heart condition on Wednesday, Buckingham Palace said in a statement on Thursday. Philip was admitted to hospital on Feb. 16 after he felt unwell, to receive treatment for an unspecified, but not COVID-19-related, infection. "The Duke of Edinburgh yesterday underwent a successful procedure for a pre-existing heart condition at St Bartholomew’s Hospital," the palace said, using Philip's formal title.
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Thursday, March 4, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 77,572 new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,091,700 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 5,519.103 per 100,000. There were 129,330 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 2,611,680 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 80.09 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 4,472 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 24,757 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 47.279 per 1,000. There were 1,800 new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 35,620 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 966 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 12,596 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 79.405 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 14,715 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 9.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 85.6 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 6,054 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 35,291 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 36.163 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 61,980 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 56.94 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 7,424 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 33,741 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 43.255 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 46,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 72.13 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 17,382 new vaccinations administered for a total of 472,710 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 55.245 per 1,000. There were 100,620 new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 638,445 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 74.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 27,398 new vaccinations administered for a total of 754,419 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 51.359 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 903,285 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 83.52 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 1,966 new vaccinations administered for a total of 80,171 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 58.221 per 1,000. There were 8,190 new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 116,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 8.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 68.73 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 1,361 new vaccinations administered for a total of 81,597 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 69.20 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 74,605 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 109.4 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 10,229 new vaccinations administered for a total of 255,283 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 57.992 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 274,965 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 92.84 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 6,627 new vaccinations administered for a total of 289,809 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 56.476 per 1,000. There were 18,720 new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 382,740 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 75.72 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 990 new vaccinations administered for a total of 18,158 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 435.12 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 18,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 96.07 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 19,775 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 438.285 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 19,100 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 42 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 103.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 5,327 new vaccinations administered for a total of 13,393 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 345.84 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 23,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 62 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 56.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
When Michael Cnudde, who has autism, learned that lawyers for the man accused of Toronto's deadly van attack in 2018 would be using the disorder as a defence for their client, his immediate reaction was: "How dare they?" Yet despite the rejection of that argument on Wednesday by Ontario Superior Court Justice Anne Molloy, who found Alek Minassian guilty on all 10 counts of first-degree murder, there is still concern that the trial itself further stigmatized the autistic community. "There's a lot of damage that's been done already," said Cnudde, who dismissed the defence's arguments as "junk science." Minassian, who was also found guilty of 16 counts of attempted murder, had pleaded not guilty to all charges. His lawyers argued that he was not criminally responsible for the deaths and violence he wrought because his autism spectrum disorder (ASD) left him incapable of determining that his actions were morally wrong. Autism activists expressed outrage at the unsubstantiated defence. During the trial both Autism Ontario and Autism Canada released statements denouncing the defence's attribution of their client's actions to his "autistic way of thinking." WATCH | Defence misunderstands autistic people, PhD student says: While Malloy dismissed the defence's argument, she did determine ASD qualifies as a "mental disorder" under Section 16 of the Criminal Code. That section allows a defendant to claim they were not criminally responsible for a crime committed "while suffering from a mental disorder that rendered the person incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of the act or omission or of knowing that it was wrong." But Malloy's ruling that ASD should be a consideration under Section 16 is in itself troubling, says Cnudde. "Even raising that possibility is concerning. It just further raises the issue of one day, this happening all over again," said Cnudde, who is communications and resource development specialist at Autism Ontario but was speaking on behalf of himself. Doris Barkley of Stratford, Ont., whose 23-year-old son Ryan has autism, says she believes a lot of people who heard ASD used as a defence will now have a faulty opinion of people with autism, that "they can be evil like this and want to kill others. "And I think that's where a lot of damage has been done," she said. WATCH | Remembering the victims: Pandora's box In a statement, Autism Ontario said while it was relieved by the verdict, it was also concerned about the damage already inflicted on the community. The organization said the case has forced it to push back against the stigma it thought it had made progress on removing over the past few decades. "We are concerned about the potential ramifications of this defence being used in future cases and the difficulties it will cause for autistic people and their families," Margaret Spoelstra, executive director of Autism Ontario, told CBC News in an interview. She fears that "the Pandora's box is open on this," and that there could be "long-term implications." "I think that is an additional barrier to inclusion," Spoelstra said. "Having this story attached to autism adds another barrier to people finding opportunities and acceptance in their community." WATCH | Family members, victim and Crown attorney react to judge's decision: Backlash from the case Dermot Cleary, board chair of Autism Canada, said he believes the trial and the autism defence has certainly made life more difficult for those with the disorder. "Once the charges are laid and once the defence is articulated through the media, there's a perception on the part of some viewers that it's true, that there's some basis in truth, otherwise it wouldn't have been uttered," he said. He said his organization has received an inordinate number of anecdotes and experiences of those with ASD who say they have been dealing with a backlash from the case. In her ruling, Malloy said there was no other Canadian case dealing directly with whether ASD is a "mental disorder." But Cleary said her decision to characterize it as such motivates his organization to see what can be done to take a closer look at her description and whether "it can be made to more accurately reflect those on the spectrum." "The last thing we want to see is this exploited again, as it was done here. Because, you know, in balancing the benefit to the defence of one individual at the cost of the stigma to half a million Canadians, to me, that just does not seem like a good way to proceed." Criminal defence lawyer Karen McArthur, who was not involved in the case, said she doesn't believe, however, courts will now be besieged with ASD defences. But she said the autism community should be prepared for heightened scrutiny of the disorder itself, and the extent to which those with autism may have a diminished understanding of their acts. That this defence was raised "will send ripples across changing seas, as to whether or not autism diminishes one's understanding of their acts or their ability to control same," she said. "This may cause hardship for the autism community in the immediate future." Voula Marinos, an associate professor in the department of Child and Youth Studies at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., says she doesn't believe this case "will open the floodgates," but that ASD could be used in sentencing of lesser crimes. "This is what you're most likely to see that someone being found guilty of an offence and at sentencing they introduce ASD as a mitigating factor," she said.
RED DEER, Alta. — Some employees of a pork processing plant in central Alberta that shut down after a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility are afraid to go back to work, the union president says. Olymel's facility in Red Deer was shut down Feb. 15 because of the COVID-19 outbreak that claimed three lives and infected 515 workers. The company announced late Wednesday it had been given approval to gradually reopen by Alberta Health. Slaughter operations are scheduled to resume today and cutting room operations on Friday. The plant processes about 10,000 hogs per day. UFCW 401 president Thomas Hesse said he received no word from the company that the plant was reopening. "Obviously the bottom line for Olymel is they're just putting pigs ahead of people," Hesse in an interview Wednesday. "What you've got is a frightened workforce. There's this enormous amount of fear and anxiety, and now a layer of grief on top of that, and they expect employees to jump to attention and parade back to work." The union represents about 1,800 workers at the plant. Hesse said the union interviewed between 600 and 700 workers who indicated they were afraid to return to work. He said that wasn't done by Olymel, Alberta Health Services or Occupational Health and Safety. Hesse said he expects some workers will take advantage of their right to refuse unsafe work. "I have no confidence in the safety of the workplace," he said. Olymel said the reopening will come with a number of strict measures. Alberta Health experts will be on site when operations resume and will offer rapid testing. The company said 1,370 employees at the plant have been tested since Jan. 1. The company says it has added more space to the facility to enhance physical distancing. Additional staff have been assigned to monitor and enforce the updated measures, Olymel said. Employee groups have been recalled to take part in training sessions covering all implemented health measures, adjustments and the action plan developed for reopening. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. — By Bill Graveland in Calgary The Canadian Press
Victoria Ryczak remembers being lonely as a 12-year-old in 1950. She lived near Amsterdam, Sask., about 322 kilometres east of Saskatoon, on an isolated farm. Then one day, her father brought home an issue of the Winnipeg Free Press that had an ad from an Alberta girl looking for a pen pal. Ryczak decided to give it a try. The two corresponded for a while, until the Alberta girl saw an ad for a pen pal she thought would be a better fit for Ryczak. She connected Ryczak with Kathleen Wallace, who lived in Ontario. Ryczak and Wallace shared a special connection. "We were born on June 2, 1938, the same day, the same age," said Ryczak, 82. "That's why I say we're twins. So maybe that had a lot to do with the way we connected." After 70 years of correspondence, Ryczak lost her friend last month. She hopes their story might inspire others to write letters across borders, as a way of combatting loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic. Kathleen, she was like a confidante. We talk about the trials and tribulations. - Victoria Ryczak When Ryczak started writing with Wallace, she couldn't believe how much the two had in common. They were both left-handed, lived on farms, and had the same ideas, family values and positive attitudes. They wrote about school and anything else that came to mind. "Kathleen, she was like a confidante. We talk about the trials and tribulations," Ryczak said. "What a wonderful person she was and how much she gave of herself to everybody." The letters became few and far between as the two grew older, were married and started their families, but they never lost touch. In 1967, Ryczak had the chance to take some local students to the Montreal Expo and stopped by Ottawa to meet Wallace in person. Ryczak holds a photograph of when she, pictured left, and Wallace first met in 1967, 17 years after their friendship started. (Heidi Atter/CBC) The years went by with the two calling and writing from their own homes. Ryczak's husband died and she started working as a caterer. Wallace's family continued to grow. At age 65, they decided it was time to see each other again. Wallace invited Ryczak to her daughter's wedding. "I jumped at the chance," Ryczak said. "I hadn't seen them for a long time. So I'm walking around the airport and I thought, 'Gee, will I be able to find them?' But then I heard Kathleen speak and I recognized her voice and I turned around. Here she was." Ryczak, left, and Wallace were so close that Wallace invited Ryczak to her daughter's wedding. The two are shown at the reception. (Submitted by Victoria Ryczak) Ryczak stayed for an entire month. She then went back again for Wallace's 50th wedding anniversary. Soon after that celebration, Wallace's husband had a stroke and died. Throughout the years, the two friends tried to arrange a visit to Saskatchewan for Wallace, but with her husband gone and a farm full of animals to tend to, it wasn't possible. "She always said she was going to come and visit me. That's my only regret, that she never came to see Saskatchewan," Ryczak said. 2021 starts off with difficult news During the pandemic, the friends talked more often than before. Then something changed in January. After not hearing from Wallace for 10 days, Ryczak got a call from Wallace's daughter. Wallace had suffered a stroke and was in palliative care. "I was really shocked. I couldn't stop crying. And that's one thing, I never cry," Ryczak said. "But when she got that stroke I couldn't stop crying." Over the years, Ryczak had a few opportunities to see Wallace in person, but Wallace never made it to Saskatchewan to visit.(Heidi Atter/CBC) Wallace died on Feb. 22, 2021. Ryczak said Wallace phoned her the Friday before that. "She said, 'I'm dying and I love you, Victoria.' I couldn't believe she said that, and I said, 'No, you're not. You still need to come to visit me.'" Ryczak said. "I really thought that she was going to get better." Ryczak said the past year has been tough. She lost other friends as well, but Wallace's death was incredibly difficult. "To me, it's going to be devastating," she said. "Every so often you pick up the phone and talk and there won't be anybody to talk to anymore." Ryczak, left, and Wallace at age 65. (Submitted by Victoria Ryczak) How letters can connect us Ryczak said that in these days of pandemic and isolation, more people should consider writing or talking to others, especially across provincial borders. "When you contact somebody, you should be yourself," Ryczak said. "You should be positive and you should understand other people's feelings, not only your own." Erica Dyck, a University of Saskatchewan history professor that has studied historic letter writing, said letters can be effective in combating isolation. "Letter writing requires a kind of attention. It's a bit formal, but it's also quite an intimate process," she said. Two of the six Canada Post postcard designs being sent out to Canadians across the country, which can be mailed for free.(Canada Post) Dyck said a recent Canada Post initiative to deliver Canadians 13 million postcards that can then be mailed for free is a wonderful opportunity to connect with others. Dyck said people should write about mundane details that they may not think are interested but might actually help others feel connected. "The more we can break down those barriers of isolation and remind people that we're thinking of them and connecting with them even when we can't physically be together, I think these are really important social coping mechanisms that will help us proceed beyond COVID." Ryczak said she can't believe where the time went with Wallace. What started as two 12-year-old girls wanting pen pals bloomed into a lifelong friendship. "Hopefully she's in peace," Ryczak said. "It was a privilege to be her friend." Wallace with two of her grandchildren. She died on Feb. 22, 2021. (Submitted by Victoria Ryczak)
NEW YORK — When will children be able to get COVID-19 vaccines? It depends on the child's age, but some teenagers could be rolling up their sleeves before too long. The Pfizer vaccine already is cleared for use starting at age 16. That means some high schoolers could get in line for those shots whenever they become eligible in their area, either because of a medical condition or once availability opens up. Pfizer and Moderna both have completed enrolment for studies of children ages 12 and older, and expect to release the data over the summer. If regulators clear the results, younger teens likewise could start getting vaccinated once supply allows. The Moderna vaccine is currently cleared for people 18 and older. Researchers started with older children because they tend to respond to vaccines most similarly to adults. Testing even younger groups is more complex, because they may require a different dose or have differing responses. “Children are not just small adults,” said pediatrician Dr. James Campbell of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “The younger you get, the higher the odds are that things could be different.” Children develop serious illness or die from COVID-19 at much lower rates than adults, but can still spread the virus. “There’s no question: we do want to immunize children,” said Drexel University pediatrics professor Dr. Sarah Long. Pfizer and Moderna expect to start studies in children 11 and younger later this year. “It’s unlikely we could get community protection without immunizing children,” Long added. “This is the lynchpin to getting everything back to some kind of normalcy.” __ The AP is answering your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Submit them at: FactCheck@AP.org. Read previous Viral Questions: How would COVID-19 vaccine makers adapt to variants? How do we know the COVID-19 vaccines are safe? How are experts tracking variants of the coronavirus? Marion Renault, The Associated Press
For Grade 12 teacher Jason Stein, instructing during the COVID-19 pandemic is "like having the Sword of Damocles [impending doom or disaster] always over top of your head; you don't necessarily always consciously think about it all the time." "When I'm in school and teaching and interacting with students, it's not there. Then you see something and you're like, 'Oh yeah, what if?'" Something like a student missing from class: Are they sick? Did they expose the entire class? Stein teaches a variety of subjects at Turtleford Community School, in the small community about 85 kilometres northwest of North Battleford, Sask. When Stein spoke with CBC in the middle of January, his class was at level two of the province's Safe School Plan, which meant students were in class, cohorting and wearing masks. He said if a student were to test positive for COVID-19, his class would transition to level four of the plan, which means every student would immediately move to online learning. That's what happened to Stein's wife, who teaches younger students at the same school. She was called four days before the winter break with a head's up about just that. "It happens very quickly and there's not a lot of recourse or time to sort of reorient yourself," Stein said. Teachers' reflect on a year in flux Teachers have been on the frontlines of COVID-19 from the beginning, working essential jobs that have changed forms multiple times since the first cases hit Saskatchewan in March 2020. Schools closed early for the 2019-2020 school year, a measure the provincial government took to reduce the spread of COVID-19. In June, the government announced schools would reopen for the new year in the fall. But exactly what that looks like has been in near-constant flux. While organizations like the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation have been vocal about the pandemic's impact on teachers and what they'd like to see done to help them, little has been heard publicly from those leading the classrooms themselves. Nearly two dozen teachers from around Saskatchewan responded to a questionnaire CBC Saskatchewan has available online for people to share their pandemic experience. They wrote about lacking the resources they felt they need to handle the added pressures, from the steep learning curve associated with teaching virtually to sanitizing their classrooms. Worries were expressed by and for those who are immunocompromised and how COVID-19 could impact them, and some called for additional measures from the government to protect teachers in classrooms. Some were concerned about the impacts online teaching would have on relationship-building — an essential part of their job — and their mental health and that of their students. And many shared their love of teaching and how they were trying to make the best of a very difficult situation. WATCH | Two teachers, one working at school and one from home, walk us through a typical day for them: Stein said two of the biggest things he's noticed as a result of the pandemic are resource gaps and a shift in the social construction of his school. Getting in-class tech issues resolved takes longer, he said — a symptom of greater stress on those with that knowledge, created by the addition of online learning. Stein said someone might be unable to help with a fix for a week, "whereas pre-pandemic, it was maybe a day." "That changes the quality of in-class instruction as well and so we're just not in an optimal situation right now." Jason Stein, a teacher from Turtleford, described working under COVID-19 and the possibility of suddenly shifting to an online learning environment as similar to working with the Sword of Damocles over his head.(Submitted by Jason Stein) For the time being, he said the Turtleford Community School has restricted access to some areas for certain age groups, essentially creating an elementary, intermediate and high school situation in what is normally a kindergarten to Grade 12 environment. Stein said students are used to being encouraged to interact with those in different age groups and frequently participate in activities with those younger and older, but this year was different in the sense that there isn't a sense of community that there normally is. That extends to the staff he said, who are now eating their lunches alone in classrooms while educational assistants are relegated to the staff room to ensure physical distancing. "One of the things that I've started to do is at least once a week I make a concerted effort after school to go and visit the other wings of the school, just to remind myself that, yeah, you have other colleagues that are here," Stein said. The little interactions, like the staff room discussions or the face-to-face time with their peers were essential to ensuring there was cohesion in kids' learning, he said. Staff are still participating in group meetings and discussions, albeit via video-conferencing. But working to find ways to encourage a cohesive learning environment in the age of COVID-19, he said, creates extra work for educators. "That working to find ways to replace the old things is that added level of stress that teachers are feeling," Stein said. 'I wish I could just reach through my computer and help them' Not being able to be there in person for her students, has stood out as a particular challenge for Miranda Hammett. "I know when I'm having kids who are struggling, I've always said that I wish I could just reach through my computer and help them," the Grade 3 and 4 teacher with the Regina Catholic School System said. "Sometimes it's really hard to problem solve when I'm in one room and they're somewhere across the city in another." In a typical classroom setting, she would be able to pull those students who aren't engaging as much aside and have face-to-face conversations with them, where that isn't as likely to happen now. Some choose not to turn their cameras on. Online instruction wasn't as foreign to Hammett as it may have been for other teachers. Miranda Hammett, a first-year teacher, started her career in an unexpected manner when she signed an online education contract with the Regina Catholic School Division at the start of the 2020-2021 school year.(Bryan Eneas/CBC) She completed her education program online with the University of Regina last spring due to the pandemic. Hammett said those experiences, paired with a week-long crash course in online education before the school year started, prepared her, in a way, for this year. "I was a little bit nervous to take my contract on, especially with it being an online contract, but overall it's been a super positive and super great experience," she said. One advantage the pandemic provided, she said, was the absence of developing a classroom space — something she said first-year teachers would have to balance alongside creating content and developing education plans. She said it allowed her to focus more on what she's teaching and how she's teaching. But relationship building, an important aspect of teaching and something Hammett learned how to do in-person through her education, was a concern. Before she told the students what they were going to be learning for the year, she prioritized getting to know who they are as people — their likes and dislikes and other information they were willing to share with her. Being online has made me love my career and made me so happy with what I've chosen to do with my life. - Miranda Hammett For students between the ages of eight and 10, Hammett said her students have become surprisingly adept at the technology they're required to use. In some cases, she said students were teaching her how to use various aspects of the programming. Hammett, who is teaching from her basement in Regina, says when her Grade 3 and 4 students experience tech problems it makes her wish she could reach through the screen to help them.(Bryan Eneas/CBC) When tech-related frustrations do come up, Hammett said it's time for a "brain break." "We take our mind off what's frustrating us and then we get back into it and I'm going to re-explain it, I'm going to re-show it to them and hopefully the second time around we're walking in with a clearer head." Teacher not worried about kids' overall educational outcomes Stein said the teachers he knows would much rather be educating entirely in the classroom and where possible, it's being done. But all of the little things, like losing face-to-face conversations or interactions with students, kids losing out on extracurricular activities, tech issues and resource strains, are contributing overall to a decline in the quality of the education, Stein said. Still, he feels that in the grand scheme of things, the COVID-19 pandemic probably won't have a negative impact on most students' educational outcomes overall, as students will always be able to find a job they want to do and take the appropriate steps to be able to reach that goal. "In that sense, I don't think that educationally, the students' are going to lose out," he said. Hammett said although the pandemic impacted her personal mental health — there are plenty of up-and-down days — teaching online through COVID-19 has taught her to appreciate in class learning, whenever that happens. "Being online has made me love my career and made me so happy with what I've chosen to do with my life. But it's definitely going to be easier to make relationships and to teach and everything else [in-person]," she said. (CBC News Graphics) This article was produced thanks to submissions to CBC Saskatchewan's COVID-19 questionnaire. We want to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story here.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Newfoundland and Labrador announced Wednesday it was extending the interval between the first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to four months. Public health officials said the change will help them vaccinate 40,000 more people with a single dose by the end of March. Liberal Leader and incumbent Premier Andrew Furey said the decision is a game changer for the province's vaccination prospects. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. Nova Scotia will get 13,000 doses of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine the week of March 8. Health officials said March 3 the upcoming shipment must be used by April 2 and therefore all 13,000 doses will be administered to residents across the province aged 50 to 64 years starting March 15. The vaccine will be given out at 26 locations in Nova Scotia on a first come, first served basis. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario Ontario has given its first vaccines to people in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, some health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will include a service desk and online portal. It said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. Several regions in Ontario have moved ahead with their plans to vaccinate the general public using their own booking systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. The province has also said it will extend the interval between doses of COVID-19 vaccines to up to four months. Toronto began vaccinating police force members who respond to emergency calls on Monday and has also started offering vaccines to people experiencing homelessness. Solicitor General Sylvia Jones has said the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will go to residents between the ages of 60 and 64, but has not elaborated yet on how it will be distributed except to say it won't be through mass immunization sites. The province has said it will follow the advice of a national panel that has recommended against using the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot on people aged 65 and older. The health minister said the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot could be used in correctional facilities, but further details haven't been released. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. Like British Columbia, Manitoba has already indicated it would opt for a four-month interval between doses. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The province was also one of several Wednesday to say it would extend second doses of COVID-19 for up to four months, starting March 10. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
The United Nations' human rights chief asked Ethiopia on Thursday to allow monitors into Tigray to investigate reports of killings and sexual violence that may amount to war crimes in the northern region since late 2020. "Victims and survivors of these violations must not be denied their rights to the truth and to justice," Michelle Bachelet said in a statement, expressing her fear that violations could continue without outside scrutiny. Fighting between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's federal troops and forces of the region's former ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), has killed thousands of people, forced hundreds of thousands from their homes and hit infrastructure badly.
Minnesota-based Polar Semiconductor makes chips for automakers and is booked beyond capacity. "Most of the capital expenditure has been going into advanced nodes," said Tyson Tuttle, chief executive of Silicon Laboratories Inc, which designs automotive chips to be made on older technology.
The U.S. government has been slow to approve licenses for American companies like Lam Research Corp and Applied Materials Inc to sell chipmaking equipment to China semiconductor giant SMIC, sources said, as the impact of a global chip shortage spreads. Many licenses for U.S. suppliers to ship an estimated $5 billion dollars' worth of equipment and materials have not come through, according to more than half a dozen industry sources, though numerous companies submitted applications soon after the Chinese company was blacklisted in December.
Air Canada has agreed to offer refunds to passengers who had their travel plans cancelled because of the pandemic as part of a potential federal governmentbailout package, says a source with knowledge of the negotiations.
GENEVA — As the head of African soccer battles in court this week to stay on the ballot for re-election, FIFA president Gianni Infantino is coming off a comprehensive tour of the continent. The timing of the visit does not appear to be coincidental. Infantino fueled talk of election interference by visiting about a dozen African countries and meeting heads of state along the way — ala predecessor Sepp Blatter — while promoting his preferred candidate, South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe. The current president of the Confederation of African Football, Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar, is appealing against a five-year ban imposed by FIFA for financial misconduct while running the Cairo-based body. Although Infantino helped put Ahmad in office four years ago, it is unlikely that even a victory for the Madagascan at the Court of Arbitration for Sport would help his chances in a campaign increasingly influenced by the FIFA president. In the aftermath of Infantino’s African tour, a deal was offered to the four candidates challenging Ahmad in the March 12 election to clear the way for Motsepe, according to the office of Senegalese candidate Augustin Senghor. No agreement was reached. Motsepe, a mining magnate, is the brother-in-law of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and the owner of South African club Mamelodi Sundowns. Infantino met with Ramaphosa in Cape Town last month. After Infantino completed his tour, his top aides travelled to Morocco, where the challengers met in Rabat. The city will also host the election next week. The candidates are set meet again this weekend at a soccer tournament in Mauritania. FIFA presidents have long courted Africa, which has 54 voters among the 211 member federations. Infantino defied African opposition to be elected FIFA president in 2016, and one year later travelled extensively during the campaign to help Ahmad unseat longtime CAF president Issa Hayatou. African tours during election periods “are clearly very problematic,” said Miguel Maduro, the independent official who vetted candidates for FIFA in 2017 before being ousted by the leadership in Zurich. “Their (African members) access to money depends on the goodwill of the president of FIFA,” Maduro told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. Infantino’s latest trip was detailed in news updates on FIFA’s website. He echoed Blatter’s trademark rhetoric by promising more money and praising his hosts. “Before my arrival at FIFA, each federation received $250,000. Today it’s $1.5 million per year,” Infantino said in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. “Is it enough? No, we can do more. We must do more.” Infantino said in Mali that players at a new technical centre will “lift this great nation to the highest heights of African and world football.” In Benin, he said the country could “very well be one of those models” for world soccer. FIFA said in a statement that the focus of the tour “was on football development across the continent” and to hear the candidates’ views and plans. Infantino has consistently said he wants African national and club teams to be contenders in FIFA competitions. No African team has ever gotten past the quarterfinals of a men’s or women’s World Cup, nor won the Club World Cup. “There is an impression that Africa is going backwards,” Infantino cautioned African soccer leaders last year. Still, the timing of Infantino’s packed travel schedule raised questions during a pandemic and just before an election. He was also likely targeting his own re-election in 2023, Maduro said. “Of course, that is their concern. FIFA operates as a political cartel,” the Portuguese lawyer said. The basis for Ahmad’s ban last November was a FIFA-appointed forensic audit of CAF accounts. The FIFA review committee, once led by Maduro, later excluded Ahmad as a candidate. Even if CAS overturns Ahmad’s ban in the next week, the FIFA block on his election eligibility should stay in place. A separate decision would be needed to lift that. It all leaves Motsepe as the favoured candidate to get a four-year term as CAF president and one of the eight influential FIFA vice-president spots alongside Infantino. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press
The pending closure of a major grocery store in downtown Prince George, B.C., has sparked concerns that some of the city's poorest residents may not have easy access to affordable food. Save-On-Foods, owned by the Jim Pattison Group, has confirmed it is moving its downtown location to Pine Centre Mall, roughly three kilometres away. Though the distance may not make much of a difference to people who drive, it could have a major impact on those who walk or take transit to get their food, advocates say. "This is leaving a lot of people, I fear, with very little options," said Torie Beram, a nurse who works with vulnerable people in the city. "You are giving people no choice but to go hungry, utilize food banks or have to find a way to get to the grocery store." The issue of food deserts — urban areas without accessible, affordable food — is a growing concern across Canada. Research out of Winnipeg indicates areas without adequate grocery options tend to have higher rates of people with diabetes, with many surviving on convenience foods and canned goods. Beram worries Save-On's departure will create another such food desert in the heart of northern B.C.'s most populous city, particularly among residents of nearby neighbourhoods with higher concentrations of poverty. Many of her clients don't have vehicles, and even the cost of taking a taxi or having groceries delivered can be prohibitive. As a result, she said, they may be forced to take an hour round trip by foot or bus just to get supplies — a difficult task for single parents or elderly people, particularly during winter months. Seniors, students impacted The move also deals a blow to the city's downtown revitalization plans, which include the construction of student housing just a few blocks away from Save-On's current location. "Very often students come to Prince George, they may not have a vehicle, and having access to good healthy food is important to them," said Coun. Murry Krause, who chairs the city's poverty reduction committee. "It's very disappointing on so many fronts." Krause said the city's economic development wing will be reaching out to other major grocers in an attempt to entice them to take Save-On's place. City Councillor Murry Krause chairs Prince George's poverty reduction committee. He worries what the departure of Save-On will mean for the city's downtown revitalization efforts and how it will impact some of the community's most vulnerable people.(Andrew Kurjata/CBC) Some private citizens are doing the same. Kathleen Hebb said she is personally reaching out to retailers including Safeway and Sobey's in an attempt to get them to open up downtown. She said she is motivated by her own background being raised by a single parent on social assistance. "To say, 'Just get a taxi, get on a bus, go that extra distance' ... is really putting up more barriers and also taking away a bit of money every week." Darrin Rigo said he has a similar background — and similar concerns. "I had a single mom who didn't have a car ... so we walked to the grocery store as a family, 20 minutes round trip each way," he said. Rigo mapped out what Save-On's move might mean for some of the people who live nearby and was concerned by what he found. "It's a 40-minute-plus walk that requires crossing a highway and following a lot of busy arteries," he said. "I think back to my mom who was working two jobs at the time and probably just barely fitting all of this together — if that walk suddenly doubled in length ... I don't think she would have had many options." The move is also a concern to seniors and young families who live in the nearby Millar Addition and Crescents neighbourhoods. While they might be able to afford a car, many chose to live near downtown so they could access services by foot. Save-On-Foods says it is closing its location in the downtown Parkwood Place mall and moving to another location in the city. The grocery giant did not provide a reason for the move.(Andrew Kurjata/CBC) Jeremy Morris, 30, said he just bought his first house in the Crescents in part because he would be able to walk to get groceries, and is disappointed that will soon change. Barbara Robin, 78, is a retired real estate agent who moved close to downtown so she would be able to "walk everywhere" without having to cross any highways. She said the neighbourhoods close to downtown are popular among older people looking to downsize and have easier access to medical services, but the lack of a grocery store could be a barrier. "We want to encourage growth downtown ... so I think it's only right we should have a grocery store in that area." Brian Quarmby co-owns Birch and Boar, a downtown Prince George grocer specializing in locally-produced foods.(Andrew Kurjata/CBC) In the meantime, some smaller retailers are adjusting to the pending departure of Save-On. Birch and Boar, a small grocer specializing in locally-produced food, is expanding its hours to better serve people who need to pick up some items after work or on weekends. Co-owner Brian Quarmby said the shop is also talking to local farmers about expanding their produce options. But, he said, he recognizes a specialty shop can't replace the role of a large grocery store and he would welcome the arrival of another chain in the neighbourhood. "Especially with the seniors and that [vulnerable] community, they need something downtown." To hear more about the impact of Save-On leaving downtown Prince George, tap the audio below: Subscribe to Daybreak North on CBC Listen or your favourite podcast app, and connect with CBC Northern British Columbia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.