Icy water from Lake Erie splashes, coating benches near the water in a layer of ice in Port Stanley, ON.
Icy water from Lake Erie splashes, coating benches near the water in a layer of ice in Port Stanley, ON.
Canada's health officials spoke about the recent change in guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on the time between two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and how that may contribute to vaccine hesitancy in Canada.
The Walker family is grateful for the outpouring of community support after a fire ravaged one of their dairy barns last week. “We’re so overwhelmed by what everyone did for us,” said John G Walker. “It was really cool that everyone was able to pull together.” Firefighters, neighbours and local businesses rallied to help the family in their time of need. “It’s hard to name them all, because there were so many people that contributed, donated, and sent food,” he said. A fire destroyed a large portion of the main barn at Walker Farms in Summers Corners on Wednesday, Feb. 17, just before 5 p.m. Damages are estimated at $3-million. “The volunteer firefighters really stepped up,” said Mr. Walker. “They did a phenomenal job.” He noted, “No one getting hurt was the number one thing.” Firefighters from Malahide, Bayham, Central Elgin and Aylmer managed to save the back portion, which otherwise would have resulted in an additional $2-million loss. The fire took about seven hours to bring under control. While the family is thankful for what was saved, and that no people were injured, they were upset at the loss of livestock: an estimated 78 cows were lost as a result of the fire. “It’s obviously emotional a little bit. You never want to lose anything - the livestock are part of our lifestyle, our livelihood,” said Mr. Walker. “You can always build new buildings, but losing livestock always sucks.” Another 875 cows were saved, quickly herded out of the barn and into a nearby penned pasture by Walker Farms staff and firefighters. Some of those displaced cows were sent to another Walker dairy farm on Talbot Line, while others will stay at Skipwell Farms, a nearby 1,800-acre, 420-head dairy farm. They are currently being closely monitored for any health issues from smoke they may have inhaled, but Mr. Walker noted they have dealt quite well in the aftermath. Gerald Schipper, who runs Skipwell Farms, said the 80 cows have adjusted well to their new surroundings since taking them in. “The neat thing about cows is that they’re like humans,” said Mr. Schipper. “If you go by yourself to a strange place it can be intimidating, but if you go with 10 friends together it’s a lot easier.” Skipwell Farms uses a very similar milking system and layout as the Walkers, making the transition that much easier. “The Walker family have helped out a lot of dairy producers in our province, including ourselves,” said Mr. Schipper. When firefighters responded on Feb. 17, night was sinking in, and temperatures were dropping with it, starting at -8°C and getting colder. Workers brought hot food and coffee from local restaurants including Aylmer Sub, Domino’s Pizza, Tim Horton’s and KFC to help firefighters during the physically exhausting, several hour fight in the frigid temperatures. All refused offers of payment. The Walkers were also provided with lunches and suppers in the days that followed. The Walker Dairy office, milking parlour, milk house, former sales arena, and storage area were lost to the fire. Live auctions have been hosted monthly in the sales arena since the 1960s. Mr. Walker said the fire did not impact the sales side of the operation. “With COVID-19, we haven’t been running our live auctions, we went online,” he said. “We don’t need to physically have the live auction part.” The family has insurance for such emergencies and they plan to rebuild a similar structure with the possibility of some changes, said Mr. Walker. Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
OTTAWA — Unifor president Jerry Dias says Air Canada continues to promise refunds for passengers whose flights were cancelled during the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline has made the pledge repeatedly during negotiations with the federal government over an aid package for the battered sector, said Dias, who noted talks are ongoing. "I spoke to the CEO of Air Canada last night. So I know that this commitment has been made for quite a while." Air Canada took issue with Dias's take, saying no such conversation took place within the past week or beyond. The airline said that discussions are ongoing, but no deal has been reached. The Finance Department did not respond immediately to questions about the refund commitment. Then-chief executive Calin Rovinescu said in November the airline would not hesitate to reimburse customers stuck with unused tickets if the conditions of a federal bailout were reasonable. After a halting start nearly four months ago, talks ramped up over the past month, reaching a pace that he called a negotiation. Any deal would include a resolution on passenger refunds, a plan for returning service to regional markets and financial support for the aerospace sector, Rovinescu said last month. Air Canada says there are no updates since then, with no agreement yet in place. Dias said only about 4,000 of the union's 15,000 aviation workers remain fully employed a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, lending urgency to discussions in Ottawa. “We can’t get more urgent than now," he said. "Frankly, getting a little frustrated hearing that it’s imminent, just around the corner. Like, it’s been a year — I’ve grown two beards since hearing this." Ottawa has put reimbursement of travellers on the table as a key demand in exchange for financial relief for airlines, on top of asking carriers to maintain regional routes. Air Canada posted a staggering $1.16 billion loss in the fourth quarter of 2020, a result that caps what Rovinescu called the bleakest year in aviation history. "While there is no assurance at this stage that we will arrive at a definitive agreement on sector support, I am more optimistic on this front for the first time," Rovinescu said on a conference call with analysts Feb. 12, three days before he passed Air Canada's controls to new CEO Michael Rousseau. Unifor and two pilot unions are calling for federal loans totalling $7 billion at one per cent interest over 10 years. Unifor is also asking Ottawa to waive a fuel tax for Canadian carriers and suspend additional landing and gate fees on passenger and cargo flights. Air Canada, Rouge, WestJet, Swoop and Sunwing agreed in January to suspend service to Mexico and the Caribbean at the request of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to help fight viral spread. The moves resulted in the temporary layoffs of thousands of airline workers. Last month Air Canada announced it will temporarily lay off 1,500 unionized employees and an unspecified number of management staff as it cut 17 more routes to the U.S. and international destinations. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:AC) The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada will review a decision to order a new trial for an Alberta man convicted of murder. Russell Steven Tessier was charged with first-degree murder in 2015, eight years after Allan Gerald Berdahl's body was found in a ditch near Carstairs. Berdahl died from gunshot wounds to the head, and there were tire tracks, footprints and two cigarette butts near the scene. Tessier was convicted in 2018 but Alberta's Court of Appeal later ordered a new trial. The appeal court said the trial judge made legal errors concerning the voluntariness of statements Tessier made to police. As usual, the Supreme Court gave no reasons for agreeing to hear the case. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Health Canada says it won't require new clinical trial data from vaccine makers on booster shots being developed to target new variants of COVID-19. Instead, the regulator will rely more heavily on lab tests on blood samples, which can show how many antibodies develop following vaccination. Those antibodies are a good indicator of how well the human body will fight off an infection. The decision should help the regulator authorize the boosters for use in Canada much quicker and is in line with the process used to approve new flu vaccines each year. At least three variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are circulating in Canada and are believed to spread more easily and possibly cause more serious illness. Having vaccines adjusted to target those new strains is a critical part of managing the COVID-19 pandemic. But Health Canada's chief medical adviser, Dr. Supriya Sharma, said there won't be corners cut on safety in evaluating new boosters. "They still need to demonstrate that the vaccine that comes out is still safe, effective and high quality," she said in an interview with The Canadian Press earlier this week. Canada has authorized three vaccines, from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca, and all are working on various boosters against variants. The documents supporting Thursday's decision note that demanding full clinical trials, as was the case for authorizing the original vaccines, would create a serious delay. "This may also be problematic from a public health perspective since delay in updating a vaccine, where needed, bears the risk that the virus is evolving even further, potentially making a new vaccine version outdated at the time of approval again," the document says. Coronaviruses don't mutate as quickly as flu viruses, but do change as they spread among people and the more they spread, the more they change. "So a virus is not going to mutate as much when it can't replicate," Sharma said. The existing vaccines have shown reduced effectiveness against the variants of concern, though Sharma cautions the vaccines are still useful even against the variants. The vaccines Canada has authorized are performing well in countries like the United Kingdom and Israel, where the B.1.1.7 variant is now dominant. That variant is thus far the most common of the three variants of concern in Canada, accounting for more than 90 per cent of about 1,430 variant cases confirmed so far. Many provinces are now screening all confirmed cases of COVID-19 for the variants of concern, and as many as 10 per cent of all confirmed cases are fully sequenced to look for any mutations to the original virus. The B.1.351 variant that first arose in South Africa is the most concerning to date in its potential to evade existing vaccines. As of Wednesday, there were 103 confirmed cases of it in Canada. South Africa stopped using AstraZeneca's vaccine altogether after lab tests suggested it wouldn't be very effective against mild illness for B.1.351, which is dominant in that country. That decision has contributed to growing concerns that AstraZeneca's vaccine is less desirable but Sharma said the details aren't that simple. "Now, if you look at severe disease, or more severe cases, it actually looked like it was still quite protective," she said. "But in a country where that is your dominant circulating stream, and in a country where they had potentially had access to another vaccine shortly, they made the decision that maybe they weren't going to go ahead with that," she said. If B.1.351 becomes a dominant strain here, and current vaccines don't show effectiveness against it, they'll be pulled, Sharma said. "We wouldn't leave a vaccine on the market if we think that it wouldn't be effective for the overall population." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
De retour en zone orange, le centre d’artistes Espace F de Matane présente depuis le 11 février et jusqu’au 20 mars l’installation sonore Quand un arbre tombe, on l’entend ; quand la forêt pousse, pas un bruit, réalisée en 2018 par Caroline Gagné. Ce proverbe africain rappelle que si les événements les plus bruyants retiennent notre attention, l’essentiel se construit dans la durée et la discrétion.À l’écoute de petites choses perçues dans l’indifférence Vivant et travaillant à Québec et à Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, l’artiste en arts visuels et médiatiques convie les visiteurs de l’exposition à l’écoute de ces petites choses perçues dans l’indifférence. « Tel un archet mué par le vent, souligne-t-elle, le bruit d’une branche d’arbre frôlant un escalier de métal est l’élément déclencheur de cette installation sonore. Dans celle-ci, des formes d’aluminium rappelant ce contexte vibrent aux sons de petits haut-parleurs placés sous leur surface plane. » Active depuis plus de 20 ans Active dans son milieu depuis plus de 20 ans, Caroline Gagné compte à son actif plusieurs expositions individuelles et collectives ainsi que des participations à des événements internationaux. Romain Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Monmatane.com
U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Thursday repeated his pledge to keep credit loose and flowing until Americans are back to work, rebutting investors who have openly doubted he can stick to that promise once the pandemic passes and the economy surges on its own. With vaccines rolling out and the government fiscal taps open "there is good reason to think we will make more progress soon" toward the Fed's goals of maximum employment and 2% sustained inflation, Powell told a Wall Street Journal forum. "I want to be clear about this," Powell said in anchoring the Fed's promise to keep its near zero interest rates and monthly bondbuying intact.
Beverly Millar has sold all the copies of her new book, The Homefront: My Memories of World War Two, 1939-1945 and the proceeds are going to a good place. Millar realized $630 from the sale of her book and, as planned, she handed over all the proceeds to the P.E.I. chapter of Make-A-Wish Canada. “It’s one of my charities,” said Millar. “Did you know there are 37 children waiting to have their wishes granted?” That number has increased since the publication to 41, a record high for the province in the 34-year history of the chapter. More than 4,000 wishes are pending across Canada. Make-A-Wish P.E.I. has been actively granting Item Wish requests throughout the pandemic. "Though most of the world has shut down, the hope of a wish has remained essential!" wrote Jennifer Gillis, from the P.E.I. chapter in an email. Homefront is Millar’s last book, she says. Her eyesight has declined, making it increasingly difficult to write. The autobiographical collection was a gift from the heart for her children, an account of her time living in western P.E.I. during the Second World War. Millar passes on her thanks to everyone who purchased a copy and made a donation. Alison Jenkins, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Journal-Pioneer
County council agreed to support a movement for improvements at long-term care (LTC) homes, though disagreed with local advocates’ desire to end for-profit homes. Council voted to write a letter of support for the Haliburton-CKL (City of Kawartha Lakes) Long-Term Care Coalition. The advocacy group is joining with others across the province to push for improvements, including amending the Canada Health Act to include LTC, guaranteeing four hours of direct care per day for residents, stronger enforcement and a culture change. Councillors spoke in favour of those ideas. But the coalition’s desire to end private LTC did not garner support and was specifically excluded in the resolution. “The first four points that you have, I think, are a bold initiative and a great start,” Coun. Brent Devolin said. “The supply going forward, will public initiatives alone be enough to look after all of us?” Coalition co-chair, Bonnie Roe, cited the Ontario Health Coalition, a province-wide organization also calling for the end to for-profit long-term care. Its May 2020 analysis found COVID-19 deaths in homes with outbreaks were higher in private (nine per cent) versus non-profit (5.25 per cent) or publicly-owned (3.62 per cent). The Canadian military also released a report about terrible conditions at homes it intervened in last May, which prompted the province to start an independent commission. Four of those homes were privately-owned. “There are some for-profits that are excellent, but generally speaking, they do not follow the standards,” Roe said. “People are asking, ‘why are there private profits attached to us as a society caring for our elders’?” co-chair, Mike Perry, said. “Why was that ever seen as a profit-making venture?” Warden Liz Danielsen said the Eastern Ontario Warden’s Caucus has identified LTC as a priority. But she added the caucus is not yet in favour of ending private facilities. Coun. Carol Moffatt said she can attest to the challenges of eldercare and there is a drastic need for better support for health workers. “More people to do the job,” Moffatt said. “We also maybe need to be careful of what you wish for in terms of potential downloading. How do we all as a province push for the changes that are required, without it going off the cliff and then landing in the laps of municipalities for increased costs?” Perry thanked council for the support. “There’s so much common room and so much common ground for this moving forward,” he said. “That’s where we find hope in all this tragedy recently." Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
Most of us are familiar with the three Rs associated with limiting our waste: reduce, reuse and recycle. As it turns out, there’s a fourth R: renew the recycling licence. During the Feb. 22 regular council meeting for the Town of Pincher Creek, Coun. Scott Korbett formally announced the town would not be renewing its recycling contract with KJ Cameron Service Industries. Come June 30, only empty beverage containers will be accepted at the bottle depot. “The Town of Pincher Creek intends to continue to offer a recycling program,” the town’s official statement reads. “We are currently working with our regional partners to have a smooth transition to a new program by the end of June.” While understanding the town is obligated to make economic decisions when it comes to contracts, Weston Whitfield, owner and manager of KJ Cameron, worries consolidating services on a regional basis might result in an inefficient service to taxpayers. The process of gathering, transporting, then re-sorting material, Mr. Whitfield adds, might decrease the price recycling facilities are willing to pay. “My concern is in the past, places that have done collaborations like that end up with a little bit of contamination and it can affect the resale of the product,” he says. Although no official details have been released, the plan for future recycling appears to involve the Crowsnest/Pincher Creek Landfill Association. Discussion recorded in the minutes of the Jan. 20, 2021, regular meeting of the landfill association includes “Recycling Update” as an agenda item. The minutes describe proposals being sent to each of the municipalities and note that, despite no reply being received, each of the municipal representatives — Coun. Dean Ward from Crowsnest Pass, Coun. Brian McGillivray from Pincher Creek and Reeve Brian Hammond from the MD of Pincher Creek — indicated their respective councils are still considering or interested in the landfill’s recycling proposal. Recycling was also a topic during last week’s council meetings for both the MD of Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass. During the MD of Pincher Creek’s Feb. 23 council meeting, chief administrative officer Troy MacCulloch updated council on plans to move collection bins from outside the MD office to a site off Bighorn Avenue and Highway 507, near the Co-op lumberyard. The site will cover recycling needs for residents from both the MD and town. “This will be a site that the MD will build,” said CAO MacCulloch. “We will cost-share it with the town, and then going forward it would be operated and manned by the Crowsnest/Pincher Creek Landfill.” Plans for the new recycling site are still tentative as the MD is working with the current landowner to develop a lease that would permit the property to be used as a transfer station for garbage and recyclables. The garbage bins by the MD office, he added, could also be removed. This will allow for further development and easier access of the standpipe, which will remain at the location. Meetings with Pincher Creek administration have discussed the possibility of the MD taking over the composting facility, which would be included on the site. Crowsnest Pass council also voted Feb. 23 to direct administration to find a location for their own recycling bin. Ease of access, along with being sheltered from the weather and from travellers’ field of vision, were identified as main priorities. Administration was asked to present a location at the March 16 council meeting with hopes that users could begin dropping off recycling by the end of the month. The goal is to eventually have three sites in the municipality to gather recycling. Beginning with one, said CAO Patrick Thomas, was a good place to “at least start and see what the challenges are,” especially to “see how [building] the fencing and screening goes.” The Town of Pincher Creek’s full official statement regarding the recycling licence can be found online at http://bit.ly/PC-Recycle. More information on Pincher Creek Bottle Depot and Recycling can be found at www.facebook.com/pcbottledepot. Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
JUNEAU, Alaska — Juneau city leaders have approved changes to local COVID-19 testing requirements for travellers, including waiving a $250 testing fee for non-resident travellers who are tested at the airport and exempting “fully vaccinated” individuals from strict social distancing after testing. The changes approved by the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly on Monday are meant to be encouraging for COVID-conscious travellers, KTOO Public Media reported. The rules define fully vaccinated as people who have gone more than two weeks since receiving a second dose of a two-dose vaccine or more than two weeks after receiving of one-dose vaccine. People considered fully vaccinated must still adhere to testing protocols, according to a statement from the city. But they do not have to practice strict social distancing for five days after arrival. The city describes strict social distancing, in part, as not socializing with anyone outside the person's household and not going indoors anywhere, except for one's home or the place they are staying. Non-vaccinated travellers must arrive with proof of a negative coronavirus test result, or they can get tested at the airport when they arrive and observe strict social distancing while awaiting results. The rules expire at 12:01 a.m. on May 1, unless other action is taken first. City Manager Rorie Watt said at the assembly meeting that officials “won’t be shy” about notifying the community if plans need to change. The Associated Press
Apple could face an EU antitrust charge sheet in the coming weeks after a complaint by rival Spotify that it unfairly pushed its own music streaming service, two people familiar with the matter said on Thursday. The European Commission could send the statement of objections setting out suspected violations of the bloc's antitrust rules to Apple before the summer, one of the people said. The case is one of four opened by the EU competition enforcer against Apple in June last year.
WASHINGTON — A key Senate committee on Thursday approved the nomination of New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland to be interior secretary, clearing the way for a Senate vote that is likely to make her the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved Haaland's nomination, 11-9, sending it to the Senate floor. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski was the lone Republican to support Haaland, who won unanimous backing from committee Democrats. Murkowski, a former chair of the committee, said she had “some real misgivings” about Haaland, because of her support for policies that Murkowski said could impede Alaska's reliance on oil and other fossil fuels. But the senator said she would place her “trust” in Haaland's word that she would work with her and other Alaskans to support the state. Her vote comes with a warning, Murkowski added: She expects Haaland “will be true to her word” to help Alaska. Haaland was not in the committee room, but Murkowski addressed her directly, saying, "I will hold you to your commitments.'' “Quite honestly,'' Murkowski added, ”we need you to be a success.'' Democratic Sens. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Maria Cantwell of Washington state both called the committee vote historic, and both said they were disappointed at the anti-Haaland rhetoric used by several Republicans. Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the panel's top Republican, and other GOP senators have repeatedly called Haaland's views “radical” and extreme. Heinrich said two interior secretaries nominated by former President Donald Trump could be called “radical” for their support of expanded drilling and other resource extraction, but he never used that word to describe them. Under the leadership of Cantwell and Murkowski, the energy panel has been bipartisan and productive in recent years, Heinrich said, adding that he hopes that tradition continues. The committee vote follows an announcement Wednesday by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, that she will support Haaland in the full Senate. Her vote, along with Murkowski's, makes Haaland’s confirmation by the Senate nearly certain. The panel's chairman, Sen. Joe Manchin, announced his support for Haaland last week. Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, said Thursday that he does not agree with Haaland on a variety of issues, including the Keystone XL oil pipeline, but was impressed by the strong endorsement by Alaska Rep. Don Young, a conservative Republican who is the longest-serving member of the House and has forged a strong working relationship with the liberal Haaland. As a former governor, Manchin also said he knows how important it is for a president to have his “team on board” in the Cabinet. “It is long past time to give a Native American woman a seat at the Cabinet table,'' he said. Interior oversees the nation’s public lands and waters and leads relations with nearly 600 federally recognized tribes. Barrasso, who has led opposition to Haaland, said her hostility to fracking, the Keystone XL oil pipeline and other issues made her unfit to serve in a position in which she will oversee energy development on vast swaths of federal lands, mostly in the West, as well as offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska. Barrasso said a moratorium imposed by Biden on oil and gas leases on federal lands “is taking a sledgehammer to Western states’ economies.? The moratorium, which Haaland supports, could cost thousands of jobs in West, Barrasso said. Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
The dining room in Katie Rioux's Quebec City restaurant has been closed since the fall, and she expected her business would remain a takeout-only operation for weeks to come, if not longer. On Wednesday, though, the owner of Café Krieghoff received some unexpected good news. Premier François Legault announced he was scaling back health restrictions in several regions, allowing Rioux and countless other restaurant owners to serve customers sitting inside for the first time in five months. "Honestly, we could not have gotten better news than this," said Rioux, who also promised to do her part to ensure Quebec City does not go back to being a red zone. "As restaurant owners, we will do everything we can. I think the population is also on our side." Café Krieghoff owner Katie Rioux can't wait to serve sitting customers at her Quebec City restaurant for the first time in five months. (Radio-Canada) However, some public health experts say the Quebec government's decision to roll back restrictions to this extent is too hasty. Following March break, the Quebec City region will be joined by the Eastern Townships, Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec and Chaudières-Appalaches as the latest to be downgraded from red to orange zones. In these regions, gyms and show venues will be allowed to reopen, houses of worship will be able to take in as many as 100 people at a time. The government is also dropping the requirement that all primary school students must wear a medical grade mask. The nightly curfew remains, but will kick in at 9:30 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. "I would have preferred to wait until at least one week after the holiday week, because then we would be able to see the impact of the vacation on the increase of cases everywhere in Quebec," said Dr. Cécile Tremblay, a microbiologist and infectious diseases specialist at the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal. "We know that people from Montreal travel to other regions, and we won't know the result of that until two weeks from now." The race between variants and vaccines Legault's announcement came a day after Health Minister Christian Dubé and Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda held a news conference of their own, during which they warned Quebecers about the growing spread of coronavirus variants. "The ocean is calm at the moment ... but underneath there are sharks," Arruda said, "and I'll tell you what those sharks are: they're the variants." The decision to remove restrictions in places outside of the greater Montreal area seems to reflect data showing that variants are gaining more ground in Montreal than elsewhere in the province. On Wednesday, Legault said spikes in cases and hospitalizations were expected in and around Montreal, and those projections played a major role in the government's most recent announcement. But Prativa Baral, an epidemiologist with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says the province is squandering a golden opportunity to deal a crushing blow to the virus. Seniors arrive for their COVID-19 vaccination at a clinic in the Olympic Stadium in Montreal.(Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press) With more and more Quebecers set to get vaccinated, Baral says the government should focus on its inoculation campaign while limiting contacts as much as possible, in an effort to keep the spread of variants under control. "For us to be loosening restrictions now, is too premature. We don't want to be reactive, we want to be proactive for once," Baral said. "At this point, it's more of a virus versus vaccine race, and we really want to make sure that we're pushing the vaccine segment to win, as opposed the variant segment." The province's latest projections for the spread COVID-19 appear to reinforce the importance of winning that race. According to the mathematical modelling published by the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) on Thursday, lowering the province's collective guard could provoke a rapid spike in new infections that could reach between 3,000 and 4,000 cases per day. It also seems possible, perhaps even likely given the presence of infectious variants, that Quebec will experience a third wave. Sticking with the low-socialization and low-contact measures that were in place from January and February might not entirely prevent another peak this spring in terms of daily infections, but it could keep hospitalization numbers and fatalities low. Marc Brisson, the director of the Université Laval mathematical modelling group that conducts the INSPQ's COVID-19 forecasts, said the model doesn't account for the government's latest announcement, but does include increased inter-regional travel and social contacts from March break. "If we can accelerate vaccination ... and follow public health guidelines, then at that point our model is saying we could stay at a number of cases that would be relatively stable. However, if vaccination slows down and there's more contact, then a third wave is predicted," he said. There is some good news in the projections, however. The model supports the government's contention that there are two distinct epidemiological realities in Quebec: greater Montreal, and the rest of the province. The fact there is lower community spread outside the province's largest urban agglomeration means it's less likely the variant strains will spread. "The race is how many vulnerable people we can protect with vaccination and ... can that variant infect the most vulnerable among us?" he said. The key, Brisson concluded, is continued adherence to public health measures, which "would buy time for the vaccine to take its effect."
NEW YORK — Long before she became a Tony Award-winning choreographer, Ann Reinking waited tables to save up enough money to move to New York City. She arrived with $500, no job lined up and no connections. When she died at 71 last year, Reinking left behind many fans, friends and students as well as a legacy of a cool, muscular dance hybrid of jazz and burlesque. In her honour, friends and admirers have established The Ann Reinking Scholarship, a $5,000 annual award and mentorship for a young dancer moving to New York City to help support them in their artistic endeavours. “She was one of the most profoundly generous people that I’ve known,” says Bebe Neuwirth, a two-time Tony winner who co-starred with Reinking in “Chicago” on Broadway. “This honours that in a way that also references her story of coming to New York.” The scholarship is being awarded by Off the Lane, a mentorship program for young performers moving to New York. It will be open to anyone, from anywhere, with a cut-off age of 21. “Teaching to her was such an important part of her, mentoring and nurturing new artists and helping them along the way,” said Neuwirth. “I think to have a scholarship in her name keeps that generosity of spirit going.” Trained as a ballet dancer in her native Seattle, Reinking was known for her bold style of dance epitomized by her work in the hit revival of “Chicago,” complete with net stockings, chair dancing and plenty of pelvic thrusts. Reinking co-starred as Roxie Hart along with Neuwirth’s Velma, and created the choreography “in the style of Bob Fosse,” the show’s original director and choreographer who died in 1987. She and Fosse worked together for 15 years and she was also his lover for several of them. Her movie credits include “Annie” (1982), “Movie, Movie” (1978) and the documentary “Mad Hot Ballroom” (2005), which portrayed Reinking as a ballroom-dance competition judge for New York City kids. Reinking’s work on “Chicago” earned her a 1997 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards. Reinking replicated its choreography in productions throughout the world. Mindy Cooper, who was a swing in that 1996 “Chicago” revival, recalls once asking Reinking career advice that changed the arc of her career. She also remembers Reinking one day bringing her son to rehearsals at “Chicago,” an encouraging signal that Broadway dancers could also have a family life. “She created such a safe environment for performers to bring to the room with courage and artistry,” said Cooper, now a professor of theatre and dance at University of California, Davis. “Annie grew up in the ballet world like myself and came to theatre from ballet. So we wanted to make a scholarship that could embrace all forms of dance.” The advisory board for the scholarship includes Cooper, Neuwirth and such Broadway luminaries as Chita Rivera, Joel Grey, Tommy Tune, Marilu Henner, Hinton Battle, Charlotte d’Amboise, Reinking's husband, Peter Talbert, and son, Chris Reinking Stuart. ___ Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press
Richard Grecco, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Charlottetown, announced his resignation Thursday. In a letter to his diocese, Grecco said canon law requires that he submit his resignation at the age of 75. Thursday is his 75th birthday, and he said Pope Francis had accepted his resignation. Grecco goes on to say that his retirement comes at a time when his health has been failing. "By co-incidence or by providence, today, on the occasion of my 75th birthday, I begin a four-month program of chemotherapy," Grecco wrote. "This follows a week-long radiation program, which helped the painful symptoms considerably." Grecco said he has been comforted by the support of his congregation since his diagnosis in December. He added that a high percentage of patients in his situation achieve remission. Grecco was installed as the 13th bishop of Charlottetown on Sept. 21, 2009. After his resignation, he will retain the title of bishop, but relinquish the responsibilities of managing the Charlottetown diocese. A priest from the diocese will be appointed as a new administrator within the next two weeks, he said, and will continue in that role until the appointment of a new bishop. More from CBC P.E.I.
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has continued to send stunning images of the red planet back to Earth. In this moment, an incredible shot of the Sun from the Martian surface was captured. Credit to "NASA/JPL-Caltech".
The Peace River Regional District will be going ahead with plans for a new public library in Chetwynd, after board directors voted in favour of issuing requests for proposals for design and construction at their Feb. 25 meeting. The new library is a joint effort between Area E and Chetwynd. A lean-to style building is being floated as one possible option. Costs are capped at $5 million. “This has been going on for awhile, we’re trying to get costs down to something we can afford,” said Director Dan Rose. “We’ve got floor plans and ideas of what it might look like, so they’re not starting from scratch.” He added the library has extensive experience working remotely as a satellite office. "We’re certainly willing to accommodate as many communities as we can, with our services. I’m sure we could make agreements with everybody on how to do that,” said Rose. Fort St John Mayor Ackerman agreed a regional approach could be a good move for libraries in the Peace. “I’m totally open to having that conversation, even though the library in Fort St John is not a municipal library,” said Ackerman. “If you’re suggesting a regional library, I’m on that bandwagon.” Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead says the city will lend a hand if Chetwynd needs. “I appreciate how busy it is in Chetwynd right now. If they have any trouble at all in locating a site or land for this Chetwynd Public Library, we’d be happy to help facilitate that partnership with them, and construct it in Dawson Creek,” said Bumstead, jokingly. firstname.lastname@example.org Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News
To anyone looking into Kim Switzer’s backyard last week, they might have seen what looked to be Switzer playing with her son, Memphis. But despite the singing, the dancing, the laughter, and the pure joy on their faces, the pair were actually working; tromping around in snowshoes in a very particular way to create a 12-foot-wide flat circle in the snow that would serve as the starting point for a backyard igloo. The joy was much needed for Switzer, who thrives when she is outside but has found it difficult to do so this winter in the way she needs for optimum mental health. “For me, it’s pure joy,” she said. “I love nature, it’s rejuvenating for me. It’s uplifting.” Being a single mom of three, homeschooling her kids, experiencing the death of a parent and the loss of a business, all while living through the pandemic and experiencing a lack of winter camping left Switzer feeling discouraged. “My whole winter has been [hard], I haven’t been out, I haven’t been out anywhere,” she said. Then, the kindness of a stranger and the connection made available through social media turned Switzer’s winter around. An avid outdoorsperson herself, she follows like-minded people on social media for ideas, inspiration and friendship. When she saw Martin Pine, who is from Huntsville, share about igloos he was making, she quickly sent him a message asking if he might come to her house and build one in her yard. “The next thing I know, I get a message in my inbox that says, ‘you’re like the third person who’s asked me about building an igloo in their yard, and you’re the only one that’s actually close enough that could actually make it possible,’” she said. Switzer was exuberant with excitement, in the manner, she said, of “a little kid in a candy shop.” “And I still am,” she said, the week after the igloo was built. After she and Memphis had created the starting point in the yard for the igloo, Pine visited the backyard and helped to teach Switzer the technique he has perfected using a contraption called, fittingly, an Icebox Igloo Tool. “He pops open this little itty, bitty, tiny, square box that I would say is definitely less than six inches thick, and maybe a foot wide by 18 inches long,” she said. “It folds all up and it’s meant to strap on your back so you can take it anywhere.” With the Icebox Igloo Tool, Switzer said Pine can generally build an igloo in about four or five hours but she said it took them more time as she was asking questions and learning the process of packing the snow, following the angle guide and creating an igloo that can hold the weight of a person leaning against it. “There were plenty of times where he was like, ‘you’re so concentrated,’” she said. “I was just soaking it all in. I learned so much about snow, and even going around the circle I learned how snow changes state ever so slightly. In the shade, it packs this way, but as you come around and you’re in the sun, it becomes a little more wet, and a little bit more sticky … How different snow packs and moves and blends, it’s pretty wild, actually.” When it was finished, Switzer said she was able to get her much-needed outdoor time, sleeping overnight in the igloo, spending time in it with her ukulele, even eating a take-out meal from the Mill Pond restaurant in the shelter. Pine’s unmonetized YouTube channel has almost 10,000 subscribers and his instructional videos of canoe camping, winter camping, bushcraft, meal preparation and igloo construction have accumulated thousands of views. “I love backcountry camping and I have always lamented that so few people avail themselves of the opportunities we have here in Ontario for getting out into nature and camping in the backcountry,” he told the Times. “I determined many years ago that what keeps people from camping in the backcountry – as opposed to say, car camping in a serviced site in a park – is a simple lack of practical knowledge about how to go about [it].” He shares his knowledge online and was happy to help Switzer learn how to make her own igloo in her backyard – for the price of a cup of coffee or two. “As a boy, growing up in rural Quebec, I loved making and camping in snow shelters called quinzhees, which is essentially a large pile of shovelled snow which one then hollows out to resemble a crude igloo-like shelter,” said Pine. Pine said he knew that igloos were sturdier shelters that could remain standing longer and would not result in the builder getting soaked in their creation. “But the Inuit built their igloos out of a type of snow that is not found in this part of the country, namely hard-sintered, wind-packed snow, which can then be shaped during the building process.” Pine purchased the Icebox Igloo Tool, an invention created by an American mountaineer in Colorado, “Igloo Ed,” that allows him to make snow bricks regardless of the snow conditions. While Switzer’s igloo has suffered in recent weather conditions, she sees the resulting hole in the top of the igloo as an opportunity – one to provide a chance to look up at the stars, and also, to learn about how to fix the problem in her own backyard igloo as experience for if she builds one at another time in backcountry. “I’ve got to learn, and you learn from trial and error, mistakes, whatever it might be,” she said. “It’s been four or five days of just an abundance of information.” The igloo in the backyard of her Carnarvon home has lifted her spirits tremendously. “This is the highlight of my winter,” said Switzer. “That right there made my entire winter.” For more information, visit Pine’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/PineMartyn. Sue Tiffin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Minden Times
Political leaders in New Caledonia on Thursday agreed new terms for the sale of Vale's nickel business, including a majority stakeholding for local interests, seeking to resolve unrest over the planned sale. The deal signed by pro-independence and loyalist leaders in the French Pacific territory also cited a "technical and industrial partnership" with Tesla, under which the electric car company would source raw materials for batteries. Brazilian miner Vale's decision last year to sell its nickel mine and processing plant to a consortium including Swiss commodity trader Trafigura sparked fierce opposition from pro-independence groups.