Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigned on Thursday after a scathing review about a toxic workplace at Rideau Hall. The review followed CBC reporting into allegations of workplace harassment and bullying in the Governor General’s office.
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigned on Thursday after a scathing review about a toxic workplace at Rideau Hall. The review followed CBC reporting into allegations of workplace harassment and bullying in the Governor General’s office.
China's medical products regulator said on Thursday that it had approved two more COVID-19 vaccines for public use, raising the number of domestically produced vaccines that can be used in China to four. The two newly cleared vaccines are made by CanSino Biologics Inc (CanSinoBIO) and Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, an affiliate of China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm). They join a vaccine from Sinovac Biotech approved earlier this month, and another from Sinopharm's Beijing unit approved last year.
WASHINGTON — Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket goods shot up 3.4% in January, pulled up by surge in orders for civilian aircraft. A category that tracks business investment posted a more modest gain, the Commerce Department rpeorted Thursday. Orders for goods meant to last at least three years have now risen nine straight months, another sign that manufacturing has proven resilient in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The January gain — triple what economists had expected — followed upticks of 1.2% in December and 1.3% in November. Orders for civilian aircraft and parts jumped 389.9%. Excluding transportation equipment, which can bounce wildly from month to month, durable goods orders were up 1.4%. A category economists watch for hints at future investment -- orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft — rose 0.5%. Paul Wiseman, The Associated Press
Le CLD de Brome-Missisquoi invite les très petites, petites et moyennes entreprises qui ont un manque de liquidité à le contacter pour déterminer si elles sont admissibles à un programme d’aide d’urgence (PAUPME), dont une partie peut se transformer en subvention. « Le salon de coiffure, la petite boutique du coin et même la cantine, ils peuvent passer par le prêt pour avoir un pardon de prêt qui va jusqu’à 80 % du prêt initial. On ne demande pas la rentabilité de l’entreprise, on vise la viabilité, indique Isabelle Dumont, conseillère en développement d’entreprises au CLD. Il faut que leurs problèmes découlent de la pandémie et non d’avant la pandémie. » Le prêt permet d’éponger un manque de liquidité résultant de la pandémie. Il est accessible à toutes les PME, même si elles n’ont pas été obligées de fermer leurs portes depuis le début de la deuxième vague de COVID-19. Le pardon de prêt, soit le AERAM, qui permet aux entrepreneurs d’être libérés d’une partie de cette dette, s’applique aux frais fixes des PME qui ont été fermées par décret gouvernemental. Gym, restaurant, services non essentiels ne sont que quelques exemples des entreprises admissibles. Selon Mme Dumont, ce ne sont pas toutes les PME qui sont au courant de l’existence de ces programmes. Le CLD joue le rôle de facilitateur dans la demande. La conseillère prend le temps de bien vulgariser le programme et le CLD a même élaboré un formulaire simple pour déterminer l’admissibilité. Une pression de moins La Galerie Artêria, à Bromont, a eu droit à un prêt ainsi qu’à un pardon de prêt puisqu’elle a dû fermer à partir des Fêtes. La propriétaire Geneviève Lévesque a eu une « petite panique » quand le gouvernement a annoncé que les commerces non essentiels allaient devoir fermer à partir du 24 décembre. Elle avait déjà vécu une première fermeture de trois mois au printemps. De plus, ses employés ne peuvent plus voyager à travers le monde pour vendre des tableaux d’artistes québécois. Le chiffre d’affaires de la petite entreprise bromontoise a donc fondu depuis maintenant un an. Le programme d’aide a permis la survie de la galerie d’art. « Ça enlève une pression, ça nous donne de meilleures nuits, confie Mme Lévesque. On pense qu’on va passer à travers, mais on ne sait pas combien de temps il faut survivre, donc tous les petits coups de pouce font la différence. De sentir qu’on n’est pas laissé à nous-même, de sentir que les gens croient en notre projet, ça fait du bien. » L’exportation d’œuvres d’art se poursuit, mais repose sur la réputation que la galerie auprès de clients réguliers qui leur font confiance. Processus simplifié par le CLD La coiffeuse Nathalie Dépeault, de Coiffure Ovima à Farnham, peut mieux respirer grâce au programme d’aide d’urgence pour les PME et au pardon de prêt. Elle a trouvé le processus simple et efficace avec le CLD. « Quand on a fermé le 24 décembre, on devait fermer jusqu’au 8 janvier seulement. J’avais assez d’argent d’accumulé pour le loyer, mais la fermeture s’est prolongée. Je ne me qualifiais pas pour de l’aide au loyer au fédéral et quand je regardais les critères des autres programmes, je ne fittais dans rien. Ça commençait à m’apeurer parce que je voyais les prochains mois s’en venir vite. » En deux semaines, le processus pour accéder au PAUPME était complété et Mme Dépeault obtenait de l’aide financière. « Ça réduit beaucoup d’anxiété de savoir qu’on peut compter sur de l’aide. Je me suis sentie bien accompagnée. Je me sentais moins seule. » Quelques éléments du programme de pardon de prêt ont été modifiés. Les mois de novembre et de décembre ne sont plus admissibles pour les nouveaux demandeurs. Par contre, si l’entreprise a dû fermer plus de 90 jours, elle aura droit à un ou deux mois supplémentaires de pardon de prêt, indique Isabelle Dumont. Elle invite les entrepreneurs et travailleurs autonomes à la joindre au 450 266-4928, poste 301, ou par courriel au firstname.lastname@example.org pour obtenir des informations et vérifier leur admissibilité. Au cours des derniers mois, le CLD de Brome-Missisquoi a reçu 375 demandes d’information et 120 demandes d’aide financière. Les membres de son équipe de conseillers ont ouvert 95 dossiers et approuvé 85 demandes de prêt. Dix dossiers sont toujours à l’étude. L’organisme s’est déjà vu attribuer une demi-douzaine de subventions gouvernementales, dans le cadre du Fonds local d’investissement (FLI) d’urgence, pour soutenir la communauté d’affaires locale. Une bonne partie de cette somme, soit environ 2,65 M$, a déjà été redistribuée à quelque 77 entreprises sous forme de prêts d’une valeur moyenne de 34 400 $. « Nous disposons présentement d’une réserve de 869 000 $ pour répondre aux nouvelles demandes d’aide financière », souligne Mme Dumont. Cynthia Laflamme, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix de l'Est
A North Battleford woman and alleged Westside gang member had court appearances scheduled in Lloydminster and Meadow Lake Provincial Courts and the matters were adjourned. Tonia Cantel, 22, is charged in connection to several separate incidents. She was denied bail in January. In February the Crown said they continue to oppose her release. Cantel has been in custody at Pinegrove Correctional Centre for women in Prince Albert since her arrest in November 2020. In the November 2020 incident, where Cantel and four others allegedly took police on a 150-kilomtre, two-hour chase, she is charged with theft of a vehicle, storing a prohibited firearm, four counts of possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose, two counts of carrying a concealed weapon, possessing a firearm without a license, being in a vehicle with an unauthorized firearm, possessing a prohibited firearm with accessible ammunition without registration, possession of a firearm with an altered serial number, endangering the safety of the public and flight from police. For those charges Cantel had an appearance scheduled in Lloydminster Provincial Court on Feb. 23 and the matter was adjourned. In that incident, police also arrested Juanita Wahpistikwin, Kyle Lajimodiere and two young offenders who can’t be named in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Earlier this month, Wahpistikwin was sentenced to 18 months in jail for her part in that incident. Lajimodiere’s trial is set for June 29 and 30, 2021, in Lloydminster Provincial Court. Cantel also has charges out of Big River including aggravated assault, operation of a vehicle causing bodily harm, robbery, and possession of property obtained by crime. For those charges she had an appearance scheduled in Pierceland Circuit Court on Feb. 16. The charges against Cantel haven’t been proven in court. She is now scheduled to appear in Meadow Lake Provincial Court on March 9. If you are associated with a gang and want to leave it, contact STR8 UP in northern Saskatchewan at 306-763-3001, STR8 UP in central Saskatchewan at 306-244-1771, or Regina Treaty Status Indian Services in southern Saskatchewan at 306-522-7494 to get assistance. email@example.com Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
The Golden Globes kicks off a pandemic-era Hollywood awards season on Sunday after a year that upended the entertainment industry and saw celebrities on red carpets replaced with webcams on sofas. Sunday's ceremony, to be broadcast live on NBC television, will take place for the first time on two coasts, with comedians Tina Fey hosting from New York and Amy Poehler hosting from Beverly Hills, California. Tom O'Neill, founder of awards prediction website Goldderby.com, said Fey and Poehler were the perfect hosts for unusual times.
The number of available COVID-19 vaccine doses is steadily rising, but a shortage of physical space that meets standards for pharmaceutical manufacturing is a major bottleneck to further expansion, according to drugmakers, industry construction experts and officials involved in the U.S. vaccine program. The production of raw materials, vaccine formulation and vial filling all require "clean rooms" with features like air cleaners, sterile water and sterilizing steam designed and in some cases built by specialists. Moderna Inc on Wednesday announced plans to expand vaccine manufacturing capacity, but said it will be a year before that can add to its production.
(Submitted by The Front Yard Flower Co. - image credit) Flower vendors are worried B.C.'s COVID-19 rules for farmers' markets could lead to greenhouses full of blooms going to waste. Farmers' markets are considered an essential service and have been allowed to continue operating throughout the pandemic. However, non-food vendors like potters, jewelry and soap makers and flower sellers are excluded from in-person sales. This rule was lifted for a time last summer before being reinstated in December. Flower farmers plan months ahead, ordering seeds and growing plants throughout the winter, said Rachel Ryall, who owns River and Sea Flowers in Ladner. "We planted the current flowers that will be blooming over the next month back in September and October, assuming things would be alright to sell them again," Ryall said. "I can't stop them from flowering. They're coming." Rose Dykstra, owner of The Front Yard Flower Co. in Richmond, says it was never clear why non-food vendors were excluded from selling in farmers' markets. She has started a petition urging non-food vendors be allowed back. She has sold her flowers at the Vancouver Farmers Market for years and says the market has maintained strict rules throughout the pandemic to keep visitors and vendors safe. Spring flowers like tulips, narcissus, ranunculus and anemones will be ready soon and she's worried about lost sales and wasted blooms — she says she's not equipped for large-scale delivery across the Lower Mainland. "I feel like maybe we've been forgotten, because we're not vegetable farmers, we're kind of a smaller segment of vendors," Dykstra said. Rose Dykstra, owner of The Front Yard Flower Co. in Richmond, says it was never clear why non-food vendors were excluded from selling in farmers' markets. She has started a petition asking that non-food vendors be allowed back. Laura Smit, executive director of Vancouver Farmers Market, says although she is grateful the province has permitted markets to continue operating, it's never been made clear why non-food vendors aren't allowed. The farmers' market has been working since December to bring back non-food vendors, and she says if the rule is not overturned, it will have a big impact on the bottom line for flower vendors in particular. "Their product is absolutely seasonal," Smit said. "It's not something that is shelf-stable and can sit around to be sold later on in August. Literally the spring time is when these flower farmers are planning for, preparing for, and they don't understand why they can't come to market and we don't either." Spring flowers like tulips, narcissus, ranunculus and anemones will be ready soon and Rose Dykstra is worried about lost sales and wasted blooms if she can't bring them to the market. In an email to CBC News, the B.C. Ministry of Health said the rule is in an effort to keep the risk of COVID-19 transmission down, and added that non-food vendors can do online sales and pick-up orders. "The reason that food vendors are allowed is that farmers' markets are essential food and agriculture service providers," a spokesperson said. "The B.C. government will continue to listen to feedback from the community and stakeholders and adjust our response to support businesses as needed." Soap also not allowed — during a pandemic It's not just flower farmers who are concerned. Shea Hogan hopes he will be able to sell his natural bar soap at farmers' markets again this spring. The owner of PoCo Soap Co. says farmers' markets used to be a big part of his business and a way to build relationships with customers. He says it's ironic that, as a non-food vendor, he can't sell soap in a pandemic. He believes buying items from an outdoor farmers' market is among the safest ways to shop. "It was frustrating because other than being arbitrary and general, we're being told to wash our hands with soap and water," Hogan said. "And as a maker and seller of soap, to not be allowed to sell soap somewhere seems ... extra weird."
Mississauga–Streetsville Liberal MP Gagan Sikand, who has not participated in a legislative vote since October, will remain absent from Parliament “until further notice” according to his staff. The MP is on an unspecified medical leave that has stopped him from working since the fall and there appears to be no timeline for his return. It means just over 118,000 Mississaugans are without direct representation in Ottawa, reliant on bureaucrats to respond to their needs. None of their concerns or positions on issues are currently being represented in the House of Commons. “With the full knowledge and consent of MP Mark Holland, the Chief Government Whip, MP Sikand is officially on a medical leave of absence until further notice,” a staffer told The Pointer in an email. The Pointer sent a request to the Whip’s office asking if the party was aware of Sikand’s absence. No response was received in time for publication. The Pointer could not find any public notice of the medical leave on Sikand's Twitter feed or his official website, which does not have any press release or other communication informing constituents of the leave. The Parliament website which lists all members also does not indicate that Sikand is on a medical leave. Eight calls to Sikand’s constituency office went unanswered; the number for his Ottawa parliamentary office failed to connect on multiple attempts. An advisor provided a short response by email, but the MP’s staff, tasked with handling matters in his absence, could not be reached by phone. “Our office is experiencing a high volume of inquiries at this time,” an automated email response tells those who reach out to Sikand’s constituency inbox. It is unclear exactly when Sikand’s medical leave began, but parliamentary voting and speech records suggest it was in the latter half of 2020. During the first session of Parliament, between December 5, 2019 and prorogation on August 18 2020, Sikand had a standard participation record for a backbench MP. He spoke in the chamber with relative frequency and voted 18 times. His record compares to Omar Alghabra (Mississauga Centre, recently elevated to the position of Transport Minister) and Sven Spengemann (Mississauga—Lakeshore) who had 22 and 18 votes respectively. But, when the legislature returned for its second session on September 23 2020, Sikand’s record began to fade. Since September, he has participated in just six votes compared to 53 for both Alghabra and Spengemann. At the end of October, Sikand’s parliamentary participation ended abruptly. He hasn’t spoken or voted in Parliament since October 29, according to records maintained by the government and Open Parliament, an independent, non-governmental website that tracks votes, speeches and committees in Parliament. On social media, Sikand’s activity remained longer than in Parliament. Twitter, where many politicians communicate their core messages to residents, saw Sikand continue engaging with constituents until he took a break. His digital posts included Christmas greetings and messages shared in December and the first half of January. On January 21, the MP congratulated US President Joe Biden on his inauguration, his last tweet before apparently unplugging from social media. He has not replied to or liked a tweet since his absence from Parliament began after his final vote on October 29. A medical absence for a serving MP is not unprecedented. Almost immediately following the 2019 election, Winnipeg MP Jim Carr was diagnosed with cancer. At the time, he stepped back from his parliamentary duties, leaving his staff in charge of helping the constituents who elected him. Sikand was first elected during the Liberal red wave in 2015, when Justin Trudeau’s party swept through Brampton and Mississauga taking every seat. He won reelection in 2019, finishing almost 10,000 votes ahead of his nearest rival, Conservative candidate Ghada Melek. Sikand has been relatively quiet during both his terms as an MP, showing a particular interest in the Criminal Code. Between 2015 and 2019, he introduced one Private Members Bill in 2016 which would have amended the Code, also speaking regularly on the topic. Sikand wanted to introduce the use of a passive detection device that would allow police officers to detect the use of alcohol within a few hours of operating a vehicle. His Bill died in 2017. A lawyer by training, Sikand worked for the Ontario government’s Attorney General before he made the leap to federal politics. It remains unclear how long Sikand will be away, but staff say the Mississauga—Streetsville office continues to operate as normal. “All constituency matters are being handled diligently by our staff without disruption on a remote basis,” one of his staff members said. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
Queen’s Park is set to appoint a third party to investigate allegations of anti-Black racism and systemic discrimination at the Peel Children’s Aid Society (CAS). The office of Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women's Issues, confirmed to The Pointer that the wheels are in motion to facilitate an operational review. “In October last year, the ministry became aware of a report regarding anti-Black racism towards staff at Peel CAS,” Hannah Anderson, director of communications for Dunlop’s office, told The Pointer. “The report raised concerns about the society’s leadership and workplace culture. Since receiving a copy of the report, the ministry has been working closely with the society to understand their plans to address these concerns.” The move comes after a report last year written for the union, CUPE 4914, described a culture of fear within the organization, where Black staff, who described their marginalization, raised concerns over the impacts of systemic discrimination within Peel CAS. It is an organization responsible for providing care to some of Peel’s most vulnerable residents, in a region that is overwhelmingly non-white. Recent findings of widespread anti-Black racism were particularly disturbing for an organization that in 2019 was duty-bound to look after a large number of Black children – 39 out of 189 children in care at Peel CAS were Black, according to data provided by the organization in December. That was 21 percent of all children in the organization’s care a little over a year ago. The fear of widespread discrimination running through an organization that has to work with schools, police and, ultimately, families in the community, to ensure potentially traumatic decisions are made with the utmost of care and consideration, in a framework grounded in equity and safety, has now led to the Province’s intervention. In the union report, staff describe a divide between management and leadership. The CUPE 4914 document references nepotism within the organization and says Black staff see senior leadership as “untrustworthy” when handling their concerns. The report articulates management “has no picture of what is happening to or being experienced by Black staff.” After positioning itself as a leader and making anti-oppression a primary goal, some think the current leadership is dining out on past success, when a former employee led a range of progressive initiatives. “As much as Peel is part of a very diverse environment and culture and the agency has done a lot of work in previous years to support diversity, equity and inclusion, a lot of that stopped,” one staff member told The Pointer last year. Employees asked to not be identified. “We did the great work, we became great leaders and we stopped the things that made us leaders.” When Peel CAS was contacted by The Pointer last year about the concerns raised by staff and the union report, it did not respond to questions about the Province's One Vision One Voice initiative, which addresses the over-representation of Black children in Ontario's child-welfare system and the range of discriminatory attitudes within institutions such as education and policing that often lead to over-reporting on Black children. The lack of concern around these potentially destructive biases raised questions about whether the agency is aware of best practices in the sector to minimize the potentially harmful impact of systemic, institutionalized stereotypes and other attitudes entrenched within referring organizations. A failure to root out referrals based on racial prejudice lands hardest on Black frontline staff, employees told The Pointer in December. Unable to decline work from a manager, they find themselves aligned with police or principals in a situation they may not think merits child-protection services. Without open communication between managers and frontline workers — a professional environment where everyone feels they can speak their mind — staff can find themselves stuck. “We [Peel CAS] are not actively challenging the school board and the police, we are kind of just going along with them,” one staff member said. “We’re going along with the nonsense, so we are part of the problem. We pretend we are good for the community and then we don’t understand why the community can’t stand us. But we are aligned with the same processes that oppress them.” It can have a serious impact on people’s mental health. “You need your management to be behind you because, at the end of the day, we’re not decision making staff,” one of the employees added. “We need people in decision making positions who can help us. I cannot just push back against the principal without my supervisor’s support. Half the time, it’s me stuck between the school board and my supervisor.” To begin to solve the problem, staff and the authors of the CUPE 4914 report asked for clear policies to be put in place. The alarming union report was produced after a series of conversations facilitated by Breakthrough Counselling and Wellness, which focused on the experiences of Black staff. Concerns raised by staff during those meetings were aggregated and compiled, alongside recommendations and analysis to complete the report. The recommendations in the CUPE 4914 report were wide-ranging and included an audit of the organization by a third party, a review that would go beyond the interviews undertaken by Breakthrough Counselling and Wellness. At the end of 2020, senior leaders at Peel CAS said they would use the report as “a guide” but staff and union representatives feared they would commission their own favourable report that risked erasing the blunt assessments captured in the disturbing CUPE 4914 document. Unable to come to a solution together, and with little trust on either side, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services will now step in. The government will appoint a third party to review Peel CAS for workplace issues, policies and practices that may contribute to systemic racism within the organization. It will also assess if Peel CAS remains in compliance with its legislated duties to children in the region. The Province’s move has been acknowledged and welcomed by Peel CAS’ directors, who appear to have read the findings in CUPE 4914’s report differently. “We became aware of staff experiences related to systemic racism and anti-Black racism in our workplace and have recognized that we are not immune from systemic bias and racism,” Juliet Jackson, president of the board of directors, wrote in a statement. She did not allude to the serious concerns about senior leadership raised by staff and echoed by the Province. Rav Bains, CEO of Peel CAS, who has authority over senior leadership and staff, has not released a public statement. When the union work around issues of systemic discrimination was launched, Bains and senior staff at Peel CAS said they were also launching their own review, and claimed their move was done independently and proactively. Speaking to The Pointer late last year in response to the CUPE 4914 report’s revelations about the organization he runs, Bains admitted failings and claimed steps had been taken to address them. But he could not name any. He acknowledged systemic issues that needed to be addressed without offering a detailed understanding or explicit plans to address the situation. Staff told The Pointer late last year that a number of progressive actions by former employee Kike Ojo-Thompson, who spearheaded a range of effective initiatives to eradicate systemic barriers, were sidelined by Bains shortly after she left the organization in 2015. In December, some members of CUPE 4914 expressed concern Peel CAS was trying to also sideline their report by commissioning a more favourable investigation of their own. “Unfortunately, Peel CAS statements regarding their commitment to tackle anti-Black racism are performative, corporate, unilateral and reflect their consistent top-down approach,” the union said at the time. “It's self serving at best and there is a large discrepancy between the information Peel CAS relays to the media/public about their commitments and action plans and how they try to suppress, silence and control the Black voices internally.” Bains disagreed. He did not directly answer a question about a specific recommendation in the union report (to review senior staff performance with an equity lens) and if it would be followed, but said a new report would “not replace anything”. Chima Nsitem, Peel CAS director of diversity, equity and inclusion, said the report senior staff planned “is going to be used as a guide”. In a 55-minute interview with The Pointer in December, confronted with the findings of the union report and experiences of staff, Bains and Nsitem admitted shortcomings but also deflected many questions: they acknowledged the organization has work to do, but said they’re not alone on this front. Achievements were lauded alongside an acceptance that work is incomplete. “Bullying, racism, anti-Black racism have no place in our organization,” Bains said in December. “Does that mean we don’t have more work to do? Like every institution, there’s more work to do, including the media, including all the other systems. So we’ve said that up front.” The union report highlighted concerns raised by staff that leadership consistently deny any problems around systemic racism or other forms of discrimination within the organization. “We don’t want to give you the impression of either being defensive or somehow we’ve got a perfect system or that we have everything buttoned down,” Bains said. “I think that would be a mistake for us. There’s always work to be done.” He did not lay out what this work would be or provide any details of a specific strategy to address the issues raised in the union report. Under Bains’ leadership, a watchdog group (the Board Diversity Monitoring Committee) was disbanded and allyship sessions, designed to help non-Black staff to understand their role in fighting anti-Black racism, were discontinued. Bains defended dissolving the committee and suspending the allyship programs, which Peel CAS has promised to bring back. He said they were “thoughtful” and “gentle” decisions, designed to “integrate diversity and equity into everything we do”. The union has been steadfast in its assessment of Bains and his leadership, describing his claims of being an ally as “performative”. Now, the Province is stepping in. But concerns have already been expressed about who will do the third-party review under the guidance of the ministry. A spokesperson for Peel CAS did not respond to specific questions, including who requested the external review, if a vendor had been selected or how long they expect the process to take. “It is important that the review be allowed to run its course,” the spokesperson said. Information provided by Queen’s Park suggests a deadlock between union and senior leadership led the government to step in. “As the society and the union have been unable to reach an agreement on the path forward, the ministry is now proceeding with an operational review,” Anderson explained. “We want to work with both parties and have them actively engaging in the process. This is key to meaningful, sustainable change. Ensuring all voices are heard is critical to an open and transparent process.” No timeline is yet available for the work. A final decision on which organization will complete the review has not been made. One organization already armed with experience in this area is Agree Incorporated, the group that completed a review of York CAS at the end of 2020. The review, announced after significant public backlash over reports detailing widespread problems within York CAS, came to several damning conclusions. “Based on its findings, Agree Inc. recommended that a new leadership direction and approach must be put in place quickly, and that actions must be taken to create engagement toward a better workplace culture that is respectful, healthy and collaborative,” the report said. The review of York CAS was conducted over roughly three months. The process was announced by the ministry on July 31 and then a vendor was selected, with Agree Inc. publishing its findings on November 13 last year. “We welcome the review and are confident that the results will lay the foundation for ongoing organizational improvement and development,” Jackson wrote on behalf of the Peel CAS board. “We recognize the need to work together to chart a path forward and believe that an independent process that is transparent and open is a critical element to that undertaking.” The Province confirmed a timeline will be published when a private-sector organization has been selected to conduct the investigation of Peel CAS. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
Munich authorities have reopened their investigation of assault allegations against Bayern Munich defender Jérôme Boateng after receiving new information from police investigating the death of his ex-girlfriend, prosecutors said on Thursday. Munich prosecutors last summer shelved their investigation into an alleged 2019 assault by Boateng on his former girlfriend Kasia Lenhardt, after Lenhardt decided “not to provide any more incriminating statements.” They also wanted to wait for the outcome of the football star's trial in a separate assault case. Boateng's attorney has rejected the allegations in both cases. Lenhardt, a model, was found dead in a Berlin apartment on Feb. 9 and police have said they have found no evidence of outside involvement. Boateng returned to Germany from Bayern’s participation at the Club World Cup in Qatar for personal reasons the following day. Munich prosecutors told The Associated Press in an email that they reopened their investigation on Feb. 10, after “we received new information from the course of investigation into the death” of Lenhardt. They would not comment further on the new information, saying the investigation is ongoing. Meantime, the Munich district court trial of Boateng on allegations of assault against former partner Sherin Senler, the mother of their two children, has not been able to start due to coronavirus restrictions. Boateng’s legal representative filed a complaint against Munich prosecutors in June 2020 alleging an innocent person was being prosecuted, but the complaint was rejected by the state prosecutor’s office on Aug. 18, 2020. It was not clear when the trial would be able to begin. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
People 95 and older, as well as First Nations people 75 and older, are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. "I’m personally very excited to be announcing that we’re expanding into general population, and I’m looking forward to decrease the age of eligibility continually over time," said Dr. Joss Reimer at Wednesday’s news conference. Calls for the newly eligible can be made beginning this week, with vaccines beginning next week. The vaccine call centre, at 1-844-MAN-VACC (1-844-626-8222) now has 2,000 lines, with more than 370 trained agents. The online booking self-serve tool is in its pilot phase, but will not replace the call centre. "We do know it’s possible the call centre will receive an overwhelming number of calls. We know Manitobans have been eager for this moment, and many of you are going to want to call right away," said Reimer. She asked that only eligible people, or the people calling for an elderly person, ensure they fit the criteria. These days, the wait time is less than a minute on the booking line, with a call-back option. If the wait time does increase, people can opt to have their call returned rather than waiting on the phone. Dr. Marcia Anderson, public health lead for the First Nation Pandemic Response Co-ordination Team, explained that in the coming weeks, people who call to make an appointment and self-identify as First Nations would be transferred to a member of a specialized team. "These specialists will have additional training and cultural safety to ensure that they support callers and facilitate access to an appointment for those who are eligible," Anderson said. At first, self-identification will be the method by which First Nations can access the vaccine. But, in the future, because some people do falsely identify as First Nations — called "pretendians" — the system will be tightened up over time. "This is a phenomenon that I have been aware of and had to work through in multiple different contexts, but I never imagined that one of the harmful ripple effects would be that non-registered or non-status First Nation people would face the risk of not being able to get a vaccine at a time when they rightly should be able to," said Anderson. In the future, First Nations people in Manitoba will be asked to verify their identity, she added. "We want to make sure that this is done in a way that is safe for people and does not exclude our First Nations relatives, that because of the complicated and various processes of colonization, do not have Indian status cards," she said. If a First Nations person does not have a status card under the Indian Act, there will be an escalation process to deal with the more complex cases in a trauma-informed and culturally safe way. Anderson reported that, as of last Friday, 7,023 doses of vaccine have been administered on-reserve — four per cent of the eligible population received first doses, while .08 per cent are fully vaccinated. Off-reserve, 2.96 per cent of the population have received one dose and .07 per cent are fully vaccinated. Of Manitoba’s eligible population, 2.4 per cent are fully vaccinated. As Anderson explained, First Nations have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 — making up 54 per cent of new cases in the overall Manitoba population and 70 per cent of active cases, and the virus does affect them more harshly, as demonstrated by hospitalization rates. The median age of death in Manitoba is 83, while in First Nations it is 66. Meanwhile, full two-dose vaccination at personal care homes is set to wrap up this week. "This is a tremendous accomplishment," said Reimer, adding results are already showing. "While we are seeing decreases in rates in the community overall, and we know that there are strong public health measures still taking place in personal care homes, we’re also seeing quite a sharp drop in the number of outbreaks happening in personal care homes." Additionally, the focused immunization teams began first doses at congregate living sites in Brandon and Winnipeg on Feb. 19, with regional health authorities scheduling high-priority congregate living sites starting this week. There are 1,400 congregate living sites in the province. A list of those sites can be found at bit.ly/2P9KaWX The vaccination task force has looked ahead in terms of doses coming to Manitoba to the end of March — which Johanu Botha, co-lead for the Vaccine Implementation Task Force, said will be 15,000 Pfizer doses weekly, up slightly from the roughly 12,000 doses it is receiving currently. "These are not large quantities," said Botha, adding all Pfizer doses go to supersites due to the storage requirements. There are currently two supersites — in Winnipeg and Brandon — with two more scheduled to open. The plan is to open Selkirk’s site in early March and Morden/Winkler’s in mid-March. Apart from the doses received from Moderna this week, next shipments of that vaccine are unknown. "We have just over 8,000 doses on hand remaining," said Botha, who added that those are tagged to complete vaccinations at personal care homes and support the congregate living campaign. Moderna is the vaccine of choice for First Nations, due to its less stringent storage requirement. That’s concerning, said Anderson. "We certainly want to respond to the data and have everybody — First Nations people living both on and off reserve — vaccinated as quickly as possible, especially as we start to think about heading into flood season, fire season, and what a large-scale evacuation at the same time as we’re dealing with the pandemic would mean," she said. But Anderson referenced Reimer’s news that Pfizer is looking into changing some of its shipping and storage restrictions. That may mean Pfizer can be used at First Nations in the future. "And I would say my experience has been both our provincial and federal counterparts are very willing to have that dialogue," she said. Anderson said it’s hard to calculate First Nation uptake of the vaccine at this time. "In general, in 61 of the 63, the anecdotal feedback that we got was that uptake was very high among those who were eligible. In one community, some further communication was needed, and support. Then uptake improved," she said. Anderson said the experience is much more in line with H1N1, which was higher than usual vaccine uptake. "We’re very encouraged by this progress." It was also revealed at the news conference that the Manitoba Metis Federation continues to be in conversation with the province for a vaccine program targeting vulnerable Métis populations. Reimer suggested Manitobans monitor the eligibility criteria website. The eligibility criteria will expand — sometimes quickly — by decreasing age, and can be found at bit.ly/3ssXBQb Additionally, 213 pharmacies and doctors across the province have signed up to deliver vaccines when more, with less stringent storage needs, are approved. The Wednesday technical briefing for media, which preceded the news conference, can be found at bit.ly/37LRuhP Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
(Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada - image credit) N.W.T. MLAs seek a slew of mechanisms to improve addictions treatment in the territory including aftercare and permanent funding for harm reduction measures like managed alcohol. Thebacha MLA Frieda Martselos said there are no adequate aftercare programs to support people in their recovery. She wants three facilities staffed with mental health workers built in the South Slave, central N.W.T. and the Beaufort Delta to provide those programs. "With the structure and routine suddenly gone, when they return home, people can easily slip back into their addictions," she said. Health and Social Services MInister Julie Green said there are no firm plans to construct those facilities, but a working group in her department is considering aftercare in the N.W.T and an addictions recovery survey that is currently being conducted will inform that work. Few culturally-relevant services Dehcho MLA Ron Bonnetrouge said he wants an alcohol and drug counsellor in his community who is not affiliated with the government. "(Alcohol) is also affecting many of our youth and young men," said Bonnetrouge, adding there a few culturally-relevant services in communities. "Most alcoholics need someone they can confide in, someone that they trust, someone that they know," he said. The health and social services department supports the Dene Wellness Warriors and the Rhodes Wellness College's Northern Indigenous Counselling program, whose first graduates come out next year, said Green. "We see a unique opportunity here to hire these N.W.T. residents who have the specialized counselling training and to bring them into our communities," said Green. The department of health recently reformed its community counselling program to allow same-day appointments without a wait list, and walk-in availability for 19 communities. MLA Ron Bonnetrouge encouraged the health minister to establish non-government positions for alcohol counselling in communities. Sustain managed alcohol programs beyond pandemic: Johnson During the pandemic, the territorial government established some managed alcohol programs that delivered alcohol to prevent withdrawal. Other programs, such as the one Spruce Bough, have some clients provided access to alcohol, tobacco and cannabis as determined by a physician. MLA Rylund Johnson said harm reduction measures should be continued beyond the pandemic and sustained through government long after the COVID-19 money dries up. "As these programs emerged, they were not fully funded or true managed alcohol programs," he said,. He added they require medical professionals and social workers for supervised consumption. Green said her department has a mandate to establish a managed alcohol program in the N.W.T. "We are currently exploring options to make that a reality," she said. Health Minister Julie Green said her department is collecting data from managed alcohol programs established during COVID-19. The health department is gathering data from programs in Yellowknife and Inuvik where managed alcohol was provided during the pandemic. The information should be analyzed by the spring, said Green. Spruce Bough is funded until September 2021, and Green says the department will work with the Yellowknife Women's Society to sustain the program once funding expires. Establish navigator supports to prevent evictions: Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA Lesa Semmler asked the health minister to work with Housing Minister Paulie Chinna and establish health and social service supports for people who risk eviction during recovery. "People struggle with housing stability and affordability especially during after care and post treatment," said Semmler. Green said local housing organizations should be made aware of community counselling programs and that previous pilot programs, like a navigator position in Behchokǫ̀, showed promise. Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA Lesa Semmler said health and housing departments need to bolster supports to prevent evictions against people in recovery. Funding issues On Tuesday, Monfwi MLA Jackson Lafferty suggested the territory allocate specific funds to in-territory treatment options using the proceeds of roughly $57 million in annual liquor and cannabis sales. He said the territory profits off of alcoholism but doesn't help people struggling with addiction. In 2019, for example, the Northwest Territories Liquor and Cannabis Commission made $33 million. Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek said the money goes into the consolidated revenue fund, which is spent on all departments in the N.W.T., including health and social services, and housing. Green said the health department is reviewing its spending in the face of rising health care costs. The N.W.T. will try to contain costs internally but that plan will not be made public, said Green. Monfwi MLA Jackson Lafferty says the territory should allocate one or two per cent of its alcohol profits to in-territory treatment.
Canada's Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announced late Wednesday that the country's new Chief of the Defence Staff, Admiral Art McDonald, who took on the role last month, has stepped aside from his post as an investigation is conducted by the force's national investigation service. Mercedes Stephenson reports on what we know so far.
The beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic was full of uncertainty. Almost a year later, people and businesses have found ways to adapt and help each other in the community. In March 2020, local teen Ray Calder created the Rainy River District COVIDelivery group on Facebook, that aimed to help deliver essential groceries and supplies to those unable to go out themselves due to self-isolation or being part of a high risk group. “I think we had around 25 volunteers the first time around probably late March or the first part of April last year, right when things were just starting to shut down and a lot of people were returning from travels and having to quarantine for 14 days. We had quite a few requests in the early days because of that,” said Lisa Brockie, who handles calls and messages for the Rainy River District COVIDelivery. The initial response was overwhelming because many people were self-isolating after returning from trips and many seniors could not risk leaving their homes, Brockie said, adding that since then, requests have decreased. Brockie got involved with the service as a volunteer and later came on board to help Calder when the requests were too overwhelming to handle on his own, but they have not had any requests this month. Brockie said they did just over 100 deliveries in total from March until now. There were not many requests in June so they decided to suspend the service, Brockie added. “We thought that was the end of it and then we got a handful in January,” Brockie said. “A lot of our volunteers who were off work last year are now back so we had a smaller group of volunteers sign up to help and then all of a sudden, we didn’t get any more calls.” Brian Cawston, owner of Einar’s Foods in Fort Frances, has quite a popular grocery delivery service. Cawston said the service was busy because of the pandemic but has now gone back to its usual flow. Cawston said he is happy that the delivery service which runs twice a week, has been steady. He said that more people are opting for it or for curbside pickup. “We have some people who do more curbside,” Cawston said. “A lot of people phoning in and we get ready for them and then they just come in and pick it up.” Brockie said she thinks one of the reasons the demand for the COVIDelivery service dropped was because stores were pivoting to curbside pickup and that many people were able to get family members to buy their necessities. “Overall I think it was really positive, especially back when there weren’t really many options for people and there was a lot of fear when we didn’t know much about the virus, how it was spread and who was most at risk,” Brockie said. “There was a lot of gratitude from the people who were getting the delivery to know that they didn’t have to put their health at risk or go without their necessities.” Brockie said the service is currently running but they are in discussion of whether to continue it. Natali Trivuncic, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — “Better Call Saul,” the prequel spinoff to the hugely successful series “Breaking Bad,” will begin production in New Mexico on its sixth and final season beginning in March. White Turtle Casting officials told the Albuquerque Journal that production will begin in the second week of March and the agency is looking for stand-ins for the series. Pre-production is currently underway, and the crew is being quarantined and tested for the upcoming start, the Journal reported Wednesday. Production originally was set for March 2020, but it was moved because of the pandemic. There will be 13 episodes in the final season, although no air date has been confirmed. “Better Call Saul” has been shot in New Mexico since 2015. The production has given nearly $178,000 to the state’s film programs. The Associated Press
Many people dream of their retirement day, and finally find time to pick up new hobbies or travel but for Dr. Robert Lidkea, it is the last thing on his mind. Lidkea was born in North Bay and came to Fort Frances after he graduated from university. He said he would have stayed in North Bay but there were no openings for an optometrist and he was forced to find a job elsewhere. Lidkea came to Fort Frances in 1952 to become part of the Fort Frances Clinic. At the time the clinic only had two M. D’s, a dentist, an optometrist who was looking to retire and a pharmacy. In 1952 Lidkea was the youngest practicing optometrist in Ontario and now in 2021, he is the oldest optometrist at 90. He graduated as a registered optometrist in 1952 from the College of Optometrists in Toronto and in 1957, he returned for his post graduate studies and earned his doctor of optometry. Lidkea said jokingly he continues to work because he needs the money, but in reality he said he could not stay home all day. Lidkea said he officially retired on Jan.1 and went back to work on Jan. 21. “I just enjoy doing what I’m doing, that’s all,” Lidkea said. “I’m happy to come to work.” It may only be for one day a week, but Lidkea said he always looks forward to it. Lidkea was president of the Ontario Association of Optometrists from 1975 to 1976. He was accepted as a fellow in the American Academy of Optometrists in 1983 and was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Waterloo in 1987. Lidkea said when he first began practicing, an eye exam was $3. “It’s quite a long stretch since then,” Lidkea said. “A lot of knowledge and a lot of changes, knowledge and training, everything’s changed.” Lidkea said he has been learning all his life as the training never stops. “When I graduated there was not even such a thing as calculator so it’s been a very long learning process but it’s not all at once, it’s been very gradual,” Lidkea said. He adds that is has been helpful working with his son Bruce who has been able to coach him through all the new technology. Bruce is now the primary practitioner. Lidkea has also been an active member in the community, through clubs and volunteer work. He has been a member of the Kiwanis Club of Fort Frances since he came in 1952 and has 60 years of perfect attendance. He became president of the club in 1961 and was elected Lt. Governor in 1973. He has now been the secretary for many years. Lidkea was also elected to town council for two terms and has served on many local boards. In 2004, Lidkea was honoured with the Ontario Association of Optometrists 2004 Milenium Award for Public Service. The award recognizes a member of the Ontario Association of Optometrists who has performed extraordinary public service in either a professional or non-professional capacity. In 2007, Lidkea received the Fort Frances Citizen of the Year award. Lidkea said his favourite part of the job is interacting with people in the community, adding that in some families, he has cared for five generations. “It’s been an interesting life,” Lidkea said. “My wife and I have been blessed with good health and we’re getting by quite well.” Lidkea said he gets to see his two sons quite often and has coffee with his friends every morning at 10 a.m. sharp. The secret to a long career, according to Lidkea, is being passionate about what you do. “If you’re eager to get to work in the morning, you’ve got the right job,” Lidkea said. “If you aren’t happy going to work, you got the wrong job.” Natali Trivuncic, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
ATHENS, Greece — Greece's prime minister on Thursday promised sweeping changes to the country's laws and labour regulations to combat sexual abuse and misconduct in the wake of an assault allegation made by Olympic sailing champion Sofia Bekatorou that has prompted more cases and triggered a nationwide debate. Speaking in parliament, conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the government will introduce tougher sentencing guidelines, propose changes to statute-of-limitation rules for cases involving minors, and create a dedicated government agency to deal with abuse claims in workplaces and organized youth activities. Multiple cases of alleged sexual misconduct and abuse have been made public since former Olympian Bekatorou alleged she was sexually assaulted by a national sailing federation official in 1998. The people coming forward with accusations include other athletes, current and former university students, and stage actors. Mitsotakis said reports that unaccompanied minors were vulnerable to abuse at migrant camps on Greek islands also motivated him to take action. “There were children at the camps...and in Greek cities that were being exploited for sex for 5 and 10 euros ($6-12),” the prime minister told lawmakers. He noted that children and teenagers travelling alone no longer live at the island camps or are held in police cells for protection but have supervised, separate living quarters. The reports include a 51-page document from the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University in 2017 that said, citing camp informants, there were serious indications of child abuse at Greek migrant camps. Separately Thursday, a former director of Greece’s National Theatre appeared before a public prosecutor to respond to child abuse allegations. The 56-year-old suspect, who denies any wrongdoing, was arrested Saturday and remains in police custody. Opposition parties have demanded that Mitsotakis replace his culture minister over the alleged scandal. A government official told the AP Thursday that new sentencing guidelines and details of the proposed legal changes would be announced “in the coming days.” ___ Follow Gatopoulos at https://twitter.com/dgatopoulos Derek Gatopoulos, The Associated Press
Billie Holiday, considered one of the greatest jazz singers of all time, has long been remembered for her expressive voice as well as a history of drug and alcohol addiction and her untimely death at age 44. The new film "The United States vs. Billie Holiday" aims to change the public's perception of the singer and shine a light on her role as a leader in the push for Black civil rights, the movie's director and star said in an interview with Reuters. Debuting on the Hulu streaming service on Friday, the film tells the story of the uproar caused by Holiday's singing of the ballad "Strange Fruit," a protest song about the lynching of Black people.
(Shane Ross/CBC - image credit) Snowy, windy weather that cancelled schools on Prince Edward Island Thursday will persist throughout the evening and into tomorrow in some areas, says CBC P.E.I. meteorologist Jay Scotland. See a full list of cancellations on Storm Centre. Winds kicked up Thursday afternoon across the Island, blowing around falling snow, reducing visibility on roads and leading to wind restrictions on Confederation Bridge, which have since been lifted. Some highways were covered or partly covered in snow. Plows, salters and sanders are out across the province. "My main concern tonight is blowing snow," Scotland said. "Flurries will persist over central and eastern areas tonight and, with northwest winds from 30 to 60 km/h or more, visibility may be reduced, particularly for exposed (rural) areas." Chilly Friday forecast Flurries will wrap up later tonight up west, he said, but may linger into the morning hours for central P.E.I. For eastern Kings, the flurries could persist into mid-afternoon Friday and northwest winds will remain quite strong — 25-50 km/h or more — with blowing snow possible. "My other concern is for icy patches on roads, sidewalks and walkways as today's warmer temperatures have left a lot of standing water on the ground," Scotland said. "Temperatures will drop big time tonight so watch for icy surfaces." Friday will be pretty sunny for much of the Island, but it will be chilly and the winds will be blustery so wind chill values below –20 in the morning and near –20 in the afternoon. More from CBC P.E.I.
SARAJEVO, Bosnia — A Bosnian court sentenced on Thursday a Bosnian Muslim man to six years in prison on charges that he fought for the Islamic State group in Syria. Jasmin Keserovic, who has spent nearly seven years in Syria, was also charged with inciting others to take part in terrorist activities. Judges said that by publicly calling on Muslims to kill Christian soldiers and civilians alike, the defendant “demonstrated specific ruthlessness.” Hudges rejected defence claims that Keserovic was in Syria for charity work to help the local population amid the war. He was part of a group of seven Bosnian men flown back to Bosnia from Syria on a U.S. Air Force flight in December 2019 along with 18 women and children. In 2014, Bosnia became the first country in Europe to introduce prison terms for its citizens who fought abroad. Fighters who have since returned to the country were tried and, in most cases, sentenced to prison. The Associated Press