Ellie the Great Dane has some pretty fancy footwork. Watch and laugh as she runs circular zoomies around her jumbo tennis ball, showing off her soccer spin moves!
Ellie the Great Dane has some pretty fancy footwork. Watch and laugh as she runs circular zoomies around her jumbo tennis ball, showing off her soccer spin moves!
Ottawa will not license any Indigenous "moderate livelihood" fishery in Atlantic Canada unless it operates within the commercial season, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said Wednesday, siding with a key demand from the region's commercial fishing industry, while angering Indigenous leaders. The statement is a major development in the dispute over treaty rights-based fishing that sparked violence last fall when the Sipekne'katik band launched its own self-regulated 'moderate livelihood' lobster fishery. The fishery in St. Marys Bay in southwest Nova Scotia took place outside the commercial season, angering other fishermen who said it was both unfair and bad for conservation. "Seasons ensure that stocks are harvested sustainably and they are necessary for an orderly, predictable, and well-managed fishery," Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan said in a statement, confirming a CBC News report earlier in the day. "In effort-based fisheries such as lobster, seasons are part of the overall management structure that conserves the resource, ensures there isn't overfishing, and distributes economic benefits across Atlantic Canada." WATCH | The history of the Mi'kmaw fishery: DFO indicated a willingness to discuss other details with affected First Nation communities. But Sipekne'katik Chief Mike Sack urged Mi'kmaw bands in Atlantic Canada to reject the federal government's position and told reporters his First Nation will continue to operate its fishery outside DFO seasons in 2021. "They're trying to divide and conquer and throw a carrot to a band or two and have them sign and just hurt everybody's case. So I hope that no other communities do sign. They don't take that low hanging fruit," he said. Sack restated his position that the treaty right was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada's Marshall decision, and accused DFO of trying to divide and conquer the Mi'kmaq. In 1999, the court affirmed the Mi'kmaw treaty right to fish in pursuit of a "moderate livelihood," but under federal government regulations for conservation. Ottawa spent half a billion dollars integrating Indigenous bands into the commercial fishery through licence buy-backs and training, but it never defined "moderate livelihood." Jordan cited part of the Marshall ruling to justify her authority. She noted the Supreme Court said "treaty rights are subject to regulation provided such regulation is shown by the Crown to be justified on conservation or other grounds of public importance." "That is what we are implementing," Jordan said in her statement. The department is offering Indigenous fishermen in Nova Scotia a pathway to sell lobster harvested in a moderate livelihood fishery. Right now, that catch does not have DFO's stamp of approval. Without authorization, they can't legally sell their catch to licenced buyers, such as lobster pounds and processors. Bands that accept DFO's position will receive a moderate livelihood licence that will allow them to sell the catch in 2021. Under provincial rules, only fish products harvested under federal commercial licences can be purchased by shore processors. The federal government "will balance additional First Nations access through already available licences and a willing buyer-willing seller approach, protecting our stocks and preserving the industry for generations to come," Jordan's statement said. Sipekne'katik First Nation Chief Michael Sack, right, halted talks with the federal Fisheries Department in December after reaching an impasse.(Paul Withers/CBC) The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaw Chiefs called the government's conditions "unacceptable" and condemned them as part of a "colonial approach" to the rights-based fishery recognized by the Supreme Court. "DFO continues to dictate and impose their rules on a fishery that is outside of their scope and mandate," said Chief Gerald Toney, the assembly's fisheries lead, in a statement. The right to a livelihood fishery isn't, and shouldn't be, driven by industry or the federal government, he said. "It is something that needs to come from the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia. Imposing restrictions independently, without input of the Mi'kmaq, on our implementation of Rights is an approach that must stop." Mi'kmaw leaders and some academics have insisted the fishery in St. Marys Bay poses no risk to stocks because it is too small. It's a claim the commercial industry rejects. One organization representing commercial fishermen said the DFO has made public what it had been telling the industry in private. "This position needs to come from them and they need to come out publicly, more often," said Martin Mallet, executive director of the Maritime Fishermen's Union. Mallet said commercial fishermen expect the DFO to enforce its rules if bands operate out of season, including pulling traps and "potentially arresting individuals that are not keeping up with the law." A group representing harvesters in southwestern Nova Scotia said the government's position "can provide certainty" for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishermen. "However, lasting and consistent enforcement that is fair to all harvesters will be critical," the Unified Fisheries Conservation Alliance said in a statement. The ambiguity over moderate livelihood led to violence last year when several bands launched self-regulated lobster fisheries — all taking place outside of commercial lobster seasons. In October, two facilities storing Mi'kmaw catches were vandalized, including one that was later burned to the ground. Indigenous harvesters also said hundreds of their traps were pulled by non-Indigenous commercial fishermen. After tensions abated, the DFO pulled hundreds of Mi'kmaw traps out of the water, many bearing band moderate livelihood tags. On Wednesday, the DFO returned to Sipekne'katik more than 200 traps it had seized last fall. Sipekne'katik First Nation Chief Mike Sack, shown in October, said Wednesday his band will continue to operate its moderate livelihood fishery outside DFO seasons in 2021.(Pat Callaghan/CBC) When defending the self-regulated fisheries, the Mi'kmaq point to the huge number of commercial traps in the water compared to those from bands. The Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance, which represents shore buyers, said that is misleading. Stewart Lamont of Tangier Lobster said he accepts the treaty right but maintains the fisheries must take place within commercial seasons. "The lobster biomass is extremely vulnerable during certain months of the year, most particularly late July, August, September, October, when lobsters are going through their annual molt," said Lamont. "They're literally hungrier than normal. They've taken on a new shell. They are far more readily embraced into a trap." He said hauling lobster at that time is short-sighted. "By the same token, they are of far lesser quality. They tend to be soft and medium shell. It's not a premium product." Commercial lobster fishing season varies across Nova Scotia, in part to maintain a steady supply to the market, and to protect stocks when they are vulnerable. MORE TOP STORIES
WASHINGTON — The Defence Department took more than three hours to dispatch the National Guard to the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol despite a frantic request for reinforcement from police, according to testimony Wednesday that added to the finger-pointing about the government response. Maj. Gen. William Walker, commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard, told senators that the then-chief of the Capitol Police requested military support in a 1:49 p.m. call, but the Defence Department's approval for that support was not relayed to him until after 5 p.m., according to prepared testimony. Guard troops who had been waiting on buses were then rushed to the Capitol. That delay stood in contrast to the immediate approval for National Guard support granted in response to the civil unrest that roiled American cities last spring as an outgrowth of racial justice protests, Walker said. As local officials pleaded for help, Army officials raised concerns about the optics of a substantial National Guard presence at the Capitol, he said. “The Army senior leadership” expressed to officials on the call “that it would not be their best military advice to have uniformed Guardsmen on the Capitol,” Walker said. The Senate hearing is the second about what went wrong on Jan. 6, with national security officials face questions about missed intelligence and botched efforts to quickly gather National Guard troops that day as a violent mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol. Even as Walker detailed the National Guard delay, another military official noted that local officials in Washington had said days earlier that no such support was needed. Senators were eager to grill officials from the Pentagon, the National Guard and the Justice and Homeland Security departments about their preparations for that day. Supporters of then-President Donald Trump had talked online, in some cases openly, about gathering in Washington that day and interrupting the electoral count. At a hearing last week, officials who were in charge of security at the Capitol blamed one another as well as federal law enforcement for their own lack of preparation as hundreds of rioters descended on the building, easily breached the security perimeter and eventually broke into the Capitol. Five people died as a result of the rioting. So far, lawmakers conducting investigations have focused on failed efforts to gather and share intelligence about the insurrectionists’ planning before Jan. 6 and on the deliberations among officials about whether and when to call National Guard troops to protect Congress. The officials at the hearing last week, including ousted Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, gave conflicting accounts of those negotiations. Robert Contee, the acting chief of police for the Metropolitan Police Department, told senators he was “stunned” over the delayed response and said Sund was pleading with Army officials to deploy National Guard troops as the rioting rapidly escalated. Senate Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar, one of two Democratic senators who will preside over Wednesday's hearing, said in an interview Tuesday that she believes every moment counted as the National Guard decision was delayed and police officers outside the Capitol were beaten and injured by the rioters. “Any minute that we lost, I need to know why,” Klobuchar said. The hearing comes as thousands of National Guard troops are still patrolling the fenced-in Capitol and as multiple committees across Congress are launching investigations into mistakes made on Jan. 6. The probes are largely focused on security missteps and the origins of the extremism that led hundreds of Trump supporters to break through the doors and windows of the Capitol, hunt for lawmakers and temporarily stop the counting of electoral votes. Congress has, for now, abandoned any examination of Trump’s role in the attack after the Senate acquitted him last month of inciting the riot by telling the supporters that morning to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat. As the Senate hears from the federal officials, acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman will testify before a House panel that is also looking into how security failed. In a hearing last week before the same subcommittee, she conceded there were multiple levels of failures but denied that law enforcement failed to take seriously warnings of violence before the insurrection. In the Senate, Klobuchar said there is particular interest in hearing from Walker, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, who was on the phone with Sund and the Department of the Army as the rioters first broke into the building. Contee, the D.C. police chief, was also on the call and told senators that the Army was initially reluctant to send troops. “While I certainly understand the importance of both planning and public perception — the factors cited by the staff on the call — these issues become secondary when you are watching your employees, vastly outnumbered by a mob, being physically assaulted,” Contee said. He said he had quickly deployed his own officers and he was “shocked” that the National Guard “could not — or would not — do the same." Contee said that Army staff said they were not refusing to send troops, but “did not like the optics of boots on the ground” at the Capitol. Also testifying at the joint hearing of the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees are Robert Salesses of the Defence Department, Melissa Smislova of the Department of Homeland Security and Jill Sanborn of the FBI, all officials who oversee aspects of intelligence and security operations. Lawmakers have grilled law enforcement officials about missed intelligence ahead of the attack, including a report from an FBI field office in Virginia that warned of online posts foreshadowing a “war” in Washington. Capitol Police leaders have said they were unaware of the report at the time, even though the FBI had forwarded it to the department. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the report was disseminated though the FBI’s joint terrorism task force, discussed at a command post in Washington and posted on an internet portal available to other law enforcement agencies. Though the information was raw and unverified and appeared aspirational in nature, Wray said, it was specific and concerning enough that “the smartest thing to do, the most prudent thing to do, was just push it to the people who needed to get it.” Mary Clare Jalonick And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
The rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations in Ontario is happening at 34 different speeds, with each public health unit taking its own approach. The pace in the province's largest public health unit is notably slower than average. Officials in Toronto can't say when people aged 80 and up will be eligible to get vaccinated and are urging people not to call the public health hotline with questions about the timeline. Meanwhile, several public health units covering large urban areas have already started giving shots to that age group. York Region and Windsor-Essex both began their vaccinations of 80-plus-year-olds on Monday. In York Region, 20,000 of the roughly 45,000 people eligible have already booked appointments. People aged 80 and older line up outside a sports centre in Richmond Hill, Ont. on Monday to be among the first participants in York Region's mass vaccination program against COVID-19.(Evan Mitsui/CBC) During a City of Toronto news conference on Monday, officials were asked specifically when people in this age group in can expect to get the shot. There was no clear answer. Medical officer of health Dr Eileen de Villa spoke for two and a half minutes without addressing the question. WATCH | Questions and concerns continue around the timeline for Ontario's COVID-19 vaccine rollout: Next, Fire Chief Matthew Pegg, leading Toronto's COVID-19 emergency response, said bookings would begin once the province's appointment system launches (slated for March 15), and added that vaccinations would begin in "early April." De Villa then jumped in to say that vaccinations of some sub-groups of people in this age group could begin this month, but added, "We need supply to be more readily available to get into the large-scale administration of vaccine for that 80-plus population." Given that all of Ontario's public health units are facing the same supply constraints, why is Ontario's largest city weeks behind other major population centres in the province? Ontario's timeline for vaccinating people against COVID-19 puts 2.1 million people in its Phase 1 priority group, including long-term care residents, health-care workers and people aged 80 and older.(Ontario Ministry of Health) The chair of Toronto's board of health, Coun. Joe Cressy, blames a vaccine allocation mismatch: the province is distributing doses to each public health unit based solely on its total population, not based on its population in the high-priority groups. In short, the argument is that Toronto is hampered from moving on to vaccinate seniors aged 80 and older because it has yet to receive enough doses to vaccinate those who were first in line -- such as hospital workers. "We have a disproportionately large number of people who qualify in phase 1 because they are more vulnerable," Cressy told the news conference. That leads to a question: why didn't the province provide a larger number of vaccines to places with a larger number of people in priority groups? Solicitor-General Sylvia Jones acknowledged Tuesday that Toronto's explanation for its slower pace "makes sense." But when asked whether the province should have distributed doses on an as-needed basis instead of a per-capita basis, she didn't directly answer. Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa, left, gives Ontario Premier Doug Ford, centre, and Toronto Mayor John Tory, right, a tour of a vaccination clinic for health-care workers in January. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press) "The focus on the over 80 (age group) is critical," Jones told a news conference. "We'd love to have more vaccines to give to our public health units." Just don't ask the provincial government how many vaccine doses it has actually given to its public health units. The Ministry of Health refused CBC's request for this data on Tuesday, citing security concerns. The government also refused to provide a breakdown of how many vaccine doses have been administered by each public health unit, even though the ministry reports a province-wide total every day. The lack of disclosure makes it challenging to prove or disprove the claim that the distribution of vaccines has been unfair to Toronto. However, some figures disclosed by health units allow for rough math. The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit says it has received 12,285 doses of vaccine, while Toronto has received 195,440 doses. Using population data from Public Health Ontario, those shipments are enough to give one dose to 10.8 per cent of people living in Haldimand-Norfolk, but just 6.3 per cent of the population of Toronto. Toronto Public Health estimates that 325,000 people are eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19 under Phase 1 of Ontario's vaccine rollout. (Evan Mitsui/CBC) What is less clear is the evidence for Toronto's claim of being home to a disproportionate number of people in the priority groups for vaccination. People aged 80 and over are part of phase 1 of Ontario's vaccination timeline. But before getting to them, public health units were told to target the province's top-priority categories: long-term care residents and staff, other front-line health-care workers and Indigenous people. Ontario estimates 1.15 million people belong to those highest-priority groups. That is roughly eight per cent of the province's total population. Toronto Public Health could not provide an estimate Tuesday of how many people in the city are in those top-priority groups. But for Toronto to have a disproportionate burden, the number would need to be more than 240,000. Another comparison stick is the number of people eligible for vaccination through the whole of phase 1. Toronto Public Health says it's 325,000 people in the city, roughly 11 per cent of Toronto's population. That is no higher that the proportion of Ontario's population eligible in phase 1. Toronto Public Health COVID-19 vaccination numbers 195,440 doses of vaccine have been shipped to Toronto around 325,000 people are eligible to be vaccinated in phase 1 around 135,000 of them are aged 80 and above, including some 10,000 residents of long-term care
ZURICH (Reuters) - "Stop Extremism!" urges a red billboard in a quiet village outside Zurich above an image of a scowling woman wearing a black headscarf and face veil. The billboard is part of a campaign by the far-right Swiss People's Party (SVP) to ban face coverings in public and which will be voted on in a binding national referendum on Sunday.
GUYSBOROUGH – International Women’s Day (IWD) is Monday, March 8. This global day of celebration honours the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and promotes gender parity. In Guysborough County, there are many women to celebrate – from small business owners, front-line workers, women in trades, to stay-at-home mothers and many more. In this year of pandemic, one line of work most parents have come to appreciate, perhaps more than ever, is the role of educator. This year The Journal is highlighting the women leading the team at Chedabucto Education Centre /Guysborough Academy (CECGA): Principal Barbara Avery and Vice Principle Tera Dorrington. What follows is an online interview with Avery and Dorrington discussing their careers and the importance of female role models. Journal: What is your position and how long have you been in that position? Avery: I have been in administration at CECGA for a little over eight years, six of those as a Principal. I grew up and attended school here in Guysborough and feel very fortunate to have been able to return and give back to this school community. Dorrington: My current position at Chedabucto Education Centre/Guysborough Academy is Vice Principal. I have been in this role for almost six years. My first two years in this position was at SAERC in Port Hawkesbury, and I was here at CECGA for almost four years. I am grateful to be able to return to my old school and community. Journal: Who were your role models in the field of education – and in life in general? Avery: As I look back and reflect on my educational journey, there are many people who supported me along the way. First and foremost were my parents. They taught me the importance of hard work and perseverance and to take pride in everything I did – no matter how big or small – and to always believe in myself. They were strong believers that our experiences help shape who we become so I was always actively involved both in school and community. I was also blessed with many great teachers and administrators throughout my public education who lent a hand in inspiring me to be an educator myself. When I was a student there were not as many women in secondary education, but those who were made a big impact. I was fortunate to have women role models as teachers and administrators and now as colleagues. I also feel that the male teachers and administrators I had also encouraged me in my pursuit in the Math and Science field and continue to feel supported by my male colleagues. Dorrington: I am surrounded by so many positive and inspiring people, which granted me many role models. I am lucky to work beside such an amazing and dedicated principal every day. Barbara is full of knowledge. If I ever need advice or guidance, she is my ‘right-hand woman.’ There are also some hard working, successful men and women who work behind the scenes at the senior administration level and, as busy as they are, they always find time to mentor and support me. I have so many colleagues with such a wealth of expertise and experience and they inspire me each day. During my time at StFX, I had two professors who encouraged and inspired me. Dr. Agnes Calliste and Dr. Ottilia Chareka were both such positive influences. Although they have both passed away, I often reflect on their words of encouragement and the life lessons they taught me. I even dedicated my mEd thesis to Ottilia! I can’t forget my parents. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their sacrifices, encouragement and ongoing support. They taught me the importance of hard work, perseverance and resilience. Journal: What did you want to be when you were a child? Did you see women in those roles? Or in the role you currently hold? Dorrington: When I was a child, I wanted to be a teacher. I loved playing school with my dolls and mini chalkboard. In high school, I had Angela MacKeen as an English teacher (who also happens to be Barbara’s sister). Angela always seemed to be having so much fun as she taught English, especially Shakespeare, that I decided I wanted to be an English teacher too! In my grade 12 year, Elizabeth Teasdale was the principal, but there were only three female high school teachers that I can recall. Journal: Ms. Dorrington, how has being a mother impacted your career trajectory? Dorrington: Being a mother has impacted my career trajectory in a positive way. It pushes me to reach my goals. I have two daughters who are watching and learning from me. I am modelling the value of the importance of hard work. As I continue my own education, I hope that it shows them that there will always be new things to learn. I want them to know that their possibilities are endless and grow up be strong and independent women. I hope that I am a role model for them. Journal: What impact do you think it has on students and colleagues to see two women in the top positions at the school? Dorrington: I think that having two females in our role, shows promise. It shows that success can be achieved regardless of your gender, race or the community you’re from. It shows that barriers can be broken. I hope it encourages them to achieve their own dreams, no matter what they are. It’s not about being at the top, it’s about doing something that you love. Journal: Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to women considering pursuing top level positions in your field? Dorrington: The advice I would give to women considering pursuing top level positions in our field would be to remember that a school would not be successful without the teachers, TAs, guidance counsellors, support staff and students. Treat them well. Also, make sure you eat a good breakfast, get plenty of rest and wear comfy shoes. It is a rewarding job. Like all professions, make sure it is something that you love, and it won’t feel like work. Journal: How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you? Dorrington: It is very important for women to lift one another up, and we need to raise our children to do the same. As women, we need to clap and cheer for each other. We need to empower each other. Take advantage of programs such as Techsploration and get involved in your community. A message I would send out to young women about pursing their careers is to set your goals high and don’t stop until you get there. Work hard and never give up. Don’t compare yourself to others, embrace your own strengths. Most importantly, always look a challenge in the eye and give it a wink. Avery: I am pleased to see advancements being made in public education since I attended in supporting and providing women the opportunity to explore under-represented careers by offering programs such as Techsploration in schools. The Techsploration program helps to inspire women to explore careers in Science, Trades, Engineering and Technology; through engagement with female role models, students learn about these careers while participating in hands-on workshops. Journal: This year’s IWD campaign theme: #ChooseToChallenge; could you comment on that? Dorrington: In regard to this year’s IWD theme, let’s remember that challenge means change. As we are raising our daughters to be strong and independent women, we also need to raise our sons to be allies as we strive for a world of inclusion and equality. Journal: On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers? Avery: My message to all students is not to be scared to be a self-promoter; celebrate your successes and make your own way in this world by following your passion. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
For 17 years, trucker Colin Birch has been hitting the highways to collect used cooking oil from restaurants. He works for Vancouver-based renderer West Coast Reduction Ltd, which processes the grease into a material to make renewable diesel, a clean-burning road fuel. Birch is caught between soaring demand for the fuel - driven by U.S. and Canadian government incentives - and scarce cooking oil supplies, because fewer people are eating out during the coronavirus pandemic.
The European Union promised legal action on Wednesday after the British government unilaterally extended a grace period for checks on food imports to Northern Ireland, a move Brussels said violated terms of Britain's divorce deal. Since it left the EU last year, Britain's relations with the bloc have soured, with both sides accusing the other of acting in bad faith in relation to part of their trade agreement that covers goods movements to Northern Ireland. The British government extended a grace period for some checks on agricultural and food products imported by retailers to Northern Ireland until Oct. 1 in a move it said was necessary to ensure the free flow of goods to the British region.
The Red Shores racetrack in Charlottetown is in a complete lockdown in an effort to control an outbreak of strangles. About 200 horses at the track were tested late last week, and officials are now awaiting those results before deciding on further actions. "We decided that to get a better understanding of what we're dealing with, and for heightened precautionary measures, that we would go into a lockdown for the grounds, which essentially means no horses coming or going for a time period," said Lee Drake, manager of racing, brands and broadcast divisions at Red Shores. "We've only had two confirmed cases of strangles on Prince Edward Island. Those horses were removed from the barns and are undergoing isolation at this point, and we are conducting screening tests for all the horses that are currently on the grounds." Red Shores Racetrack has taken measures to prevent the spread of strangles, including adding security and restricting who can enter the barns.(Shane Hennessey/CBC) The cost of the mandatory testing is being covered by Red Shores, the P.E.I. Harness Racing Industry Association and the Atlantic Provinces Harness Racing Commission. Highly contagious Red Shores says only essential workers will be allowed into each barn, as identified by each trainer, and they must now follow strict biosecurity measures. That means foot baths, brushes and disinfectant have been supplied to each barn. (Red Shores Racetrack)Strangles is an upper-respiratory illness that can cause swollen lymph nodes, nasal discharge and fevers in horses, donkeys and mules. While the illness can be fatal, most animals do survive. It is highly contagious and spreads easily through nose to nose contact between horses, or even contact with people. If handlers get the bacteria from one horse on their hands, feet or clothing, they can pass it on to another horse. A meeting was held on February 23 that included the Atlantic Veterinary College, Charlottetown Veterinary Clinic, Prince Edward Island Harness Racing Industry Association, Atlantic Provinces Harness Racing Commission and Red Shores. The lockdown took effect two days later, with no additional horses allowed on the grounds until further notice. "The next step is to to consult with the veterinarians — they are, of course, guiding us through this — and just get a better understanding of those results, the next steps," Drake said. "I should say that's confidential, like a doctor-patient privilege, if you will, between them and their client [the horse owner]. And so they'll be guiding them, and updating us, on the next steps that are going to be taken." Lockdown rules Under the lockdown rules, horses will be allowed to leave the track property only if they have a clearance letter from a veterinarian. During the lockdown, Red Shores says only essential workers will be allowed into each barn, and they must now follow strict biosecurity measures, including foot baths, brushes and disinfectant supplied to each barn. About 200 horses at the track were tested late last week and officials are now awaiting those results before deciding on further actions.(CBC) Owners and trainers are also being encouraged to take their horses' temperature daily and log the results, and consult a veterinarian if they see any symptoms. Drake said he can't confirm stories of strangles in other horses on P.E.I., outside of the racetrack. "Whether you're based on track, or you're on a farm, you have a heightened awareness of what's happening," Drake said. A medical laboratory technician in the AVC Diagnostic Services bacteriology lab examines bacterial growth on culture plates. (Anna MacDonald/AVC) "Until we know more of what we're dealing with, every stable — whether you're either on the grounds here or off the grounds — should be doing the measures that the veterinarians have asked. And that is, keeping a close watch on your horses and doing daily temperature checks." Meanwhile, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario says it has been informed that three additional horses tested positive for strangles in a barn at Shamrock Training Centre. Restrictions were put in place there after a horse shipped from Prince Edward Island tested positive. It had just been transported from Red Shores on Sunday, Feb. 14. No horses will be allowed to ship in for training until further notice.(Shane Hennessey/CBC) Also, Truro Raceway has issued a statement saying that it will be restricting horses from P.E.I. because of the strangles outbreak. "Any individual seeking to move a horse from P.E.I. to Truro will need the horse to have two negative strangles tests, conducted one week apart, prior to being permitted to enter the property," Truro officials said in the statement. "We will continue to monitor the situation, and this will be our policy until further notice." More from CBC P.E.I.
Consumers filed complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in record numbers in 2020, according to a report released Monday by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a non-profit consumer advocacy group. Credit reporting issues were cited in 282,000, or 63%, of the complaints. The majority noted “incorrect information” on credit reports or “information belongs to someone else,” the report said. Not only did complaints about credit report errors lead the list of consumer grievances, but the three major credit-reporting bureaus — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax — were the top three companies complained about. ERRORS CAN ENDANGER YOUR SCORE Accuracy matters since credit report errors can suggest identity theft or fraudulent activity on your accounts. And because credit report data provides the raw material for credit scores, errors can lower your score. Some of the volume of complaints may be an unintended consequence of payment accommodations mandated by the 2020 coronavirus relief bill and temporary concessions offered by lenders and credit card issuers. But credit report errors were common even before the pandemic, says Ed Mierzwinski, senior director of the advocacy group’s Federal Consumer Program and author of the report. Payment accommodations may have led more people to check their credit reports and find those errors, he says. Mierzwinski recommends that “any consumer with any credit account” check their credit reports. People who have common names may be at particular risk of a mix-up, he says. HOW TO GET YOUR FREE CREDIT REPORTS You can get a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus by using AnnualCreditReport.com. You’ll be asked to provide personal identifying information — your name, Social Security number, birthdate and address. You will also be asked security questions to verify your identity. Some of those can be tough. If you aren’t able to answer correctly, call 877-322-8228 to request your credit reports by mail. You can also download and mail a request form to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. HOW TO READ YOUR CREDIT REPORTS Your reports from the three bureaus won’t look exactly the same. Not every creditor reports to all three and the bureaus present information in different formats. But you can use a similar procedure for reading your credit reports. First, check your identifying information. Errors such as misspellings of a former employer are unimportant, but something like an address you’ve never lived at could suggest identity theft. Next, check account information. Each credit account you have (and some that are closed) should be listed and include: — Creditor’s name, account number and date opened. — Type of account (credit card, loan, etc.). — Account status and whether you’re current on payments. Accounts that were in good standing when pandemic-related payment accommodations began must continue to be reported that way until the accommodation ends. — Whether you are a joint account holder, primary user or authorized user. — Credit limit and/or the original amount of a loan. — There may be negative information, such as collections accounts or bankruptcy records. Be sure that you recognize it and that it is accurate. HOW TO DISPUTE ERRORS The Fair Credit Reporting Act holds both the creditor that reports to the credit bureaus and the credit bureaus responsible for making sure the information in your credit reports is accurate. If you spot an error in one credit report, check for it in the other two. Dispute the error with each bureau that’s reporting it. You can dispute by mail, phone or online — the credit report will include information on how to file your dispute. Credit bureaus must investigate and inform you of the result. You can also contact the business providing the incorrect information. It must inform the bureaus of the dispute and, if it finds the information was wrong or incomplete, ask the credit bureaus to delete it. If disputing doesn’t resolve the issue, Mierzwinski recommends filing a complaint with the CFPB and asking for an investigation. That can bring additional pressure to correct misinformation, he says. The CFPB’s acting director, Dave Uejio, has said one of his goals is “making sure that consumers who submit complaints to us get the response and the relief they deserve.” ______________________________ This article originally appeared on the personal finance website NerdWallet. Bev O’Shea is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @BeverlyOShea. RELATED LINKS U.S. PIRG: Consumers in peril https://uspirgedfund.org/reports/usf/consumers-peril NerdWallet: How to Get Your Annual Credit Reports From the Major Credit Bureaus http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-credit-reports AnnualCreditReport.com request form https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/pdf-0093-annual-report-request-form.pdf NerdWallet: How to Read a Credit Report http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-report-reading NerdWallet: How to Dispute Credit Report Errors http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-report-errors Bev O'Shea Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
Britain's Prince Harry and American wife Meghan decided long ago they would not play the traditional royal media "game", and on Sunday they depart from the norms of engagement again with an in-depth interview with U.S. chat show host Oprah Winfrey. Smarting from sometimes critical tabloid headlines and press intrusion in Britain, they have already announced they will step down from official duties, move to California with young son Archie and cut off contact with Britain's biggest tabloids. Last month, Meghan successfully sued the Mail on Sunday for breaching her privacy by publishing parts of a letter she wrote to her father.
Candice McCowin's brother Graeme McLean died of an opioid overdose three years ago. For three years she's been among advocates calling for Windsor police to carry naloxone. For three years she's felt ignored. Now, with news hundreds of frontline officers are being trained to use the drug, McCowin said she's relieved. But one question lingers. "What was the deciding factor? What makes all the lives moving forward more important than my brother's was or people before him?" In the past the department said data didn't support officers being equipped with naloxone — which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Meanwhile, statistics from the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) show the number of opioid-related emergency room visits have climbed steadily. There were 249 opioid-related visits in 2019, more than three times greater than the 78 that were tallied in 2007, according to WECHU. Twenty-nine were tallied in January 2021. This chart shows the rise in opioid-related emergency department visits in Windsor-Essex in recent years.(Windsor-Essex County Health Unit) Late last week Mayor Drew Dilkens, chair of the service's board, said Police Chief Pam Mizuno had decided to make a change. On Tuesday the chief said more than 275 patrol and investigative officers have already learned to administer the Narcan nasal spray version of the drug and that training is ongoing. There are roughly 500 frontline officers in the service. "Our officers being deployed at the emergency shelters for people who are experiencing homelessness, as well as the recovery centres. I think that changes it," Mizuno said in explaining her decision and the timing of it, adding the kits are being provided to the service for free. While the chief cites the shelters set up amid COVID-19 outbreaks as a difference, it's not clear how interacting with users there will be different from the ways officers would interact with people while regularly patrolling the community. Explanation a 'bit of a shock' Bruce Chapman, president of the Police Association of Ontario (PAO), expressed surprise when asked about the explanation. "[It's] a little bit of shock I guess," he said. "There are countless cases of police personnel during their regular patrols coming across individuals who have suffered an overdose and saving their lives. I could give you 20 examples across the province and that happens every day." Last month, for example, OPP issued a media release stating it has saved 210 lives using naloxone since its officers started using it in 2017. Others, including Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky, have suggested police linking their decision to the emergency shelter serves to stigmatize people experiencing homelessness. It's a view McCowin shares. "[Police] didn't decide to come to this determination because we have a crisis," she said. "They're coming to this determination because there's stigma attached to homeless people and they're going to be working around them so now it's important." The chief said the service does not want to further stigmatize people with addictions, noting the majority of overdose calls police respond to are at private residences. Officers have used naloxone twice this year Mizuno also pointed to "stress" on emergency systems in the city during the pandemic and a pair of community alerts from the Windsor-Essex Community Opioid and Substance Strategy. One of the alerts was in response to 22 fentanyl-related visits to the emergency room in just one week, including 16 overdoses, numbers described as "extremely high." "All of those things in totality have certainly led to the decision," said the chief. The PAO represents officers at dozens of police services, including Windsor, and has been pushing departments to carry the drug since 2019. Chapman said as far as he's aware Windsor is the last large department to do so. Bruce Chapman, Police Association of Ontario president, said Windsor police should have started carrying naloxone a long time ago.(Radio-Canada) "It should have been done a long time ago. It's unfortunate it wasn't," he said. "Who knows how many lives could have been saved. We don't know the answer to that, but we do know as a result of the decision Windsor has finally made that there will be lives saved." A CBC analysis of police reports where officers responded and naloxone was administered between November 2018 and December 2019 found that on at least 14 occasions, Windsor police arrived first to the scene of a drug overdose without naloxone in-hand. The chief said police still consider an overdose a medical emergency that is best responded to by medical personnel such as paramedics. She also stated she believes no one has died because police didn't have the drug in the past. "Our officers have not attended a scene where, and of course you cannot definitively say, but where a life has been lost because our officers have not been carrying naloxone. That has not happened." Up until this decision, Windsor police had officers with just three units — detention, city centre patrol and problem-oriented policing — that had access to the drug. Officers equipped with naloxone in those units have already used it twice this year, according to Mizuno. McCowin said the decision from police could mean another family is spared the pain she carries. Graeme McLean was sober for more than 100 days before his fatal overdose. (Supplied by Candice McCowin) Graeme was the baby of the family, a "joker," who was helpful and "larger than life" with a wife, baby and job before he became addicted. But years of hearing police give reasons not to carry naloxone left her questioning whether his death meant anything. She can't shake that feeling, even now. "I just thought. 'There isn't a need? I think if it was only one person, my brother, or whoever, there should have been a need,'" she explained. "Think about how many people have died in the city of Windsor from opioid overdose."
Orban announced the decision in a letter to the chairman of the EPP, Manfred Weber, on Wednesday, making good on his threat to leave the grouping over changes to its rules.View on euronews
As Amazon sets its sights on central and eastern Europe, the e-commerce giant will need to convince long-time Allegro shoppers like Elzbieta Modrakowska to click away from the region's leading online marketplace. While prioritising its expansion to other, bigger markets, Amazon has given companies such as Allegro the time to lay deep roots and prepare for its arrival - something the Polish firm has done with loyalty programmes, free delivery and other perks. "I don't think we will switch ... Allegro has set the bar very high," said Modrakowska, whose weekly shop spans everything from organic food to batteries.
While many P.E.I. students are enjoying some extra days off during the three-day period of heightened public health restrictions, a couple of private schools decided to offer online learning. Teachers at the Mount Academy were sending Google Meet invites to students in time for them to be part of an online class Monday. "We had the ability to do it so why not?" said Kenny MacDougall, head of school at the Mount Academy. He said because athletes with the school often travelled in pre-pandemic times, the school is set up to switch back and forth between online and in-person learning. The Mount Academy is a small school with 105 students, which he said also helps in making the switch. MacDougall says the three-day closure is 'a small blip in the road.'(Laura Meader/CBC ) MacDougall said it's not just about the education but also touching base with students, and looking after their mental health. "Have an opportunity to see their face, check in, give them a bit of school work, see how they're doing," he said. MacDougall, who also worked in P.E.I.'s public school system for more than 20 years, said he understands how it would be difficult for the much larger system to do what they did. "I think it's a massive undertaking, so I certainly understand the difficulty they would have pulling that off," he said. Wanted to offer school work Grace Christian School's online plan was to provide some math and reading activities for elementary students and some more traditional ongoing assignments for older students. "We haven't introduced a full online platform learning like we did last March," said Jason Biech, principal and head of school for Grace Christian School. Both private schools say online learning is not ideal, but it's nice to able to have it as an option when public health rules don't allow staff or students to be in school. (Marlee McKinnon) Biech said the school wanted to offer some basic work for students. He said teachers gave assignments through blogs or other online platforms. He also pointed out school closures can happen because of weather during winter and said it made sense to offer digital learning. Thoughts from students Emily Chong is a Grade 12 student at Grace Christian, and said she was working on some assignments during the school closure. "I think it's impressive that we're able to do this," Chong said. She said she prefers going to school but she's getting used to COVID-19 restrictions and closures. Emily Chong says she's been working on some school presentations during the closure.(Laura Meader/CBC ) Marlee McKinnon, also in Grade 12 at the school, said that she loves online school. "It's given me a chance to catch up on work I might need to catch up on, or get ahead of work as well," McKinnon said. She said she's been mostly working on English and biology assignments. Fellow Grade 12 student Anna Paquet said there weren't a lot of new assignments for her so she kept working on ongoing work. "We haven't been getting a whole lot of new work," she said. She said she misses school sports and the socializing with her peers. Marlee McKinnon does her homework with her dog on her lap, something that wouldn't happen at school. (Marlee McKinnon) Chenyu Hsu said the three-day closure was unexpected and although he's happy to have some digital learning, he said he gets distracted working on his computer. "In-person learning has definitely helped me to pay more attention," said Hsu. 'Not ideal' Both schools hope in-person learning will be back soon, noting that online is not the preferred way. "It's not a way to go to school, it's not the ideal way — it's a fill in, it's stop-gap measure," said MacDougall Biech agrees that digital learning is tough on parents, children and educators. "We have the ability to do remote learning, we can do that, but that's not what we wish to do. We really want our students and our staff back here." More from CBC P.E.I.
Peel police say they've charged five people with first-degree murder in the shooting death of a man in Brampton late last year. The shooting happened in the basement of a home in the area of Scott and Church streets on the night of Dec. 17, 2020. In a statement Tuesday, police identified the victim as 23-year-old Uchenna Achioso. The five people charged range in age from 17 to 33 years old and include two men, two women and a boy. All five were arrested at different points between January and March this year and have already appeared in court, police said. The victim and all of the accused are from Brampton, police said.
GUYSBOROUGH – As Nova Scotia ushered out the month of February, the province also ushered in a new premier. On Feb. 23, Iain Rankin was sworn in as the 29th Premier of Nova Scotia. The change at the head of the table brought a new 16-member cabinet with some new faces and revisions to roles and names of departments. Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie MLA Lloyd Hines holds his position in cabinet as the minister for the Department of Transportation and Active Transit (formerly Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal). Hines said of his appointment, “I am so very humbled to rejoin Premier Rankin’s cabinet as Minister of Transportation and Active Transit. I look forward to working with our communities and the department’s great staff to provide safe efficient transport for all Nova Scotians.” Speaking to the change in the department’s mandate, Hines told The Journal that over the past four years a “significant portion of my responsibility and a massive amount of budget was specifically for the rebuild of the bricks and mortar of hospital facilities in the province … The infrastructure portion of the responsibility grew significantly over that period of time.” The new premier, said Hines, decided those responsibilities, along with those attached to Housing Nova Scotia, would justify a stand-alone minister. Geoff MacLellan was named the minister of the new Department of Infrastructure and Housing. “I fully support the establishment of that particular department because spending that kind of public money – it is good to have that close oversight on it,” said Hines. Hines said he was particularity pleased to remain the “minister responsible for the implementation of the highway budget in the province. That was my primary desire and because I enjoy the work and we also have a tremendous team of people. We have 2,250 people in the department and a tremendous senior management team at all of those levels. Everybody is pulling together to make sure we have good safe highways for Nova Scotians. On that side of the ledger, we have the five highway twinning projects that are all underway, fully funded and financed.” When asked about the active transit addition to his portfolio, Hines said, “Active transportation is something that started in the last decade. Of course, we have paved roads and cars, but we also have other modes of transportation. We have a great trail system in the province, which is probably the best example of active transportation and, of course, we have bicycle transportation; the piece of road between Boylston (Guysborough County) and Guysborough is purposely widened so there is a paved shoulder outside the main travel area to provide some area where bicycles can operate. “Also, across the province, we have been tackling the problem of the lack of (public) transport systems. We have three (public) transportation systems in the province (Metro Transit in HRM, Kings Transit in Kings County and Transit Cape Breton in CBRM) – beyond that there is no public transportation system where it is need most; in the rural areas,” he said. On the same day the new cabinet was announced, a CBC news story reported that the province had been paying $1.7 million a year to Bay Ferries as a management fee to operate the ferry between Nova Scotia and Maine, even when the boat was not in operation. The information was released by the company after it, and the province, lost a court decision requesting the details of the fee launched by the PC Party of Nova Scotia. The ferry and the agreement come under the umbrella of the Department of Transportation. When asked for comment on the court decision Hines said, “The company decided not to appeal. That was the company’s decision not the government’s … The company was unwilling to release it (management fee) because they thought it was proprietary. They decided on the judge’s ruling to release it.” Speaking to the cost of the management fee, Hines said, “It’s a standard practice. If you take it and look at it as a regular tender that we put out to build a bridge – we don’t know what the management fee is in that tender. That is not released. They bid a gross volume of money to do the project. We have an estimate of what we think the project is going to cost to do and, if the two of them are close then we award the contract. We don’t know what management fee … That’s proprietary information for that particular company.” Hines added that the ferry business, “got sideswiped by the pandemic. And, in the last year that we were hauling people, we took in 52,000 customers, I think. That created a significant base for the tourism operations in Southwest Nova. It is important to the economy of the entire province and certainly to Yarmouth and West Nova.” The Nova Scotia legislature begins a new session on March 9. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
Regina's COVID-19 case numbers are among the highest per capita for major Canadian cities. Dr. Alexander Wong, an infectious diseases physician in Regina, says it's no reason to panic, but that people should keep following public health advice on how to contain the spread. As of Monday, Regina had 180 active cases per 100 000 people — about double Saskatoon's per capita number. Regina's per capita numbers are significantly higher than cities like Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Hamilton and Winnipeg, according to data gathered from provincial governments and regional health authorities. "I don't necessarily feel that things are, quote unquote, out of hand. I think our public health colleagues have a pretty good grasp of sort of what's kind of taking place," Wong said. "But I can understand how some people might look at the raw data and think that there could potentially be issues." Wong said several factors could be contributing to the high rates, including outbreaks linked to homes and workplaces, and contact tracers in the province being good at finding secondary cases. Are variants at play? Variants have been cited as a possible reason for the rising numbers. Wong said there's not clear evidence to show that variants are common in the province, but that some cases have been found so it's a reasonable assumption they are out there. "Assuredly there is community transmission of variants of concern that's currently occurring. We just don't know what the prevalence of that actually looks like. Right now that's pure speculation," he said. "Regardless of what prevalence of variants are circulating or not, it doesn't change the fundamental pieces that we all need to take responsibility for." Wong said people need to continue to reduce contact with others, wear masks and get tested if they show any symptoms to contain the spread. Consequences of slow restrictions at play: doctor Dr. Cory Neudorf, a professor in the department of community health and epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan and a public health physician, agreed. He said Regina's per capita numbers being high isn't surprising. In fact, as case numbers are still relatively high in multiple places throughout the province. Saskatchewan has the highest rate of cases per capita out of all provinces. "What we're seeing in Saskatoon and Regina is really just a continued expression of the fact that our restrictions have just not been as much as other provinces," Neudorf said. The province's unwillingness to implement strong restrictions early is part of why the province remains under heavy public health order, he said. The province saw a sustained high level of cases that rose throughout the fall and peaked in January. Now the decline from the peak has been slower compared to other regions. Neudorf said the people need to proceed with caution, because even though numbers are dropping in some parts of the province, they're dropping slowly. He said community spread still prevails in homes (where one family member brings it home and gets the rest of the family sick) as well as in the workplace. Health officials need to keep aggressive tabs on the variants, ramp up testing to control community spread and be ready to tighten restrictions if the province wants to see meaningful decline in numbers, he said. Doctors urge people to remain vigilant Neudorf said the reproductive number for the virus remains in a risky area between .8 and 1 — a range that is viewed as a growth phase. He said that number should ideally be below .7 with the new variants. Wong said the "new normal" people talk about is still a long way off. "Stay the bleep home. The pandemic is going to continue on indefinitely. It's not going to disappear," Dr. Wong said. "There will be new variants, never ending strains of the virus and probably ongoing need to vaccinate." Both Wong and Neudorf said it's important people are prepared for what's to come and that things won't return to normal until most of the general population is vaccinated. "It's like we're balanced on a bit of a knife edge right now," Dr. Neudorf said, adding a drop in numbers will allow the vaccine program to work. "It doesn't take very much to all of a sudden see a spike in cases, and if that happens we could very easily see a third wave starting in March and April, especially if these new variants take hold." Premier teases loosening of restrictions Premier Scott Moe said in a news conference Tuesday that he has heard from people who want the public health restrictions eased up, specifically around household gatherings. "We are very close to making and finalizing these decisions," Moe said. Moe said chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab wants to see the hospitalizations and case number stabilize for a "few more days." "If that occurs, we should have more to say about household restrictions possibly by early next week," Moe said.
LOS ANGELES — Vanessa Bryant said she is focused on “finding the light in darkness” in an emotional interview with People magazine detailing her attempts to push forward after her husband Kobe Bryant and daughter Gigi died in a helicopter crash early last year. Bryant said the late NBA superstar and Gigi continue to “motivate me to keep going” in the magazine’s Women Changing the World issue, which will be released Friday. The issue salutes the activists, innovators and role models who are making a difference. The 38-year-old widow of the Los Angeles Lakers legend expressed how she’s been trying to navigate heartache while trying to rebuild a life for herself and three daughters. “Lying in bed crying isn’t going to change the fact that my family will never be the same again,” she said. “But getting out of bed and pushing forward is going to make the day better for my girls and for me. So that’s what I do.” Kobe Bryant was killed when the helicopter carrying him, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others crashed into a mountainside in Calabasas, California, while flying to a girls basketball tournament at his Mamba Sports Academy on Jan. 26, 2020. Vanessa Bryant said her devotion to her daughters Natalia, Bianka and Capri have been a saving grace. “My girls help me smile through the pain,” she said. “They give me strength.” On the magazine cover, Vanessa Bryant sports a Lakers jacket with Kobe's No. 24 on the right sleeve. Vanessa Bryant said she wants to honour her husband and daughter’s legacy by creating opportunities for young female athletes. She has since taken charge of creative projects left unfinished at Granity Studios, the late NBA star’s multimedia company she now helms. She recently relaunched Kobe’s charitable non-profit as Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation — a nod to the father-daughter duo — to help empower young girls and provide equal opportunities to underserved athletes. Bryant felt compelled to follow through on the vision her husband long championed. Jonathan Landrum Jr., The Associated Press
Music's ability to connect us, even if only virtually, is on display in the latest film project by Vicki Van Chau in collaboration with the Calgary Chinese Orchestra. Van Chau is co-director and editor for a new documentary and music video called Off to the Races. The film features interviews and a music collaboration of 72 musicians playing a classic Chinese erhu song, Horse Race. The erhu is a Chinese violin. The idea to produce the 12-minute doc came from Jiajia Li, the artistic director of the Calgary Chinese Orchestra and a flutist. Vicki Van Chau is the co-director and editor of the film.(Kai Sunderland) Li wanted to do something to honour the Lunar New Year despite restrictions on the ability to gather. Van Chau and Li connected in November and opened up the call for submissions from artists playing the song on their instruments. Li chose the song, which was composed in the 1960s, for its upbeat and hopeful theme. And because it's less than three minutes long, it would be easy for submitting musicians to learn and record in time. There were so many submissions that the music producer, Warren Tse, wrote an intro and interlude so that more musicians could be included in the final performance. Erhus, pipas, fiddles, pianos and other instruments are played alongside each other in the video featuring 72 submission from Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, Singapore, the United States and China. The video was released via YouTube on Feb. 14. With files from Huyana Cyprien and the Calgary Eyeopener.
It's been almost exactly 14 years since the two men behind a successful, local coffee business opened their first location in the old Calgary Farmers' Market. And despite all of the challenges brought on by the year-long global pandemic, ever-changing health and safety restrictions and the city's uncertain economic future, Phil Robertson and Sebastian Sztabzyb insisted on following through on plans to expand their business. And they aren't alone — two other local restaurants are joining them with a pandemic opening. It's a decision that defies the state of an industry that has seen 10,000 restaurants close across the country over the past year, shedding more than 300,000 jobs, according to industry group Restaurants Canada. The two men behind Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters have joined forces with two other Calgary entrepreneurs to open side-by-side-by-side on the western edge of Murdoch Park in the inner-city community of Bridgeland. Phil & Sebastian is sandwiched between Village Ice Cream and Una Pizza in a new building on 7A Street N.E., not far from from their flagship location across the river in East Village. It's a risky move for the now 43-year-old entrepreneurs and self-described coffee nerds. It's their seventh location, but only six are open (a downtown location on Stephen Avenue is temporarily closed). Three locally owned restaurants are opening on 7A Street N.E. in spite of the global pandemic, restaurant restrictions and economic uncertainty. Restaurants Canada, an industry lobby group, says the number of restaurant closures in Alberta since last March may be as high as 1,100. (Bryan Labby/CBC) "Obviously, when the pandemic hit we had to re-evaluate every decision we've ever made. This was one of them," said Sztabzyb standing in the new café, which covers about 1,500 square feet, or 140 square metres. The two spent nearly $500,000 on the new café — and that's after the budget was tightened and some features were dropped to save money. They've hired four full-time and two part-time employees to start, but the hope is to bring in more as restrictions for restaurants ease. Streamlining, finding efficiencies, doing more with less is all part of the new business plan, which still reflects a survival mode strategy, says Sztabzyb. Their menu has been has been pared down, operations have been tightened up — and they've shed about 30 employees. While a grand opening is usually cause for excitement, there is so much uncertainty. "How long is the pandemic going to last? How long are we going to be suppressed by 30, 40, 50, 70 per cent of our revenue?" asked Sztabzyb. Phil & Sebastian — which early on in the pandemic saw sales plunge between 80 and 90 per cent at some locations — were able to stay afloat in part because of government subsidies that helped them pay their employees and their rent. Sztabzyb says it's been stressful. "It was really a true questioning of like, what's going on? Are we even going to be here in three months?" 'Trifecta' of local brands Next door to the coffee shop is Una Pizza, which says it has hired 35 people. On the other side is Village Ice Cream, which is also rolling the dice with a grand opening during a pandemic. "It's difficult to spend money right now. And it's hard to know how things are going to turn out," said Billy Friley, the company's founder. He's got three store openings under his belt, but none like this. Friley says the pandemic affected the timeline for ordering supplies and equipment and there were issues related to inventory and shipping. Goods that usually take six to eight weeks to arrive took twice as long. The store's opening was delayed by a month. His shop is smaller than the café next door, but the cost of opening was significant: more than $500,000 to get everything in place and up and running. The three businesses started the plan for this venture a year before the pandemic hit and say it might have been just as risky to pull out. As perilous as opening an ice cream shop in the winter in Calgary can be, Friley says he had to consider all of the commitments he made to his landlord and suppliers — not to mention his new next door business besties. Billy Friley is the founder of Village Ice Cream. He recently opened the company's fourth store in Bridgeland.(Bryan Labby/CBC) "Once the wheels are in motion, it's very hard to kind of have an alternate plan, without putting a huge amount of pressure and ultimately risk on the business model," he said. "As long as we could keep the rest of the business rolling down the road, and meet or come close to meeting our targets, then we were able to continue on with this project." 1 in 5 businesses at risk of closing Operating a business in Alberta in the past year has been fraught with risk and unpredictability. Last year, 226 businesses and 128 corporations either went bankrupt or filed proposals with their creditors to try to settle their debts. It's unclear how many of those are in the food service sector. That's on top of the nearly 17,000 consumers who either went bankrupt or filed their own proposals, according to StatsCan. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) says it's encouraging to see new, local businesses take a risk, but it agrees with Friley that it can be very difficult to back out because of the contractual obligations to lenders and suppliers. "It is definitely encouraging and really a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit of the province," said Annie Dormuth, who is the Alberta director for the CFIB. "However, you have to keep in mind a lot of these businesses are opening because they had to," she said. While optimism appears to be gaining steam with the easing of restrictions and the increasing number of Albertans who are getting immunized against COVID, there is lingering pessimism. Dormuth says her group surveyed small business owners in Alberta who say one in five are at risk of closing. She says that equals 34,500 businesses which employ 600,000 people "We are definitely not out of the woods in this pandemic." Perhaps that is why Restaurants Canada is asking the federal government to extend rent and wage subsidies to April 2022. Rebirth of a community The community is welcoming the three new businesses with open arms. "You can't go wrong with coffee, ice cream and pizza, that's for sure," said Ali McMillan of the Bridgeland Riverside Community Association. McMillan doesn't have a precise tally on how many businesses in her community have been forced to close since the pandemic was declared a year ago, but she says many "mom and pop" type stores are struggling. "People are hanging on by a thread." "This has been extremely difficult. We have a lot of restaurants that have been open and then closed and open and then closed," she said. McMIllan says people are supporting local businesses and restaurants during the pandemic and what's exciting for her community is the continued building of multi-family, mid-rise condo and apartment blocks. "So hopefully we're seeing, you know, a rebirth of Bridgeland." "I'm an optimist" It's a new beginning for these local businesses, which are quickly learning how to adjust during a pandemic and how to survive after the crisis. Sztabzyb is hopeful people will return to their old habits and routines, which include stopping in for coffee. Sebastian Sztabzyb, one of the owners of Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters, makes a cappuccino at the company's newest location in northeast Calgary.(Bryan Labby/CBC) He says the crisis has also taught them to appreciate their customers even more. He says he now "lights up" when a customer walks in. "In a normal era, where you're just like, 'Oh, it's just another body coming through.' Now, it's like, no, it's a person and we're grateful to see them." The three businesses signed 10-year lease agreements with the building's owner, RNDSQR, a local development company. It's a long-term commitment that is likely welcome news for the nearly 70 people who have been hired so far — with possibly more hires post-pandemic. "I'm an optimist," said Sztabzyb. "I think that we will bounce from this. It will take some time, and Calgary, in particular, has some challenges. But I do think that Calgarians are resilient, and we'll get through this." Bryan Labby is an enterprise reporter with CBC Calgary. If you have a good story idea or tip, you can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter at @CBCBryan.