Lake Ontario's water levels are below average after a drier than normal winter.
Lake Ontario's water levels are below average after a drier than normal winter.
EDMONTON — The Alberta Teachers’ Association wants the province to immediately scrap its draft education curriculum for young students and to start over. Association president Jason Schilling says most of his members feel teaching what's being proposed for kids in kindergarten to Grade 6 could damage their development. “This curriculum is fatally flawed,” Schilling said Thursday. “Many of the teachers believe that putting it before children will cause harm. We cannot allow that to happen.” Schilling said the plan is not developmentally appropriate for young kids, is jammed with random facts, and too loosely structured with concepts well over students’ heads. He said it pushes Eurocentric history while giving short shrift to francophone and Indigenous cultures and perspectives. He noted that since the curriculum was introduced by Education Minister Adriana LaGrange two weeks ago, more than 20 school boards have said they will not pilot it in classrooms this fall. They include the public school boards in Edmonton and Calgary. Schilling pointed to a survey of teachers released last week that revealed an overwhelming call for the draft to be overhauled. The proposal has also faced accusations that parts of it have been cribbed or lifted verbatim without citation from Wikipedia and other sources. Advocates, including LaGrange, say it takes a common-sense approach that includes basic concepts, such as multiplication tables, along with real-life skills for the information age, including how to budget and computer code. LaGrange spokeswoman Nicole Sparrow said in a statement that the Alberta government "has been very clear that we want feedback from Albertans on the draft curriculum. "Teachers have been very involved and will continue to be involved in the curriculum development process. Alberta’s government brought together more than 100 Alberta teachers, many who are members of the teachers’ union, to review the draft K-6 curriculum and provide feedback." Schilling said the participation was short and secret. “We had 100 teachers who met for two days that had to sign a non-disclosure agreement," he said. "We have no idea what they said, what they saw, and if the feedback they provided to government was actually taken into account and is reflected in the draft.” He acknowledged teachers can face disciplinary measures if they do not follow lawful direction, such as implementing a curriculum, but added there is a higher principle at stake. “Teachers who believe this curriculum is flawed and potentially damaging to student learning have the professional responsibility and moral right to refuse to participate in any voluntary piloting.” Schilling said he hopes school boards will respect such refusals, but declined to say specifically what the teachers association will do, legal or otherwise, should co-operation turn into confrontation down the road. “We’ll have to cross that bridge when we get to that point, but my hope is that we don’t.” The K-6 curriculum is part of a broader overhaul. A new learning plan for Grades 7 to 10 is to be in place in the fall of 2023, and one for Grades 11 and 12 in September 2024. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 15, 2021 Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
Ontario Premier Doug Ford is scheduled to make an announcement at 2:30 p.m. ET at Queen's Park. Ford's office says he will be joined by the ministers of health and labour, the solicitor general and the chief medical officer of health. Shortly before, at 1 p.m. ET, Ontario's COVID-19 science advisory table will present its latest modelling. You'll be able to watch both news conferences in this story. Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his cabinet are meeting again Friday morning to consider further COVID-19 restrictions to combat a worsening third wave that is pushing the province's health-care system to the breaking point. The meeting comes ahead of a scheduled briefing from the province's COVID-19 science advisory table that is expected to include stark new forecasts for the weeks ahead. A government source told CBC News revised modelling suggests Ontario could see up to 18,000 daily cases of COVID-19 by the end of May if current trends continue unabated, even with help from the province's ongoing vaccination campaign. The projections show that cases could be limited to about 10,000 per day if additional public health measures are implemented. However, they would have to be considerably more restrictive than what's currently in place to curb the rate of infection, the source said. Sources with knowledge of the discussions said Ford and his ministers are debating the following proposals on top of the stay-at-home order and shutdown already in place: Closing all non-essential retail, no curbside pickup or delivery. Further restricting retail hours of operation. Restricting curbside pickup (only permit non-essential retail to deliver). Shutting down non-essential construction, warehouses and manufacturing not related to health, food or automotive. Tightening capacity of indoor events like places of worship, weddings and funerals. Increasing fines, increase policing powers. Cabinet met late into the night Thursday. Sources said they talked about the option of a curfew but ultimately decided against it. Sources spoke to CBC News on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. Ontario reported 4,812 more cases of COVID-19 this morning, the most ever on a single day, marking three straight days of new peaks. Admissions to hospitals climbed to 1,955, while the number of people being treated for COVID-related illnesses in intensive care rose to 701, both all-time highs since the pandemic began. According to Critical Care Services Ontario, a government agency that compiles a daily report for hospitals, 74 more people with COVID-19 were admitted to ICUs on Thursday alone, again the highest number ever on a single day in the province. Public health units also reported the deaths of 25 more people with COVID-19, bringing the official toll to 7,664. The seven-day average of deaths is up to 21.7 per day, a new third-wave peak. The seven-day average for daily deaths reached its highest point of more than 60 in mid-January, before most residents of long-term care and retirement homes had been vaccinated. Health Minister Christine Elliott said this week that the province is trying to open up hundreds of additional ICU beds in coming days and weeks. Sources said Ontario intends to make a formal request to the federal government for more than 600 critical care staff to support front-line efforts in hospitals. "We have received Ontario's draft letter," said Mary-Liz Power, spokesperson for federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair. "We are currently in discussions with the province to determine how best we can support them with more resources," she said, adding that the federal government is working closely with all provinces and territories to help support them amid the pandemic. In Toronto, where the pressure on health-care providers has reached a crisis point, multiple hospitals are preparing for a continued influx of patients in the weeks ahead. Sunnybrook Hospital, where a field hospital was constructed in a parking lot earlier this month, says it will be prepared to begin accepting patients as early as Monday. The unit has capacity for up to about 80 beds, and a spokesperson for the hospital said it will largely cater to patients who have already been in hospital for some time and their COVID-19 symptoms have subsided. Transfers to the field hospital will free up critical care beds in the city, the spokesperson said. A field hospital was built in the parking lot of Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto earlier this month. A spokesperson said the temporary facility will be ready to help patients next week.(Evan Mitsui/CBC) Meanwhile, tents are being set up outside the emergency departments of Toronto General and Toronto Western hospitals to limit overcrowding in waiting rooms at the two facilities. On Thursday night, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that he had spoken with the mayors of Toronto, Brampton and Mississauga — cities home to many communities severely impacted by COVID-19 — about further supports that could be available, particularly with respect to vaccinations. This week has seen three major health networks in Toronto temporarily shut down vaccination clinics due to a lack of stable supply. Public health units collectively administered 115,634 doses of vaccines yesterday, also a new high for the province. As of yesterday evening, a total of 341,933 people have gotten both shots. Ontario has now used 3,644,038, or 75 per cent, of the 4,852,885 doses of vaccines it has received from the federal government to date. More than 700,000 of those total doses arrived in the province this week.
OTTAWA — The government House leader has asked the Speaker of the House of Commons to investigate a photo leak of a Liberal MP caught naked on camera during a virtual sitting of Parliament. Pablo Rodriguez said Thursday the incident involving Quebec MP William Amos was "mean-spirited" and has been "life-changing" for him. He suggested there could be serious implications for the person who took and shared this intimate image on Wednesday. "Taking a photo of someone who is changing clothes and in the nude and sharing it without their consent could very well be criminal," Rodriguez said. A screenshot shows Amos standing unclothed behind a desk between the Quebec and Canadian flags with what appears to be a phone covering his private parts. During virtual House of Commons sittings, only those who speak are shown on the public feed. Therefore, Amos's fellow MPs could see him on camera but he did not appear on the main screen. Bloc Québécois MP Claude DeBellefeuille, the party whip, raised the incident in a point of order after question period Wednesday, as she called for parliamentary decorum. "It may be necessary to remind the members, especially the male ones, that a tie and jacket are obligatory, but so are a shirt, boxer shorts or pants," DeBellefeuille said in French. "We have seen that the member is in great physical shape, but I think members should be reminded to be careful and control the camera well." In a statement Wednesday, Amos said he had returned from a jog and was changing into his work clothes, and did not realize his camera was on. "This was an unfortunate error," said Amos, parliamentary secretary to Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne. "I sincerely apologize to my colleagues in the House of Commons for this unintentional distraction. Obviously, it was an honest mistake and it won't happen again.'' Thursday morning, Rodriguez opened the House of Commons by blasting the unidentified person who leaked the nude photo of Amos to media, asking if they had given any thought to the ramifications on Amos's personal life when they shared it. He called it a case of "callous disrespect." "Did they think of (Amos's) family, children, friends and the fact that the internet is forever? Are we really at the point in our politics that it is acceptable to try and destroy the reputation and humiliate a colleague because someone finds an unfortunate error and unintentional mistake to be funny?" Rodriguez said. "Our politics have taken a very dark and destructive turn if this is the case." Neither MPs nor staff are allowed to to take photos in the House of Commons when it is sitting — a rule that has been extended to include virtual sittings. This includes taking screenshots of the public and non-public video feeds, Speaker Anthony Rota ruled in September 2020. "For taking screenshots, it is the same as being in the House. If a member takes a picture, they are taking a picture, and posting it just adds to that. Members are not permitted to take photos in the House," Rota said in an exchange on Sept. 29. Rodriguez has asked Rota to launch an immediate investigation to determine who took the controversial photo so the House of Commons could then decide on a next course of action. Rota said he would take the matter under advisement. In another statement posted to Facebook on Thursday, Amos thanked people who "sent messages of moral support and encouragement in the aftermath of this most regrettable situation." He described the past day as having been difficult, both personally and professionally. "It is most unfortunate that someone shared, without my consent, a photo in which I was changing my clothes," he said, adding that he expects the Speaker to investigate. Procurement Minister Anita Anand also expressed concern over the shared image. Amos was scheduled to appear at an announcement with Anand Thursday morning, but she said he is instead "taking a day" and noted that he has apologized for the incident as an accident. “I do, as a member of Parliament, have concerns that we should all, as members of Parliament, be respecting the rules of the House of Commons as well as any additional applicable law,” Anand said when asked about the incident. Amos was described by Liberal government whip Mark Holland as an "upstanding member of the House" who made an honest mistake. "His screen was on while in the middle of getting dressed. It could have happened to any of us," Holland said in a statement. "We must know who is responsible for leaking non-consensual images from a private video feed. We must also be assured that the video taken by this person is deleted so that further violations of privacy and decency are not possible." This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 15, 2021. Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press
Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin says his government does not plan to have settlement talks with Northern Pulp, despite a warning from the company that it might sue the province if the two sides can't agree on the terms of an environmental assessment for a new effluent treatment facility. The company said in an affidavit recently filed in a B.C. court that it intends to submit a revised proposal for the new facility next month. It added litigation may be necessary to resolve disputes if common ground can't be found. Rankin said Thursday the company is showing interest in finding a way to resume operations and he's waiting to see what unfolds. "If litigation ends up happening, then we'll participate in that," Rankin told reporters at Province House. 'Potentially not achievable' The premier said he has no details about the potential proposal and described the timelines outlined in court documents as "questionable." "We thought that it was potentially not achievable, but that's for them to answer," he said. In February, a community liaison community established in the wake of the mill shutdown said if company officials were serious about restarting and building community trust, they should withdraw an application for a judicial review and the proposal that is currently before the province. The court documents provide no details about whether this new plan would include using a pipeline to send treated effluent into the Northumberland Strait. That was part of an earlier proposal — which to date has not been approved — that caused a firestorm of protest from the Pictou Landing First Nation, fishing and environmental groups and many others living in Pictou County. The mill shut down at the end of January 2020 when it failed to get approval for its proposal and it could no longer use Boat Harbour as its treatment lagoon. Old proposal remains on the books Rankin said the province is considering filing its own affidavit with the court to identify where government officials see challenges with what the company is suggesting, including the idea that the project could be ready for an environmental assessment decision by the end of June 2022. Like the premier, Environment Minister Keith Irving said he's heard nothing from the company about the proposal. In fact, Irving said the company has not officially abandoned its original proposal, which is subject to a deadline of April 22, 2022, to complete an environmental assessment report. "That's still the information that we have at the department," he told CBC News. "If they submit any alterations to that, then we'll make a judgment on what's appropriate timelines." Feds should do the assessment Tory Leader Tim Houston, whose riding includes the Pictou Landing First Nation, said if a new plan comes forward, the evaluation process needs to be clear from the start. He recommended a Class 2 environmental assessment, which would require a report and a formal public review that could include hearings. NDP Leader Gary Burrill agreed on the need for a stringent assessment, but said he doesn't think the evaluation should be left to the provincial government. "If there is an effluent treatment facility proposal, we can only go forward on the basis of the very highest standard available of arm's length, independent review — and that is a full-scope federal environmental assessment," he said. Northern Pulp's court filings suggest they view their new submission as being classified as a "modification to existing infrastructure," something that would be subject to a 50-day review, which could be extended at the environment minister's discretion. MORE TOP STORIES
These kittens are having a wonderful time playing with their new toys at the Black Dog Farm and Rescue. They are in the best possible place they could be, but this might have been a narrow escape for these tiny creatures. Black Dog Farm and Rescue is an amazing facility that operates in Texas. The owners, Jennifer and Jim have been rescuing animals for several years and their sanctuary is home to dogs, cats, cows, hens and a guinea pig. They have hearts of gold and they cannot turn away an animal in need. As Jennifer and Jim were parking and preparing to go into a store for food, they saw a truck in the parking lot behind the store. A man stood by a kennel with a sign that advertised "free kittens". Although there were no signs of abuse or neglect, and the kittens seemed to have been well cared for, Jennifer knew this situation was a recipe for disaster. Jennifer recorded the kittens in the back of her truck, moments after she adopted them, and she narrates as she shows the kittens drinking some fresh water. Jennifer explains that not all "free" animals end up in good homes. In fact, some animals end up being sold to illegal dog fighting rings, or for food for other pets. Jennifer explains how she accepted all four kittens without even laying eyes on them, and that they are on the way to Black Dog Farm. She also records their first moments at the farm as they play and explore happily. Jennifer makes an excellent point when she refers to the tragedy that can befall kittens or any other pets that are given away without proper background information on their prospective owners. Black Dog Farm and Rescue accepts some of the neediest and most desperate animals. Many are permanently adopted, and some move on. But every single animal that comes into their care will be provided a carefully selected forever home, or they simply never leave. The farm is a wonderful place with acres for the animals to run and play. They are provided with vet care and excellent nutrition. Socialization and mental stimulation are important here as well, and the animals thrive and respond well to the kindness and love that they find here. Please look them up on Facebook and follow the heart warming stories or see what you can do to help them accomplish the magic that they make happen for these deserving souls.
KYIV, Ukraine — The parliament of Belarus gave initial approval Friday to a law that would ban private attorneys, reducing the defence options for people charged in connection with protests and political dissent. The measure, drafted by the administration of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, passed first reading, and and its eventual adoption appears certain because there are no opposition members of parliament. Under the proposed law, lawyers could work only as part of the system of state-created consulting offices. “The new law means the establishment of full control over lawyers by the state and the Ministry of Justice,” Siarhej Zikratski, a lawyer who has represented many Belarusian independent journalists, told The Associated Press. Nationwide protests broke out after Belarus' presidential election in August when official results gave Lukashenko a sixth term in office; opponents say the results were manipulated. Authorities cracked down harshly on the protests, some of which attracted as many as 200,00 people. More than 34,000 people were arrested during months of protests, which died down during the winter. Many prominent opposition figures have fled the country, including Lukashenko’s main election challenger, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. The Associated Press
Prince Edward Island has two new cases of COVID-19, bringing the province's total since March 2020 to 167, the Chief Public Health Office said Thursday. The latest cases involved two people in their 60s who had travelled outside the Atlantic region, said an afternoon news release from Dr. Heather Morrison. "They tested positive through routine testing," the release said. The cases have triggered a flight exposure alert regarding Air Canada flight AC8302 from Montreal to Charlottetown on Wednesday, April 7. Morrison's office noted that everyone on incoming flights is already supposed to be following isolation requirements, but they are also being asked to be on the lookout for symptoms and visit a drop-in testing clinic if any develop. Prince Edward Island now has seven active cases of COVID-19. Elsewhere in the Atlantic region today, New Brunswick reported eight new cases, Nova Scotia confirmed three and Newfoundland and Labrador had two. Reminder about symptoms The symptoms of COVID-19 can include: Fever. Cough or worsening of a previous cough. Possible loss of taste and/or smell. Sore throat. New or worsening fatigue. Headache. Shortness of breath. Runny nose. More from CBC P.E.I.
"This is an historic law for our children and our society," Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti told the National Assembly. As a consequence, a "Romeo and Juliet" clause that allows for sexual relations between a minor and an individual up to five years older. The clause will not apply in cases of sexual assault.
Toronto FC's Patrick Mullins and Justin Morrow acknowledged their goals against Club Leon on Wednesday night came with an outpouring of emotion. For Mullins, the reason was simple. His grandmother passed away recently. His teammates knew and captain Michael Bradley was quick to get to Mullins after he opened the scoring in Toronto's 2-1 win over the Mexican side in the second leg of their Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League round-of-16 tie at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The result gave TFC a 3-2 victory on aggregate, moving the MLS side into the quarterfinals of CONCACAF's flagship club competition against Mexican league leader Cruz Azul. Starting in place of the injured Jozy Altidore, the 29-year-old Mullins got the job done with some help from his friends. Bradley helped trigger the Mullins goal, driving into the Leon half and finding Jacob Shaffelburg open to the left. The pacey winger sent a perfect cross through the legs of one Leon defender and out of the reach of another, to find Mullins who was in the right place and the right time for a simple tap-in in the 55th minute. "Things happened very quickly in that goal … And once the ball was in the net, a lot of things hit me," Mullins recalled after the game. "But then I heard Michael come over and say, 'That's for the Mullins family.' "Then things really came down to earth to me. I had lost my grandmother this past week, so I had very much had a heavy heart in this game, and I think the team supported me so much through that loss of my family." Morrow made it 2-0 in the 71st minute, five minutes after entering the game. "It felt really good. It felt like a little emotional release, to be honest," said Morrow, who did not dress for last week's first leg in Mexico. "It's been a couple of months since I've been on the field. (I've been), dealing with some little injuries. I was out most of pre-season. So to make my way back — I was in contention to maybe be subbed into the game in a couple of different positions. At the end of the day I was happy just to get on the field and make a difference for the team." Taking a pass from teenage midfielder Ralph Priso, Morrow somehow bundled the ball in as he collided with goalkeeper Rodolpho Cota. TFC's high press made the goal with a Leon defender, under pressure, giving the ball way to Priso. "Not the most pretty goal but I'll take it. Any goal is a goal for me," said the 33-year-old fullback. "So it was really emotional to get that." Toronto kicks off the MLS regular season Saturday against CF Montreal in Fort Lauderdale. Both Canadian teams have taken up residence in Florida while the Vancouver Whitecaps have shifted their base of operations to Sandy, Utah, because of pandemic-related travel restrictions. The Whitecaps host the Portland Timbers at Rio Tinto Stadium on Sunday. --- Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 15, 2021 Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
The former CEO of a Saskatoon lab that develops vaccines, including one for COVID-19, says Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer has no game plan for dealing with the novel coronavirus. Andrew Potter, who worked at VIDO-InterVac for 22 years, first made the comment on Twitter following Tuesday's provincial update on COVID-19. "I must admit that I think Dr Shahab is way over his head with COVID based on what he has said so far at the press conference," the University of Saskatchewan professor tweeted Tuesday. "He dwells on the past and present but no game plan for the future (which is what counts right now)." In an interview with CBC News on Wednesday, Potter said he hadn't "seen any evidence yet that they're taking this seriousIy. "I recognize that there are medical decisions and recommendations and then there are political ones. And he doesn't control the political ones obviously." The Ministry of Health did not respond to a request for comment before publication. Potter said the government needs to communicate better with the public. He said the province has to stop comparing current cases with past waves — especially since the third wave involves coronavirus variants which are more transmissible. "Nobody's looking into the future as to where do we want to be and how we're going to get there," Potter said. "Right now, we're essentially repeating history that we know didn't work." Andrew Potter, former CEO of VIDO-InterVac, is now a professor at the University of Saskatchewan. (Andrew Potter) Variant cases erupting across province On Tuesday, Saskatchewan implemented a province-wide ban on private indoor gatherings while limiting crowds at places of worship to 30 people. Nazeem Muhajarine, a Saskatoon-based epidemiologist, said "it's a bit too little, too late." "We are going back to what should have been done on March 9 when public health measures were relaxed on that day," Muhajarine said on CBC's Saskatoon Morning. When the province allowed residents to expand their bubbles to a maximum of ten individuals in a home at any one time, Saskatchewan had 35 coronavirus variant cases. "And in the intervening five weeks, numbers increased a hundredfold." As of Thursday, Saskatchewan reported 4,183 coronavirus variant cases. "Expanding the bubbles has really backfired here in Saskatchewan, and especially knowing that the variant was spreading quite aggressively in the province," intensive care specialist Dr. Hassan Masri said. With variants erupting across the province, Muhajarine said the government is still doing "too little." "It's almost like, you know, trying to put off a raging house fire with a home fire extinguisher," Muhajarine said. Call to close bars and restaurants Masri, who works in intensive care units in Saskatoon, said "the variant is making people really sick." "We would not be in the situation that Regina is in, but certainly with the rising numbers ... we won't be surprised if that's our fate in the next week or so," Masri said. Intensive care specialist Dr. Hassan Masri says bars and restaurants in Saskatchewan should be closed.(Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press) He said further restrictions, like closing bars and restaurants across the province and further reducing gathering sizes at religious institutions, could prevent further strain on the health-care system. Muhajarine agreed. "The question can be asked whether these cases, hospitalizations and even deaths could have been averted had timely action been taken," he said.
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador's house of assembly opened on shaky foundations Thursday, with Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote delivering a throne speech less than three weeks after an election that faces several court challenges. Though the speech was meant to inspire, there was no escaping the grim financial outlook facing Liberal Premier Andrew Furey and the unease around the election that returned him to power. "The road before us starts with fully coming to terms with the extensive economic crisis facing this province," said the speech read by Foote. A few lines later, the government pledged a complete review of the province's Elections Act. The legislature's opening came after a protracted 10-week election that was upended in mid-February by a COVID-19 outbreak in the St. John's area. With the province in lockdown, chief electoral officer Bruce Chaulk cancelled in-person voting and instead held the election by mail. Furey's Liberals were re-elected March 27 with a slim majority, winning 22 of the province's 40 seats. The Progressive Conservatives won 13 seats, down from 15, and the NDP was reduced to two seats from three. Three Independents were also elected. Voter turnout was 48 per cent, marking a historic low for the province. One of those Independents, Paul Lane, announced he'd be putting forward a motion on Monday to request an independent investigation into the election. "There are so many very serious allegations," Lane told reporters. "We need to confirm what is fact, what is fiction. Were there breaches of the Elections Act?" When asked whether he felt the troubled election left Furey with a legitimate mandate, Lane said that was a decision best left for the courts. NDP Leader Alison Coffin said she'd happily support Lane's motion. She and her party launched a constitutional challenge of the election on Monday, asking that the results be thrown out and a new vote be held. Her suit claims Chaulk failed to run a fair, impartial vote and that the election violated charter rights. Her application lists 28 specific irregularities, including an allegation that Chaulk encouraged his staff to include people on the voters list without verifying their identity. Coffin has also requested a judicial recount in her St. John's East-Quidi Vidi district, where she lost her seat to Liberal John Hogan by 53 votes. Two unsuccessful Progressive Conservative candidates are also challenging the results in their ridings. Sheila Fitzgerald lost the race in St. Barbe-L'Anse aux Meadows to Liberal Krista Lynn Howell by 216 votes. According to court documents viewed by The Canadian Press, Fitzgerald signed an application Monday to have the results in her district tossed out. The application alleges that Chaulk misled Furey when he told the premier it was safe to hold an election and that he failed to let Furey know changes to the Elections Act were needed. Fitzgerald did not respond to a request for comment. Jim Lester said he also filed his legal paperwork on Monday claiming that some voters in his riding never received ballots and others were added to voting lists without proper verification. He had held the Mount Pearl North seat but lost to Liberal Lucy Stoyles by 109 votes. The Progressive Conservatives have said they will not be challenging the election in court as a party. When asked Thursday if he felt Furey had a legitimate mandate, interim party leader David Brazil said that "will be determined by the courts." Furey and the Liberals have shied away from commenting on the election, pledging instead to revisit the Elections Act. As for the financial sinkhole ahead of him, Furey said his first goal is to find a solution for the cash-sucking Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project. The massive dam and generating station in Labrador has run over schedule and over budget, essentially doubling in cost to $13.1 billion. Without outside assistance — ideally from Ottawa — power rates across the province could also double in order to pay for it. "And that effects the economy," Furey told reporters. "Muskrat Falls is an incredible anchor around our souls and our finances." Furey said the province's next budget, which should be tabled in June, will be another "COVID-19-style budget," aimed at maintaining stability as the province navigates the global pandemic. "This is not time for austerity," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
VICTORIA — The B.C. government is investing $2 billion in a low-interest loan program for builders of affordable housing. Housing Minister David Eby said Thursday the financing will be offered to private developers and community groups through the province's HousingHub program, a division of BC Housing. The funding will target projects for renters and buyers with average household incomes of $75,000. Eby said the loans will be provided at below-market rates and in return, developers will commit to passing the construction savings on to residents through more affordable rents and housing prices. The loans will be repaid once construction is complete, allowing HousingHub to reinvest in more units, he added. Finance Minister Selina Robinson said the funding is part of Budget 2021, which will be unveiled in full next week. "For far too long, housing in British Columbia was viewed as a commodity and a tool for building wealth, rather than a basic necessity of a home," said Robinson, who was the housing minister before taking on the finance portfolio. "The simple truth is, affordable housing is life changing." In order to ensure the savings are passed on to the residents, each developer must make a 10-year commitment around affordability. The agreements signed are unique to each project, Eby said. Financing rates will depend on factors like a developer's credit rating and relationship with banks, he said. BC Housing has already received about 90 applications from builders interested in accessing a loan, he said. "There's lots of demand and competition for the funding," Eby said. Applications will be prioritized based on maximizing affordability, such as the number of units and the price per unit offered to tenants or buyers, he said. Developments will also be assessed through a geographic lens to ensure the benefit of the program is felt across the province. "There's really not a community in our province that isn't facing some aspect of the housing crisis, although it looks different in different communities," Eby said. Paul Kershaw, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia's school of population and public health, said the HousingHub is a positive and important program. The program has seen private developers partner with non-profits to deliver the housing, which is an effective way to ensure the supply is affordable for middle-income households, said Kershaw. But increasing supply should be complemented with other policy measures if the government truly wants to dampen the escalating housing market, he said. "Anything being built and offered anew in a setting where ... home prices continue to rise on average is going to erode the affordability that the provincial government is aiming to bring in by offering these low-interest loans," he said. Complementary measures could include similar low-interest loans aimed at strengthening other parts of the economy, such as small businesses, he said. British Columbia is in an unhealthy situation when 18 per cent of B.C.'s economy is real estate rental and leasing, but only two per cent of the population is employed in that sector, Kershaw said. "It is a massive gap and as a result, that's why there's big growth in that industry but it's not generating earnings that are spread out to a whole bunch of people," he said. The Opposition Liberals said skyrocketing housing prices during the pandemic show the NDP government's housing plan is failing. The party referenced a report from the B.C. Real Estate Association that found the average home price in the province increased by 20.4 per cent last month compared with the same time last year. At the same time, active residential listings dropped by 24.4 per cent as the housing supply sunk to the lowest level seen in decades, it said. "It’s clear that the NDP’s supposed solutions for affordability have had no meaningful effect on the housing market," housing critic Ben Stewart said. "Young British Columbians are still watching their dreams of home ownership fade away, while this government takes an undeserved victory lap.” — By Amy Smart in Vancouver. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The federal Liberals have used an unpopular tool to limit time for debate in the House of Commons on a bill that would harmonize Canada's laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.The Liberals successfully passed a motion Thursday to impose closure on the opening round of debate on Bill C-15 in order to put it to a vote and move it along to a Commons committee for further scrutiny.The minority Liberal government received the support of the NDP to pass the time allocation motion, which will allow one additional day of debate before the bill is sent to committee.Conservative and Bloc MPs voted against limiting debate on the bill.Justice Minister David Lametti accused the Conservatives of using "dilatory tactics" to stall any and all Liberal government legislation. He stressed the aim of the time allocation motion was to ensure swift passage of the long-awaited UNDRIP bill. "This is a positive way forward, this is long overdue, there are no surprises in this bill … this is the time to do our best as parliamentarians to move this forward," Lametti said.The Commons, meanwhile, overwelmingly passed another bill Thursday that has been stalled for months.C-14, which would implement emergency pandemic aid and other measures contained in last fall's economic statement, passed by a vote of 210-118, with support from the NDP and Bloc Quebecois. The Conservatives voted against it. The bill now moves to scrutiny by the Senate.The move to limit debate on Bill C-15 came just two days after Indigenous leaders expressed concern that the bill, stalled at second reading since it was introduced in December, might never make it through the all the legislative hoops before a possible election, which would kill it.C-15 represents the third attempt to have Parliament approve implementation of the UN declaration in Canada.Former NDP MP Romeo Saganash introduced two private member's bills to implement UNDRIP, the first defeated at second reading in the Commons in 2014 and the second stalling in the Senate just before the 2019 election.This time, the Liberals have essentially turned Saganash's bill into a government bill.The UN declaration, which Canada endorsed in 2010, affirms the rights of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination and to their language, culture and traditional lands.It also spells out the need for free, prior and informed consent from Indigenous Peoples on anything that infringes on their lands or rights.The bill does not include a definition of consent, raising objections from Conservatives who fear it would give First Nations a veto over natural resource development projects.Their concerns have been dismissed as "fearmongering" by Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, a former judge who helped draft similar legislation in British Columbia in 2019.The bill would simply put into operation policies and processes to ensure First Nations are involved at the outset when it comes to decisions regarding their existing land, title and human rights, she told a Commons committee last week.Many legal experts believe this could lead to fewer conflicts and less litigation, especially on issues of resource development.NDP MP Leah Gazan, who voted with her caucus in favour of time allocation Thursday, said she believes there could have been a better path for the government's UNDRIP bill."I want to get this through the Senate this time… I fundamentally believe the need for legislation that is going to help us create a framework to acknowledge Indigenous rights and title in this country is absolutely imperative," she said."I’m just really disappointed that this is the only way that the government sees this bill being able to go through."Conservative MPs, meanwhile, expressed concern over the bill, noting objections from some individual First Nations and Indigenous elders, who say they have not been sufficiently consulted.Lametti stressed that "robust consultations" will continue through the legislative progress of the bill and will also continue on an action plan promised within the new law that will set out how it is implemented.The plan had been to introduce an earlier draft of the UNDRIP bill last year, Lametti said, but these plans were sidetracked by the COVID-19 pandemic."I don’t like time allocation any more than the next member of Parliament and I would like to see everything debated fulsomely," he said."But there is a responsibility in debate… not just with prepared talking points but with actual new arguments and we’re not getting that from the Conservative party, we’re getting arguments repeated ad nauseam for the purposes of delaying and delaying and delaying."This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 15, 2021. Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press
Two federal ministers have written Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe to protest his plan to bring in a tax on electric vehicles. "This provincial tax on electric vehicles does not benefit the climate, consumers or workers," said Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra in the Wednesday letter. In its most recent budget, Moe's Saskatchewan Party government brought in a $150 yearly tax on electric vehicles. Saskatchewan has said the tax will ensure drivers of those vehicles pay their share to maintain roads, normally funded through gas taxes. But Wilkinson and Alghabra say the tax works against federal plans to increase the use of electric vehicles and reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions. "Internal combustion engine vehicles have been around for 100 years, but the world is shifting around us and zero-emission vehicles are the way forward," they write. "An approach that creates financial barriers to new low carbon technologies would send the wrong signal to the world." The ministers say the federal Liberal government has invested in charging stations for the vehicles and is helping Canadian automakers retool their plants to build them. "Right here in Canada, we have the entire supply chain, from the raw resources to the talent to the manufacturing bases," the letter says. "Our world-class automotive industry and its workers are uniquely positioned to design, develop and build the cars, trucks and buses of today and tomorrow." The federal government offers a rebate of up to $5,000 toward the purchase of an electric vehicle. Five provinces and Yukon have similar programs, with Quebec offering up to $8,000. No other province or territory has a special tax on electric vehicles. In a response, Moe wrote: "Highways and road systems do not maintain themselves. The road fee use paid by electric vehicle owners will help to maintain this crucial infrastructure." Moe points out that 19 U.S. states, including California, have instituted a tax on electric vehicles. Three Australian states are also considering the move. But federal officials say that since electric vehicles generally cost more, their owners pay more in sales tax than internal combustion engine buyers. They also pay sales tax on electricity. The federal ministers also say Saskatchewan holds many of the minerals used to build electric vehicles and say encouraging their use is an economic opportunity. "We appreciate your newfound concern about Saskatchewan's economy," Moe responded. Nathan Lemphers of the Smart Prosperity Institute said there is an argument for ensuring electric vehicle drivers pay their share — but not yet. "It's not the right time to start charging EVs for road usage," he said. "When they do become more common, that could become a time to start exploring that." Most jurisdictions, he said, are trying to make it easier and not harder to own one. "It seems like this is more about petty politics than it is about public policy." Saskatchewan has registered about 400 electric vehicles. A tax on that many vehicles would bring in about $60,000. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 15, 2021. Bob Weber, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said four provinces and one territory have rebate programs.
LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — The Alberta Medical Association says a Lethbridge physician has died from complications related to COVID-19. Dr. Wayne John Edwards, who was 66, died Tuesday at the Chinook Regional Hospital in the southern Alberta city. His death was confirmed by Alberta Health. Spokesman Tom McMillan says the source of exposure in the death is unknown. The most recent statistics from Alberta Health show Edwards was the seventh health-care worker in the province to die from COVID-19. The Alberta Medical Association says in a statement on social media that they are saddened by his death. "So many Albertans have lost loved ones and friends to this terrible disease," said the statement. "The physician community joins in mourning a colleague and leader of his health community." An online obituary at LethbridgeNewsNow said Edwards was born in Trinidad and migrated to Yarmouth, N.S., in 1995. The family moved to Lethbridge in 2003 and became Canadian citizens. Edwards leaves behind his wife, Harriet, and two sons, Andre and Adrian. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
The mayor of a small Saskatchewan town whose residents were recently alerted they are at heightened risk of contracting highly transmissible coronavirus variants of concern says the area has recently experienced "excessive" partiers. Meanwhile, health officials confirm a "recreational party" took place near the community and has sparked a superspreading event. RCMP are investigating but no fines have been issued yet. Maple Creek Mayor Michelle McKenzie made the remarks Tuesday during a council meeting. RCMP Sgt. John Phipps had just completed a regular address about local crime statistics when McKenzie asked other councillors if they had any questions or concerns for the officer. McKenzie had one. "I think it comes down to just what we've been experiencing the last couple of days with the excessive.... partiers or anything else that exceeds the public health order," she said. WATCH | Mayor McKenzie addresses the RCMP (at the 15:58 mark): CBC News has reached out to McKenzie for further comment. One town councillor, Betty Abbott, declined to comment and referred CBC News to McKenzie and the Facebook feed. Event 'disappointing': health minister Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman was pressed for the second day in a row for details about the event. Asked if it was either a high school party or a religious gathering, Merriman said he did not have those details. He said the event went "way over" the limit of 10 people for private and public outdoor gatherings and that there was "minimal" adherence to public health rules. "We've had very low numbers in the southwest part of the province, in the Maple Creek and Swift Current area," Merriman said. "It takes one event like this to start up another superspreader. It's disappointing." Health Minister Paul Merriman said he was briefed on the situation but offered few details about the event. (CBC) Saskatchewan RCMP said their Maple Creek detachment is investigating the April 2 event after receiving more than one complaint. It allegedly took place at a home in a rural area near Maple Creek, according to an RCMP spokesperson. 21 cases linked to outdoor event On Wednesday, the day after McKenzie's remarks, the Saskatchewan Health Authority warned residents in Maple Creek and Rosetown, Kindersley, Swift Current, Davidson, Moose Jaw, plus their surrounding areas, of increased risk of COVID-19 variants of concern "related to a number of recent large outdoor gatherings and failure to comply with current public health measures." The health authority later confirmed an outdoor gathering in southwestern Saskatchewan was tied to 21 infections, including some cases of variants of concern, although the exact variant was not yet identified. No other details about the event were provided. Town affairs on lockdown In a virtual address posted on the Town of Maple Creek's Facebook page on Wednesday, McKenzie announced a series of clampdowns to protect town staff and residents from the spread of COVID-19. A masked McKenzie said town employees were going door to door with flyers about variants of concern. Some town staff would work from home, she said. The town office and visitor centre is closed, she added. "Residents of Maple Creek are strongly urged to strictly adhere to the current public health order and measures, including immediately [seeking] testing," McKenzie said. Maple Creek is one of 27 communities monitored by health officials in the South West 1 zone. As of Thursday, that zone had 32 active cases of COVID-19, with one new case announced that day.
An Iqaluit man under the protection of Nunavut's public guardian is being forced into homelessness while government officials struggle to figure out how to help him and who should pay for that help, according to a case at the Nunavut Court of Justice. The Inuk man in this case, whose identity CBC is withholding, has schizophrenia and an intellectual disability. He was placed into the care of the public guardian according to an order under Nunavut's Public Guardianship Act in November last year. Those who fall under such protective orders do not have the capacity to make some basic life decisions for themselves. Last month, the man left Iqaluit's men's shelter in order to attend a court appearance in Kinngait. When he got back, the shelter was full. A couple days later, his defence lawyer noticed bruising and scratches on his face. The man reported the injuries were a result of frostbite due to homelessness. Legal aid lawyers quickly filed documents with the court demanding the public guardian secure temporary housing for the man under its care. But the guardian's office filed its own court documents refusing. It says it contacted numerous facilities in Iqaluit, none of which could house the man. It added that it is not its responsibility to house people under its care, especially in light of Nunavut's longstanding housing crisis. If it were their responsibility, the public guardian argued, it would have a long line at its door of people looking to be placed in its care for housing purposes. And the budget approved by the Legislative Assembly for the Office of the Public Guardian does not include such housing costs, the office argued. But Beth Kotierk, the man's legal aid lawyer, argued that the government cannot allow a person in its care to go homeless while it figures out which agency should pay for their care. Jordan's Principle should apply: legal aid lawyer In documents submitted to the court, Kotierk argues that Jordan's Principle should apply in the man's case. That principle was approved by a motion in the House of Commons in 2007, two years after five-year-old Jordan River Anderson died. The child, who was from Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba, died while different levels of government argued in court about who should pay for his care. The principle named in his honour aims to prevent a similar situation from occurring. Although the man in Nunavut's public guardianship case is not a child, the same principle applies, Kotierk argued. The case went before Justice Paul Bychok on April 1, but due to administrative errors by legal aid lawyers, the case was dismissed without prejudice, which means it can be brought to court again. It was scheduled to go before the court again in late May. But the discovery of a case of COVID-19 in the capital suspended operations at Nunavut's Court of Justice on Thursday, and it's not clear when the case may be heard again. In the mean time, Kotierk said Nunavut's legal aid agency is working to secure a hotel room for the man.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is sticking with his anti-carbon tax stance after the federal Conservative Party unveiled a climate plan that would put a price on carbon for consumers. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole is proposing to charge a levy on fuel purchases and use the money to fund personalized savings accounts that Canadians can use for environmentally friendly purchases, instead of the Liberal carbon-tax-and-rebate system. CBC News obtained a copy of the party's climate plan on Wednesday. It said Canadians would pay a carbon levy, initially amounting to $20 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions, every time they buy hydrocarbon-based fuels, such as gasoline. The money would be diverted to "personal low carbon savings accounts" instead of the current plan that involves direct rebates to Canadian households. Consumers could then draw on those accounts for "things that help them live a greener life," the document says. That could include smaller purchases like a transit pass or bicycle, or saving up and buying larger items like an energy efficient furnace, energy efficient windows or an electric vehicle. O'Toole has denied that his proposal is a "tax," instead referring to it as a "pricing mechanism." "Not a cent goes to Ottawa," O'Toole said. Regardless, Moe said he wouldn't implement the Conservative or Liberal plan if it were up to him. "No carbon tax is acceptable in the province. We don't believe it is the appropriate mechanism in order for us to actually achieve what we want to achieve," Moe said on Thursday. If he had to choose, Moe said he would pick the Conservative's plan. "One returns the dollars to the people who spent it, limiting the disadvantage that Saskatchewan companies might have," Moe said. "One takes those dollars, pools them in, and returns them to everyone in the province, which is essentially a wealth redistribution plan, which does nothing for the environment, only attempts to help some folks political ambitions." Conservative plan capped at $50 a tonne The current Liberal policy — which applies only in provinces that have not set up their own carbon pricing — is now set at $40 per tonne, rising each year until it reaches $170 per tonne by 2030. Under the policy, which was passed into law in 2018, 90 per cent of the revenue is returned to consumers in those provinces via rebates. The remaining 10 per cent is directed toward businesses, schools, hospitals and municipalities. The Conservative's carbon price would increase over time to a maximum of $50 per tonne, but it would go no higher than that, according to the plan.
School divisions in the Regina area joining forces in calling for school staff to be vaccinated before returning to in-person schooling. Regina Public Schools, Regina Catholic School Division and the Prairie Valley School Division are sending letters to the Saskatchewan Health Authority asking for school staff to be vaccinated before in-person classes are set to resume on April 26. "We know as educators that students learn better in the classroom. But not only that, we know that there are hardships created for thousands of families in our city when we do e-learning," said Adam Hicks, board chair for Regina Public Schools. "If all of our staff can get vaccinated sooner, we might be able to get children back into the classroom sooner than if we don't get them vaccinated." Each school board voted in favour of sending the letters during their respective meetings this week, citing Regina as a hot spot for coronavirus variants of concern. Hicks said getting school staff vaccinated would not only help keep students safe, but also the broader community. The school divisions said in March that their students would move to online learning for two weeks, amid concerns over rising numbers of cases involving variants of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. They extended the remote learning period later that month. 'We're hoping that the province is listening' Hicks said RPS alone has about 2,400 workers and 24,000 students, along with 58 buildings, which means the division impacts 12 per cent of the city's population when schools are operational. However, he said that number could be around 30 to 40 per cent if one factors in parents and caregivers with kids in RPS. "We're hoping that the province is listening," he said. "We're not saying that our teachers, or support staff, or our division staff are any more important than others, but we believe that the impact is great for our city." Hicks said each division could handle the logistics of getting its workers vaccinated as well, including contact tracing on nights, weekends and statutory holidays. "We have a better chance to make this easier for everybody, including the economy, including parents that are struggling at home right now," he said. Hicks said he hopes students and staff will be able to return to class on the scheduled date, but extending remote learning again isn't off the table.
The federal government is buying more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech as it moves to offset reduction in supply from another producer. And while it offered to help Ontario distribute its shots, the hot-spot province turned down that assistance. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday a contract with Pfizer for eight million additional doses of their vaccine hours after Canada said Moderna would slash its deliveries in half through the rest of April. The increase in Pfizer supply is coming at a time when COVID activity is rapidly spreading in parts of the country, including Canada's most populous province. Trudeau said the federal government will provide more relief to Ontario, including deploying the Canadian Red Cross to help with their mobile vaccination teams; setting up additional hospital beds in Toronto and Hamilton; and sending equipment and drugs. "In many places, numbers are higher than they’ve ever been before," Trudeau said. "And far too many hospitals are already stretched far too thin. ... So we’re going to do whatever it takes to help." Ontario logged a record 4,812 new cases on Friday and 25 more deaths related to the virus. Its science advisers presented stark new projections predicting daily infections could hit 20,000, and that 100,000 vaccine doses would need to be administered per day to flatten the curve. And while Ontario Premier Doug Ford's government made an appeal to other provinces to send health-care workers to alleviate pressure on its hospitals, it appeared tepid on the offer from the federal government to help with the vaccine rollout. Ford spokesperson Ivana Yelich said that while the offer was appreciated, the province would not need the Red Cross to help administer vaccines "unless it is match with an increase in supply." "We do not have a capacity issue, we have a supply issue," Yelich said. Data from the federal government shows Ontario has received more than 4.8 million vaccine doses. The provincial data shows that 3.6 million administered as of Thursday evening, suggesting 1.2 million doses were still to be used. Rapid growth in COVID activity continues to be seen as variants of concern escalate in parts of the country. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief medical officer, said the ramped up vaccine rollout has been positive, however, with seven million residents inoculated this week. "Vaccines are reducing severe illness, death and outbreaks in high-risk setting and populations that were targeted in that initial phase of vaccination," she said. "These benefits are building, and they will be the bridge that takes us all to greater safety." Canada's expanded contract with Pfizer will kick in next month, Procurement Minister Anita Anand said, with the first four million of the new eight million doses arriving in May. She said two million more doses will come in June and July, respectively, and Pfizer is also moving another 400,000 doses from the third quarter into June. Canada's initial shipment of approximately 300,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will also arrive during the week of April 27, Anand said, to be delivered to the provinces at the beginning of May. The increased Pfizer doses help offset another production delay from Moderna. Anand said earlier Friday that Moderna will ship 650,000 doses of its vaccine by the end of the month, instead of the expected 1.2 million. Anand said in a statement that Moderna advised Canada the limited supply is due to a slower than anticipated ramp up of production capacity. The company also told Canada that one to two million doses of the 12.3 million scheduled for delivery in the second quarter may be delayed until the third quarter. "We are disappointed, and while we understand the challenges facing suppliers in the current global market for vaccines, our government will continue to press Moderna to fulfil its commitments," Anand said in a statement. Moderna said in a statement there has been a "shortfall" in estimated doses from the European supply chain, and that it will be "making adjustments" to expected delivery quantities in a number of countries, including Canada. Trudeau said Friday he was "concerned" about the delays and production challenges facing Moderna, but added that Pfizer has been reliable. He said their doses will make up the "bulk of vaccines being given to Canadians in the coming months." Earlier Friday, the Canadian Medical Association called for "extraordinary" measures, including sharing provincial health-care resources and dropping the per-capita approach to vaccine distribution, to address the COVID-19 crisis unfolding in several provinces. The CMA said it wants the federal government to consider re-prioritizing its vaccine distribution strategy to focus on urgent areas instead of distributing to provinces on a per-capita basis. Trudeau said conversations with provinces about vaccine allocation have been "ongoing." "We're happy to continue to work with the provinces on adjusting (vaccine distribution) as the provinces see necessary," he said. The CMA president-elect Dr. Katharine Smart said further restrictions must also be considered in provinces experiencing rapid rates of COVID-19 transmission, including a "total lockdown" in Ontario. "That means anything that's truly not essential ... needs to be closed completely for a period of time," she said. "These half-closures and half-measures and not working." Ontario was expected to announce new measures later Friday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 16, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press