Friends of Ruby’s housing and youth services director Lucy Gallo talks about the need to support LGBTQI2S youth through transitional housing programs, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Friends of Ruby’s housing and youth services director Lucy Gallo talks about the need to support LGBTQI2S youth through transitional housing programs, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Jan. 18 ... What we are watching in Canada ... OTTAWA - The premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan are condemning Joe Biden's plan to scrap the Keystone XL pipeline expansion on his first day as U.S. president. Biden's plan is outlined in transition documents seen by The Canadian Press. Jason Kenney and Scott Moe say halting construction on the controversial project will be disastrous for both the Canadian and U.S. economies. Kenney says his government -- which announced a $1.5 billion investment into the expansion last year -- is prepared to "use all legal avenues available to protect its interest in the project." Moe, meanwhile, is urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to meet with Biden and says his government will be in touch with its contacts in Washington. Trudeau has so far been silent on the issue, but his ambassador to the U.S., Kirsten Hillman, is defending the pipeline, saying it fits into Canada's climate plan and promises good jobs. TC Energy Corp. doubled down on that last night, confirming an ambitious plan to spend $1.7 billion US on a solar, wind and battery-powered operating system for the pipeline to ensure it is zero-emission by 2030, and to rely exclusively on union labour. --- Also this ... HALIFAX - Nova Scotia is the first jurisdiction in North America to implement presumed consent around organ donation as of today. Legislation passed in April 2019 finally takes effect this morning following more than 18 months of work to make sure the province's health-care system can cope with the change. Under the Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act, all people in Nova Scotia will be considered potential organ donors unless they opt out. Dr. Stephen Beed, medical director of Nova Scotia's organ and tissue donation program, says the new opt-out system presents a rare opportunity to transform a part of the health care system. He believes organ donations could rise by as much as 30 to 50 per cent within five years. Beed says an opt-out registry has been developed and safeguards are in place such as double checking with families to ensure the last known wishes of a potential donor are respected. He says those who tell their families that they don't want to be donors will not be donors, even if they haven't opted out. --- And this ... TORONTO - Studies have suggested previous COVID-19 infections may result in promising levels of immunity to the virus, leading to questions of whether those who've already recovered from the disease still need a vaccine. And is there urgency to inoculate them, or can they move to the back of the vaccination line? Experts say a vaccine will likely offer the safest bet for longer-term protection, meaning those with previous infections should still get them. And prior COVID illness shouldn't determine someone's place in the queue. The exact level of immunity acquired from a natural infection is yet to be fully determined, says Dr. Andre Veillette, a professor of medicine at McGill who's also on Canada's COVID-19 vaccine task force. It may be that protection begins to wane quicker in some people, or that those with previous mild infections aren't as protected as someone who had more severe symptoms, he says. Still others may think they've had a COVID-19 infection but can't be sure if they didn't get tested at the time. --- What we are watching in the U.S. ... WASINGTON, D.C. - U.S. defence officials say they are worried about an insider attack or other threat from service members involved in securing president-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. That concern is prompting the FBI to vet all 25,000 National Guard troops coming into Washington for the event. The massive undertaking reflects the extraordinary security concerns that have gripped Washington following the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump rioters. And it underscores fears that some of the very people assigned to protect the city over the next several days could present a threat to the incoming president and other VIPs in attendance. --- What we are watching in the rest of the world ... MOSCOW- Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's arrest as he arrived in Moscow after recovering from his poisoning with a nerve agent drew criticism from Western nations and calls for his release, with Germany's foreign minister on Monday calling it “incomprehensible.” Navalny was detained at passport control at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport after flying in Sunday evening from Berlin, where he was treated following the poisoning in August that he blames on the Kremlin. His arrest adds another layer of tension to relations between Moscow and the West that have long been strained and were worsened by his poisoning. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas noted that Navalny had returned of his own volition and said "it is completely incomprehensible that he was detained by Russian authorities immediately after his arrival.” European Council President Charles Michel tweeted that Navalny's detention is “unacceptable” and also called for his immediate release, a call echoed by France's foreign ministry and by Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau. U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for national security adviser called on Russian authorities to free Navalny. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday the stream of reactions to Navalny’s arrest by Western officials reflects an attempt “to divert attention from the crisis of the Western model of development.” --- ICYMI ... OTTAWA - Petty officer Richard Austin was sitting at his position on board HMCS Athabaskan when he heard a clang. It was 1991, and the Canadian destroyer was traversing an Iraqi minefield in the Persian Gulf, on its way to rescue a crippled American warship. “I remember waiting for the bang,” Austin recalls of those tense few moments nearly 30 years later. “Looking at the two pictures of my sons on the top of the weapons panel. The bang never came.” Austin’s story is one of several Canadian experiences from the first Gulf War that were collected by Historica Canada and released on Sunday as part of a new video on what is a largely forgotten chapter of Canada’s military history. Sunday marked the 30th anniversary of Operation Desert Storm, the massive attack that eventually resulted in U.S.-led forces pushing the Iraqi military from Kuwait, which Iraq had invaded in August 1990 under then-president Saddam Hussein. The anniversary passed largely unnoticed by the government on Sunday, with no official statements by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan or Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay. That was despite Canada being one of dozens of countries to condemn Iraq’s invasion, with three Canadian warships as well as fighter aircraft, security personnel and medical troops deployed in support of the American coalition that liberated Kuwait. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021 The Canadian Press
MAMUJU, Indonesia — Aid was reaching the thousands of people left homeless and struggling after an earthquake that killed at least 84 people on an Indonesian island where rescuers intensified their work Monday to find those buried in the rubble. More rescuers and volunteers were deployed in the hardest-hit city of Mamuju and the neighbouring district of Majene on Sulawesi island, where the magnitude 6.2 quake struck early Friday, said Raditya Jati, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency’s spokesperson. He said nearly 20,000 survivors were moved to shelters and more than 900 people were injured, with nearly 300 of them still receiving treatment for serious injuries. A total of 73 people died in Mamuju and 11 in Majene, said Didi Hamzar, the disaster agency's director of preparedness. He said rescuers also managed to pull 18 people alive from the rubble of a collapsed houses and buildings. Mahatir, a relief co-ordinator for volunteer rescuers, said his team was trying to reach many people in six isolated villages in Majene district after the quake damaged roads and bridges. Aid and other logistic supplies can be distributed only by foot over the severe terrain, said Mahatir who goes by one name. In a virtual news conference, Hamzar said that three helicopters were taking aid supplies Monday to four cut-off villages in Majene. In other hard hit areas. water, which has been in short supply, as well as food and medical supplies were being distributed from trucks. The military said it sent five planes carrying rescue personnel, food, medicine, blankets, field tents and water tankers. Volunteers and rescue personnel erected more temporary shelters for those left homeless in Mamuju and Majene. Most were barely protected by makeshift shelters that were lashed by heavy monsoon downpours. Only a few were lucky to be protected by tarpaulin-covered tents. They said they were running low on food, blankets and other aid, as emergency supplies were rushed to the hard-hit region. Police and soldiers were deployed to guard vehicles carrying relief goods and grocery stores from looting that occurred in some areas, said Muhammad Helmi, who heads the West Sulawesi police’s operation unit. Jati said at least 1,150 houses in Majene were damaged and the agency was still collecting data on damaged houses and buildings in Mamuju. Mamuju, the provincial capital of nearly 300,000 people, was strewn with debris from collapsed buildings. The governor’s office building was almost flattened and a shopping mall was reduced to a crumpled hulk. The disaster agency said the evacuees are in dire need of basic necessities — blankets, mats, tents, baby food and medical services. The disaster agency’s chief, Doni Monardo, said authorities were trying to separate high- and lower-risk groups and provided tens of thousands of anti-coronavirus masks for those needing shelters. He said authorities would also set up health posts at the camps to test people for the virus. People being housed in temporary shelters were seen standing close together, many of them without masks, saying that they difficult to observe health protocols in this emergency situation. West Sulawesi province has recorded more than 2,500 cases of the coronavirus, including 58 deaths. Indonesia has confirmed nearly 908,000 cases and almost 26,000 fatalities. Many on Sulawesi island are still haunted by a magnitude 7.5 earthquake that devastated Palu city in 2018, setting of a tsunami and a phenomenon called liquefaction in which soil collapses into itself. More than 4,000 people were killed, including many who were buried when whole neighbourhoods were swallowed in the falling ground. Indonesia, home to more than 260 million people, is lined with seismic faults and is frequently hit by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis. A magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra in 2004 triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries. ____ Karmini reported from Jakarta, Indonesia. Niniek Karmini And Yusuf Wahil, The Associated Press
Studies have suggested previous COVID-19 infections may result in promising levels of immunity to the virus, leading to questions of whether those who've already recovered from the disease still need a vaccine. And is there urgency to inoculate them, or can they move to the back of the vaccination line? Experts say a vaccine will likely offer the safest bet for longer-term protection, meaning those with previous infections should still get them. And prior COVID illness shouldn't determine someone's place in the queue. The exact level of immunity acquired from a natural infection is yet to be fully determined, says Dr. Andre Veillette, a professor of medicine at McGill who's also on Canada's COVID-19 vaccine task force. It may be that protection begins to wane quicker in some people, or that those with previous mild infections aren't as protected as someone who had more severe symptoms, he says. Still others may think they've had a COVID-19 infection but can't be sure if they didn't get tested at the time. "I would say the simple rule would be that we vaccinate people who've had prior infections, just like everybody else," Veillette said. "If you had the infection, yes, you may have some protection, but it may not last a long time, and it may not be as good as the vaccine." Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were found to have a 95 per cent efficacy in clinical trials in protecting against severe disease. But there are still questions around whether the vaccines can actually prevent someone from catching the virus and spreading it to others. While Moderna has some data that their product may protect against acquiring the virus, it's still unclear. Antibodies from natural infections suggest the same — that they may protect us from getting really sick again, but not from getting the virus a second time. While there have been some cases of reinfection around the world, immunology expert Steven Kerfoot says the fact we're not seeing more of those suggests the immune response from initial COVID-19 infections is probably "pretty strong." Kerfoot, an associate professor at Western University, says vaccines are designed in a way that should produce an immune response "at least as good or better" than what we get after a natural infection. "So it may help fill in holes where people may not have developed an immune response effectively to the virus," Kerfoot said. "If anything, the vaccine could as act as its own booster that would improve your immunity." While some studies have suggested antibodies may disappear relatively quickly after COVID-19 infections, others have found a more lingering immune response. An American study published this month showed antibodies present for at least eight months, and possibly longer. Even studies suggesting an early drop-off of antibody levels aren't concerning, Kerfoot says. Infections trigger the body to produce other immune cells and memory cells that reduce slowly over years and help fight off future invasions from the same virus. If the immune response in those with past COVID infection is expected to be lengthy, could there be justification to defer their inoculations, especially if vaccine supply is low? It will be up to provinces to decide priority in each stage of their rollouts, but Jason Kindrachuk, a virologist with the University of Manitoba, says that will be a tricky decision. "I don't think we can use prior infection as an indicator of priority, because we just don't know what that person's immune response actually is," Kindrachuk said. "We don't know what long-term immunity looks like in those folks. "The recommendations are going to be that everybody gets vaccinated because that way we know — across vulnerable groups and all ages and different demographics — they'll all get a robust immune response." Veillette adds that many people with previous COVID cases were also in higher-risk settings — either because of their jobs or living environments — that would theoretically put them at risk for reinfection. And if they were to get the virus again but not show symptoms, they could still pass it on to other people. "There's probably a whole spectrum of situations there, and when there's so many variables it's better to have a simple rule," he said. "So I think that's another reason to vaccinate previously infected people." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
A new study paints a troubling portrait of potential climate change impacts on Arctic char in Labrador, amid calls for more research to better understand what the future holds for the species that occupies a place of immense value in Canada's North. The study, published recently in the journal Nature Climate Change, is the result of years of field and laboratory work by a team of Canadian scientists. The researchers spent several summers sampling migratory Arctic char — the variant of the fish that moves from fresh to saltwater and back again — in rivers across the region, from its northern reaches in the Torngat Mountains all the way south to the tip of Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula. The study then analyzed the fish's genetic data and, combined with climate modelling from 2050, concluded the southernmost fish are the most vulnerable and "may be unable to adapt to pervasive warming in the Arctic." "What we think we're seeing with this data is that we can expect there to be declines in this region for decades to come, essentially. That we expect that we will be losing those migratory [southern] populations," said Kara Layton, a study co-author and an associate professor at Aberdeen University in Scotland. Predicting that the char will shift northward falls in line with already known science, said Layton. "We have seen this already in things, like plants and birds and that, so we know these sorts of trends, and this loss of the southern range contraction is happening elsewhere," she said. Scientific research on Labrador's Arctic char stocks is fairly thin, with study co-author Ian Bradbury saying the new work has helped map out the char's DNA and fill in some blanks about population, past and present. But overall, there's no solid understanding of just how many fish are out there. "We've started to scratch the surface in understanding which populations are going to be vulnerable, of Arctic char in Labrador. But I still think there's a lot of unknowns in terms of understanding how many individuals we have there and what the magnitude of these changes that are coming actually will be," said Bradbury, a research scientist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in St. John's. Labrador is predicted to warm much more than the island portion of the province, according to provincial climate data that shows Nain could be 7.3 C warmer in winter by 2050. With the new Arctic char knowledge assembled and published, Bradbury said it gives both scientists and communities information to help direct work around the species in a rapidly changing world. "It's something that I think really does further stress the need to mitigate climate change impacts, and it does give us something that we can start to monitor, so that we can start to prepare for these changes as they occur," he said. 'Crying' for more science: harvesters Arctic char is a highly prized traditional food in Inuit communities, such as the five within Nunatisavut territory on Labrador's north coast. The only commercial fishery for Arctic char in Newfoundland and Labrador is based in that region, where the Torngat Fish Producers Co-operative holds the distinction of operating the province's northernmost fish plant, in Nain. The head of the co-op said he doesn't get any comfort from the study's findings that his region's char could fare better than its southern counterparts. While Keith Watts welcomes the new research, he said far more of it needs to be done. "We've been crying and asking for more science from DFO, because it is their responsibility, for quite some time — decades," said Watts, the co-op's general manager. Watts said the co-op's annual harvest is well below the DFO-set quota, taking only up to 40 per cent of what's allowed. People in Nunatsiavut can also fish their own Arctic char through the Inuit domestic harvest program, but as Watts said that amount is also largely untracked, he's concerned about increasing commercial fishing in the face of so many unknowns. "We're not comfortable with the fact that there's not enough science on the abundance of the species. We don't want to put it into jeopardy," he said. From a business standpoint, the co-op's small catch doesn't make the Arctic char fishery viable, Watts said. The co-op offsets those losses from more lucrative species, as well as subsidies from the Nunatsiavut government, to ensure people can buy the fish either in Nain or the co-op's storefront in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. "Arctic char is very important to Nunatsiavut people and always has been, and always will be. Because of the decline of other things, such as caribou, and food insecurity in the north coast, Arctic char is very important," said Watts. Labrador: 'at the forefront of climate change' That cultural importance is not only cultural, but also ecological. Labrador's Arctic char live throughout the entire region's coast, which means they've adapted to very different temperature conditions, that Layton and Bradbury said can vary by as much as 10 C from its southern to northern edges, or what they call a "steep environmental gradient." That range in latitude, in a rapidly warming world, means an uncertain future for Labrador. "It's a region that I really think is going to be at the forefront of climate change impacts," said Bradbury. As such impacts happen, the char could act as a bellwether for Labrador's larger biodiversity, and better understanding how Arctic char have evolved to their current surroundings by looking at their DNA could help. "We know that its a really, really important species, and one that can tell us a lot, I think, about climate impacts more broadly," said Bradbury. As Watts and the co-op call for more science to be done, there is more research in the works. The Torngat Wildlife, Plants and Fisheries Secretariat is setting up a char-counting fence in the Fraser River, which empties into Nain Bay. Watts said the work was delayed for a year due to the pandemic. Bradbury said he'll continue the study's work, with more genetic sampling of char to come in summers ahead, in the hopes of refining their predictions and figuring out how many fish the future holds. "I think the only way we're actually going to start to get at that is through continued monitoring, and being in Labrador, and using some of these new approaches to start quantifying changes as we see them," he said. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
A woman involved in a fatal collision on Circle Drive last week says barriers separating lanes on the busy stretch of road might have saved the life of a 24-year-old woman. Nicole Gamble was on her way back to the Beardy's and Okemasis's Cree Nation with her husband Hilary when their vehicle was struck head on by a car that had travelled the wrong way into their lane. The woman driving that car died at the scene. Gamble's dealing with bumps and bruises all over and a shattered wrist, and says both she and her husband, who was driving, are feeling sore following the collision — one she says might have not ended in tragedy if something had been separating traffic. "Maybe if there was a barrier, that may have helped to save her life," Gamble said in a phone interview Sunday. What exactly happened on Circle Drive North on Friday that resulted in the collision, which took place between College and Attridge Drive, is still under investigation by the Saskatoon Police Service's collision analyst unit. But Gamble said while the crash appeared to happen in "slow motion," it took place in an instant. "I just looked up and I see the vehicle flying across the other side of the road," she said, as she was texting her children to let them know they were on the way home. "It jumped through the meridian … the little ditch thing, and it just came straight for us. I just remember closing my eyes. It happened so fast, I can still hear the metal crunching. I can't sleep at night thinking of it." She and her family have been smudging and praying for the young woman who lost her life, noting it was a life ended far too soon. "She was too young to go," Gamble said, the pain clear in her voice. "She was just a baby herself." Both her and her husband extend their condolences to the family who is mourning and want to thank those who helped them out of the wreck, which closed traffic for several hours as police responded. Ward 3 Councillor David Kirton campaigned on traffic safety during the recent municipal election. Kirton, who worked as a reporter before he was a city councillor, recalls covering serious collisions on this same stretch of road in the past. Now he hopes to raise the issue of barriers in the area with city administration to see if something can be done to make the stretch of road safer. Kirton says the fact the road has seen more than one serious collision should be enough for the city to take action, without having to do a number of studies to find out the area is dangerous. "We have our own statistical information that this happens, and obviously, it's happened a number of times too many when we have, not just one, but more than one loss of life over the last number of years," he said. "I would love to be able to talk to administration and see if there might be a way that we can get past our mind sometimes, on studies and statistics, and think about, well I guess, the reality that is out there — and that reality took a tragic turn on Friday," he said. When CBC reached out to the City of Saskatoon for a response to the concerns, a city representative pointed to a post on the city's official Twitter account where it indicated it's aware of the incident, noting that sections of Circle Drive "have been identified to receive safety barriers from the Municipal Economic Enhancement Program."
France is expanding the eligibility for people to get their COVID-19 vaccines. Around 6 million people can now have the jab. Those over 75 can have their first dose along with anyone in a high-risk group, such as those with serious health conditions.View on euronews
OTTAWA — As new cases of COVID-19 surge across Canada, the federal government and the provinces have been imposing stricter measures to try to limit the illness's spread. The Canadian Press interviewed three leading Canadian experts in disease control and epidemiology, asking their thoughts on Canada's handling of the pandemic, the new restrictions on activities — and what else can be done. Here's what they had to say. John Brownstein, Montreal-born Harvard University epidemiologist and chief innovation officer at Boston Children's Hospital Having a national testing strategy in Canada that uses rapid tests people could do at home would limit the spread of the virus, Brownstein says. "That would enable us to get insight on infection and actually have people isolate," he says. No such tests have been approved in Canada yet. "We've been saying this all along, so it's not just a purely Canadian issue, but having a strategy that implements that kind of information would go a long way to drive infections down in communities while we wait for the vaccine." Brownstein says curfews have unintended consequences because they force people to get together over a shorter period of time during the day. "We haven't seen a lot of evidence that curfews have driven down infection." He says a mix of testing and quarantine is the best way to make sure international travellers don't cause outbreaks when they return from the pandemic hot spots. Testing alone is not enough, he says, because tests can come back negative during the novel coronavirus's incubation period; people should be careful about relying on test results that could give a false sense of security. Brownstein says pandemic fatigue is real and the governments' support for people suffering in the crisis should continue. He says promoting low-risk activities, including walking and exercising outdoors, is also important. "Whatever we can do to allow for people to spend more time outside, probably the better." David Juncker, professor of medicine and chair of the department of biomedical engineering at McGill University Canada needs a national strategy for how to use rapid tests for the virus that causes COVID-19, says Juncker. Juncker is an adviser for Rapid Test and Trace, an organization advocating for a mass rapid-testing system across Canada. "Initially the Canadian government (spoke) against (rapid tests) and then they pivoted sometime in October or September," he says. The federal government then bought thousands of rapid tests and sent them to the provinces, where they've mostly sat unused. "Every province is trying to come up with their own way of trying them — running their own individual pilots. There's a lack of exchange of information and lack of guidelines in terms of how to best deploy them," he says. Juncker says the testing regime based on swabs collected in central testing sites was working in the summer but it collapsed in the fall. He says medical professionals prefer those tests because they are more accurate and can detect low levels of the virus, which is important for diagnoses, but rapid tests can be useful for public health through sheer volume, if they're used properly. A federal advisory panel's report released Friday, laying out the best uses for different kinds of tests, is a step in the right direction, he says. "I'm happy to see we're slowly shifting from the point of view of 'Should we use rapid tests?' to a point of view (of) 'How can we best use them?'" More recent research suggests that rapid tests are more accurate than was previously thought, he says. "We still don't have enough capacity to test everyone so we'd have to use them in a strategic way." Juncker says the lockdowns in Ontario and Quebec should have happened earlier in the fall, when cases started to rise. He says the late lockdowns in Canada won't be as effective as those in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, where early lockdowns effectively stopped the disease from spreading. "Countries that were most aggressive early on, are the ones that have, I think, the best outcome." He says countries where health decisions are fragmented across the country, including Canada, have added challenges. "If you live in Ottawa-Gatineau, you have one province (that) allows one thing, the other province allows another thing, so this creates confusion among the citizens," he said. Donald Sheppard, chair of the department of microbiology and immunology in the faculty of medicine at McGill University and member of Canada's COVID-19 therapeutics task force: Canada's federal-provincial sharing of power over health care is highly inefficient and has led to major problems, says Sheppard. "There's a lot breakdown in communication, a lot of territorialism. It's greatly impacted the efficiency of the response," he says. The problems in long-term care homes are examples. "Quebec is screaming they want money but they're refusing to sign on to the minimum standards of long term care," he says. "I think it's heinous." He says highly centralized authority and decision-making has had a stifling effect on innovation. "It puts up roadblocks, and has led to the Canadian health-care system having lost any attempt to be innovative and nimble," he says. Sheppard says he doesn't think there will be mass vaccinations for Canadians this summer and the September timetable that the federal government is talking about for vaccinating everybody is optimistic. "Remember that we don't have vaccines that are approved in under-11-year-olds," he says. "There will still be opportunities for the virus to circulate in children, particularly children are in school settings." He suggested that the current immunization campaign's goal is not herd immunity, eliminating transmission of the virus and rendering is extinct. "The goal here is to create an iron wall of immunity around the 'susceptibles' in our population, such that this becomes a virus of the same public health importance as influenza." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2020 ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press
Ambiguous language and the alleged killing of an inmate have led to a dispute between the Newfoundland and Labrador government and the province's largest public sector union. The province is refusing to pay the legal fees for 10 correctional officers accused of playing a role in the homicide of Indigenous inmate Jonathan Henoche, according to a source close to the situation. It's believed the total amount could range as high as $1 million to represent the officers in criminal proceedings, let alone any civil actions that are likely to follow. An arbitrator will be called in to settle the dispute between the government and the officers' union, NAPE. Both the union and provincial government declined comment for this story. According to the source, there is a fundamental disagreement between both sides around the wording of the collective agreement. "The employer shall undertake to assure a full and complete defence to any employee who is sued or charged in a criminal proceeding arising from the performance of his/her duties provided he/she was not deemed to have performed in a negligent manner as determined by the facts or the courts," the collective agreement states. According to several lawyers consulted by CBC News, the phrase "facts or the courts" leaves room for interpretation. It leaves space for someone other than a judge to interpret the facts of the case, and could allow the province to walk away from covering the guards if it deems them to have acted with negligence. "Management will abide by the terms of the collective agreement," reads a statement that theTreasury Board Secretariat issued last Tuesday. When pressed for more details, a government spokesperson said they could only provide that one line. How legal aid works Information on the Treasury Board Secretariat website states that in cases where the province provides lawyers for its employees, it will also pay for any settlements or damages that arise in civil court. It also states the province cannot claw back money from an employee in a case where a lawyer has been provided. That seems to indicate the province could not pay their legal fees in the beginning and then recoup money if the guards are found guilty. Seven officers are charged with negligence causing death, while three are charged with manslaughter. The officers, who are between the ages of 28 to 51, range in experience from newer guards to a senior lieutenant who has twice been commended by the province for exemplary service at Her Majesty's Penitentiary. Jonathan Henoche was involved in a physical altercation in his cell, before being taken to the segregation unit in the basement of the jail. It's not clear what happened next, or how much time elapsed before he was pronounced dead. Henoche was charged with first-degree murder in the 2016 death of Regula Schule, 88, a Swiss-born former missionary who had been living in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. He had been transferred to HMP while he awaited trial. Sources tell CBC News the incident in Henoche's cell was captured on video. Once an arbitrator has been appointed to the case, both sides will make arguments and the arbitrator will render a judgment. Both sides will then have a chance to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. No timeline of proceedings has been provided to CBC News. The 10 guards are set to make a first court appearance on Feb. 11 in St. John's. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
BRUSSELS — Women in Europe doing jobs requiring the same skills as jobs done by men are still being paid significantly less, according to a study by the the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). The major trade union organization, which represents 45 million members in 38 European countries, compared wages in two countries from Western and Eastern Europe — Germany and Romania — looking at women working in the sector of household appliances and men working in car manufacturing. The organization looked at several criteria including skills, physical effort and responsibility. It compared full-time workers of the same age and with a permanent contract working for medium-sized companies. In Germany, ETUC said, women in the white goods sector earn €865 less per month in gross income than men making cars, for jobs requiring similar skills. In Romania, where wages are significantly lower, the average difference in net income is €244, ETUC said. “Comparing the pay of women and men in the manufacturing sector shows clearly how women are paid less even when their jobs require the same levels of skill and physical effort as those of men,” ETUC deputy general secretary Esther Lynch said. “The COVID crisis has also exposed the deep-rooted bias behind wages for professions dominated by women, with carers and cleaners recognized as ‘essential’ despite being amongst the lowest paid.” Last year, using data from the EU's statistical office, the trade union organization said women would have to wait for another 84 years and the next century to achieve equal pay at the current pace of change. ETUC called on the European executive commission to quickly come forward with its pay transparency directive. European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen had planned to present measures to introduce binding pay transparency measures in the first 100 days of her mandate, but the proposals have yet to be unveiled. “Quality is more important than speed in this case,” EU commission spokesman Christian Wigand said. “We'll come forward with proposals in the coming months." The Associated Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Monday Jan. 18, 2021. There are 708,619 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 708,619 confirmed cases (75,281 active, 615,324 resolved, 18,014 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 6,436 new cases Sunday from 70,499 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 9.1 per cent. The rate of active cases is 200.27 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 47,285 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,755. There were 149 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 1,001 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 143. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.38 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.92 per 100,000 people. There have been 16,557,083 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 396 confirmed cases (nine active, 383 resolved, four deaths). There was one new case Sunday from 204 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.49 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been three new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 76,369 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 104 confirmed cases (nine active, 95 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday from 331 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 5.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 86,220 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,558 confirmed cases (29 active, 1,464 resolved, 65 deaths). There were four new cases Sunday from 743 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.54 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.99 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 30 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 195,810 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 947 confirmed cases (293 active, 642 resolved, 12 deaths). There were 36 new cases Sunday from 874 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.1 per cent. The rate of active cases is 37.72 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 168 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 24. There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of three new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.06 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 128,277 tests completed. _ Quebec: 242,714 confirmed cases (20,651 active, 213,008 resolved, 9,055 deaths). There were 1,744 new cases Sunday from 9,270 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 19 per cent. The rate of active cases is 243.38 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 13,893 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,985. There were 50 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 369 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 53. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.62 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 106.72 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,656,534 tests completed. _ Ontario: 237,786 confirmed cases (28,893 active, 203,484 resolved, 5,409 deaths). There were 3,422 new cases Sunday from 58,215 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 198.35 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 22,004 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 3,143. There were 69 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 380 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 54. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.37 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 37.13 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,633,584 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 27,511 confirmed cases (3,081 active, 23,661 resolved, 769 deaths). There were 189 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 224.98 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,194 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 171. There were eight new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 31 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.32 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 56.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 436,236 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 20,272 confirmed cases (4,121 active, 15,936 resolved, 215 deaths). There were 287 new cases Sunday from 862 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 33 per cent. The rate of active cases is 350.88 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,158 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 308. There were three new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 24 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.29 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 18.31 per 100,000 people. There have been 321,266 tests completed. _ Alberta: 116,837 confirmed cases (12,234 active, 103,167 resolved, 1,436 deaths). There were 750 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 279.87 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,385 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 769. There were 19 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 152 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 22. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.5 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 32.85 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,979,663 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 60,117 confirmed cases (5,955 active, 53,115 resolved, 1,047 deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 117.42 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,440 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 349. There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 42 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is six. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 20.65 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,021,911 tests completed. _ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (two active, 67 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 4.9 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,256 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 28 confirmed cases (four active, 24 resolved, zero deaths). There were three new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 8.92 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of four new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 8,323 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 266 confirmed cases (zero active, 265 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,558 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 18, 2021. The Canadian Press
MANILA, Philippines — Coronavirus infections in the Philippines have surged past 500,000 in a new bleak milestone with the government facing criticism for failing to immediately launch a vaccination program amid a global scramble for COVID-19 vaccines. The Department of Health reported 1,895 new infections Sunday, bringing confirmed coronavirus cases in the country to 500,577, the second highest in Southeast Asia. There have been at least 9,895 deaths. The Philippines has been negotiating with seven Western and Chinese companies to secure 148 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine but the effort has been fraught with uncertainties and confusion. About 50,000 doses from China-based Sinovac Biotech Ltd. may arrive later next month followed by much larger shipments, according to the government, but concerns have been raised over its efficacy. President Rodrigo Duterte says securing the vaccines has been difficult because wealthy nations have secured massive doses for their citizens first. Duterte’s elite guards have acknowledged they have been inoculated with a still-unauthorized COVID-19 vaccine partly to ensure that they would not infect the 75-year-old president. Duterte’s spokesman and other officials have denied the president himself was vaccinated. A flurry of criticism has followed the illegal vaccinations, but few details have been released, including which vaccine was used and how the guards obtained it. Some senators moved to investigate, but Duterte ordered his guards not to appear before the Senate. In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region: — Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga vowed Monday to get the pandemic under control and hold the already postponed Olympics this summer with ample coronavirus protection. In a speech opening a new parliament session, Suga said his government will revise laws to make anti-virus measures enforceable with penalties and compensation. Early in the pandemic, Japan was able to keep its virus caseload manageable with non-binding requests for businesses to close or operate with social distancing and for people to stay home. But recent weeks have seen several highs in new cases per day, in part blamed on eased attitudes toward the anti-virus measures, and doubts are growing as more-contagious variants spread while people wait for vaccines and the Olympics draw closer. The health ministry also reported Monday that three people who have no record of recent overseas travel had tested positive for the new, more easily transmitted coronavirus variant first reported in Britain, suggesting that it is making its way in Japan. Suga said his government aims to start vaccinations as early as late February. Japan has confirmed more than 330,000 infections and 4,500 deaths from COVID-19, numbers that have surged recently though they are still far smaller than many other countries of its size. — A Chinese province grappling with a spike in coronavirus cases is reinstating tight restrictions on weddings, funerals and other family gatherings, threatening violators with criminal charges. The notice from the high court in Hebei province did not give specifics, but said all types of social gatherings were now being regulated to prevent further spread of the virus. Hebei has had one of China’s most serious outbreaks in months that comes amid measures to curb the further spread during February’s Lunar New Year holiday. Authorities have called on citizens not to travel, ordered schools closed a week early and conducted testing on a massive scale. Hebei recorded another 54 cases over the previous 24 hours, the National Health Commission said on Monday, while the northern province of Jilin reported 30 cases and Heilongjiang further north reported seven. Beijing had two new cases and most buildings and housing compounds now require proof of a negative coronavirus test for entry. — Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has unveiled a new 15 billion ringgit ($3.7 billion) stimulus to bolster consumption, with the economy expected to reel from a second coronavirus lockdown and an emergency declaration. Muhyiddin obtained royal consent last week to declare a coronavirus emergency, slammed by critics as a desperate bid to cling to power amid defections from his ruling coalition. The emergency, expected to last until Aug. 1, doesn’t involve any curfew or military intervention but suspends Parliament, halts any election and gives Muhyiddin’s government absolute power, including in introducing new laws. It came at the same time as millions in Kuala Lumpur and several high-risk states were placed under a two-week lockdown to halt a surge in coronavirus cases. Muhyiddin on Monday acknowledged concerns over the emergency but repeated that it was only aimed at curbing the coronavirus. He said the economic impact from the lockdown will be manageable because more activities are being allowed this time. He said the stimulus will provide more funds to battle the pandemic and support livelihoods and businesses. A businessman has filed a lawsuit challenging the emergency declaration and the opposition plans to appeal to the king to rescind his support. Malaysia has recorded more than 158,000 coronavirus cases, including 601 deaths. — Nepal’s health ministry says the country's first cases of the new, more infectious coronavirus variant first found in the United Kingdom have been confirmed in three people who arrived from the U.K. The ministry said Monday that samples from six people who arrived in Nepal last week were sent to a laboratory in Hong Kong with the help of the World Health Organization. Three of the people — two men and a woman — tested positive for the new variant, it said. Two have recovered and one is still sick, the ministry said. Nepal has recorded 267,322 coronavirus cases, including 1,959 deaths. The Associated Press
As the first terminally ill cancer patient in Canada to legally use so-called magic mushrooms to treat anxiety, Thomas Hartle is hopeful that more temporary approvals from the federal government signal a permanent regulatory regime may be in the works. Hartle, 53, received a one-year exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act last August to use psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, during psychotherapy. Since then, Health Canada has approved 24 more applications from cancer patients for treatment of end-of-life distress. It has also granted exemptions to 19 health-care providers, giving them the right to possess and use mushrooms containing psilocybin for professional training purposes, a spokeswoman said in a statement. The department has yet to decide whether it will allow the public to use any psychedelics for therapeutic purposes beyond the exemptions it has granted so far. Hartle has had two psychedelic psychotherapy sessions at his home in Saskatoon, the last one in November, with psilocybin from mushrooms he grew and dried himself using a coffee grinder to turn them into powder and placed into capsules for precise dosages. The IT administrator, who is on leave from his job, said anxiety over dying from colon cancer and leaving his wife and two children, both on the autism spectrum, became unbearable after his inoperable condition was diagnosed in 2016. However, taking psilocybin during his two sessions with the help of his regular clinical psychologist helped him manage his anxiety to the point that he hasn't felt the need to have any more psychedelic-assisted therapy while he continues traditional therapy, Hartle said. "I think that's probably obvious to most people who have interacted with me before and after my sessions," he said of the marked improvement in his anxiety through a deeper understanding of the word "serenity." "I've been talking about subjects that I would previously have considered almost impossible to talk about and keep a clear voice and not break down into a very emotional state. Instead of focusing on the pain or discomfort, I'm focusing on making lunch for my family or something like that." Before each of the two sessions, Hartle said he met with his therapist and completed paperwork to gauge his anxiety level in order to establish a baseline that could be compared with how he would feel afterwards. The first session lasted about six hours, during which he took three capsules about an hour apart, containing a total seven grams of psilocybin, he said. His therapist and a friend remained by his side as he lay blindfolded and wearing a headset while listening to music from a playlist compiled by Johns Hopkins University as part of its research into psychedelics. Hartle said the range of music, from classical to chanting as well as South American and African beats, elicited different emotions and he saw multiple colours and geometric shapes as he entered "a state of other," which made it impossible for him to recall the names of his family members. "It was very serene and comforting to me to realize that I could have consciousness and awareness that had nothing whatsoever to do with this existence." Hartle said that prior to his cancer diagnosis, he had never used illegal substances and only started taking cannabis oil to deal with the nausea brought on by chemotherapy as part of his cancer treatments. Focused psychotherapy sessions before, during and after his two sessions were crucial to his use of psilocybin, Hartle said. "It's not like you take a pill and suddenly everything is fantastic. It doesn't work like that any more than regular therapy does. There is work to be done. There are challenges to face. There are issues that need to be worked through the same as any other session. The main difference is that with the psychedelic-assisted therapy, it can get your ego out of the way so you can get at some things." Spencer Hawkswell, CEO of TheraPsil, a Victoria-based advocacy group for patients, said it helped Hartle apply for exemptions to use psilocybin on compassionate grounds based on Canadians' right to medical assistance in dying. He said access to assistance in dying should also give terminally ill patients the right to try mushrooms to reduce their emotional suffering. "When we can't manage someone's symptoms, that's often when they choose MAiD. (Psilocybin) deserves to be put in between the treatment options that are failing those patients and MAiD." TheraPsil has helped people from six provinces apply for exemptions. Health-care providers who have received exemptions to use psilocybin themselves before leading psychedelic-assisted sessions include family doctors, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, clinical counsellors and social workers, Hawkswell said, adding the group is putting together a training program that will need partnerships with provincial governments. Psilocybin is just one of several psychedelics being considered to treat mental health conditions while a growing number of private companies promote their potential use for multiple issues including obesity, smoking, alcohol dependence and addiction to illicit substances. Mark Haden, chair of the board for the Canadian chapter of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS Canada, said psychedelics appear to be seen as the new cannabis before it was legalized. "A lot of venture capitalists went into the cannabis world. Many of them made money. Some of them lost a huge amount of money, so the cannabis bubble exploded and then burst. So, all of that money is saying, 'Where do we go next? What's the next big thing?' And they've latched their view on psychedelics." MAPS Canada is currently conducting a Phase 3 clinical trial in Vancouver on the use of MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. Haden said the small trial involving about 12 people is expected to be completed next year as part of the research by over a dozen sites in the United States and Israel. Traditional PTSD therapy has a high dropout rate, may involve patients taking medication for years and has an effectiveness rate of 10 to 25 per cent, said Haden, who is also an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia's School of Population and Public Health. "With MDMA, it takes a few months and the effectiveness is 60 to 80 per cent," he said of research findings elsewhere. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. Camille Bains, The Canadian Press
Miramichi Youth House has stepped up and started the process to bring a homeless shelter for adults to the Miramichi. The group's mandate is to provide services to youth ages 16 to 19. The youth house, running under executive director Samantha Fairweather, provides overnight shelter beds, low cost housing and an outreach program. But Fairweather, like many others working in the sector in Miramichi, sees a desperate for services for adults. "Unfortunately, it just seemed that nothing was being done, nothing was coming to life," she said. "So that's where we were inspired to create the project manager position." Fairweather applied to Reaching Home, a federal grant program, and received funding to hire someone. Kaitlin Carroll left her job as a social worker with Horizon Health to become the project manager of the homeless shelter. "It was something that I felt very passionate about," said Carroll. She said exact numbers are hard to come by, but working with different agencies in the region, she estimates there are anywhere from 40 to 80 people experiencing homelessness. "We have folks sleeping in wooded areas in tents, cardboard boxes (and) other types of shelters, sleeping in condemned buildings, cars, breaking into places to stay warm, bank vestibules." said Carroll. And then there are the people who are less visible, those who are couch surfing. "That is the urgent need that is boiling over in our community," said Carroll. She said Miramichi Youth House receives calls on a weekly basis from people looking for a place to stay. After doing a survey of the province and country to see what has worked in other centres of a similar size, Carroll decided the place to start is a six to eight bed shelter, set up in a retrofitted house. The shelter would be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Carroll said the Department of Social Development has made an NB Housing unit available, but Robert Duguay, director of communications with the department said the location is still up for discussion. "We are still having discussions to determine how the province can support this initiative," he said. "The type of support will depend on the specifics of the project, funding by other levels of government, as well as stakeholders and the needs identified within the community." Carroll said funding is the barrier every step of the way. She said operational costs are covered, but salaries have not, and Carroll said a number of grant requests have been written and different groups in the Miramichi region have been approached. She'll know by February if the applications were successful, so the best case scenario is the shelter is open in March. "We're ready to press the go button," she said. It can't happen soon enough for Patricia Michaud, executive director of the Miramichi Emergency Centre for Women. Her shelter would normally have 12 beds for woman and children fleeing domestic violence, but since COVID restrictions came into affect, only seven spaces are available, and they are all currently full. Michaud said the shelter receives five to 10 calls a month from women who fall outside her mandate, and she can't accept them. "It's horrible and we hate doing that," she said, adding that exceptions are sometimes made but it depends on how much space is available. "There's always been someone trying to open up something, trying to get a homeless shelter because we've helped them with stats and things like that, but it's never come to fruition," said Michaud. "It's desperately needed." She said she's spoken to Carroll, and has seen how far the project has come in a short time and is hopeful it will happen. But Carroll isn't stopping at a shelter because she understands it's not a solution to the problem. The next step is affordable housing. Miramichi has a 1.3 per cent vacancy rate, much lower than Campbellton's, a city of comparable size, whose vacancy rate is 4.2, according to Statistics Canada. "There's a lot of luxury townhouses and apartments, but not a lot in the affordable housing range," said Carroll. She said it's too early to go into details, but the group is also working on two affordable housing developments, one on each side of the Miramichi River.
EDMONTON — Albertans will be able to visit hair salons and tattoo parlours today as the province relaxes a few of its COVID-19 restrictions. Starting today, personal and wellness services, including hair salons and tattoo parlours, can open by appointment only. Outdoor social gatherings, which were previously banned, will be allowed in groups of up to 10 people. And the limit on the number of people who can attend funerals is increasing to 20, although receptions are still prohibited. Health Minister Tyler Shandro said last week that Alberta can't entirely ease up, but that it can make small adjustments to provide Albertans with some limited activities. Alberta's chief medical health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said that easing rules now will act as a test case, and that COVID-19 case numbers will have to be lower before any other restrictions are loosened. Since early December when COVID-19 infections spiked to well over 1,000 a day, outdoor gatherings were banned and restaurants and bars were limited to delivery and takeout. Casinos, gyms, recreation centres, libraries and theatres were closed. Retail stores and churches were allowed to open but at 15 per cent capacity. Alberta reported 750 new COVID-19 cases Sunday and 19 more deaths. Hinshaw said officials looked at the province's COVID-19 data along with research from other parts of the world, and she said funerals, outdoor gatherings and personal service businesses show a lower level of risk for transmission. Shandro said last week that hospitalizations and case numbers remain high and pose a threat to the province's health system capacity. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. The Canadian Press
Budgeting is a pain. But what’s more painful is a bill you can’t easily pay, debt that costs a fortune or not having enough money to retire. Fortunately, you can have a useful, working budget without watching every penny. Automation, technology and a few simple guidelines can keep you on track. The following approach works best if you have reasonably steady income that comfortably exceeds your basic expenses. If your income isn’t steady or doesn’t cover much more than the basics, you may need to track your spending more closely. Also, no budget in the world can fix a true income shortfall, where there’s not enough coming in to cover your basic bills. If that’s the case, you need more income, fewer expenses or outside help. One place to start your search for aid is 211.org, which provides links to charitable and government resources in many communities. Otherwise, though, you can craft a spending plan with the following steps. START WITH YOUR MUST-HAVES Must-have costs include housing, utilities, food, transportation, insurance, minimum debt payments and child care that allows you to work. Using the 50/30/20 budget, these costs ideally would consume no more than 50% of your after-tax income. That leaves 30% for wants (entertainment, clothes, vacations, eating out and so on) and 20% for savings and extra debt payments. A budgeting app or your last few credit card and bank statements can help you determine your must-have costs. The more these expenses exceed that 50% mark, the harder you may find it to make ends meet. For now, you can compensate by reducing what you spend on wants. Eventually, you can look for ways to reduce some of those basic expenses, boost your income or both. “After tax,” by the way, means your income minus the taxes you pay. If other expenses are deducted from your paycheque, such as health insurance premiums or 401(k) contributions, add those amounts to your take-home pay to determine your after-tax income. If you don’t have a steady job or are self-employed, forecasting your after-tax income can be tougher. You can use a previous year’s tax return or make an educated guess about the minimum income you expect to make this year. A withholding calculator can help you determine what you’re likely to have left after taxes. AUTOMATE WHAT YOU CAN Automatic transfers can put many financial tasks on autopilot, reducing the effort needed to achieve goals. If you don’t automate anything else, automate your retirement savings to ensure you’re saving consistently. Also consider saving money in separate accounts — often called “savings buckets” — to cover big, non-monthly expenses such as insurance premiums, vacations and car repairs. Online banks typically allow you to set up multiple savings accounts without requiring minimum balances or charging fees. You can name these accounts for different goals, and automate transfers into those accounts so the money is ready when you need it. My family typically has eight to 12 of these savings accounts at our online bank. I figure out how much I want to have saved by a certain date, divide by the number of months until that date and send the resulting amount, via automated monthly transfers, from our checking account. MANAGING WHAT’S LEFT Return to your after-tax monthly income figure. Subtract your must-have expenses, your contributions to retirement and savings accounts, and any extra debt payments you plan to make consistently. What’s left is your spending money for the month. (Nothing left? Try winnowing some of those must-haves or set less ambitious savings or debt pay-down goals.) In the olden days, you might have put cash in an envelope and used it for your spending money. Once the envelope was empty, you were supposed to stop spending. Some people still do that, but in today’s digital, contactless world, you might prefer other approaches. The easiest would be to put all your spending on a single credit card that’s dedicated to this purpose and paid in full every month. (And since you’re paying in full, consider using a cash back or other rewards card to get some extra benefit from your spending.) Check your balance every few days or set up alerts to let you know when you’re approaching your spending limit for the month. To protect your credit score, you can make payments periodically throughout the month so your balance stays low compared to your credit limit. Alternatively, you could use more than one card, a debit card or a spending app that’s tied to your checking account, such as Venmo, PayPal or Zelle. A budget app or spreadsheet can help keep you on track. You also could consider setting up a separate checking account just for this spending. Again, many online banks offer checking accounts without minimum balance requirements or monthly fees. Your budget won’t be perfect and you’ll have to make adjustments as you go. But at least you, and your money, will be headed in the right direction. ____________________________________ This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Liz Weston is a columnist at NerdWallet, a certified financial planner and author of “Your Credit Score.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @lizweston. RELATED LINK: NerdWallet: Budgeting 101: How to Budget Money http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-budgeting Liz Weston Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Monday Jan. 18, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 27,451 new vaccinations administered for a total of 570,742 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,505.944 per 100,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 761,500 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 74.95 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 3,506 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,291 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.104 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 47.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,502 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,102 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 32.163 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 8,250 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 61.84 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 3,769 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,600 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 7.788 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 23,000 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 33.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 2,713 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,732 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.912 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 17,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 43.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 8,838 new vaccinations administered for a total of 146,694 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.144 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 162,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 90.45 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 11,007 new vaccinations administered for a total of 200,097 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.622 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 277,050 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 72.22 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 13,539 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.832 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 33,625 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 40.26 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 3,232 new vaccinations administered for a total of 20,159 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.096 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 24,400 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 82.62 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 4,374 new vaccinations administered for a total of 85,935 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 19.522 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 84,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 102.1 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 75,914 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 14.794 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 99,475 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 76.31 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,184 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 28.372 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 16.44 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 512 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 11.348 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 7.111 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 983 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 25.383 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 16.38 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 18, 2021. The Canadian Press
A group suing the New Brunswick government in an effort to get it to fund abortions in private clinics is pointing to a similar restriction in Prince Edward Island, calling P.E.I.'s law "discriminatory" and one that has "no place on the books." The Canadian Civil Liberties Association filed its constitutional challenge earlier this month in Court of Queen's Bench in Fredericton. The lawsuit asks the court to strike down part of New Brunswick's Regulation 84-20, which includes non-hospital abortions on a list of services not funded by medicare. In P.E.I., similar regulations under the Health Services Payment Act restrict payments for abortion services to those performed in hospital, excluding services provided through private clinics. Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, the CCLA's director of equality programs, said there's no medical reason for P.E.I. to fund only hospital abortions. "It certainly seems to be discriminatory in the same way and limiting in the same way" as the New Brunswick regulation, said Mendelsohn Aviv. "It singles out abortion as some kind of unusual form of health care," she said. "Orthopedics are not restricted in that way and urology is not restricted in that way … it's only abortion." The legal challenge in New Brunswick comes as the owner of the province's only private abortion clinic, Clinic 554 in Fredericton, warns the clinic could close because the New Brunswick government won't pay for abortions there. Over the years, P.E.I. women have also used the clinic for abortions — at their own expense. As well, transgender Islanders have accessed the clinic for health services not available in P.E.I. The clinic began turning transgender patients away in early 2020, over concerns it might not be around long enough to see patients through to the end of their transition process. Decades of no legal abortions on Island P.E.I. had no legal, on-Island surgical abortions for almost 35 years. In the 1990s, Dr. Henry Morgentaler took the province to court to challenge the same regulation over funding for clinic abortions. Morgentaler's initial victory was overturned in the P.E.I. Court of Appeal. In 2016, another legal challenge forced the P.E.I. government to announce it would open a new women's reproductive health centre where surgical abortions are now provided. At the time, the premier of the day, former law professor Wade MacLauchlan, said he didn't think the province could win in the face of a legal challenge brought forward by the group Abortion Access Now P.E.I. Transfer payments withheld in N.B. In 2020, the federal government cited a provision of the Canada Health Act in withholding $140,126 in health transfer payments from New Brunswick over its refusal to pay for clinic abortions, the amount corresponding with how much New Brunswickers paid out-of-pocket for the procedure in 2017. But the feds quickly reinstated the funding as New Brunswick's health-care system buckled under the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic. Jillian Kilfoil, executive director with Women's Network P.E.I., said the same threat of federal transfer payments being withheld will hang over Prince Edward Island as long as the province continues to restrict funding for abortion. It seems like a really unnecessary restriction that contravenes our own federal legislation. — Jillian Kilfoil "It seems quite archaic," she said of P.E.I.'s law. "It seems like a really unnecessary restriction that contravenes our own federal legislation and is something that would be really worthwhile modernizing — not just from a legal standpoint, but in terms of access and delivery of service as well." Groups call for 'community effort' Kilfoil and Mendelsohn Aviv both suggested eliminating the restriction could open up opportunities for doctors to open their own clinics, making abortions more accessible. Currently the only site on P.E.I. to offer the procedure is at the Prince County Hospital in Summerside. But Kilfoil also understands expanding access to abortion is something most Island governments have been reluctant to do. "Unless governments are forced to make a change when it comes to improving access, they're not going to do it on their own, and so it does take a lot of community effort." Mendelsohn said her group has no plans to sue the P.E.I. government, but said government should change its law all the same. "With or without litigation, it's clear to us that these are unconstitutional regulations and should be repealed," she said. CBC reached out to the P.E.I. Department of Health and Wellness, Health PEI, the office of Premier Dennis King, and the P.E.I. Right to Life Association, but did not receive a response. More from CBC P.E.I.
TEL AVIV, Israel — Israel's education minister says he is banning groups that call Israel an “apartheid state” from lecturing at schools — a move that targets one of the country's leading human rights groups after it began describing both Israel and its control of the Palestinian territories as a single apartheid system. The explosive term, long seen as taboo and mostly used by the country's harshest critics, is vehemently rejected by Israel's leaders and many ordinary Israelis. Education Minister Yoav Galant tweeted late on Sunday that he had instructed the ministry’s director general to “prevent the entry of organizations calling Israel ‘an apartheid state’ or demeaning Israeli soldiers from lecturing at schools.” “The Education Ministry under my leadership raised the banner of advancing Jewish, democratic and Zionist values and it is acting accordingly,” he said. It was not immediately clear whether he had the authority to ban speakers from schools. In a report released last week, the rights group B’Tselem said that while Palestinians live under different forms of Israeli control in the occupied West Bank, blockaded Gaza, annexed east Jerusalem and within Israel itself, they have fewer rights than Jews in the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. B'Tselem said it would not be deterred by the minister's announcement and that despite it, the group gave a lecture on the subject via videocall to a school in the northern city of Haifa on Monday. “B’Tselem is determined to keep with its mission of documenting reality, analyzing it, and making our findings publicly known to the Israeli public, and worldwide,” it said in a statement. Israel passed a law in 2018 preventing lectures or activities in schools by groups that support legal action being taken against Israeli soldiers abroad. The law was apparently drafted in response to the work of Breaking the Silence, a whistleblower group for former Israeli soldiers who oppose policies in the occupied West Bank. It was not clear if Galant's decree was rooted in the 2018 law. Israel has long presented itself as a thriving democracy. Its own Arab citizens, who make up about 20% of its population of 9.3 million, have citizenship rights, but they often suffer from discrimination in housing and other spheres. Arab citizens of Israel have representatives in parliament, serve in government bureaucracy and work in various fields alongside Jewish Israelis. Israel seized east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 war — lands that are home to nearly 5 million Palestinians and which the Palestinians want for a future state. B’Tselem and other rights groups argue that the boundaries separating Israel and the West Bank vanished long ago — at least for Israeli settlers, who can freely travel back and forth, while their Palestinian neighbours require permits to enter Israel. Israel withdrew troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005 but imposed a blockade after the Palestinian militant Hamas group seized power there two years later. It considers the West Bank “disputed” territory whose fate should be determined in peace talks with the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority, the autonomy government for its Palestinian residents. Israel annexed east Jerusalem in 1967 in a move not recognized internationally and considers the entire city its unified capital. Most Palestinians in east Jerusalem are Israeli “residents,” but not citizens with voting rights. Israel adamantly rejects the term apartheid, saying the restrictions it imposes in Gaza and the West Bank are temporary measures needed for security. Most Palestinians in the West Bank live in areas governed by the Palestinian Authority, but those areas are surrounded by Israeli checkpoints and Israeli soldiers can enter at any time. Israel has full control over 60% of the West Bank. B’Tselem argues that by dividing up the territories and using different means of control, Israel masks an underlying reality that roughly 7 million Jews and 7 million Palestinians live under a single system with vastly unequal rights. Tia Goldenberg, The Associated Press
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia, for years one of the world's most prolific executioners, dramatically reduced the number of people put to death last year, following changes halting executions for non-violent drug-related crimes, according to the government’s tally and independent observers. The Saudi government’s Human Rights Commission said Monday it documented 27 executions in 2020. That's compared to an all-time high of 184 executions the year before as documented by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. The change represents an 85% reduction in the number of people put to death last year, compared to 2019. "The sharp decrease was brought about in part by a moratorium on death penalties for drug-related offences,” the Saudi rights commission said. When asked by The Associated Press, the commission said the new law ordering a stop to such executions came into effect sometime last year. The new directive for judges does not appear to have been published publicly and it was not immediately clear whether the law was changed by royal decree, as is typically the case. The AP previously reported that Saudi Arabia last year also ordered an end to the death penalty for crimes committed by minors and ordered judges to end the controversial practice of public flogging, replacing it with jail time, fines or community service. The force behind these changes is 34-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has the backing of his father, King Salman. In an effort to modernize the country, attract foreign investment and revamp the economy, the prince has spearheaded a range of reforms curtailing the power of ultraconservative Wahhabis, who adhere to a strict interpretation of Islam that many Saudis still practice. For years, the kingdom's high rate of executions was in large part due to the number of people executed for non-lethal offences, which judges had wide discretion to rule on, particularly for drug-related crimes. Amnesty International ranked Saudi Arabia third in the world for the highest number of executions in 2019, after China where the number of executions is believed to be in the thousands, and Iran. Among those put to death that year by Saudi Arabia were 32 minority Shiites convicted on terrorism charges related to their participation in anti-government protests and clashes with police. While some crimes, such as premeditated murder, can carry fixed punishments under the Saudi interpretation of Islamic law, or Shariah, drug-related offences are considered “ta’zir,” meaning neither the crime nor the punishment is defined in Islam. Discretionary judgments for “ta’zir” crimes led to arbitrary rulings with contentious outcomes. The kingdom has long been criticized by independent rights groups for applying the death sentence for non-violent crimes related to drug trafficking. Many of those executed for such crimes were often poor Yemenis or low-level drug smugglers of South Asia descent, with the latter having little to no knowledge of Arabic and unable to understand or read the charges against them in court. Saudi Arabia carries out executions mainly by beheading and sometimes in public. The kingdom had argued that public executions and those of drug traffickers serve as a deterrent to combat crime. “The moratorium on drug-related offences means the kingdom is giving more non-violent criminals a second chance," the president of the government's Human Rights Commission, Awwad Alawwad, said. In a statement obtained by the AP, he said the change represents a sign the Saudi justice system is focusing more on rehabilitation and prevention rather than solely on punishment. According to Human Rights Watch, there were just five executions for drug-related crimes last year in Saudi Arabia, all in January 2020. Human Rights Watch Deputy Middle East Director Adam Coogle said the decrease in executions is a positive sign, but that the Saudi authorities must also address “the country’s horribly unfair and biased criminal justice system that hands down these sentences.” “As authorities announce reforms, Saudi prosecutors are still seeking the death penalty for high-profile detainees for nothing more than their peaceful ideas and political affiliations,” he said. “Saudi Arabia must immediately end all executions and death sentences for non-violent crimes.” ___ Follow Aya Batrawy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ayaelb Aya Batrawy, The Associated Press
Windsor's city council will table a report on naloxone use by first responders on Monday, but one councillor says he's disappointed to find police were not included as officers are often the first on the scene of a drug overdose. Coun. Kieran McKenzie first asked the city to look into the implications of first responders, including police, carrying naloxone, in December 2018. Naloxone can save lives when administered to someone who has overdosed on opiods, he said. He said the report contains a lot of a "good information," but he's a bit disappointed overall. "I think it's fair to say that we didn't take a look at whether or not it's appropriate to equip our police service with naloxone," he said. In an email statement to CBC, the city says, "police answer to the police services board so that's why they likely weren't involved in a council report." McKenzie said he understands that "the police service or oversight of the police services falls within the jurisdiction of the police services board, made up of community members as well as members of council, but it's still the same municipally delivered service. It's a service that I think most residents would associate falls under the jurisdiction of city council." He also said the report lays out the case that "it is appropriate for first responders, fire, I would argue, police as well as EMS, to carry and administer naloxone in the field when it is appropriate to do so." The report states that drug-related overdoses and deaths "continue to be growing problem in North America. Of particular concern is the use of opioid drugs due to their potency and their highly addictive," adding that the "annual rate of opioid-related deaths in Ontario increased 285 per cent from 1991 to 2015." "In 2018, there were 220 (preliminary statistic) opioid-related Emergency Department visits in Windsor & Essex County (WEC). In 2019, there were 249 opioid-related ED visits in Windsor & Essex County (WEC), which is 3.2 times greater than the 78 opioid overdose ED visits in WEC in 2007," the report continues. It argues that "naloxone is an effective tool in reversing the effects of opioids and preventing an overdose death, provided it is given shortly after an overdose of an opioid occurs," but the administering of the drug by firefighters does not occur with often. Not frequently used by firefighters, says report "A poll of major fire departments in Ontario show that 2018 usage across all major departments averages less than 10 doses annually per department," the report states. "Follow up polling for the year 2019 indicated an increase among the largest departments and those responding to combined rural and urban areas. Other departments reported low levels of usage." It said actual usage of naloxone by fire services is dependent on a number of factors, including arrival time, type of drug used, the condition of the patient. The report explains that it takes up to eight weeks to train the entire department on how to administer naloxone and it requires medical oversight by a doctor. Data in the report did not include police services. It says the local health unit and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) support the use of naloxone by first responders as a harm reduction measure. McKenzie said he will ask why the report did not focus more on police, though he acknowledges progress is being made with that service. "It's my understanding that that is happening already to some extent," he said. Some WPS units carrying naloxone Windsor Police Chief Pam Mizuno said in October that three Windsor police units were to be equipped with naloxone within a year. A spokesperson for Windsor police confirmed that officers with three units — detention, city centre patrol and problem-oriented policing — now have access to the drug. Mizuno's announcement came days after CBC News learned that Windsor police officers were the first to arrive on scene of a drug overdose without naloxone in-hand on at least 14 occasions last year. "I just I think that there needs to be a clear articulation from council that we support adding that service level. And we support adding that service level robustly in a way that is both safe for all of the first responders, the police themselves, but also can add an additional layer of protection for folks in the community," McKenzie said. He said he doesn't know what is going to happen at Monday's meeting with respect to the report, but believes it could spark an interesting debate and hopes there will be enough support to pass the motion.