Winds blow in from the Atlantic in Birchy Bay, Newfoundland.
Winds blow in from the Atlantic in Birchy Bay, Newfoundland.
Moscow is ready for a quick deal with the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to extend the last remaining arms control pact, which expires in just over two weeks, Russia's top diplomat said Monday. Months of talks between Russia and President Donald Trump's administration on the possible extension of the New START treaty have failed to narrow their differences. The pact is set to expire on Feb. 5. Biden has spoken in favour of the preservation of the New START treaty, which was negotiated during his tenure as U.S. vice-president, and Russia has said it’s open for its quick and unconditional extension. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a news conference Monday that Moscow is ready to move quickly to keep the pact alive. “The most important priority is the absolutely abnormal situation in the sphere of arms control,” Lavrov said. “We have heard about the Biden administration’s intention to resume a dialogue on this issue and try to agree on the New START treaty's extension before it expires on Feb. 5. We are waiting for specific proposals, our stance is well-known." New START envisages the possibility of its extension for another five years, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Moscow is ready to do so without any conditions. The Kremlin also has voiced readiness to prolong the pact for a shorter term, as Trump's administration had pondered. The talks on the treaty's extension have been clouded by tensions between Russia and the United States, which have been fueled by the Ukrainian crisis, Moscow's meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and other irritants. Sunday's arrest of leading Putin critic Alexei Navalny in Moscow after his return from Germany where he was recovering from a nerve agent poisoning he blamed on the Kremlin will further cloud Russia-U.S. ties. Biden’s pick for national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, called on Russian authorities to free Navalny. “Mr. Navalny should be immediately released, and the perpetrators of the outrageous attack on his life must be held accountable,” Sullivan said in a tweet. New START was signed in 2010 by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. It limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, and envisages sweeping on-site inspections to verify compliance. Arms control advocates have strongly called for its preservation, warning that its expiration would remove any checks on U.S. and Russian nuclear forces, striking a blow to global stability. In 2019, the U.S. and Russia both withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which was signed in 1987 by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and banned land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometres (310 to 3,410 miles). And last week, Russia declared that it would follow the U.S. to pull out of the Open Skies Treaty allowing surveillance flights over military facilities to help build trust and transparency between Russia and the West. Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press
Il y a quelques mois, le Québec a fait connaissance avec la pétillante Julie Munger, lors de son passage à l’émission Occupation Double Chez nous. Maintenant que la poussière est retombée, la jeune femme est de retour dans sa réalité, qui a changé du tout au tout, à Chicoutimi. Elle compte maintenant profiter des nombreuses occasions qui se présentent. La maquilleuse est revenue vivre dans sa maison de Chicoutimi, dont elle avait pris possession au début de l’été. Elle vit maintenant avec une amie, ce qui fait que le temps passe beaucoup plus vite, surtout en confinement. « Le retour à ma réalité, qui n’est plus ma réalité, c’est sûr que c’est de l’adaptation. Mais je suis vraiment contente d’être retournée dans mes affaires, dans ma maison, de faire de petits travaux. Ça m’a permis de me remettre à neuf, de prendre un nouveau départ », avoue la candidate d’OD Chez nous, lors d’un entretien téléphonique avec Le Progrès. Une année de surprises Julie Munger n’en revient pas : sa dernière année fut remplie de surprises. De son passage à l’émission à aujourd’hui, elle n’avait jamais vraiment pensé à tout ce qui s’offrirait à elle. La Saguenéenne a été complètement sous le choc d’avoir été choisie la candidate coup de coeur de sa saison, à l’automne. Même si plusieurs personnes de son entourage l’assuraient qu’elle serait choisie, elle n’y a pas cru jusqu’à la dernière seconde. « Je ne voulais pas vendre la peau de l’ours avant de l’avoir tué. Je croyais que plusieurs personnes avaient des chances. Mais ç’a été un gros tsunami d’amour et j’ai beaucoup pensé à mon père », avoue-t-elle. Sa mère lui disait souvent : « Pour être aimé, il faut être aimable ! » La maquilleuse pense l’avoir bien écoutée. La Saguenéenne ne s’était pas non plus imaginé toutes les portes qui allaient s’ouvrir à sa sortie de l’aventure. Les Québécois ont déjà pu la revoir à l’écran à quelques reprises, en quelques mois, et c’est loin d’être fini. Après l’avoir vue dans le vidéoclip de la chanteuse Roxane Bruneau, les téléspectateurs ont pu l’apercevoir dans le Bye bye 2020, une émission qu’elle écoute chaque année avec sa famille. « Ç’a été tourné la dernière fois que je suis allée à Montréal, juste après le tournage de L’heure de vérité. Personne ne savait que je me rendais là-bas. Ce qui était drôle, c’est que j’étais la seule candidate qui se personnalisait soi-même. C’est vraiment une fleur que l’équipe du Bye bye m’a faite », admet-elle. C’était une première expérience de tournage de sketches, à l’écran, ce qui est bien différent de ce à quoi elle est habituée. En plus, il y avait une foule de mesures de distanciation en place, ce qui rendait l’expérience d’autant plus particulière. Elle a d’ailleurs beaucoup aimé ce tournage et a même eu l’occasion de rencontrer Stéphane Rousseau et Simon-Olivier Fecteau. Elle a également animé une émission spéciale, en direct d’Instagram, jeudi, organisée par Tel-jeunes, avec une foule de personnalités québécoises à titre d’invités. La soirée avait pour but de divertir les jeunes, qui vivent des moments plus difficiles avec ce nouveau confinement. La suite Julie Munger profite du confinement pour travailler de la maison. Puisque le domaine de l’esthétique est sur pause, elle s’occupe en réalisant différentes collaborations publicitaires sur les réseaux sociaux, pour de nombreuses compagnies. Une foule de projets sont sur les rails, mais la candidate coup de coeur ne peut pas en dévoiler les détails pour le moment. En entrevue avec Le Progrès, elle a précisé que ce n’était pas l’envie qui manquait, d’en dire un peu plus, mais la jeune femme a promis qu’elle pourra en révéler davantage prochainement. Pour le moment, elle admet que l’un de ses projets touche le Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean. « Je prône toujours la région. Je veux montrer aux autres qu’elle est incroyable, à quel point elle est belle et que c’est beau d’y vivre. J’ai travaillé fort pour avoir un projet en lien avec le Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean », se réjouit-elle. La candidate, qui a participé à Occupation Double pour promouvoir la diversité corporelle, entre autres raisons, sait qu’elle ira probablement plus souvent à Montréal dans les prochaines années, pour différents projets, mais elle tient à rester dans la région, qu’elle considère comme un gros terrain de jeu extérieur.Myriam Arsenault, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
After being "overwhelmed" with 911 calls on the latest pandemic restrictions, Windsor police have provided more information about how they will enforce the rules. The police service said officers won't enter homes, stop cars or people for the sole purpose of enforcing the stay-at-home order and provincial emergency. Further, no one is required to carry proof that they are going to work, the police service said in a statement Friday. If an officer has "reasonable grounds" to think that someone has violated the Reopening Ontario Act or the emergency declaration, officers can ask for ID in order to issue a fine or summons. Failing to properly identify yourself can lead to a fine or obstruction charges. "We will continue to monitor for COVID-19 compliance and respond to COVID-19-related complaints, as required. We will undertake enforcement actions, as necessary, under the legislation," the police service stated. New order sparks questions, criticism Under the stay-at-home order that took effect last Thursday, people can only leave their homes for essential reasons. There is a long list of exceptions, including going out for exercise or essential work, buying groceries and picking up prescriptions. Under the new order, officers can order people attending gatherings to go home, close any building where they believe an illegal event is taking place, and ask for the name and address of anyone they think is committing an offence. Charges can be laid through a ticket or summons to appear in court. The minimum fine for violating provincial gathering rules is $750. For those organizing illegal gatherings, there's a minimum fine of $10,000 and up to a year in jail. Within Windsor and across the province, the new rules have led to questions about how law enforcement will be ensuring compliance. They've also prompted concerns that people from visible minority groups could be disproportionately targeted by enforcement efforts. Police see uptick in 911 calls Windsor police have asked the public not to call 911 regarding the stay-at-home order, saying operators have been "overwhelmed" with calls. On Friday, the police service said it had received 200 non-emergency and 911 calls related to COVID-19 and the new order since Tuesday. "Any call to 911 that is not an emergency can take precious seconds away from a person trying to get through on 911 for a true emergency, where seconds may count for them," police said in an emailed statement.
Canada's economy will hit a major roadblock during the first quarter of 2021 before gaining momentum in the next quarter, according to economists in a Reuters poll who said the country's GDP would reach its pre-pandemic growth levels within a year. Although economic activity had recovered partially from a record drop - 7.5% in Q1 and 38.1% in Q2 - in the first half of 2020, it took another hit after a resurgence in coronavirus infections led to renewed tight containment measures. The Jan. 11-18 Reuters poll of over 40 economists predicted the economy, which grew a record annualized 40.5% in the third quarter of 2020, expanded 3.8% in the fourth quarter, a third consecutive downgrade.
It was easy as one, two, three. On Thursday, the same day Ontario entered a province-wide stay-at-home order, leaving the country couldn’t have been easier. Just pick up the phone or log into the Air Canada website. Find a sunny destination outside the country. And voila, a flight from Pearson International Airport to Miami could be booked without a hitch. That’s exactly what The Pointer attempted Thursday despite Ontario’s local travel restrictions in place until at least February 11. How could that be? Why are residents allowed to travel to Florida, or many other overseas destinations, but they can’t visit their own family just a few blocks away? Most would assume, with a pandemic raging and daily case counts continually reaching new highs, that driving to the airport during a province-wide stay-home order would be hard and barriers in place would make booking travel difficult. This is not the case. Airports, like stores, have increased their COVID-19 protocols, but have not put steps in place to discourage travel. Much of the travel industry including airlines like Air Canada is still operating as if the pandemic is under control, requiring mask wearing, testing and quarantining but encouraging residents to still go on vacation. Questions about symptoms, plenty of hand sanitizer and the odd thermometer have been put into the mix, yet Ontario airports, including Pearson in Mississauga, aren’t subject to anything you wouldn’t see at the grocery store. On Wednesday evening, when the Province finally unveiled the details of its stay-at-home order, this was made clear. Nestled among the list of essential reasons to leave the house — exercise, groceries and medical trips — was another option: travel to an airport. During the lockdown it is not the place of police or bylaw officers in Ontario to ask where exactly someone’s eventual destination from an airport will be. As a result, a trip from the quiet streets of Peel, to the airport then into the sky and, eventually, onto a beach, remains firmly within the rules. “There are currently no legal barriers to getting on a plane to the U.S. from Pearson, nor have there been since the start of the pandemic,” Ambarish Chandra, associate professor of economic analysis and policy at the University of Toronto, who lists COVID-19 border closures in Canada among his areas of expertise, told The Pointer. “It's not clear that the Province has the power to curtail Canadians' right to foreign travel without suspending their Charter rights.” Over the holiday season, plenty of politicians took advantage of the loophole. Kamal Khera (Liberal MP Brampton West) and Rod Phillips, the former PC finance minister, were among those caught out and publicly criticized. One of the questions raised when politicians across the country were caught flying abroad during the holiday season was the issue of entitlement. While those who can afford such luxuries are still able to get on a plane, many suffering financially because of the pandemic or even before, can't even plan a local trip because of the stay-home order. It creates a two-tier reality, critics have said, and many wealthier Canadians have simply paid to avoid the recommendations while putting others at risk. While the trips demonstrated poor decision making and a selfish attitude toward the rules, the same holidays can still be booked by everyday Ontarians. Public health agencies are begging people not to, but the rules do not actually prohibit it. Booking a flight on the Air Canada website, for example, you would be hard pressed to find evidence of the pandemic that has claimed more than 5,400 lives in Ontario alone. A small, green bar across the top of the website offers answers to the question, “Where can I travel right now?” but otherwise things look the same. On Thursday, The Pointer searched for flights from Toronto Pearson Airport to Miami on Friday, January 22 through Air Canada to understand the process. In the various stages of booking the flight, reminders about flexible tickets and changes to the in-flight meal system were the only hints of the public health crisis playing out across the world. Travel to the United States from January 26 will require a negative COVID-19 test within the past 72 hours, while the same rules apply to those travelling or returning to Canada, along with a mandatory 14 day quarantine. These rules do not stop travel or prescribe essential reasons, but do add an additional step to the process. “Other than our regular requirements (i.e. travel documents in order) we do not have any restrictions,” Peter Fitzpatrick, a spokesperson for Air Canada told The Pointer, referencing the fact federal or provincial governments may have a different response. They didn’t. “The Province does not have the legal authority to prohibit international travel,” Ivana Yelich, director of media relations for Premier Doug Ford, told The Pointer. Yelich referenced numerous comments by Ford supporting increased border restrictions for those entering Canada. “International travel is solely the responsibility of the federal government.” “The Premier’s message is simple, stay home,” she added, when asked if Ford supported additional restrictions on outgoing travel. “We are asking Ontarians to avoid all non-essential travel at this time. Any restrictions on outgoing or incoming travel is the responsibility of the federal government.” The federal government did not return a request for comment in time for publication. The Pointer also phoned Air Canada’s booking call centre to specifically ask if there were any barriers or advisories against travelling out of Peel Region, or anywhere else in Ontario, to sit on a beach in Miami. The airline’s booking line, which also handles other customer support, was clogged, with a wait time of 56 minutes on Thursday afternoon, hours after the stay-at-home order came into effect. Eventually, an agent explained the U.S. and Canadian rules around receiving a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of flying, but said that was “basically the only requirement”. There was no advice offered against travelling or about the dangers of spreading COVID-19 through discretionary trips. “I'd be surprised if the federal government were to institute any ban on foreign travel either.” Chandra said. “The best they can do is discourage foreign travel which is already happening, both from explicit recommendations and from the need to quarantine for two weeks upon return.” In short, there is nothing to stop international travel by Canadians as COVID-19 fatigue and the dragging winter test people’s patience. Like so many of the COVID-19 protocols governing residents in Peel, it is about appealing to people’s better nature and commitment to flattening the curve. Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should. Public health and elected officials are asking people to stay home and limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. “With the Provincial Stay at Home Order in effect, it is crucial that residents not leave their homes for anything other than the essentials, like groceries, medical appointments or exercise,” Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel’s medical officer of health, told The Pointer. “This means cancelling or postponing all non-essential activities or going virtual where possible. I know this is frustrating and it’s been a long year and we have all sacrificed a lot. With the arrival of [the] vaccine in Peel, let’s keep pushing and beat COVID-19 together.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
THE LATEST: There have been 1,330 new cases of COVID-19 and 31 deaths in B.C. in the past three days. The Sunday-to-Monday jump of 301 new cases is the lowest level of one-day growth since Nov. 3. Active cases are at their lowest since Nov. 7. There are currently 4,326 active cases in B.C. 343 people are in hospital, with 68 in the ICU. 13 of the new cases are associated with temporary farm workers who have come to B.C. for work. An outbreak at McKinney Place, which was the deadliest outbreak in Interior Health, has been declared over. 87,346 people have received at least one dose of a vaccine. The deputy provincial health officer says B.C. is "prepared" to adjust its vaccine rollout in case of shipping delays. Officials say consistency with existing public health measures like handwashing and physical distancing will help ward off new variants of the coronavirus. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says outbreaks are slowing in B.C. and the province is at a "tipping point" that she feels positive about. "Clearly the things we are doing in our community are working," Henry said Monday, acknowledging that outbreaks continue in essential workplaces and long-term care homes. B.C.'s curve has started to bend down again following a bump after the holidays, but health officials are warning British Columbians to keep following public health measures as they watch for two confirmed coronavirus variants in the province. Henry said that while B.C.'s numbers continue to slowly trend in the right direction, the risk of transmission remains high in all areas of the province. B.C. 'prepared' for vaccine delays The federal government on Friday announced Pfizer is temporarily reducing shipments of its vaccine in order to expand manufacturing capacity at a facility in Belgium. The move means there will be fewer shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech coming to Canada until at least March. Henry and Dix said they were disappointed to hear about the delay. On Monday, Deputy Provincial Health Officer Reka Gustafson said the change will mean a drop in vaccinations in B.C., but added the news was not surprising. "This will mean that, for a brief period of time, we will be able to administer fewer doses of the vaccine because we will have fewer doses of vaccine, but we are also assured that this temporary slowdown is to ensure there is increased production as those weeks pass," Gustafson told CBC's The Early Edition. "It's something we planned for. In a worldwide vaccination campaign, we expect fluctuations in supply and we are prepared to change our vaccination campaign to respond." A total of 75,914 people have been vaccinated in B.C. so far. For those people who are awaiting their second dose of the vaccine after already receiving their first, Gustafson said the plan "is still to provide the second dose within 35 days." B.C. monitoring new variants Public health officials are also monitoring new variants of the novel coronavirus, including those first detected in the United Kingdom and South Africa. Gustafson suspects variants have been playing a role in B.C.'s pandemic for some time. "Variants of this virus have likely emerged throughout the pandemic and are probably a big part of the story of why some areas have very big outbreaks while other areas have smaller outbreaks," Gustafson said. "The variants are what we expect. We are going to be detecting them more as our capacity to do genomic sequences throughout the world expands." Gustafson said it's key that the public sticks to existing health measures such as handwashing and physical distancing. "From an individual's perspective, really, there is at this time no indication that the things we do to prevent transmission of this virus don't work [with variants] ... there is no indication people need to do anything different," she said. "I would suggest doing what we're doing right now and doing it consistently." Weekend fines issued On Saturday, Kelowna RCMP issued a $2,300 fine to the organizer of a protest in the city's downtown area. Police did not name the organizer but said it was the third time that person organized a large gathering of people who oppose measures meant to reduce the spread of coronavirus. Also on Saturday, organizers of a planned rally in Surrey in support of farmers in India said the event was unfairly shut down before it could begin. Surrey RCMP said they moved to shut down the protest upon hearing that it would feature a stage and food vendors, which raised concerns about people leaving their vehicles and congregating. B.C.'s current health restrictions are in effect until at least Feb. 5 at midnight. The current orders include a ban on gatherings with people outside of one's immediate household. Tourism industry angst B.C.'s tourism industry said that implementing an inter-provincial travel plan would decimate what's left of the sector's operators, as B.C. Premier John Horgan seeks legal advice on the feasibility of a travel ban between provinces. The B.C. Hotel Association is urging the government to pursue other options to limit the spread of COVID-19. It said that an inter-provincial, non-essential travel ban goes against Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If put in place, the association said it would further cripple a sector that is "barely hanging on by a thread." A non-essential travel advisory remains in place in B.C., including travel into and out of B.C., and between regions. READ MORE: What's happening elsewhere in Canada As of 5 p.m. PT on Sunday, Canada had reported 708,609 cases of COVID-19, with 75,280 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 18,014. What are the symptoms of COVID-19? Common symptoms include: Fever. Cough. Tiredness. Shortness of breath. Loss of taste or smell. Headache. But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia. What should I do if I feel sick? Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they're mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or other extreme symptoms should call 911. What can I do to protect myself? Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean. Keep your distance from people who are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Wear a mask in indoor public spaces. More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.
When asked about the delay in Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine delivery to Ontario, as the company faces worldwide delays, the province's Health Minister and Deputy Premier Christine Elliott said Monday it's known the next two shipments will contain 20 per cent fewer followed by 80 per cent fewer vaccines. She said in late-February to early-March, Ontario will receive larger doses of vaccines coming in.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A petition to recall the chair of the Anchorage Assembly for failing to cancel an August meeting because of pandemic emergency regulations is scheduled be put to district voters on the April ballot. The petition to recall chair Felix Rivera was certified by the city clerk Friday, Anchorage Daily News reported. The petition included the required 2,735 signatures of voters from Anchorage’s District 4, the clerk’s office said in a letter to sponsor Russell Biggs. The required number is 25% of the votes cast for the seat in the April 2020 election during which Rivera was elected. The decision on the recall petition can be appealed to Alaska Superior Court, the letter said. The certified petition is expected to be presented to the Anchorage Assembly at its Jan. 26 meeting. The next regular election is April 6, which is within the 75-day window required to hold a recall vote following the assembly’s receipt of the petition. The petition claims Rivera failed to perform his duties as chair when he did not halt an August assembly meeting after another member said the gathering may have exceeded capacity restrictions under a pandemic emergency order. Rivera maintains the recall is “frivolous” and said he believes the attempt will die in court. “I remain confident that it’s not even going to get on the ballot, but we will see,” Rivera said. A group supporting Rivera plans to file a lawsuit against the Municipality of Anchorage and Municipal Clerk Barbara Jones for approving the petition. The recall effort has support among a group of residents upset with the assembly’s recent actions involving pandemic management — including its backing of the acting mayor’s emergency orders and a vote to approve purchases of buildings for homeless and treatment services. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The Associated Press
WINGHAM – North Huron Food Share reported a 77 per cent increase in the need for emergency food boxes last month, compared to last year. Joyce Johnston, a board member for the agency, told Midwestern Newspapers that overall, the numbers are up 23 per cent, including more seniors and new residents. Approximately 87 new families were added to the number of clients they provide for, 2020 seeing 211 families compared to the 140 families assisted in 2019. Board member, Roxane Nicholson, said 50 families utilized the food share program when they opened their doors for the first time in 2021, up from 30 – 35 families reported in previous years. The board members want to acknowledge the community’s overwhelming support and the generosity of their landlord, Doug Kuyvenhoven, plus the Huron County Food Bank Distribution Centre, who are crucial for their ability to fulfill the increased needs of the community. The increasing necessity for assistance prompted Kuyvenhoven to expand the current facility, as reported by the Wingham Advance Times in Nov. 2020. The new space is now open, the extra 300 square feet help to ease the congestion. “Between the increased volume, the addition of deliveries, and our attempts to follow COVID-19 protocols, the new space will take the pressure off the congested space we were working in,” Kuyvenhoven said, adding “the new number system of calling customers in one at a time ensures that customers and volunteers are able to maintain proper physical distancing.” The food share program receives fresh food every Monday from the Huron County Food Bank Distribution Centre, and thanks to the new space and the recently purchased walk-in freezer, they can store, package and deliver more fresh produce along with other goods. They also share the donated items with the local Salvation Army who runs their own food distribution agency. The current needs include a request for cash gifts to fill the gap left after receiving donations. Volunteers can use the cash to purchase items at a reduced price at local grocery stores. Foodbank Canada said on their website that “providing food to those in need can be difficult at the best of times. With COVID-19, that task just got harder. Yet food banks continue to be leaders in their communities to provide food to those who live with food insecurity. “Food Banks Canada is in regular contact with the network of food banks across Canada, and already there are signs of COVID-19’s devastating impact on the food bank system: Food banks are already seeing drastic declines in the number of volunteers that can support their work in the days/weeks ahead. Food banks are concerned about the amount of stock they have access to, as a dwindling workforce means fewer pickups. Most food banks are worried about how to support themselves through this crisis and beyond financially. While the public prepares for possible impacts of COVID-19, food bank users cannot afford the same measure, leaving them more vulnerable. Food banks are adapting to these rapidly changing circumstances, but it is clear that help is needed.” To donate cash or food or apply for a hamper, contact the North Huron Food Share program at 519-357-2277 ext. 4, or visit them on their website at nhfoodshare.ca. Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
Calgary, Regina, Houston – One of the first acts of Donald Trump as president of the United States was to invite TransCanada, now TC Energy, to resubmit its Keystone XL pipeline application, and to then approve it. Now, it is looking like one of the first acts of President-elect Joe Biden, after his inauguration, may be to kill it, and revoke the Presidential Permit for the pipeline to cross the international border. Numerous media stories the evening of Jan. 17, including CBC, Reuters and CTV, reported that Biden may cancel the Presidential Permit as early as his first day in office. Biden will be inaugurated on Jan. 20. The 830,0000 barrel per day pipeline is supposed to run from Hardisty, Alberta, past Shaunavon, to Steele City, Nebraska, eventually connecting to oil hub of Cushing, Oklahoma. The southern portion of the pipeline, which runs from Cushing to the U.S. Gulf Coast, was completed under the Obama administration. Up to 15 per cent of the pipeline’s capacity had been designated for North Dakota oil production. Current maps don’t show the lateral pipeline to North Dakota, but the specs for a recently completed Canadian pumping station list it at 700,000 barrels per day capacity, which would leave room for that American oil to be added downstream. Ironically, the most contentious portion of the pipeline – the international crossing which required a Presidential Permit, was one of the first things completed when construction got underway in 2020. That 2.2 kilometre long-section of pipeline crossed the border in May, 2020, in the RM of Val Marie, southeast of Shaunavon. Usually the border crossing is the ceremonial last weld, not the first, on such pipelines. The reason the pipeline was not completed within the four years of the Trump administration was due to multiple court delays, several from one particular judge in Montana. In one of those rulings in November, 2018, U.S. Federal Court Judge Brian Morris said the greenhouse gas emissions of the Enbridge Alberta Clipper pipeline, which ran on a different route and was owned and operated by a completely different company, should have been considered in the Keystone XL evaluation. But he did not mention anything about the recently completed and operational Dakota Access Pipeline, which handles North Dakota oil. As a result, the Keystone XL pipeline, which had been cancelled by the Barrack Obama/Joe Biden administration in 2015, is not anywhere near completion. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney bet heavily on the project – figuratively and literally, with Alberta investing $1.5 billion into it to get construction going in 2020. The announcement at the time noted, “This investment includes $1.5 billion in equity investment in 2020, followed by a $6 billion loan guarantee in 2021.” Construction work has already taken place within Alberta, including 145 kilometres of pipe already put in the ground, and the recent completion of the Bindloss Pump Station. Construction was supposed to get going through southwest Saskatchewan this year to the American border. Kenney posted on Facebook the evening of Jan. 17, “I am deeply concerned by reports that the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden may repeal the Presidential permit for the Keystone XL border crossing next week. “Doing so would kill jobs on both sides of the border, weaken the critically important Canada-US relationship, and undermine US national security by making the United States more dependent on OPEC oil imports in the future. “In 2019, the United States imported 9.14 million barrels per day of petroleum, 3.7 million of which came from Canada. The rest comes from countries, like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, none of whom share the commitment of Canada and the United States to environmental stewardship, combatting climate change, or North American energy security. “As President-elect Biden’s green jobs plan acknowledges, Americans will consume millions of barrels of oil per day for years to come. It is in perfect keeping with his plan that the United States energy needs should be met by a country that takes the challenges of climate change seriously. “The Keystone XL pipeline also represents tens of thousands of good paying jobs that the American economy needs right now. That is why major American labour unions who supported President-elect Biden’s campaign strongly back the project, as do First Nations who have signed partnership agreements, and all state governments along the pipeline route. “As the Government of Canada has said, building Keystone XL is ‘top of the agenda’ with the incoming Biden administration. Prime Minister Trudeau raised the issue with President-elect Biden on their November 9, 2020 telephone meeting, agreeing “to engage on key issues, including … energy cooperation such as Keystone XL. “We renew our call on the incoming administration to show respect for Canada as the United States’ most important trading partner and strategic ally by keeping that commitment to engage, and to allow Canada to make the case for strengthening cooperation on energy, the environment, and the economy through this project. “Should the incoming US Administration abrogate the Keystone XL permit, Alberta will work with TC Energy to use all legal avenues available to protect its interest in the project.” Premier Scott Moe posted on Facebook the evening of Jan. 17, “It’s very disappointing to hear reports that President-elect Biden is planning to shut down the Keystone Pipeline expansion on his first day in office. “Construction of this project should be a top priority for Canadian-U.S. economic relations. It is critical to North American energy security, will have a tremendous employment impact north and south of the border and has garnered significant indigenous support. Environmentally, Keystone will reach net-zero emissions when it first turns on, and will be powered by 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030. “While I am urging the prime minister to leverage his relationship with Mr. Biden, Saskatchewan will continue exercising our contacts in Washington D.C. to advocate for the continuation of this project that clearly benefits both of our nations.” TC Energy responds with green announcement In an 11th hour move, TC Energy put out a press release from Houston on a Sunday evening, stating on Jan. 17, “Keystone XL commits to become the first pipeline to be fully powered by renewable energy.” “The company will achieve net zero emissions across the project operations when it is placed into service in 2023 and has committed the operations will be fully powered by renewable energy sources no later than 2030. This announcement comes after an extensive period of study and analysis, and as part of the company’s ongoing commitment to sustainability, thoughtfully finding innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while providing communities with reliable energy needed today. “Since it was initially proposed more than 10 years ago, the Keystone XL project has evolved with the needs of North America, our communities and the environment,” said Richard Prior, president of Keystone XL. “We are confident that Keystone XL is not only the safest and most reliable method to transport oil to markets, but the initiatives announced today also ensures it will have the lowest environmental impact of an oil pipeline in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Canada and the United States are among the most environmentally responsible countries in the world with some of the strictest standards for fossil fuel production.” The release added, “As part of its continued commitment to working with union labor in the U.S. and Canada, Keystone XL has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) to work together on the construction of TC Energy owned or sourced renewable energy projects.” Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
BROCKTON – There’ll soon be a new outdoor recreation option for area residents – the skating trail in Lobies Park. The exact date the trail will be open for use – probably sometime this week – depends on the weather. However, Mark Coleman, Brockton’s director of community services, said with colder, more seasonal weather expected later this month, people should get at least a month or more of use out of the trail. The idea for the trail emerged when the municipality was looking for more outdoor recreation opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding was provided by Bruce Power. The concept has proved popular in other areas, although it’s relatively new around here. Coleman said the trail will be supervised to ensure safety, and public health protocols including those regarding numbers of users will be strictly adhered to. Users will have to register ahead of time. The trail will be open during specific daytime and evening hours. For the latter, lights are being installed. It should provide an active, new way to enjoy one of the area’s loveliest parks. People are urged to use the trail only when it’s open, for reasons of safety. Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
MILAN — Stellantis, the car company combining PSA Peugeot and Fiat Chrysler, was launched Monday on the Milan and Paris stock exchanges, giving life to the fourth-largest auto company in the world. Stellantis shares rallied 7.6% in Milan to 13.53 euros ($16.32). CEO Carlos Tavares said during a virtual bell-ringing ceremony that the merger creates 25 billion euros in shareholder value. “The focus from day one will be on value creation from synergies, which will increase competitiveness vis-a-vis its peers,” Tavares said. Stellantis has a new logo and will launch on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday, due to the Monday U.S. bank holiday, followed by a press conference with Tavares. Chairman John Elkann, heir to the Fiat-founding Agnelli family, said that the new company has “the scale, the resources, the diversity and the knowledge to successfully capture the opportunities of this new era in transportation.” The technological shift includes electrified powertrains as well as moves toward greater autonomous driving. The merger is aimed at creating 5 billion euros in annual savings. The new company will have the capacity to produce 8.7 million cars a year, behind Volkswagen, Toyota and Renault-Nissan. Fiat Chrysler, which was created from the merger of the Italian and U.S. car companies in 2014, closed Friday down 4.35% at 12.57 euros, having gained in previous days. Its closing market capitalization was under 20 billion euros, far off its 2018 highs of more than 30 billion euros. Colleen Barry, The Associated Press
A Burk’s Falls man is hoping to help those who may be feeling isolated during the second provincial lockdown by bringing back good old-fashioned letter writing. Ryan Baptiste, 32, began the project shortly after the success of the letters to Santa Claus initiative he began before the holidays upon hearing the whisperings of another impending lockdown due to rising COVID-19 numbers. “We can see the emotional effects that lockdown can have on individuals,” said Baptiste, who graduated as an addictions and mental health counsellor in 2011. “We started this as a means to keep people connected and hopefully let them know that there are people out there that care about their well-being.” For the pen pals project, people can drop off a letter and Baptiste — along with two other volunteers, Nicole Byng who lives in Toronto, and Debbie Hope who lives in Almaguin — will reply. While counselling isn’t a full-time job for Baptiste, he said he cares deeply, and the effects of COVID-19 can be felt heavily across the profession. “More intake, referrals and virtual sessions with those who are struggling with the isolation is creating larger backlogs,” he said, adding that lockdowns, isolation and social distancing exacerbate pre-existing mental health conditions or addictions. After seeing the success of Baptiste’s Santa mailbox, Penny Brandt, who runs a centre for healing arts at 195 Ontario St. in Burk’s Falls, reached out to him to offer him a spot in front of her office. Brandt shares office space with Yolande’s Hair Salon. “I loved what I saw Ryan do at Christmastime with the letters to Santa, and that really hits the heartstrings because of the children and how important it is,” said Brandt. “He has a councillor background, (but) he’s also understanding that there are some awfully lonely people out there that have nobody and sometimes people want to remain anonymous as well.” “So, when I saw that he was looking for a spot to put the mailbox on the main street it was like hey, and I checked with Yolande and she was fine with it, and I thought, this can only help,” she said, mentioning that everyone is suffering mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially in some way due to COVID-19. “The other thing, for me, is remembering that empathy is a starting point for actually creating a community and taking action like Ryan has just done,” Brandt said. “It is the start of change.” The COVID-19 pen pals mailbox can be found at 195 Ontario St. in front of I Am Centre for Healing Arts and Yolande’s Hair Salon or for those who don’t want to venture outside, they can email email@example.com. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
BLYTH – North Huron, Central Huron, Morris-Turnberry, and Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh will share the cost of a new pumper truck, at a price tag of $604,500, plus tax. Fire Chief Marty Bedard said in an email, “We currently have $536,753 in reserves. I included an extra $100,000 in the 2021 budget to cover the shortfall.” Council authorized a request for proposals (RFP) in October after deferring the decision from 2020 to have enough funds available. Bedard presented a report to council on Dec. 21 outlining the RFP results and the decision to choose the custom-made ResQTech Systems (Rosenbauer) Pumper. Seven dealers submitted a total of 10 proposals, with prices ranging from $564,600 to $791,306.96. The chosen proposal included most of the items requested in the RFP for the new pumper, comparing the lower cost vehicles as missing several items listed in the RFP. The cost far exceeds the ResQTech proposal when the missing items are added. The remainder of the proposals were well over the budget amount, and many were missing items listed in the RFP. The Fire Chief must obtain a financial commitment from Central Huron, Morris-Turnberry, and Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh to pay their share before the purchase is finalized. “I am currently in discussion with the agreement partners to get approval to go ahead with the truck purchase,” said Bedard. The matter will be presented to municipal councils again for final approval once they reach an agreement. Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
« Le but est de s’amuser, de sortir des champs battus pour vendre mes semences et de jouer dans le visuel. » La propriétaire de la ferme Le Noyau, Teprine Baldo, a trouvé une façon plus qu’originale de vendre une partie de ses semences en créant la ligne Zombie Seedz il y a deux ans. Le message est encore plus à propos depuis bientôt un an. Mme Baldo cherchait une façon de faire éclater sa créativité à travers sa passion pour la culture maraîchère. « J’adore les semences Le Noyau, mais c’est très “famille bio sur une ferme”. Je trouve qu’il n’y avait pas assez d’art. Je voulais m’amuser dans la présentation et la promotion des semences. » Comme elle adore les films mettant en scène les zombies et le concept d’autosuffisance qui est mis de l’avant pour survivre, encouragée par une amie, elle s’est lancé dans cette aventure de Zombie Seedz. La semencière de Stanbridge East a interpelé des femmes artistes qu’elle connaissait pour leur demander de dessiner ce qui se retrouverait sur les sachets. « Ça me permet de promouvoir mes semences dans des endroits plus atypiques, comme dans les microbrasseries, chez des barbiers, dans des places de gamers, des magasins de disques, des tatoueurs, énumère-t-elle. Comme c’est une ligne plus marginale, je peux essayer d’attirer des ados et surtout de jeunes hommes, que je vois très peu dans ma clientèle. » Une vie pour les croisements En plus d’attirer une nouvelle clientèle, elle profite de cette ligne pour aborder l’hybridation des semences. Avec Le Noyau, elle doit fournir des semences pures puisque c’est la demande qu’elle reçoit. Avec Zombie Seedz, elle peut vendre les semences qui résultent d’un croisement de deux légumes d’une même famille. Les clients en sont bien avisés. Par exemple, deux types de courges peuvent se mélanger parce qu’elles sont plantées trop près les unes des autres. Cette hybridation peut être proposée dans cette ligne totalement à part. Bien sûr, le nouveau légume doit avoir bon goût pour qu’elle fasse la vente de ces semences. « Ce n’est pas évident de faire de l’argent en agriculture et ça l’est encore moins quand on est semencière. » La création de Zombie Seedz permet de diminuer les pertes. Mme Baldo a par ailleurs créé, à la demande de plusieurs clients, un calendrier de plantation. Illustré par les mêmes artistes que pour les sachets Zombie Seedz, ce calendrier lui permet non seulement d’aider la clientèle à se démêler dans les dates de plantation selon le type de fruit ou de légume, mais aussi d’ajouter un revenu pour payer les factures. Elle n’exclut pas d’ajouter d’autres marchandises avec cette thématique. Vers une pénurie de semences Après la fabrication de pain et l’entreposage de rouleaux de papier de toilette, le mouvement pour l’autosuffisance se poursuit au Québec depuis la mi-mars 2020. Ce mouvement se reflète dans la vente de semences. Déjà, l’an dernier, il était difficile de refaire ses stocks de sachets. Cette année, le phénomène risque de se répéter et de s’accroître. Si les jardiniers planifient généralement leur potager estival en février ou en mars, il faut maintenant s’y prendre plus d’avance encore. « Je n’ai pas arrêté de travailler depuis mars 2020, confie Teprine Baldo, qui est également suppléante dans des écoles anglophones. Je n’ai jamais eu autant de commandes. J’en ai depuis novembre et, habituellement, ça commence à la fin janvier. Il a fallu que je ferme mon site temporairement parce que ça allait trop vite et que mes semences n’étaient pas prêtes. » Le Noyau et Zombie Seedz composent une petite ferme semencière, ce qui fait que le volume de semences produit n’est pas encore aussi grand que d’autres. Dans le cas du Noyau, elle n’existe que depuis cinq ans. Les inventaires pourraient être tous écoulés dans une dizaine de semaines à peine. « Ce concept de pénurie de semences, ça touche les histoires de zombies et de la fin du monde. Depuis la pandémie, on se demande tous si on est prêt. Les gens vivent l’anxiété. Je pense qu’ils ont eu un éveil par rapport à l’approvisionnement de leur nourriture, le besoin d’acheter local. »Cynthia Laflamme, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix de l'Est
Calling an emergency responder. Accessing an affordable housing unit. Children learning inside school buildings, not portables. Patients receiving care in a hospital room, not a hallway. The services delivered in cities are the heartbeat of safe and comfortable communities, ones that attract residents, jobs, and investment opportunities for municipal and regional development. Municipalities own 60 percent of Canada’s infrastructure, according to StatsCan, and bear the corresponding duty to maintain its state of good repair with limited resources. Peel’s cities rely on funding from higher levels of government to provide key services to residents, including local children’s aid societies, healthcare, schools, and social services. A tacit feature of funding to Peel is – no matter the party colours at Queen’s Park or Parliament Hill – the hyper-growth region is not getting its “fair share” of public dollars, despite the equal contribution of local income taxpayers. During the pandemic, the latest examples from Ottawa and Queen’s Park include the federal government’s initial decision to give Toronto $14 million for COVID-19 isolation centres and none to Peel, before local efforts to point out the higher infection rates in the region forced the feds to allocate $6.5 million to Peel. Queen’s Park, meanwhile, despite socio-economic conditions that drove higher case counts in Peel, gave Toronto 17 provincial testing centres, but funded only 4 in Peel, which advocates said was one of the reasons the viral spread was not properly contained in the hard hit region. “What the pandemic has done is put more of a spotlight on how we’re chronically underfunded,” said Regional Councillor Martin Medeiros, of Brampton. “The leader of any political party needs the 905 to win a majority, and we’ve delivered…But when it comes to getting love, we don’t get the love. Why is that?” Local leaders have struggled to glean an answer to this for more than three decades. But what was once a booming battle cry to put pressure on upper levels of government – most recently via a campaign called the Peel Fair Share Task Force – has been reduced like a diminuendo to a restless hum. Nine months shy of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, in June 2019, Brampton councillors began making some noise through demands for increased funding to address its healthcare emergency. They highlighted the dangerous lack of hospital beds in the city, which has less than half the per capita number of Ontario overall. The city receives $1,000 less in funding for healthcare, per person, about half the provincial average. These inequities have been magnified during the pandemic. The region has had the highest infection rates in the province, and residents were put at increased risk because of the chronic failure of healthcare funding, which has left local hospitals particularly vulnerable to capacity issues. Prior to the pandemic, the three full-service hospitals in Mississauga and Brampton were already among the worst in Ontario for performance, with average wait times to be admitted between two-and-a-half and three times higher than the provincial target of 8 hours. As part of its 2020 budget asks, the City launched a “Fair Deal for Brampton” campaign for immediate funding to expand Peel Memorial hospital’s urgent care capabilities, fund the second phase of its build, and create a third healthcare facility. A city of about 650,000 residents, Brampton currently has only one full-service hospital, Brampton Civic, operated by the William Osler Health System. More than one-third of Brampton’s population has at least one chronic condition, and the City says it is projected to have the highest rate of dementia between 2015 and 2025. According to a 2014 study by researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in collaboration with Peel Public Health, the region was headed for a rate of one in six people having diabetes by 2025, largely due to the significant South Asian-Canadian population, which suffers much higher rates of the disease than the general population. At the time, it was one in ten, as reported by Peel’s former medical officer of health in 2018. According to the City’s pre-pandemic data, the emergency department at Brampton Civic was equipped for 90,000 visits a year, but received about 130,000, while Peel Memorial is funded for 10,000 visits a year and received 75,000. Patient-loads have skyrocketed over the course of the pandemic. As of January 15, Osler’s system was treating 109 COVID-19 patients, where about nine weeks ago, patient transfers were triggered around the time when it was treating just 64 people. In October, Premier Doug Ford announced funding to support the addition of 766 beds for 32 hospitals in the province, including 46 at Etobicoke General Hospital, which is also in the Osler system, and 41 beds in Brampton, which has about 60 percent more residents than Etobicoke. The smaller community was also given two testing facilities through Osler during the first half of the pandemic, among the total of 17 in Toronto, while Brampton only had one. The apparent differential treatment between funding the two hospitals under Osler’s management is a snapshot of the issues facing Brampton as it seeks its fair share from the province, Councillor Medeiros said. “They gave [funding] to Etobicoke without any ties. Notwithstanding, it’s the Premier’s riding,” Medeiros said. “Yet, when the City of Brampton is looking for more investment in healthcare, and we're looking to complete the second phase of Peel Memorial Hospital, they say that there’s provincial legislation requirements that we give 20 to 30 percent as a contribution.” A lack of commensurate allocation by the Province and federal governments has also affected Peel’s $1-billion Housing Master Plan, which has not yet been fully funded. The plan seeks to create 280 emergency shelter beds and another 5,300 affordable housing units by 2034. As previously reported by The Pointer, the federal government’s commitment of $276.5 million is on top of the Region’s $333.5 million, which has been criticized by Peel social services staff as being “significantly and disproportionately high.” Regional Councillor Annette Groves, of Caledon, said that local taxes and development charges are not sufficient to support the wealth of services offered by Peel. “I don't think it has anything to do with the current government. I think that it’s been such a long, outstanding battle,” Groves told The Pointer. “The Province has given us some funding to help with the pandemic, and so has the federal government, but again, it’s still not enough because we’re so far behind in terms of, for example, affordable housing.” Both Queen’s Park and Ottawa are guilty of a form of hypocrisy. The federal government sets immigration targets for the whole country, 401,000 for 2021 and growing to 421,000 in 2023. But it does not establish a funding formula for those municipalities that willingly accommodate newcomers. Brampton, over the past two decades, has welcomed more immigrants per capita than any other large city in Canada, but the federal government does little to provide adequate services and infrastructure for the hyper-growth community that openly supports the country’s immigration policies through its growth planning. Queen’s Park, meanwhile, relies desperately on Peel to accommodate the province’s largest share of population growth, but continues to ignore the funding needs it creates through provincial growth legislation, known as the Places To Grow Act. While Mississauga and Brampton rapidly expand, schools, for example, are not brought on line fast enough by the Province, forcing the use of portables, which have become a common feature in Peel’s education landscape. GO services are also glaringly under-funded, as more and more commuters move into the region without proper transportation infrastructure. The list of inadequate funding commitments for Peel grows every year. On top of education and healthcare, affordable housing, transportation, public health, settlement support, legal aid, children’s aid and almost every other funding area are all under-funded in Peel. For example, despite skyrocketing demand, Mississauga’s legal aid clinic receives far less funding per capita than Toronto. In 2019 the co-executive director of the city’s legal aid clinic, Douglas Kwan, said it receives the second lowest funding per capita of all legal aid clinics in Ontario: the lowest – Brampton. Led by Mississauga Councillor Carolyn Parrish, Peel revived efforts in its Fair Share for Peel coalition about four years ago to address its municipalities receiving less than half of the per capita rate of others in Ontario. In the fall of 2017, the Region organized a $90,000 conference with neighbouring municipalities, called the Summit 4 Fair Funding, to encourage a dialogue surrounding funding needs ahead of the 2018 provincial election. According to the Brampton Guardian, the summit was later cancelled after staff were not able to obtain transparent formulas as to how funding transfers were calculated from the provincial and federal governments. The effort followed years of pressure, culminating in an earlier effort in 2011 to assess underfunding and service delivery obstacles including those for seniors, people with disabilities, and victims of violence and abuse. As Peel braces for what February brings during the pandemic, the Region’s Governance Committee continues to advocate for government dollars. After almost a year of neglect, which contributed to Peel’s designation as a COVID-19 hot spot, and its placement in the current lockdown on November 23, the Ontario Ministry of Health recently agreed to a one-time funding disbursement of $14-million to Peel Public Health, to “support extraordinary costs associated with monitoring, detecting, and containing COVID-19 in the province.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @LaVjosa COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Vjosa Isai, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
BRUCE COUNTY – South Bruce Grey Health Centre Walkerton’s New Year’s baby, Maisyn Olivia Bosch, is the daughter of Kyla Johnston and Kyle Bosch, and the little sister of three-year-old Wyatt Bosch. The family lives in Inverhuron. She was born on New Year’s Day, at 2:27 a.m., weighing 8 lb. 1 oz. and 21 inches long. When Maisyn went home from the hospital, her family hadn’t announced her name. However, that’s now changed. Maisyn’s mom said the family hadn’t planned on a New Year’s baby. Her original due date was Dec. 20 or 21. “Perhaps a Christmas baby,” said Johnston. However, Maisyn had her own schedule and waited until 2021. “Everything went well,” said Johnston. “Wyatt is very protective over her, and gives her lots of love. He’s very good with her.” Johnston is employed at Tiverton Park Manor and is a part-time administrator for Sun Life Financial. Kyle Bosch works at the Goderich Salt Mine. Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
BRUCE COUNTY – The county’s planning and development committee has approved a draft plan of subdivision in Lucknow, for Hellyn Development Inc. The plan calls for development of a 5.109-hectare parcel of land on the west side of Lucknow with 28 detached dwellings, four townhouse blocks and a stormwater management block. The number of townhouse units will be between 38 and 46, making the total number of residential units 66 to 74. New municipal streets will be constructed, with two connections to Montgomery Lane at Hamilton and Rose streets. According to the report presented to the county in December, “It is a logical infill project in the settlement area that makes efficient use of land and infrastructure. Therefore, the plan is strongly aligned with the ‘good growth’ guiding principle.” As discussed earlier in the fall by Huron-Kinloss council, the plan is good news for the Lucknow community and the wider area of both Bruce and Huron counties. The land is presently used for agriculture, but is designated primary urban communities in the Bruce County Official Plan, and residential in the township’s Official Plan. The property is within the village’s settlement area. Lands to the east and south are residential, with a mix of single-family dwellings, townhouses and vacant lots. Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is "alarmed" over the alleged treatment of two elderly patients in Prince Albert's Victoria Hospital. FSIN Vice-Chief David Pratt is calling for more First Nations health supports after hearing "very disturbing" concerns from the families of two patients. One is an older adult woman who he says received rude and unprofessional treatment from staff members; the other is an 88-year-old man who Pratt says doesn't speak English and has been treated in isolation. Pratt said the woman preferred to remain anonymous because she feared sharing her concerns would lead to worse treatment. "Our elderly patients are too scared to speak out against poor treatment or can’t speak out at all because no one speaks the same language as them,” he said. In a prepared statement on Friday, Pratt called on the provincial government to "do something about all of the complaints that come in regarding First Nations patients at this hospital." He said the concerns illustrate the need for care from Indigenous doctors and nurses, in addition to translation and patient support services. The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is aware of some of the concerns, noted Andrew McLetchie, vice-president for integrated northern health. In a prepared statement, he said the SHA "reached out to ensure the patient has the supports they require" and that he encourages anyone with concerns to contact the quality of care co-ordinators. "(SHA) is committed to providing the best possible care experience and we are always concerned when this does not occur," he said in the statement. For patients who don't speak English, he said SHA supports include staff members and partner organizations. He said the SHA arranges for family members to be present to support patient communication. If there are barriers to that service, he pointed patients and families to the SHA First Nations and Metis Health Services. He said work is ongoing on cultural responsiveness training and workforce representation, among other strategies, and First Nations and Métis communities "will continue to be an important component across all our initiatives, including the (Prince Albert) Victoria redevelopment project." Pratt said a language barrier contributes to the challenges facing Elders who may only speak Cree or Dene. While families would usually accompany them to hospital visits, many are unable to provide supports to Elders because of the pandemic. "These elderly patients need the help of translators and patient support services to understand what is happening to them and to be informed of the type of care they are receiving." Nick Pearce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix
Lorne Head fell into volunteer firefighting almost by accident. In February 2010, a fire ripped through the fire hall in Baie Verte and destroyed all that was inside, including the department’s two pumper trucks. The department got a replacement vehicle from the west coast, but there was a problem. No one in the department had air brake qualifications and there wasn’t anyone to drive the vehicle. That’s where Head comes in. An employee with the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District, he could operate a vehicle with air brakes, and he agreed to temporarily come onboard. Head has now spent 11 years on the fire department in Baie Verte, the last six of which have been as the town’s fire chief. Lately, he’s been thinking about the future of firefighting in the region and the challenges he faces. One of those is numbers. His department is getting older, and in the last year the department has lost members as they moved away. Right now, the Baie Verte department is down to 21 members. With work commitments, there are 10 to 12 firefighters available for fire calls during the workday. “It is a nervous few minutes to see who is going to respond to the call,” said Head. The challenges facing rural firefighting and how to best navigate those hindrances will be the subject of an upcoming research project being done through a collaboration between the Marine Institute and the province’s fire commissioner's office. It is being funded by a $54,500 grant from the International Grenfell Association, along with contributions from both the Insurance Bureau of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. Both of those contributions are $10,000 each. The two-year project will examine firefighting strategies and equipment used in volunteer firefighting departments, with an eye on declining populations. At the end there will be recommendations forwarded to departments on how they could best deal with issues through new firefighting methods and limiting risk to the community. “Our role is to gather the information,” said Elizabeth Sanli, a researcher with the Marine Institute’s ocean safety research unit and the project lead. “We’re looking for helpful strategies and helpful tools.” The project will be broken down into three phases, the first of which will have researchers delving into the subject through journal articles, previous research done by firefighting organizations and other documents relevant to what they’re looking to address. They will focus on literature that focuses on challenges faced by other coastal and northern regions with dwindling firefighter numbers. “We want to make (fire departments) effective and as efficient as possible,” said Sanli. From there, in the second phase, the group will formulate the strategies and equipment they’ve identified in the first phase. This could include examining things such as how the number of firefighters and the weather may effect each strategy. The results of the research will be published, and recommendations will be made to communities in the final phase of the project. One strategy Head believes will work is a focus on the regionalization of fire departments to maximize the number of firefighters in any particular region. It also maximizes the equipment necessary and allows the different departments to pursue other complementary goals. Many departments already pledge to help out neighbouring ones, but Head’s idea could mean stronger numbers for a singular department. “I think one of the reasons regional fire departments have to start working is that you have to be able to draw from other towns,” said Head. “Other towns helping us and we’re helping other towns.” Guy Oakley, the fire chief with the New-Wes-Valley Volunteer Fire Department, had an idea that could work with any form of regionalization. He says the province could look at forming a paid regional fire chief position in areas that take on regionalization. Oakley’s department already works well with other fire departments in Bonavista North, he says, but such a position may help with the organization of that work. “I could see that working and making things better that way,” said Oakley. Justice and Public Safety Minister Steve Crocker said he is looking forward to seeing the results of the project. A former firefighter in Heart’s Delight-Islington, he was one of the younger members then and knows how some departments struggle with their aging members. He says the research project will prove valuable in providing a roadmap for how the province helps fire departments through any future challenges. “It’s a strategy,” said Crocker. “It is, how do we provide safety to people in the future.” Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice