As pandemic protocols continue through our winter season you may find yourself wearing a frozen or frosty mask. Rachel Schoutsen explores best practices in Health and Weather.
As pandemic protocols continue through our winter season you may find yourself wearing a frozen or frosty mask. Rachel Schoutsen explores best practices in Health and Weather.
Ottawa is reporting 87 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death. Today's Ottawa update Ottawa Public Health (OPH) recorded 87 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death Friday. The health authority also declared another 105 cases resolved. As of Friday, OPH has received 25,350 vaccine doses, of which it has administered 22,981. The infection rate in Ottawa rose to record levels after Christmas, but has started to decline. The current lockdown in eastern Ontario went into effect Dec. 26, and is scheduled to last until Feb. 11. A provincial stay-at-home order is also in effect. Numbers to watch 36: The number of Ottawa residents being treated in hospital for COVID-19, down slightly from Thursday. 69.7: The number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 Ottawa residents, back down after a slight increase on Thursday. 0.88: The average number of people infected by a single COVID-19 case, or R(t). Anything below one suggests the spread is coming under control. Across the region Quebec's lockdown is in effect until Feb. 8, and includes an 8 p.m. curfew.
In this David and Goliath story, David threw a dozen rocks, but couldn’t knock the giant down. David Strachan, treasurer of the Midhurst Ratepayers Association, who fought against the Geranium company’s plans to build two large subdivisions in the small village 10-minutes north of Barrie, is still bitter. “If we’d have thrown lots of money at it in the first place, we might have stood a chance,” Strachan said after news of the bulldozers arriving on-site at the Carson Road subdivision was released last week. But after fighting the good fight and raising more than $250,000 for legal fees and professional planners to oppose 2,500 new homes in their neighbourhood, Strachan and company realized their 12-year battle is over. In 2008, the initial plan for the Midhurst Carson Road development was approved by the township and later by the Ontario Municipal Board, the County of Simcoe, Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority, and several provincial agencies in 2014. It took five more years for the environmental assessment to be approved by the ministry of the environment, conservation and parks in 2019. Water and storm water management work was approved in 2020. Last December, council gave the green light for Phase 1 of the subdivision of 342 homes to begin. A bulldozer sits on the former farmland at the top of Anne Street North, where snowmobilers currently race through a small tract of trees that will remain standing. Inside the cold work trailer, site supervisor Dominic Palombi hunches down inside his coat and pulls out the site drawings of the new subdivision that will be his work address for the foreseeable future. "We start building Monday (Jan. 25)," he said. “We’ll start with the sewers for the subdivision and we’ll start building the sales office there,” added Palombi, pointing to the snow-covered field. “It’s going to be big.” Stretching between Carson Road on the south, along Wilson Drive on the west and near Snow Valley Road on the north, Palombi’s not wrong. There are expected to be more than 340 detached and semi-detached houses available to preview schematically at least this summer, said Geranium spokesperson Cheryl Shindruk. “We expect 2,500 units approximately at full build,” she continued, explaining the Doran Road site will be built along Carson Road in the future. Shindruk won’t comment on the lengthy timeline it took to push the subdivisions through the roadblocks, other than to say “development approval takes the time it needs to take.” President of the Midhurst ratepayers group, Sandy Buxton, said it wasn’t a case of NIMBY-ism (Not In My Backyard), but also to save Minesing Wetlands which border the property. Also at stake are the Hine’s Emerald Dragonflies, which only nest in a few places in Canada, including the Springwater wetlands, she said. “It’s a very fussy animal in terms of the habitat it requires,” said Buxton. “It’s a fragile beast … which is classed as an endangered animal, not just provincially but also federally.” Nicole Audette, Springwater’s communications officer, said it was just one of many requirements that had to be satisfied before the work project could be approved. “The completion of the environmental assessment was a significant condition that needed to be satisfied to ensure the Midhurst developments could be serviced with significant consideration for the environment,” said Audette. It also included jumping through a slew of technical hoops, such as engineering design, species at risk assessments and environmental impact studies, in addition to requiring securities to ensure funding will be available to complete work in accordance with municipal regulations. As soon as weather permits, tree clearing and the installation of services including the watermains, sanitary sewers, storm sewers and a stormwater management pond will begin. For more information, visit www.springwater.ca Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
THUNDER BAY — A number of inmates from the Thunder Bay jail have been temporarily transferred to a Toronto detention centre in an effort to manage the current number of active COVID-19 cases at the facility. On Friday, Jan. 22, a spokesperson with the ministry of the solicitor general confirmed the Thunder bay jail currently has 12 active inmate COVID-19 cases and six COVID-19 positive cases among staff. The inmates were transferred to the Toronto South Detention Centre (TSDC) temporarily to bring the facility within operating capacity and reduce the risk of infection, spokesperson Andrew Morrison said in an emailed statement. “The inmates selected for transfer are low risk for COVID-19 and will be isolated for 14 days upon arrival at the TSDC,” Morrison said, adding the ministry cannot provide details about inmate transfers for security reasons. All inmates are being transferred to a separate area at the TSDC and won’t be placed with current inmates to reduce any potential spread of the virus, Morrison said. “Appropriate protocols are being followed to ensure the protection of all staff and inmates,” Morrison said. The Toronto facility is the ministry’s newest jail with a modern health care unit with medical isolation units to effectively manage and support inmates with COVID-19, the ministry says. The Thunder Bay Correctional Centre currently has 42 active inmate cases and two active cases among staff of COVID-19. According to the ministry, any inmate who tests positive for the virus is placed under droplet precautions and is isolated from the rest of the inmate population while they receive medical care. The ministry continues to work with local public health authorities to complete contact tracing. Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
TORONTO — After a 10-month investigation, a task force commissioned by the Ontario government has issued a range of sweeping recommendations to reform the province's securities regulator. The Capital Markets Modernization Task Force's 70 recommendations include major governance changes to Ontario Securities Commission, such as establishing an adjudicative body within the OSC to rule on alleged securities act violations. The task force also recommends expanding the agency's mandate to augment its regulatory function, and changing its name to the Ontario Capital Markets Authority. The task force was commissioned in 2019 by Ontario's finance minister, with the goal of encouraging growth and competition in the province's capital markets. In the report, the task force decried the lack of new securities issuers in Ontario, which they warned could lead to fewer head offices and fewer investment growth opportunities in the province. Over the course of its investigation, the task force met with more than 110 different stakeholders as it was developing its recommendations. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
CBC News gains access to a unique inoculation site in the U.K., where vulnerable groups are being prioritized.
Pendant que la neige tombait à gros flocons samedi dernier, j’ai déniché quelques trésors cachés sur le site web de l’Office national du film, onf.ca. Pour vous, j’ai fait une sélection des meilleurs courts-métrages mettant en vedette la neige, l’hiver et nos paysages nordiques. Idéal pour une soirée de couvre-feu, faute d’aller jouer dehors. Découvrez l’homme derrière la légende qui a sillonné les Laurentides pendant des décennies et qui en a tracé les plus importants sentiers. Ce portrait, réalisé pour le centenaire d’Herman Smith-Johannsen, révèle un explorateur infatigable, sa résilience et son humour. Le documentaire trace des parallèles entre sa Norvège natale et ses Laurentides d’adoption, et nous fait voyager dans le temps. Dans une scène, on le voit racontant ses souvenirs dans une voiture, cigare en bouche, pendant que des paysages enneigés défilent par la fenêtre. En noir et blanc, ce court-métrage offre un regard d’ensemble du ski au Canada, de Banff aux Laurentides. On y retrouve l’enthousiasme des premières neiges, la leçon de ski, le remonte-pente pour les « moins vaillants » (dit le narrateur), et la vue magnifique une fois arrivé au sommet. Somme toute, le sport a bien peu changé, 73 ans plus tard. Une journée à la patinoire, présentée par Gilles Carle, le célèbre cinéaste québécois dans ses débuts. La musique de Claude Léveillée anime même ce court-métrage sans paroles. En bottes ou en patins, on y découvre le simple plaisir de patiner, de glisser et de jouer sur la glace. Pourquoi ne pas jouer une amicale partie de hockey, avant de se déhancher sur la glace au rythme de la musique de l’heure : le rock ‘n’ roll! Suivez ces deux Inuits (appelés Esquimaux dans le film) alors qu’ils bâtissent un iglou pour la nuit, pendant que le narrateur vous explique comment faire. Vous n’aurez besoin que d’un couteau à neige… et de neige. Les Inuits peuvent prendre aussi peu que 40 minutes ou aussi longtemps que 2 jours pour construire leur iglou, selon leurs besoins. Mon préféré. Suivez l’artiste Alexander Young Jackson dans la création de ses paysages uniques. Jackson est membre du Groupe des sept, un rassemblement de paysagistes canadiens qui ont révolutionné l’art durant les années 1920. Pour faire ses ébauches, Jackson part en expédition dans la nature automnale de l’Ontario, au Lac Grace, puis dans les collines enneigées de Saint-Tite-des-Caps, juste au nord de l’Île d’Orléans. On le voit en canot, faire du portage et même escalader les parois rocheuses du bouclier canadien, tout pour trouver le parfait paysage.Simon Cordeau, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Accès
After complaints from its residents, Wheatland County is confronting large, personal medicinal cannabis growing facilities that, unlike regulated commercial facilities, operate without having to notify the municipality. Tom Ikert, Division 4 Councillor, brought forth the issue after becoming aware of a cannabis growing operation close to his residence. “I went to the county because the neighbours were complaining about the smell,” he said. At first Ikert was assured that no growing facility exists in the area – the county allows commercial cannabis cultivation in the Wheatland Industrial Park only – but he later determined the facility was a personal medical cannabis growing facility. A big one. In November 2020, Wheatland County published a white paper arguing there is a regulatory gap for personal and medicinal cannabis growing that is creating safety and environmental risks and causing disputes among neighbours. The white paper was sent to local MLAs, Bow River MP Martin Shields, and Premier Jason Kenney. Under Canada’s cannabis laws, the federal government is responsible for the rules for cannabis production and processing, while provinces and territories are responsible for regulating distribution and sale. While Alberta municipalities have the power to create land use bylaws on where cannabis can be grown, these apply to commercial enterprises only. Municipal policies and land use regulations are not applicable to personal cannabis production. Under Health Canada’s Medicinal Use of Cannabis application, individuals can apply for a medicinal growing license. The number of plants each license holder is allowed is determined by a calculator tool that creates an output based on the number of grams they are prescribed daily. Up to 485 cannabis plants can be grown at home, without the requirement of notifying local authorities. “Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, that’s 1,000 pounds of weed you can grow in a year if you’re using 500-watt bulbs,” said Ikert. He added many of these growers have brought three-phase power onto the sites, which raises questions as to whether the cannabis grown is strictly for personal use as restricted by law. While the permit holder is expected to meet local bylaws, regulations and safety code requirements, the application and approval process does not require confirmation that all municipal requirements have been met. The county is arguing this has created a large regulatory loophole, where large cannabis growing facilities can be active without being known or accountable to municipal enforcement. The problem is exacerbated by regulations allowing a designated producer to be registered by multiple permit holders. Multiple (up to four) registrations can be active at one same location, meaning up to 1,940 plants can be grown together. “You can also congregate, in a sense,” said Bow River MP Martin Shields. “Three or four growers get together and say, ‘let’s just roll with this one place,’” he said. “Wheatland County is absolutely right saying that if cannabis is being grown as a congregated personal site, municipalities have no clue what’s out there.” Many growers choose to make changes to their homes or buildings that legally require an electrical, gas or building permit. If they applied for a permit, it would be reviewed for compliance with the Alberta Building Code and the work inspected by a safety codes officer, once complete. But by not having to notify municipalities, these growers may skip the permit process and install new systems that are unsafe, the white paper argues. Without the requirement for proper ventilation, there is potential for environmental health issues from home cannabis growing, including air quality and moisture concerns (e.g. mould), and chemical exposure from use of herbicides, pesticides and fungicides, it states. Residents also have little recourse when faced with nuisance issues from a neighbouring facility, namely odours. If the county is notified of a nuisance growing facility that is not a known commercial operation with a development permit, the RCMP will be contacted. However, if the occupant or owner is found to have a license for medical cannabis, the only option is to let the license holder know of the complaint and work toward a voluntary solution. These personal medical grow operations do not have to have the same security systems that commercial sites require, resulting in a higher potential for crime, added Shields. The resolution of the white paper is for the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) to collaborate with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), to advocate for Health Canada to ensure municipal compliance for all personal medical cannabis production facilities for existing license holders and prior to approval for all future applications. Reeve Amber Link presented the paper to the RMA District 2: Central directors, who supported the resolution. It will go forward to the RMA District 2 spring meeting on Feb. 5. If the resolution receives support at that meeting, it will go to the RMA spring convention for consideration by all rural municipalities in Alberta, she explained. The paper will also be presented to the FCM during its March 2021 board meeting. Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — As the sun rose over Newfoundland and Labrador’s Avalon Peninsula Friday morning, so too did a beeping chorus of snowplows in the province’s capital. About 30 centimetres of snow blanketed the city and the sun was shining down on people digging out their cars. The storm closed many schools, stores and offices across the Avalon Peninsula on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. The weather also put a stop to door-to-door campaigning in the provincial election — for most candidates. On Thursday, Progressive Conservative candidate Kristina Ennis tweeted pictures of herself knocking on doors in a full-body snowsuit. Other candidates, however, moved their campaigning online. Tory Leader Ches Crosbie tweeted a picture of himself holding up a bag of so-called "storm chips," ahead of the storm — though people questioned the small size of the bag. The NDP used a popular internet meme involving a cropped photo of United States Democrat Bernie Sanders at Wednesday's presidential inauguration to take a swipe at the Liberals. The party pasted the photo of Sanders — who is sitting in a chair, arms crossed and wearing fuzzy mitts — in the provincial legislature. The image caption said he was waiting for the Liberals to release their economic plan, which the Liberals have said won't be made public before voters head to the polls. All parties have said that social media will likely play a significant role in the province's winter pandemic election. Liberal Leader and incumbent Premier Andrew Furey called the election last Friday as a storm raged outside the provincial House of Assembly. The Progressive Conservatives and the NDP have wrinkled their noses at the timing, saying the province's hallmark winter storms will dissuade voters and cut into campaigning time. As of Friday morning, there were 122 candidates registered across the province's 40 districts. The deadline for all candidates to submit their paperwork is Saturday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Sarah Smellie, The Canadian Press
ONTARIO – The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks announced members of a new working group they created to deal with the recent changes to the Conservation Act. The new members consist of people from conservation authorities, development and agriculture sectors, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and Conservation Ontario. The group’s first task will be to look at the first phase of proposed regulations that impact conservation authorities and their participating municipalities. These proposed regulations will be available for public consultation in late January 2021. Maitland Conservation general manager Phil Beard told Midwestern Newspapers “MVCA’s members will be discussing the working group and process that the Minister has announced for developing the regulations on mandatory and non-mandatory services and other topics at the Jan. 27 meeting” The working group members are: -Chair Hassaan Basit, President and Chief Executive Officer of Halton Region Conservation Authority -Kim Gavine, General Manager, Conservation Ontario -John MacKenzie, Chief Executive Officer, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority -Sommer Casgrain-Robertson, General Manager, Rideau Valley Conservation Authority -Chris Darling, Chief Administrative Officer, Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority -Rob Baldwin, Chief Administrative Officer, Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority -Brian Tayler, Chief Administrative Officer, North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority -Samantha Lawson, Chief Administrative Officer, Grand River Conservation Authority -Cathie Brown, Senior Advisor, Association of Municipalities of Ontario -Scott McFadden, Mayor, Township of Cavan Monaghan *Jason Sheldon, Vice-President, Land Development, Remington Group *Gary Gregoris, Senior Vice-President, Land Development, Mattamy Homes *Josh Kardish, Vice-President, EQ Homes *Michelle Sergi, Director Community Development, Region of Waterloo *Leslie Rich, Policy and Planning Liaison, Conservation Ontario *Barb Veale, Director, Planning and Watershed Management, Halton Region Conservation Authority *Laurie Nelson, Director, Policy and Planning, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority *Mark Wales, Past President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture Participants marked with an *asterisk will provide further perspectives to the working group, including on the section 28 Minister’s regulation. Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
Talks over the divided island of Cyprus will be held in New York in the next two months with the participation of the United Nations, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday. The United Nations has been trying unsuccessfully for decades to reunite Cyprus, split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 after a brief Greek-inspired coup. Only Ankara recognises the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) as an independent state.
BROCKTON – Jennifer Stephens, general manager, did a presentation on the Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority’s 2021 budget at the Jan. 12 meeting of Brockton council. This year’s budget shows a 1.6 per cent increase over last year, representing a dollar amount of $27,570. Brockton will be paying an additional $2,546. She stated the goal of the SVCA over the past few months has been to focus on the mandated programs and services outlined in the Conservation Authorities Act. Stephens outlined some of those programs including flood forecasting and warning. The goal is to “keep people away from the water, and keep the water away from people.” This is accomplished through a variety of measures including physical structures such as dams and channel work. SCVA is also involved in stewardship activities, environmental planning and regulations, conservation education, forestry, and non-revenue parks and property management throughout the watershed. To help identify priorities over the next five years, the SVCA is undertaking a strategic planning exercise. It will involve extensive consultation with the public, municipalities and other partners. The plan will incorporate recent changes to the Conservation Authorities Act through Bill 229. Council asked a number of questions, including about changes that have a direct impact on Brockton. Coun. James Lang mentioned two staff members who had played an important role in promoting tourism in the Greenock Swamp. Stephens responded by saying the business of the SVCA is to “protect natural spaces and conduct our mandated programs” through the entire watershed. Deputy Mayor Dan Gieruszak addressed plans to conduct needed maintenance work in the SVCA’s parks and said he was pleased at the direction that’s been put in place by Stephens. Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
BROCKTON – A delegation consisting of Bob McCulloch and members of the Victoria Jubilee Hall (VJH) committee (Henry Simpson, Bill Carroll, Jim Bohnert) provided council with their annual update on Jan. 12. McCulloch said VJH came up against “the COVID brick wall” in 2020. Revenues dropped, showing a deficit of around $24,000 in December. The situation wasn’t any different from what other theatres were facing, except VJH has a fixed overhead that’s smaller than Blyth’s or Drayton’s, and VJH has income from its long-term tenants. When it became obvious the pandemic wasn’t going away anytime soon, and in-person shows weren’t going to happen, the Jubilee Arts and Music committee (JAM) began looking at other ways to keep VJH in the public eye. Songs by the Gazebo on Sept. 13 attracted a large, socially distanced crowd. VJH was back! Next came the online Christmas Concert, streamed on Wightman and Facebook. The opera hall was silent, but JAM kept things going. Despite the lack of income-generating events and the trials and tribulations of COVID-19, VJH managed to accomplish a lot during 2020, in a large part thanks to grants from the Walkerton Rotary Club, Spruce the Bruce, Brockton council and individual donors. Among the continuing projects at VJH are eliminating water and dampness from the VJH basement, stopping water penetration from the east porch roof into the building and down through the upper deck, doing a full repair on the east columns (as one would repair structural bridge concrete), and providing outside security for the safety of staff, patrons and tenants. Repairs accomplished in 2020 included raising and sealing the remaining eight of 10 basement windows to keep water out of the building. The other two were done two years ago. The grade was raised to run rainwater away from the building. The east porch roof catches a lot of water, and the windowsill above the porch was raised to prevent water from running into the hall. A high-tech product called RhinoLiner was applied to the concrete porch decking. This project was paid for through a Rotary grant of $6,800. The front columns have been patched over the years, but with the help of a Spruce the Bruce grant, a bridge-style repair was completed. As for security, the installation of motion activated cameras will enhance the safety of anyone using the building. VJH was the recipient in 2020 of a prestigious Cornerstone Award, one of 11 heritage sites nationally to be so honoured. The Ecclesiastical Insurance Cornerstone Awards bring to national attention exemplary projects that illustrate the viability of heritage buildings for traditional or new uses. Dedicated volunteers are always busy tending gardens, painting, shoveling snow, installing new taps, sinks and hand-washing stations ($1,500 PPE grant) as well as doing the constant minor repairs and maintenance the magnificent building needs and deserves. The VJH delegation ended its presentation with words of gratitude for council’s moral and financial support, and asked that council continue to support the hall with the same amount as last year, $10,000. The money will go to general operations. Deputy Mayor Dan Gieruszak commented on the “20-year commitment” made by the volunteers to the building and congratulated them on their efforts. Coun. Dean Leifso made special mention of the heritage award the group received. “It was well deserved.” Mayor Chris Peabody thanked the volunteers for their “great work.” Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
Squamish Nation has launched a new program to help guide its community members through the COVID-19 pandemic. The nation has introduced a team of ‘COVID Guardians’ to offer extra support to community members in isolation, educate and raise awareness of the virus and provincial health officer restrictions, and to report on any issues that may arise. Syetáxtn, Chris Lewis, Squamish nation spokesperson, said the new program was already having a positive impact, sharing the news in a Facebook update to members. “It's a new program to assist our community through the pandemic and to also ensure that there is public awareness and the information gets out,” he said in the latest video update on Jan. 15. “The guardians are here to ensure safety and engage with members of the public to make sure that the residents and everybody in our community are aware of the physical distancing directives and to provide education around public etiquette and courtesies and shared outdoor spaces. “They'll also help maintain and prevent any COVID exposures within the community through continued education and prevention.” There are five guardians, three for North Vancouver and two for the Squamish Valley, who report to the nation’s emergency co-ordinator, David Harrison, and to the emergency operations director, Paul Wick. Syetáxtn said so far the guardians had been busy checking in with community members that are in isolation, or quarantining, delivering COVID lawn signs and care packages to households, and fixing and repairing damaged and vandalized signs throughout the community. “They patrol high exposure areas and help clean up the community, so I really want to thank them for the work that they're doing,” he said, Syetáxtn said the guardians would also be helping with the rollout of vaccinations in the community. Vaccinations have already started in 169 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities across Canada, according to Indigenous Services Canada. “In the coming months, you can see our guardians assisting in the setup operation of the upcoming Squamish nation COVID vaccination site,” said Syetáxtn. “We're continuing to work with Vancouver Coastal Health and health authorities to ensure that those sites are set up and we're in the queue.” While plans are in the works, Syetáxtn said there was “no update in terms of when the nation will receive the current vaccine.” “We are in conversations, though, in terms of our home care assistants, in terms of getting them vaccinated because we know that they’re supporting our most vulnerable,” he said. He added that the nation’s older adults and elders were a priority for vaccinations in B.C. “The age requirement for indigenous adults will be lower than the rest of the population due to the higher rate of health risks to our elders and other factors that have affected access to quality health care," said Syetáxtn. “So, our elders will be in that queue.” During the members update, Khelsilem, Dustin Rivers, Squamish Nation spokesperson, confirmed there are active COVID-19 cases in the nation’s community at this time, but they did not have exact case numbers to provide. “The nation does not receive names of any confirmed cases or members advised to self-isolate or quarantine unless the members voluntarily share that information with us and give us permission to share that information publicly,” he said. Earlier this month he told North Shore News the nation temporarily closed its main office at 320 Seymour Boulevard, from Jan. 6 to 11, due to a COVID-19 exposure, and those involved were taking the “necessary precautions.” He said there were a number of other active cases in the community which weren’t related to the office exposure. He added that there had been no cluster events in the community since the summer. Up until Sep. 23, 2020 there had been a total of 43 confirmed cases - 39 lab-confirmed, four epi-linked, for the nation. Since then, Khelsilem said “they have all been minor cases, contained through contact tracing and isolating.” In First Nations communities across B.C., as of Jan. 20, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of a total of 1,377 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. ISC said Across Canada, numbers had “reached an all-time new high this week” with a total of 14,200 positive cases – 5,409 active cases, 124 deaths, and 8,667 recoveries. “A number of communities are experiencing mounting cases, and ISC is taking measures to mitigate risks, including meeting regularly with local health services in Indigenous communities and engaging with provincial and other federal department representatives in an effort to assess on-going community needs,” a Government of Canada release stated. Khelsilem commended the community for its ongoing efforts to follow the PHO recommendations and restrictions. “You've done an amazing job of helping protect the community from the spread of the virus,” he said, adding he understood how difficult it had been to not be able follow usual traditions and spiritual practices in hard times. “As we get through this, I just want to continue to thank and encourage our community to work very hard to stay by these health orders that are set in stone to help protect our community. “We're all in this together, and of course, we will all get through this together.” The community can reach out to the Squamish Nation’s Guardians by calling 604-374-2687 or can contact the Member Services Department on 604-982-7610 during office hours or 604-505-3776 after hours for care packages and support. Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News
A Nepean retirement home where 10 people have died from COVID-19 is the first in the city to begin vaccinating residents and staff against the illness, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) says. "As part of Phase 1 of the COVID vaccine rollout in Ottawa, Valley Stream Retirement Home was identified as a high-risk retirement home and the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was made available and administered to staff, essential caregivers and residents on Jan. 17," OPH confirmed Thursday. OPH finished administering the first vaccine doses to residents in long-term care homes in mid-January, but Valley Stream is the first high-risk retirement home to be offered the same opportunity. At a news conference on Wednesday, Ottawa's general manager of emergency and protective services Anthony Di Monte said that while second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine would be delayed for some, one high-risk retirement home and one "congregate home with older adults" would still have a chance to receive first doses of the vaccine. In total, 51 of Valley Stream's 134 residents have tested positive for the virus since the outbreak began on Jan. 2. Thirteen of those cases are now considered resolved. Another 27 staff members have also tested positive, 10 of which are now resolved. Jennifer Rose's 80-year-old father Richard Currie lives at Valley Stream, but has tested negative so far. "I'm obviously grateful and thankful that they're getting vaccines, and [with] my dad still testing negative, I'm happy he's getting that protection," Rose said, adding she's sympathetic to families that haven't been so lucky. "I just find it's so hard for the families that did lose somebody to this," she said. "They were close to being able to get that vaccine. It's just heartbreaking that it was almost within their grasp." Cleaning protocols enhanced Revera, which owns numerous long-term care facilities in Ontario and across North America, said it's working closely with OPH to maintain proper protocols and limit the spread of the virus at Valley Stream. "We are doing enhanced cleaning at Valley Stream, frequently disinfecting high touch surfaces like handrails and doors, common areas and staff rooms," the company's chief medical officer, Dr. Rhonda Collins, wrote. Collins said all residents are being monitored and tested if they show symptoms, while staff are screened at the beginning and end of their shifts. Visits are restricted to essential caregivers, as well as essential visits for palliative residents. "We recognize how difficult these measures are for residents and their families, and we appreciate their patience and understanding as we put these precautions in place for the safety of our residents," Collins wrote. According to OPH, the recent delay of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine "did not impact the administration of vaccines at Valley Stream." Earl Brown, professor emeritus of virology at the University of Ottawa, said while it's important to administer the second dose within a specific period of time after the first shot, giving more vulnerable people a single dose may prove the best option — as long as that second dose isn't too far behind. "It really comes down to maximizing your benefit," Brown said. "So numbers-wise, it generally has tended to favour spreading out the first dose and getting the second dose in somewhat of a timely manner. " But while the two vaccines both report higher than 90 per cent effectiveness in stopping the virus, Brown said it's believed they're less effective for older people. "I think the unknowns loom larger with this group."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government is looking at ways to strengthen the vetting process for the next governor general after his choice for the job — Julie Payette — resigned yesterday following reports she presided over a toxic work environment at Rideau Hall. Trudeau faced multiple questions from reporters today about the vetting process he followed in appointing Payette back in 2017, and the red flags raised by former employers about her behaviour. "Obviously the vetting process that was in place was followed, but obviously we're going to also look at ways we can strengthen and improve the vetting process for high-level appointments," he said outside his home at Rideau Cottage, not far from Rideau Hall. "We are looking right now at processes that can be strengthened as we move forward and we will have more to say on that as we make decisions." WATCH | Trudeau is asked why Payette wasn't thoroughly vetted before being appointed GG In an unprecedented move, Payette and her secretary, Assunta di Lorenzo, resigned Thursday after an outside workplace review of Rideau Hall probed allegations she had belittled, berated and publicly humiliated Rideau Hall staff. "Notwithstanding, in respect for the integrity of my vice-regal office and for the good of our country and of our democratic institutions, I have come to the conclusion that a new governor general should be appointed," the former astronaut wrote in her statement. A senior government source (speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly) said about 100 public servants took part in the outside review. The report concluded it was an overwhelmingly toxic and poisonous workplace and the two people at the very top, Payette and Di Lorenzo, were responsible for it, the source said. PM and Queen spoke today The source also said Payette received parts of the report that pertained to her on Monday and that the clerk of the Privy Council and Privy Council President Dominic LeBlanc had a tense conversation with her on Tuesday. Speaking from prepared remarks, Trudeau said he spoke to the Queen Friday morning and let her know Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard Wagner will fulfil the duties of the governor general — her representative in Canada — on a temporary basis. He said a recommendation on Payette's replacement is coming. Trudeau was asked repeatedly today about his decision to not use a selection committee in 2017, something his predecessor implemented. "We will continue to the look at the best way to select people for the vice regal appointments. It is an important role for Canadians and we'll look at how we can improve it," he said. WATCH Jagmeet Singh on Payette resignation Conservative House leader Gérard Deltell said this could have been avoided if Trudeau hadn't shunned the Harper-era committee. "This is all sad, but it's so Justin Trudeau's style," he said. "He thinks that he knows better than anybody else, than the special committee created by the Conservatives. But we were right at that time. We made the right decision, he did the wrong decision and unfortunately, today we paid a price for this mess." NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh suggested other parties be brought into the process of selecting the official 30th governor general. "The system is deeply problematic in that the federal government, whoever's in power, can choose who they want," he said Friday morning. "I think there would be a great benefit in having a better system...so that the selection is not just a government appointment, but it's something that is done in a manner that is more fair." Questions about annuity Payette will collect a six-figure annuity for the rest of her life, a tradition critics are calling into question given the report on the Rideau Hall workplace climate — a report LeBlanc said came to some "disturbing" and "worrisome" conclusions. Under the Governor General's Act, former vice-regals are entitled to a lifetime annuity — which, according to the 2020 Public Accounts, amounts to $149,484. They are also entitled to a lifetime expense program for office and travel expenses. Documents obtained by the National Post in 2018 show that each former governor general is allowed to claim up to $206,000 per year under the program, which has existed since 1979 and is based on the notion that governors general never truly retire. "This country has very clear rules and regulations and processes and procedures in place to follow in these cases of reporting expenses, or indeed on annuities for governor generals," Trudeau said Friday. "Those processes will be followed, but obviously we're always open to having discussions on changes that need to be made moving forward." A spokesperson for the NDP said that if there's a way to cancel Payette's annuity, New Democrats would support it since Payette failed to provide a harassment-free workplace for her workers. WATCH | Trudeau is asked about the annuity Julie Payette will receive after her resignation "With respect to the annuity, I think that Canadians, rightly so, are concerned that given this report and how horrible the workers were treated, that this doesn't sit well with people," said Singh. In a statement, the outspoken Canadian Taxpayers Federation called on the Liberal government to change the way former governors general are paid. "With the resignation of Julie Payette, now is the time for this government to ensure that taxpayers are not on the hook for the expense accounts of former governors general," said Aaron Wudrick, the advocacy group's director. "Two years ago, the prime minister said he would 'review' this program. Nothing has happened since. It's time to save taxpayers money by scrapping this outrageously wasteful program." In 2018, following reports that Adrienne Clarkson had billed more than $1 million in expenses since leaving the viceregal job, Trudeau called for more transparency. "These are people who've stepped up and offered tremendous service to this country but Canadians expect a certain level of transparency and accountability, and we're going to make sure we're moving forward in a thoughtful way," he said. A spokesperson for the Privy Council said the final cost of the Quintet Consulting review was $393,367.13, nearly four times higher than the original value of the contract. The original terms of reference of the contract did say the amount could change depending on how long the review took.
The company that runs a limestone quarry on the Port au Port Peninsula is headed to trial, after pleading not guilty to numerous charges surrounding the 2018 death of one of its workers. A lawyer for Atlantic Minerals entered not guilty pleas in Stephenville provincial court Friday to all 10 charges the company faces under the province's Occupational Health and Safety Act, including failing to provide workplace procedures and failing to ensure safe workplace procedures were followed. The charges stem from the death of a 55-year-old worker at the quarry in Lower Cove on July 31, 2018. The man, a long-term employee of the company, was fatally injured after an incident during conveyor maintenance. Six days are being set aside for Atlantic Minerals' trial in Stephenville, starting June 14. A supervisor with Atlantic Minerals also faces two charges in relation to the death, of failing to ensure the health and safety of workers and failing to provide safety information and instruction. On Friday, the supervisor's lawyer, Andrew May, said his client was not ready to enter in a plea, but that a future not guilty plea was an "unlikely event." That matter has been set over until March. If the supervisor pleads not guilty, he will appear at the same trial as Atlantic Minerals. Atlantic Minerals is headquartered in Corner Brook. According to its website, the company has 130 employees at its Lower Cove operation. Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
CHARLOTTETOWN — A lozenge plant in Prince Edward Island has laid off 30 workers, citing an "almost non-existent" cold and cough season amid COVID-19 restrictions.Island Abbey Foods said Friday sales of its Honibe cough and cold lozenges have declined in the first two quarters of 2021, forcing the Charlottetown company to cut 30 temporary positions from its production operation.Measures aimed at curbing the pandemic such as masks, frequent hand washing, physical distancing and working from home appear to have lessened the prevalence of seasonal viruses.The apparent drop in winter colds across the country seems to have weakened demand for medicine and natural remedies aimed at soothing sore throats and nasal congestion. Both Metro Inc., which operates drugstores primarily under the Jean Coutu, Brunet, Metro Pharmacy and Drug Basics banners, and Loblaw Companies Ltd., which has a network of Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix outlets, have noted the weak cough and cold season. Metro president and CEO Eric La Fleche told analysts during a conference call in November that it appeared to be a "much weaker cold and flu season," as the increase in sanitary measures due to COVID-19 appear to help curb the spread of seasonal viruses.Loblaw president Sarah Davis also noted during a call with investors in November that the company was looking at ways to offset a declining trend in the cough and cold sector.The Public Health Agency of Canada's weekly influenza report earlier this month said flu activity remains "exceptionally low" for this time of year.The FluWatch report for the week of Jan. 3 to 9 said flu testing continues at seasonal levels but there is "no evidence of community circulation of influenza."For Island Abbey Foods, the decline comes on the heels of a "tremendous year" in 2020, said Scott Spencer, president and chief operating officer."We increased head count significantly across our company to meet higher than anticipated demand and position our company for success," he said in a statement. The Charlottetown company has continuously adapted to the ever-changing business realities that COVID-19 is imposing on the world, he said. Despite substantial gains with its digital retail strategy, Spencer said online sales have not replaced the volume the company projected for a regular cold and cough season. The company said demand for its gummy products continues to be strong. It said planning is underway for a major expansion project, which includes state of the art equipment that will increase capacity to meet growing demand. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
For the first time in seven months, Jeanette Harper isn’t looking over her shoulder for a long-term care employee trying to rush her out after her weekly 30-minute visit with her 89-year-old mother. Harper was granted essential visitor status this week after a long battle for the right to visit and help her mother Marguerite Bell in her Eden Gardens, Nanaimo dementia care centre. “I was thrilled,” said Harper, whose mother has Alzheimer’s. “My mom still knows me behind her mask, so hoping she gets a bit of her spark back.” Now instead of being limited to 30 minutes per week as her mother’s only allowed social visitor, Harper can spend 90 minutes with her mother three times a week. They’re still confined to Bell’s room but have been enjoying crosswords and looking at family photos together. But thousands of other families hoping to visit and support long-term care residents are still struggling to be approved under the province’s essential visitor guidelines. Harper suspects an appeal to the Island Health Patient Care Quality Office and a letter from her lawyer in Vancouver ultimately put enough pressure on the care home, which had denied her application, but she can’t be sure. Harper said it shouldn’t be so difficult for people to be able to support their loved ones’ mental and physical health during the pandemic. “It’s very sad that a person has to jump through that many hoops and fight that hard.” The decision offers a sliver of hope for families of long-term care residents that new and clarified rules on essential visits will allow them precious time with loved ones. The province released updated guidance on Jan. 7 that clarified the criteria to qualify as an essential visitor and the appeal process if care home managers deny a request. Currently, less than than 15 per cent of the province’s 20,000 long-term care residents have designated essential visitors, who are allowed to visit multiple times per week and for longer than designated social visitors. The original health orders placed the burden on families to prove the care home couldn’t provide essential care before they could be approved as a visitor. And a report from the BC Seniors’ Advocate found that between March and November, about half of all essential visitor applications were rejected by care homes. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said this week that she hopes every resident of long-term care will have the chance to have an essential visitor, but that it has been a “challenge to operationalize.” But Harper and a group of more than 30 other families say Henry should change the rules to ensure every care home resident is allowed one essential visitor. That has been the practice in Ontario since September. Karen Carteri, the lawyer representing the families, wrote Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix on Dec. 4 saying the province was denying long-term care residents basic rights and putting them at risk. “The existing isolation and visitation limits in long-term care and assisted living arguably violate the security of the person and liberty rights of residents of care homes and the rights of their families,” Carteri wrote. Carteri told The Tyee the group had not received a direct response from the government. On Dec. 29, they filed a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsperson due to the lack of response. The Tyee has reached out to the province for comment and did not hear back before publication. Carteri said most of her clients are now re-applying for essential visitor status under the new rules. She said they’ll continue fighting until it’s clear that essential visitors are being allowed for all residents. “The new guidelines are only a meaningful response to the calls for change, including ours, if government ensures the new guidelines are interpreted and implemented in a manner that results in changes for families who have been prevented from visitation for so many months,” she wrote in an email to The Tyee. “Too many seniors in long-term care have been denied any such contact at all with loved ones at any point since the outset of the pandemic.” Harper is grateful to have more time with her mother but doesn’t want others to have to go through the same arduous process as the pandemic continues. “Our loved ones don’t have forever, they only have now,” she said. “Time is not on their side.” Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
GREY-BRUCE – Although there are still 41 active cases of COVID-19 in Grey-Bruce, the number of new cases continues to drop from the post-holiday spike. As of Jan. 18, there had been five new cases in the previous 24 hours – one each in Owen Sound, Brockton, Grey Highlands, Hanover and West Grey. This brings the cumulative total to 653. There are 115 high risk contacts associated with active cases. Two people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. There are no outbreaks in Grey-Bruce. An outbreak with the Town of The Blue Mountains has been declared over. The first shipment of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, 200 doses, have been administered. People are being urged to follow the basic measures that brought down numbers during the first wave – wash hands frequently, watch your distance (ideally six feet) and wear a face covering correctly. Everyone should also avoid crowds and unnecessary travel as the provincial lockdown continues. Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
Ontario reported another 2,662 cases of COVID-19 and 87 more deaths linked to the illness on Friday, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government will send two mobile health units to assist in the Greater Toronto Area. "The spike in COVID-19 cases this month has put a real strain on hospitals," Trudeau said during a morning news conference. "For Ontario, in particular, the situation is extremely serious." Trudeau said the units will provide up to 200 additional hospital beds as well as medical equipment and supplies, freeing up space in the region's intensive care units. In a news release, the federal government said the mobile units are being deployed after a provincial request for assistance, and that they expected to be in the GTA "as rapidly as possible." They are scheduled to remain available to the provincial government until May 1, depending on the COVID-19 trends in Ontario at that time. The province will be responsible for staffing the mobile units, the release added. WATCH | Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on mobile health units headed to the GTA: The new cases reported today include 779 in Toronto, 542 in Peel Region, 228 in York Region, 128 in Waterloo Region, 188 in Windsor-Essex County and 102 in Halton Region. Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were: Niagara Region: 95 Durham Region: 80 Hamilton: 78 Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 77 Ottawa: 75 Simcoe Muskoka: 71 Middlesex-London: 65 Thunder Bay: 58 Eastern Ontario: 37 Huron-Perth: 26 Southwestern: 19 Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge: 16 Sudbury:13 Chatham-Kent: 11 (Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, because local units report figures at different times.) They come as labs processed 71,750 test samples for the virus and reported a provincewide test positivity rate of 3.3 per cent, the lowest it has been since mid-December. Further, the seven-day average of daily cases dropped to 2,703, marking 11 straight days of decreases. Another 3,375 infections were marked resolved in today's report. There were 25,263 confirmed, active infections in Ontario yesterday — a figure that has also been trending downward since its peak on Jan 11. According to the province's data, the number of people with COVID-19 in hospitals, as well as those requiring intensive care and ventilators all decreased. As of yesterday, the total number of COVID-19 patients that were: In hospitals: 1,512 (down 21) Being treated in intensive care units: 383 (down five) On ventilators: 291 (down two) There were ongoing outbreaks of the illness in 244, or about 39 per cent, of Ontario's 626 long-term care homes. Revised projections recently released by the province's COVID-19 Science Advisory Table suggested if Ontario were to accelerate its immunization rollout and vaccinate all long-term care home residents by the end of January, rather than mid-February, as many as 580 lives could be saved. The 87 additional deaths push Ontario's official COVID-19-linked death toll to 5,701. Meanwhile, the province said it administered 13,784 doses of vaccines Thursday. A total of 264, 985 shots have been given out, while 49,292 people have received both doses. WATCH | Measures in Ontario, Quebec seem to be working, epidemiologist says: #StayHomeON media campaign The provincial government said it has a new #StayHomeON campaign, which will include messages from various online "influencers" and politicians, including a video from Rick Mercer posted this morning. Lisa MacLeod, minister of heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries, said in a news release that athletes on the Toronto Raptors and Ottawa Senators will also be participating. Markedly absent from the province's expanded effort to get Ontarians to stay home is the availability of permanent paid sick days, which the Progressive Conservative government eliminated in 2018. The government's own medical and science advisers, as well as a chorus of municipal officials and activists, have repeatedly called for Premier Doug Ford and his cabinet to implement paid sick days, especially for essential and low-wage workers in the manufacturing, warehousing and food processing sectors. Ford has instead pointed to the federal Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, which offers $500 per week for up to two weeks eligible workers. Critics have noted, however, that the program amounts to less than minimum wage and the financial assistance is not immediate. More cases at Canada Post facility Meanwhile, mandatory testing at a Mississauga Canada Post facility found 27 asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 in 48 hours. Canada Post said 149 workers at its massive Dixie Road site had tested positive between Jan. 1 and Thursday afternoon. Spokesperson Phil Legault said the latest cases were detected among workers who were asymptomatic or didn't believe they had symptoms. Testing of the entire shift was ordered by Peel Public Health and began Jan. 19. Legault said Canada Post is now offering voluntary testing to employees working outside the public health-identified shift. More than 4,500 people work at the Mississauga site.