Some gym and yoga studio owners in Newfoundland and Labrador have taken extra steps to keep people safe this week, knowing they could be among the first to close if the province moves back a level.Heather Murphy, owner of Islander Athletics, watched with approval Monday as Premier Andrew Furey withdrew the province from the Atlantic bubble.With cases on the rise in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, she decided to post a new rule for her gym in St. John's — anyone in contact with a person who has travelled within the Atlantic provinces is asked to stay away for two weeks."We've taken it an extra couple steps further and I know that's on us," Murphy said. "I've seen a lot of other studios doing the same kinds of things to really try and prevent a second closure from happening."Gyms and fitness studios were ordered closed in March, and remained shuttered for in-person sessions until late June.It was a devastating blow for many of the small gyms in the province, and Islander Athletics was no exception. They used the break to change locations, with hopes of reopening in a better place. What saved them was the family they'd built within their membership, she said.Murphy checked out all of Islander Athletics' equipment to the members and shifted to online classes. People went home with everything the gym owned. In exchange, she managed to keep much of the customer base throughout the downtime.Now, with small spikes in cases around the province, people like Heather Murphy are again watching the daily updates with anxious eyes.A pair of small towns are dealing with outbreaks, and as of Wednesday afternoon Newfoundland and Labrador had 25 active cases. The school district reopened an elementary school in Deer Lake on Wednesday, after a student tested positive earlier in the week.More than 30 kids in the child's class cohort tested negative.Moda Yoga owner Jill Holden said the actions business owners are taking to prevent the spread are not just about business — they're about doing the right thing."I think we all have a social responsibility to act from a place of kindness and compassion, but not just for ourselves," she said. "That's really what we're about in the yoga practice. We don't just act for ourselves, but for the greater good."Holden's studio has policies simliar to ones in place at Murphy's gym. They've tightened restrictions in recent days, after outbreaks in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick collapsed the Atlantic bubble.Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil announced Tuesday that all fitness and recreational facilities, libraries, museums and casinos would close for two weeks. Restaurants are open only for takeout.In Newfoundland and Labrador, Premier Andrew Furey says he wants to avoid that tangle."We don't want to have to close our businesses here. We want to protect the freedoms we've come to enjoy, while in line with public health measures of course. We want to avoid a full lockdown that we are seeing across the country," he said at Wednesday's briefing."We want to ensure that the local economies can continue to operate as much as possible."Measures put in place by the provincial and federal governments helped small businesses like gyms and fitness centres survive the last lockdown.Holden said she'll oblige any restrictions put in place but she doesn't want to have to rely on those subsidies again."It was difficult and thankfully we got through it," she said. "Having to go through it for a longer period of time again, I'm not sure that's really viable in the long run because these subsidies we've been taking advantage of have been really helping, but I know that won't last forever."Newfoundland and Labrador recorded only one new case on Wednesday, and both Holden and Murphy hope the spread is slowing and a second lockdown isn't in the cards."It's hopeful," Murphy said. "I'm optimistic we'll be able to avoid it."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Starting this coming Monday, the P.E.I. government says masks will be mandatory for staff and students in grades 10-12 at all times inside a school building, including while sitting at their desks. Exemptions will be made for when students are eating or drinking, and certain other situations. As well, all visitors to all P.E.I. schools (not just high schools) are being reminded that they must wear masks at all times.Contact tracing is underway at three potential COVID-19 exposure sites in Charlottetown — the Atlantic Superstore, Gahan House pub and Terra Rossa restaurant and so far, all tests have come back negative. The case and the exposure locations were revealed on Wednesday during an unscheduled public health briefing. In her weekly interview with CBC News: Compass, Morrison talked about the recent case and outlined how the CPHO investigates possible spread.New Brunswick's premier announced Thursday that as of midnight, everyone returning to that province — including people from P.E.I. — must self-isolate for 14 days to help curb the spread of coronavirus. The new rule comes as New Brunswick confirmed 12 new cases and said Fredericton will join the Saint John and Moncton regions in the orange zone. Elsewhere in the Atlantic provinces, Nova Scotia reported 14 new COVID-19 cases for a total of 114 active cases, and Newfoundland and Labrador added three new cases.A social media group is compiling a growing list of Island businesses to help people shop local during the pandemic.Engaging with green living things like plants can help relieve pandemic stress, says certified forest therapy guide Julietta Sorensen Kass. Islanders in hospital and long-term care in western P.E.I., suffering from isolation in the pandemic, can now explore the world using virtual reality headsets.UPEI and Holland College are recommending students not leave the Island during the Christmas holidays, but are making plans in case they do.P.E.I.'s Department of Justice and Public Safety says it is dealing with a spike in people seeking approval to come to the Island.This year's Victorian Christmas Market in downtown Charlottetown is cancelled due to COVID-19. There are two active COVID-19 cases in the province. P.E.I. has seen a total of 70 cases, with no deaths and no hospitalizations. Also in the newsFurther resourcesMore from CBC P.E.I.
News reports that many snowbirds are heading south this winter — despite the COVID-19 pandemic — have angered some fellow Canadians who feel they shouldn't be allowed to go. "I think this should be absolutely, 100 per cent stopped," said Barry Tate of Sidney, B.C. "This is a pandemic. This is life and death."Tate and his wife, Patti Locke-Lewkowich, usually travel to Mexico for two months each winter. But this year, they're staying home because of fears of falling ill with COVID-19 while abroad. "We feel safer at home in the confines of our little home here," said Locke-Lewkowich.However, some snowbirds argue they'll be just as safe down south, because they plan to take all necessary COVID-19-related precautions.The federal government sides with Locke-Lewkowich, advising Canadians to avoid non-essential travel abroad during the pandemic.But it's only an advisory, which means Canadians can still freely leave and return to Canada — a decision that's rooted in Canadians' constitutional rights."It's always a balance between allowing people to kind of live their lives and the government attempting to keep health crises under control," said Kerri Froc, a constitutional law expert.Please don't goIn March, the federal government issued its advisory not to travel abroad in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19.After the cold weather hit in the fall and some snowbirds started packing their bags, the government doubled down on its messaging.Last month, it posted an alert on its website, warning seniors to stay home, because their age makes them more vulnerable to falling seriously ill with COVID-19. This month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland each made a public plea. "This is not the time for non-essential travel. It's not a good idea," said Freeland in French at a news conference on Monday. Watch: Canada's chief public officer talks about COVID-19's futureHowever, Freeland added that the government won't bar people from leaving. "We will not stop them," she said in French.As a result, Canadians are free to travel to countries that have open borders, including the United States, which, despite a closed land border, still allows Canadians to fly to the country. Meanwhile, some other Western nations — such as Australia, France and parts of the United Kingdom — prevent their citizens from travelling abroad for non-essential travel as part of current lockdown measures to help curb infection rates. "Going on holiday, including abroad, is not a reasonable excuse to leave," the Scottish government — which bars those who live in designated COVID-19 hotspots from travelling abroad — states on its website.Why doesn't Canada have a travel ban?During a government committee meeting on Wednesday, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said that the government doesn't have the authority to prevent Canadians from travelling abroad."And they have, under the Constitution, a right of return," he said. Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that Canadians have the right to enter and leave the country. Froc, an associate law professor at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, said the government could only limit that right for justifiable reasons and that justifying a travel ban would likely be an uphill battle. "The court takes a really dim view of absolute bans," she said. "I'm totally in favour of government taking the COVID crisis seriously, making policy to restrict travel, but they have to do so in a way that pays sufficient respect to people's constitutional rights."What are the risks?Locke-Lewkowich, who's staying home this winter, said she accepts that Canadians have the right to travel abroad but hopes those who do so won't get government aid if they run into trouble."Is Canada going to bail them out with our money?" she said. When COVID-19 began its global spread in the spring and flights were cancelled, Global Affairs Canada worked with airlines to fly stranded Canadians home.But now, the government department warns it may not assist Canadian travellers a second time round. "The government of Canada is not planning any further facilitated flights to repatriate Canadians and may have limited capacity to offer consular services," said Global Affairs spokesperson Christelle Chartrand in an email. Chartrand advised that, before leaving the country, Canadians verify if their medical insurance covers COVID-19-related illnesses and a possible extended stay abroad. Travel insurance broker Martin Firestone said if travellers fail to purchase adequate insurance and fall ill, they will be on the hook for the bill — and that includes any medevac charges. "You aren't getting medevaced home unless you give them a credit card first and they put it through and then it reads approved," said Firestone with Travel Secure in Toronto. "To the best of my knowledge, I don't see it falling back on the taxpayer."Despite the risks, many snowbirds still plan on heading south; Firestone said that around 40 per cent of his 1,000 snowbird clients have already booked their trips."That's with me telling them not to go," said Firestone, who advises his clients not to travel during the pandemic. "Even as good as you protect yourself, you still can't protect yourself against [the] total unknown."Canadian travellers returning home must quarantine for 14 days. Freeland said that the rule will continue to be "very strictly enforced."
Chatham-Kent Public Health has released a graphic to show the far-reaching impacts of a COVID-19 outbreak at a local church that led to nearly 500 people isolating. According to the graphic, 21 people who tested positive for the disease attended a place of worship, which is the Word of Life Church in Blenheim. Chatham-Kent Public Health declared an outbreak at the church late last month.This set off a chain of events that ended with 40 people testing positive for COVID-19 in 24 separate households, three of whom were hospitalized. The virus' spread was not contained to any one industry or area, and affected everything from the church itself to group living settings to households to a blood donor clinic. "We are sharing information about this outbreak now to show how easily COVID-19 can spread, and how we all need to work together to stop it," Chatham-Kent Public Health said in a news release.The graphic was based on data collected in October.Laura Zettler, an epidemiologist with Chatham-Kent Public Health, says the unit wanted the visual to serve as a reminder to the public."Really this visual was meant to show that what all of us do really matters, and it's truly a community effort to contain COVID-19," she said."Everyone that's part of the visual were all doing regular, everyday things ... going to church, going to work and doing things to help others, going to school, spending time with their family and friends. So many people were potentially exposed just doing everyday activities," she added. "Nothing extravagant, no big gatherings, and in settings where precautionary measures are in place. This is how easy this spreads ... and why our collective efforts are so important right now."Effects go beyond infectedZettler said the unit felt it was important to emphasize that the effects of the outbreak were not limited to those who tested positive. Nearly 500 people had to self-isolate, including members of the church, 170 people attending school and 180 people who attended blood donor clinics."If we just look at the people who tested positive, that's really not looking at all the other lives that were impacted by this outbreak," Zettler said. In a video accompanying the graphic, Chatham-Kent medical officer of health Dr. David Colby echoed that thought."We were lucky, with a lot of effort, we were able to keep our numbers down to only 40 positives with this outbreak, but look at all this trouble for people," he said while motioning to the graphic. "This is not a blame game. Everybody who's referred to here is a victim, not a cause. But we all have a role to play."And for the Word of Life Church itself, the recovery process has only just started.In a Facebook message to CBC News, a representative from the church declined to do an interview, but said that the outbreak is over and that the church would like to move on.According to the church's Facebook page, it has reopened its soup kitchen and food bank this week. "Well soup kitchen opened today for the first time in several weeks, it felt so good to be back doing what we love to do and what we know God has called us to do," a Wednesday post reads. "That was our biggest concern during our shut down, our friends on the streets of Blenheim. I can't tell you how much we missed seeing each one, it's not about just handing out food, it goes much deeper than that."
Although the Italian government says it won't make a COVID-19 vaccine compulsory - there is growing hesitation among Italians over its safety.View on euronews
A residential school survivor in Manitoba who received his high school diploma last week says he hopes to inspire others to believe in their education goals."Now I can prove that an elder like me could graduate. If anybody like me can do it, they can do it," 61-year-old Glenn Courchene said.Courchene is Anishinaabe from Sagkeeng First Nation, located 100 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.He received his high school diploma from the Empower Adult Education Centre, in the neighbouring community of Pine Falls, Man., on Nov. 18.Courchene made the commitment in February 2019 to obtain his high school diploma."I wanted to go back to school and I wanted to complete my education, so what I did was I encouraged myself to believe in myself," he said.As a child, he attended the Fort Alexander Indian Residential School in Manitoba for eight years starting in the 1960s. He also attended the day school in the community for three and half years.At the residential school, he had only gone up to Grade 6, and he blamed the schools for him not being able to speak Anishinaabemowin, the Ojibway language, and for hurting his confidence."My education in the residential school, it was kind of hard for me," Courchene said."We couldn't learn because of what happened to us. We were abused, physical and all that. We were there to learn, not to get hurt."Arriving early before staffCourchene said he wouldn't have been able to finish school without the support of his friends and the staff at the Empower Adult Education Centre.Among the staff members he gives credit to is Karen Legall, the school's work counsellor. She helps students upgrade their skills so they can take the courses that are required for graduation.Legall said Courchene tried to give school a chance back in 2012 but didn't follow through with it at the time.When he returned in 2019, she said, he was there at the school every day.Every morning, Courchene walked the roughly seven kilometres to the centre from Sagkeeng to Pine Falls — often getting picked up along the way and given a ride.Legall said he would often arrive at the school before the staff, waiting for the doors to open."Last year he just took off," she said, adding he really enjoyed his math studies."He just started coming in every day. And then we thought, you know what, let's get your Grade 12. And he was so excited and he did it."Legall described Courchene as funny and caring and said he has shared many stories with the staff since he started at the school. She said he made individual dreamcatchers, as well as a big heart-shaped dreamcatcher for the staff at Empower."He really likes to share all his knowledge over the years. And we appreciate him doing that. We've learned a lot from him," Legall said.Courchene said he plans to go to university to obtain a bachelor's degree."I've gone through a lot of hurt, and I respect myself for going to school. And I will never give up school because I want to keep learning."
Tammy Oliver-McCurdie lost her younger sister, Jolene Oliver, in last April's mass shooting in Portapique, N.S., and her worst fear remains that the 39-year-old woman, her husband, Aaron Tuck, 45, and their 17-year-old daughter, Emily, lay injured for hours.The family of three were among the 13 people killed on April 18 in their tiny subdivision in rural Nova Scotia, about 130 kilometres north of Halifax. A gunman went on to kill nine more people the following morning in what became one of the worst mass killings in Canadian history.A police officer shot and killed the man responsible at a gas station in Enfield, N.S., on Sunday, April 19 at 11:26 a.m., after the gunman travelled about 195 kilometres.During a teleconference on July 3 with the Oliver family, who live in Alberta, the RCMP said they didn't discover the couple and their daughter until 5 p.m. on April 19 — 19 hours after investigators believe they were killed.By that point, family members had been frantically calling and looking for information for hours, pleading with the RCMP to send an officer to check on their loved ones.Police assured the Oliver family they did not suffer, though the final reports from the Nova Scotia medical examiner about how exactly they died are still not complete."Always what goes through your mind is how long did they lay there for alive?" Oliver-McCurdie said in an interview with CBC News. "The best story is yes, they went fast. But what if they didn't?"CBC's The Fifth Estate investigated and found that while the RCMP did tell some residents to leave their homes late on April 18, they left others in the community to sleep through the night, unaware a neighbour had gone on a shooting spree.Families have questions about delaysThe Oliver family is among several that lost loved ones in the rampage who have raised questions about how the RCMP responded and why it took so long to confirm the deaths.Oliver-McCurdie said she still doesn't understand the delay, given that the subdivision is small and police arrived Saturday night. The Oliver-Tuck home was located about two kilometres from the entrance to the community."I would hope that police would check the house to see if everyone was OK, especially if they're missing the shooter. So a lot of questions and a lot of anger coming out of that piece for me and my family," she said."I'm upset over it. It makes no sense when it comes to a public safety standpoint, it makes no sense."At the July 3 meeting, RCMP investigators said officers in Portapique were still in the process of clearing homes on the Sunday afternoon, which is why it took so long to get to Oliver and Tuck's house. They also said at the meeting that on the day after the shooting, they were concerned about properly identifying victims and not releasing incorrect information.WATCH | Thirteen Deadly Hours: The Nova Scotia Shooting:The Oliver family, calling from Red Deer, Alta., on the Sunday, became frantic after Jolene didn't pick up her mother's daily phone call while they have their morning coffee. Aaron and Emily Tuck also didn't respond to calls, texts or Facebook messages.Before noon Nova Scotia time, the family had heard there was a situation in Portapique and had begun calling the RCMP and hospitals. Twelve hours later — five hours after police say they discovered the family — an RCMP officer finally contacted them to pass on the horrific news.Oliver-McCurdie said that by then, she, her other sister and parents assumed the worst but had still wondered if somehow the family of three had managed to escape."It's one thing to find out that your family is dead and have the confirmation, and it's another excruciating piece to wait in limbo for confirmation," she said."You have all these officers, you're supposed to have all these resources. There's no reason why someone couldn't have just driven down there [and checked the house].... After a dozen or more phone calls my family made during the day, it doesn't make sense."By Sunday night, the police were dealing with 16 crime scenes in several communities. Investigators told the Oliver family that the medical examiner couldn't move the bodies from the home until Tuesday afternoon — a further delay that Oliver-McCurdie said caused them grief and anxiety.Mass shooting subject of public inquiryThe RCMP declined to answer any questions from CBC News about the case, citing an ongoing public inquiry into the mass shooting called by the provincial and federal governments."The RCMP recognizes the need to provide the factual account of what transpired this past April. With the public inquiry now ongoing, the most appropriate and unbiased opportunity to do so is with our full participation in the inquiry," Cpl. Lisa Croteau said in an emailed statement.The inquiry's final report isn't expected for two more years.In the meantime, Oliver-McCurdie said, her family decided to speak out about the details of the deaths of her sister, brother-in-law and niece — and the questions that remain — to promote discussion about how policing in rural areas could be improved and how April's tragedy might have been prevented.She said she would also like police forces to tighten the rules and limit access to their own logos and equipment. The shooter — Gabriel Wortman, 51, a denturist with a clinic in Dartmouth — purchased decommissioned police cars and gear online and used them to masquerade as a Mountie. Information on the specifications for the graphics on RMCP cruisers remains publicly available."If a positive piece is better public policy, better safety, for those living in Canada ... that makes their deaths ... a little bit easier if we can do better as a society and do better with protecting people in Canada. That needs to be the aim," Oliver-McCurdie said.'They did everything, just the three of them'Jolene Oliver, who grew up in Alberta, moved east with her husband and daughter seven years ago to be closer to Tuck's parents. But she left behind a miniature Christmas village she loved, and Oliver-McCurdie said she has been trying to find a way to display her sister's collection.Oliver worked as a restaurant server because she loved interacting with people — being there to listen to them, support them and make sure they got home safely, her sister said."She made the best of everything she ever had. A really unique outlook on life, a very positive outlook on life."In Portapique, Oliver-McCurdie said, Jolene loved walking along the shore of Cobequid Bay and would insist on taking a proper picnic basket for the family's snacks."They did everything, just the three of them," she said.The family moved into a home that didn't have electricity, and they spent months working on it together. When they needed a washing machine, Aaron Tuck was industrious enough to find a solution, Oliver-McCurdie said."He just had that knack, that creative art with welding and wood and things and just understanding them. He had a very great mechanical mind that he could come up with an invention for almost anything," she said.Emily Tuck spent time in the garage with her father, learning about motors and welding. Like Aaron, Emily also had a creative side and loved playing her fiddle.WATCH | Emily Tuck plays the violin:"She made a lot of art and a wrote a lot of poems," Oliver-McCurdie said. "She's a really unique kid and a really unique outlook. She's was a lot of fun."For now, as the Oliver family wait for answers, they continue to grieve. In Alberta, they planted three oak trees from Nova Scotia's Colchester County in memory of the branch of their family they've lost.
Glen Quann, a 60-year-old London man, is dead following a collision on Highway 401 earlier this week, the Ontario Provincial Police said in a news release. The crash, which occurred around 11 a.m. Monday, took place after Quann's vehicle and another collided in the eastbound lanes of Highway 401, east of County Road 42. The passenger in Quann's vehicle was brought to hospital with life-threatening injuries. The driver and passenger of the other vehicle were not injured. At the time, police closed the eastbound lanes of Highway 401 at County Road 42 for several hours to complete an investigation. An investigation is still ongoing and police ask that anyone with information to contact the Ontario Provincial Police at 1-888-310-1122 or the Chatham-Kent detachment at (519) 352-1122. More from CBC Windsor
Tanya Hayles is not an anti-vaxxer. The Torontonian has made sure her eight-year-old son Jackson is up to date with the standard vaccines, and she, too, has been inoculated."There are diseases that we were able to eradicate as a result of vaccines," she said.The event planner, whose business has suffered as a result of the pandemic, would like nothing more than to see the end of COVID-19 as well. Given the choice, though, she said she wouldn't be "first in line" for a COVID-19 vaccination.She points out that side effects of the immunizations she and her son have received in the past are well-known to doctors. "They can say, 'Oh, look for a rash around the needle point,' et cetera."However, Hayles has concerns about whether such clarity will be available with a coronavirus vaccine that has been developed so quickly."Something this big, something this major, something this rushed — I would want to know more information before I put it in my body," she said.Health authorities say the benefits of approved vaccines far outweigh any risks. But international research shows that while most people anxiously await the availability of pandemic-crushing immunizations, a sizeable minority are unsure whether they'd get the vaccine, at least in the early days after one is approved.As Canada readies itself to evaluate and eventually distribute COVID-19 vaccines, this vaccine hesitancy is becoming a key focus of the country's top officials.According to Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, 65 to 78 per cent of Canadians have indicated they would get a COVID-19 vaccine. Tam said in an interview with CBC that it's "critical" for public health to bring what she calls the "moveable middle," or undecided Canadians, onside."I think that's why it is a very key pillar of our approach in the days and weeks and months ahead, to be able to get that group of people the information that they need to get vaccinated," she said."It is really important that as many people get vaccinated as possible to protect themselves," Tam added, "but also others who are at higher risk."Alongside Health Canada's commitment to study the data about the vaccines themselves, Tam said the government is preparing a multipronged campaign to inform the public about it. That includes working with social media companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, and even gaming platforms.Canada's public health team has learned that people who get their information via social media are less likely to get vaccinated than those who follow traditional media, Tam said. "So, we'll be collaborating with similar platforms to get the message out to Canadians about the safety of the vaccine, and how the trials are going, and what happens in terms of the programmatic implementation as well."Battling misinformationResearch shows that such messaging will have to contend with a lot of misinformation that is already spreading about the COVID-19 vaccines on some of those same platforms."Vaccine hesitancy is a real and persistent problem in Canada, and it does appear to be growing somewhat," said Aengus Bridgman with the Media Ecosystem Observatory in Montreal. He is studying perceptions about the coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccines on social media.Beyond the more staunch anti-vax posts, Bridgman has seen concerns about safety and effectiveness of the vaccines, as well as questions about the necessity of getting immunized against this virus. What differentiates it from anti-vax sentiment, he said, is that although "it can contain misinformation and often does," much of it isn't "anti-science or anti-intellectual."The danger, though, is that those who are simply hesitant can be swayed by information that plants "the seed of doubt," he said."We know from previous work that we have done, and that other academics have done, that repeat exposure to misinformation [or] to misleading content can change opinions," Bridgman said."This is certainly going to be a major, major public health challenge over the coming year."Global issueIt's not just a concern in Canada. Some in the scientific community have already begun to tackle this issue. Using the hashtag TeamHalo, scientists working on COVID-19 vaccine development around the world have been using platforms like Tiktok to debunk false claims and answer questions that average people may have about the process.In 2019, before the pandemic hit, the World Health Organization (WHO) listed vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 global health threats. Now, the fear is that those who hold off getting the eventual COVID-19 vaccine pose a risk to herd immunity.With no other health measures in place, around 70 per cent of Canadians would likely need to be vaccinated to stop the virus from spreading, according to Dr. Scott Halperin with the Canadian Immunization Research Network in Halifax.Halperin is working with public health officials to identify and address Canadians' top vaccine concerns. He said the speed of vaccine development keeps coming up as a persistent worry among members of the public."When somebody says, 'Well, it takes 10 to 15 years to develop a vaccine,' that's correct," he said. But he added that, "the rapidity of the development of these vaccines was built on the shoulders of a lot of work that went before."Research on similar coronaviruses, like SARS and MERS, meant "we had three or four years head-start already in terms of the basic science," he said. What's more, he said the usual administrative red tape of waiting for research funding and queueing for approvals was eliminated with the global prioritization of COVID-19."And that in itself cuts off three to five years," Halperin said.Dr. Tam said that this is the message she most wants to send to Canadians about the vaccine. "Just because of the incredible speed with which vaccines are being developed does not mean that we cut any corners on safety of these vaccines," she said.Tam points out that Health Canada "is one of the most stringent regulatory authorities in the world." In order for vaccines to get approved in this country, she said, "they have to be safe, effective and high quality."For her part, Tanya Hayles said she will listen to the advice of Canada's public health teams and is open to hearing more about the potential side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines in development.In the end, she said, "I will do what is necessary, of course, for my health and the health of my son and the people around me."
ST. MARY’S – The Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s’ newest councillors have asked staff to explore making pension plans available to elected officials. The move would be a first for St. Mary’s, where councillors have been responsible for looking after their own retirement savings. But, said district one Councillor Courtney Mailman, “It’s kind of nice to be breaking new ground.” Mailman, district two Councillor Charlene Zinck and district three/five councillor, Warden Greg Wier – all newcomers to council – spearheaded the notion at the committee of the whole meeting on Nov. 18. “Because myself, Warden Wier and Councillor Zinck are all under retirement age and we all have full-time jobs, we wanted to look at the possibility of investing back into a retirement plan,” Mailman said. “Warden Wier had mentioned it to me and I expressed an interest, and he had mentioned it to Councillor Zinck and she expressed an interest, and then the other councillors were on board with looking into it.” Still, she added, “the sole responsibility for this would fall on us. We are not expecting, you know, a 50/50 split or a matching from the municipality. This is just something that we thought we would look into. We may all go ahead, or one of us may, but it would set a precedent for the future, for full-time working councillors to have that option.” Chief Administrative Officer Marvin MacDonald confirmed that staff are now working on the initiative. “We just got direction to go ahead and pursue it,” he said. “It [a pension plan] would just be through a bank. It would basically be an RRSP kind of thing.” It’s not clear what, if any, management costs the municipality might incur as a result of such a scheme. Currently, the Municipal Government Act in Nova Scotia does not require elected representatives to “buy in” to the one or more types of pension plans that are mandatory for, and administered on behalf of, town and city staff. In St. Mary’s, councillors, the warden and deputy warden don’t receive salaries, per se, but active “remunerations” set in each year’s operating budget. In the fiscal year ending March 31, 2021, each St. Mary’s councillor will earn $13,043; the warden, an additional $8,300; and the deputy warden, a further $5,929. Regarding any future pensions, Mailman said, “It would be taken off our income as councillors and then just go out into some form of investment for us to have down the road.” Before that, MacDonald said, “We’re going to get somebody in to talk to us about it. The councillors can ask questions directly then.”Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
SHERBROOKE – If a good deal of politics is learning how to soothe savage breasts, then a background in music wouldn’t be the worst thing a budding municipal councillor could offer. Courtney Mailman, the new district one councillor in the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s, says staff and colleagues could not have been more accommodating. “I have a lot to learn, but I’ve really enjoyed it so far. I’ve been doing some municipal training, and the councillors who were already there have been very helpful and willing to share their knowledge.” That’s a good thing for the music therapy graduate from Acadian University and current Recreation Director at High-Crest Sherbrooke nursing home. Otherwise, she might have had to pull out her guitar or roll in her piano. “I also sing,” she laughs. Mailman is one of four rookie councillors who were either acclaimed (as she, Greg Wier and James Fuller were) or elected (as Charlene Zinck was) into office in the October municipal election. Her reasons for throwing her hat into the ring are clear. “Being a municipal councillor is a new role for me and I am excited and eager to take on this new challenge,” she says. “My main priority is to get to know the people and businesses in my district, to hear their ideas and concerns and to represent them to the best of my ability. Integrity and transparency are important to me and I plan to work hard for my community. I look forward to partnering with other committees and agencies for the betterment of the Municipality of St. Mary’s.” She comes by these commitments honestly enough. Born in Halifax and raised in towns and communities across the province, the 37-year-old’s parents emphasized the importance of giving back. “My dad always told me not to complain about something if I’m not going to do anything about it,” she says. “He always said that if I wanted change, I should jump in and be a part of that.” To this end, perhaps, she’s worked for The Salvation Army as a community services liaison in Kentville, where a big part of her job was advocating for clients and building community partnerships. She also administered its food bank and Christmas hamper programs. “Plus, my family has fostered children since I was 15 and I had always been very involved and invested in the children who came to stay in our home,” she says. Sure, but why local politics now? Between her job and volunteering, her husband Kyle and their dog Tillie, it’s not as if she hasn’t enough to do. “Believe it or not, I wanted to take a more active role,” she says. “I want to be a voice for the people in my district, in the development of our community.” And in these fractured times just about everywhere, that might be music to many ears. Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos will today release the federal government's plan to drive down greenhouse gas emissions within the federal bureaucracy itself, with the goal of achieving "net zero" by 2050 through a radical restructuring of the government's property and vehicle portfolio.The Liberal government's "greening government strategy" sets new, more ambitious targets to drive down the emissions produced by government operations through a "climate-resilient" approach to the public service and its activities, according to a draft of the plan seen by CBC News.The plan follows on the government's pledge last week to implement national, binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next 30 years.The multi-pronged approach includes retrofitting buildings, procuring more electric vehicles and staffing adjustments that will give public servants greater flexibility in deciding how and when they go into the office.Duclos said the government is in talks with public sector unions now about how to make pandemic-related telecommuting a more permanent feature in the working lives of public servants after the COVID-19 crisis is over.While more employees will be physically present when the pandemic subsides, remote work will become more common than it was before, Duclos said."Obviously, no one wanted a pandemic, we all want the pandemic to be over. That being said ... once we get through it there will be lessons learned and that will include lessons on how to improve the productivity of public servants," he told CBC News, adding there will be new "work arrangements" for some bureaucrats.Federal vehicle fleet to be 80% hybrid or electric by 2030The government is also proposing greater flexibility in start times for workers so that more public servants can avoid rush hour traffic.Duclos said cutting the amount of time tens of thousands of federal workers spend in idling cars will result in lower emissions. The government also will look to make carpooling a more viable option for workers.Under the new plan, the government will begin replacing its massive fleet of vehicles with more fuel-efficient options.The government owns 20,000 cars and trucks. The new green plan stipulates that, by 2030, 80 per cent of all the vehicles used by the federal government must be either hybrid or entirely electric (EV).And in what amounts to a first for any government anywhere, the green plan will impose the same standards on cars used by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) — with some notable exceptions for tactical vehicles and tanks that don't yet have electric equivalents.Duclos said tanks, fighter jets and ships will be exempt, but cars used on military bases or by Mounties on patrol will need to be hybrid or electric.For other modes of transportation in the federal fleet which still lack an electric option — such as planes and ships — the government says it will opt for cleaner fuels to reduce the amount of emissions produced.Duclos said the push to reconstitute the federal fleet of vehicles with electrics will create a ready-made market for car manufacturers; Ford already promised last month to retool its Oakville, Ont. plant to make electric cars. The widespread adoption of EVs by Ottawa, he added, could eventually drive down the cost of those vehicles for Canadians."It reduces the cost of access. Investments through procurements and the purchase of zero-emission cars — that generates new markets and supports the development of new technologies," Duclos said.Starting immediately, Duclos is also mandating that every new building built by or for the federal government be carbon neutral.Similar standards will apply to buildings that the government leases from private landlords, and 75 per cent of all buildings leased by the federal government will have to be carbon neutral. The government will also pursue energy efficient retrofits to existing buildings.Duclos said he couldn't state just how much this plan would cost taxpayers. A spokesperson for the minister said those details will be tabled by the finance minister at a later date. While a price tag hasn't been publicly released, Duclos said the federal government might actually book some savings through lower fuel and electric bills.Ottawa to consider dimming the lightsIn downtown Ottawa, where tens of thousands of public servants normally work in buildings scattered throughout the city core, lights burn at all hours in government offices even when there isn't anyone in them.Even with a great many public servants working from home due to the pandemic, the lights are still on in many of those offices, with few actually working at a desk."There is indeed a lot of waste to be reduced in the use of buildings," Duclos said. "I'm now sitting in my office and I do see lights on in a lot of government buildings ... clearly they could be turned off without any significant impact on the quality of the workplace."Duclos said the government already has made some progress toward the goal of net zero in thirty years' time. The government's overall emissions in 2020 are projected to be 34 per cent lower than they were in 2005."We are seeing the right slope," he said. "We're confident we can achieve this. We're leading by example. The government of Canada needs to do its part to support a cleaner environment, a cleaner economy."
Islanders in long-term care are exploring the world without leaving their bedrooms.Health PEI is the first government agency to bring Rendever's virtual reality platform to residents in long-term care homes.Rendever is a Boston-cased company that offers virtual reality (VR) technology designed for older adults and seniors."What we've built is a platform that allows residents to put on these VR headsets and they can go pretty much anywhere in the world," said Kyle Rand, CEO and co-founder of Rendever."They can go back to their childhood home, they can go check off a bucket list item. They can go skydiving. They can go on a hot-air balloon ride. We can even bring them to the International Space Station. But most importantly, they can do all these things together."Ten pairs of the headsets are now in use in West Prince, in O'Leary and Alberton."Wow! Now that was fun," said Eva Rogerson, chair of the hospital foundation in O'Leary, after she tried it out Wednesday.Rogerson sat in an upholstered chair, with the goggles held in place by wide, comfortable head straps. Inside the headset, she was looking at a field of wild mule deer, somewhere in the western United States. She could hear the sound of hooves as the shy animals approached. She reached out to try to touch one."Takes you right into the real-life experience, in the midst of it," said Rogerson.In these days of pandemic isolation and loneliness for some seniors, health-care providers in West Prince see more than just pretty pictures in the new technology.The goal was fighting social isolation, said Paul Young, Community Hospital West administrator. "The feedback from patients and residents has been overwhelmingly positive." Staff use a tablet to monitor sessions and encourage participants to speak with one another about what they are feeling and experiencing.The technology lets seniors "take a walk" down any street, anywhere in the world. So some West Prince seniors are using the technology to drop by the rural farmhouses where they once lived.> We could really improve the quality of life for our people. — Eva Rogerson, O'Leary Community Health Foundation"We ask them where they'd like to go today and off they go," said Pam Corrigan, recreation manager of the Margaret Stewart Ellis Home in O'Leary. "We use it pretty near daily, depending on what we're doing."Staff in West Prince are now talking to the Rendever team in Boston about creating more virtual tours based in Prince County, perhaps offering strolls along local fishing wharfs and trips to potato fields at harvest time."Where people have dementia, their world is so small," said Rogerson."If I was a fisherman or a farmer, to be able to take me back in time where I could see myself hopping on a fishing boat or working at a potato field, we could really improve the quality of life for our people."VR easy for seniors to useWhen Rand started Rendever about four and a half years ago, the belief was that older people might not take to technology like this. Not so, he said."All they have to do is put the headset on and everything is controlled by a tablet. So staff members in the community, or family member or a volunteer — they control the entire experience," he said."You put on the headset, physical space doesn't matter, you can be socially together."Health PEI has run more than 2,400 sessions with participants spending 59 hours in VR, according to Rand.O'Leary Community Health Foundation purchased the technology with assistance from the federal and provincial governments.More from CBC P.E.I.
Air Canada has offered concessions related to its proposed acquisition of Canadian tour operator Transat to address EU antitrust concerns, a European Commission filing showed on Thursday. The Commission, which oversees competition policy in the 27-nation European Union, said the commitments had been submitted on Nov. 25. The Commission opened an investigation in May on concerns that the deal could push up prices and reduce choice for flights between Europe and Canada.
The tipi that was stolen from Camp Connections, a summer camp run by the Foster Family Coalition of the NWT, is going to be replaced, thanks to a Yellowknife business owner.Tammy Roberts, the coalition's executive director, said she learned on Monday that the camp was getting a canvas for a new tipi by way of a donation, and that this tipi will be even bigger than the previous one. "I'm told it's massive, so I'm really excited about it," she said.Roberts declined to name the business owner, saying she wasn't sure if they wanted to go public. In early October it was reported that the canvas was stolen off the 22-foot tipi at the Camp Connections site, about an hour outside of Yellowknife.The organization made a public plea for the tipi's return, but nothing came of it, said Roberts.She said the coalition got some donations after the previous tipi was stolen, and those will be put toward bigger tipi poles and hiring someone to help build the new tipi. "All the kids knew about the tipi that was stolen and of course, were upset by that," she says. "They'll be really happy that we can have a new one erected before ... camp next summer."
A police officer overseeing enforcement at the Vancouver airport testified in court on Thursday that he had concerns about a plan by Canadian federal police to arrest Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on the plane she arrived on two years ago. Meng's nearly three-hour interrogation by Canadian border agents prior to her December 2018 arrest by Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on a U.S. warrant has become a flash point in her ongoing extradition hearing.
After a long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Alessandro Costantini is thrilled to be back on stage. The artistic director will star alongside Jake Deeth in YES Theatre’s production of Mark Crawford’s play “Bed & Breakfast,” which will be performed at The Sudbury Theatre Centre from Nov. 27 to Dec. 13. “It’s this really beautiful story about this couple who inherit a home in this small town and decide to move out there and open a bed and breakfast,” said Costantini. “It’s about them figuring out how to be who they are in this community where people like them aren’t really front and center.” The narrative follows Brett and Drew, a gay couple who have just lost their seventh bidding war on a house in Toronto. When Brett learns that he has inherited the family home, they decide to try their hand elsewhere. But when they start to experience some friction in their new community, they discover that the simple life is more complicated than they thought. The hilarious and heartwarming comedy explores what it means to be “out” in the country, skeletons in the closet, and finding a place to call home. It also features more than 20 different characters – all played by two actors, Costantini and Deeth. “We play 11 characters each. It’s written for two actors because the protagonists are telling the story of how they got to be there,” said Costantini. “It’s a little bit like theatre Olympics. It’s a very athletic play. There are no costume changes, and we never leave the stage. Every time we switch into another character, it’s all physicality and our voice that delineates who we are.” That’s why Costantini said that having Janie Pinard on board as the director of the performance has been such a boon. “Janie, Jake and I have been very close collaborators for over a decade now, and we knew this would be the perfect opportunity to work with her again. She is a very skilled physical theatre artist who trained in Montreal and California,” he said. “She is the perfect artist to be leading us in this production because it is such a physical piece.” Although YES Theatre normally puts on larger productions, this time Costantini was on the hunt for something smaller. The reason is that he had the safety of both the audience and the artists involved in mind during the COVID-19 pandemic. But he was also drawn to the narrative of “Bed & Breakfast” because it’s about community. “Even though this is just two people, it’s really about a community and about all the different perspectives that exist in that community,” he said. “It’s a beautiful story to help create empathy. It is a gay couple, and they have to navigate being out in this town. Like every place, there are people who are more open and accepting to it, and there are others who are a little behind the beat. This play really does both – it offers the audience a lot of laughs and packs a punch in terms of being a piece of thought-provoking piece of theatre.” Costantini added that all COVID-19 regulations will be followed during the live performance. Ticket sales are limited to 50 tickets per performance, and all patrons will be seated according to social distancing guidelines. The Sudbury Theatre Centre is also offering contactless ticket services. Ticketholders will be able to gain entry to the theatre by simply providing their name at the entrance. Hand sanitizer will be readily available, and there will be volunteers stationed at the washrooms to ensure social distancing guidelines are followed. Tickets for Bed & Breakfast are available online at www.yestheatre.com and through The Sudbury Theatre Centre box office. The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government. email@example.com Twitter: @SudburyStar Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star
We're answering your questions about the pandemic. Send yours to COVID@cbc.ca, and we'll answer as many as we can. We publish a selection of answers online and also put some questions to the experts during The National and on CBC News Network. So far, we've received more than 57,300 emails from all corners of the country.How safe is it to go shopping?With the holidays on the horizon and Black Friday promotions out in full force, readers like Sue G. are asking if it's still safe to go shopping.First, it's important to note public health authorities are urging people to stay home as much as possible by limiting errands and outings to just the essentials.So, if you have to buy something, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is advising that you reduce your risk of exposure by making purchases online or using curbside pickup when possible. In fact, these may be the only options in some parts of the country, such as Manitoba or parts of Ontario, where non-essential retail has been temporarily restricted.But if the stores are open where you live, does that mean it's safe? Despite Canadian chains, including Loblaw and Sobeys, reporting numerous positive cases throughout the pandemic, experts have said there is no evidence that grocery shopping has led to significant outbreaks or transmission. That said, shopping is not without risk."I would not spend any more time than necessary at an indoor mall or store," said epidemiologist Lisa Lee, a professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., and a former official at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States."Steer clear from anyone without a mask, and do not spend more than 15 minutes near others," she said in an email to CBC News.PHAC is also advising that Canadians avoid close-contact situations where they can't keep two metres apart from other people, as well as skipping crowded places and closed spaces with poor ventilation.So are smaller stores with fewer people safer than larger ones? Not really, said Linsey Marr, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, who studies how viruses are transmitted in the air."In the larger stores, the risk is lower because people can be more spaced out in there," Marr said. "Larger, more modern buildings tend to have better ventilation systems."Retailers are also doing their part to mitigate risks.Michael LeBlanc, a senior retail advisor at the Retail Council of Canada, said people should plan ahead so they don't spend any more time than necessary when shopping. Some retailers have made a conscious effort to stretch out sale periods so consumers aren't compelled to all go at the same time."Keep your distance, be patient, wear your mask, be cool, be calm," LeBlanc said. "We don't want retail to be this social gathering place where everybody hangs out."Is it safe for seniors to walk in the mall?Some of our other readers also want to know if it's safe to go to the mall but not necessarily for shopping.Wendy M. asked if it's OK for seniors to get their exercise walking in the mall as the weather gets colder.While all of the experts we spoke to agree that it's important to exercise and stay healthy during the pandemic, they are split on whether or not the mall is the right place for seniors to take their winter walks."For a person who is at high risk of serious complications, they should exercise, yes, but only when crowds are very sparse," said Dr. Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto's faculty of information. "A really big mall with high ceilings that isn't crowded won't be especially dangerous." Adrian Wagg, a professor of healthy aging at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, agrees that walking in the mall is not a risk as long as you stay more than two metres apart from others, wash your hands regularly and wear your mask. However, Dr. Anand Kumar, an associate professor in the department of medical microbiology at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, said he would recommend seniors try to workout at home or outdoors instead."Exercise substantially increases the amount of air you exhale and inhale per minute," he said. "It's been shown that exercise is one of the high-risk situations, especially if you are in an enclosed space."Is there a safe way to get together?While Christmas isn't cancelled this year, experts say it should be done differently, with large, extended family gatherings likely off the table.Corrine B. wanted to know if there were any strategies for making gatherings safer indoors. First, it's important to check what your local public health guidelines allow. Indoor gatherings are being discouraged in most places across the country. In Manitoba and some regions of Ontario, they're not allowed at all.But if gatherings are allowed where you live, the experts said there are some things you can do to minimize the risk."There is no such thing as a perfect risk-free alternative," said Dr. Matthew Oughton, attending physician in the division of infectious diseases at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. "This is all about reducing risk as much as possible." The virus spreads when people are in close contact with one another and those who are older or have underlying medical conditions tend to have worse outcomes when infected by the virus, Oughton said. He suggested taking the following steps to make gatherings safer in your home. * Have guests distance within your home. * Provide ample access to supplies for good hand hygiene. * Avoid hugging and close contact. * Avoid singing (even Christmas carols). * Don't share food or drinks. In a previous article, medical experts also warned that the risk of getting the virus increases when you spend longer periods of time in close contact with others.And while raising a toast may be a holiday tradition, it's a good idea to limit how much alcohol guests drink, Oughton said. "Alcohol lowers inhibitions and during a pandemic, unfortunately, it's inhibitions that in part are helping to keep people safe," he said. Wearing masks and opening windows can also help, but improving air circulation doesn't replace the need to keep your distance from other people, Oughton said in an earlier article.And if you can hack it, you may want to consider meeting outdoors if your local public health guidelines permit it. Research shows the risk of transmission is lower outside, likely due to better ventilation and because it's easier to physically distance.What about a small dinner in my garage?With winter weather making outdoor gatherings a lot less appealing, Susan M. wrote to ask if it was safe to have guests over in her garage."If you're just comparing being in a garage with an open door versus being indoors without any windows open — certainly being in an area where there is more and better ventilation is better," said Dr. Alon Vaisman, an infectious diseases and infection control physician with the University Health Network in Toronto.Aerosol expert Marr agrees. But she would "still have people be masked and distanced."Vaisman said that even with garage doors and windows open, they are "not necessarily safe."If you follow local public health guidelines in most parts of the country they would advise you not to visit other people's homes or garages, Vaisman said.Doesn't the cold weather kill the virus?The answer is no. In fact, Marr cautioned that the opposite is true — viruses survive longer in colder, drier environments whether they're in the air or on surfaces.She also identified recirculated air in heated homes and buildings as a potential risk."This leads to greater potential for a virus to build up in the air and for people then to be exposed to higher levels of it," Marr said. Experts said dry air can also make our bodies more vulnerable to pathogens, like the virus that causes COVID-19, by drying out the protective mucous membrane that lines our respiratory tracts.Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease physician at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton and an associate professor of medicine at McMaster University, pointed to another issue that impacts how we cope with COVID-19 in the winter — our behaviour."There's a reason why we see respiratory viruses in the winter in Canada," he said. "We tend to be more indoors, more gathered [in] more poorly ventilated settings."So what should we do? Invest in some good, warm winter clothing, Chagla said. "We're going to have a long winter and the outdoors is still a viable option for people to meet," he said."The risk is so low — it isn't zero — but it's modified," Chagla said.As long as it's permitted to meet outside, it's a good option, he said. Even short outdoor meetings can provide a much-needed boost."Having 15 minutes of real life interaction is just so precious for people." How safe is it to fly? Despite the government's travel advisory, we're hearing from a number of Canadians looking to head south this winter. Ursula H. said she's Florida-bound and wanted to know how safe it was to get on a plane right now.When it comes to transmission of the virus, experts say airplanes are actually quite safe. Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said earlier this month that there was little evidence that COVID-19 was being transmitted by passengers on airplanes, even though the Public Health Agency of Canada was aware of reports that infected people had travelled into the country by air."There have been very few reports, extremely rare reports, actually, of transmission aboard aircraft," Tam said. "Very, very little."In fact, a Harvard University study found that flying may actually be safer than other routine activities, such as grocery shopping, because of "layered" prevention measures, such as air filtration systems, mask policies, frequent cabin cleaning and screening for symptomatic passengers.Another study conducted by the U.S. Department of Defence also found ventilation systems and stringent masking policies have made onboard transmission rare.Chagla said an airplane's ventilation system is pretty similar to those used in operating rooms, but being on board isn't the riskiest part of flying.He pointed to everything leading up to and after the flight, such as taking transit to the airport and waiting in line, as opportunities for transmission. "All of that probably presents a higher risk than the flight itself," Chagla said. Can vitamin D protect me from COVID-19?If you're not racing for warming temperatures, some readers have been wondering if they should be heading to the pharmacy to buy vitamin D supplements. But do they actually help?The answer is probably not, according to Dr. Christopher Labos, a cardiologist at Notre Dame Hospital in Montreal. "To date, there is no research showing that taking a vitamin tablet will prevent or help cure [the] coronavirus," Labos said.When it comes to vitamin D specifically, Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist and researcher based at Toronto General Hospital, noted that there were some "poorly constructed studies" that said it might help, but that the research fell apart on closer examination.Labos said some studies have shown people with low levels of vitamin D tend to have worse outcomes after having contracted COVID-19, but he warned against drawing the wrong conclusions.It's not that the low vitamin D levels cause disease or cause COVID-19, but that older people or people with pre-existing medical conditions tend to have low vitamin D levels, he said.So while it's unlikely that taking a supplement will help prevent you from contracting, or fighting COVID-19, should you take it anyway? Not necessarily.Statistics Canada says about two-thirds of Canadians already get enough vitamin D from natural sources or supplements.Dr. Todd Alexander, a pediatrician and professor at the University of Alberta, said you probably don't need to be taking supplemental vitamin D, and that in fact, it might have adverse effects. "You're getting plenty, and in my opinion, the risks would outweigh the benefits."The risks of taking too much vitamin D can vary depending on your health and age.In children, for example, too much vitamin D can cause a buildup of calcium in the blood, which can lead to kidney stones, said Alexander.So you should always ask your doctor whether supplementing with vitamin D is right for you.
On a bright November morning in Australia, Andrea Seccafien takes a call from a Toronto reporter before a pair of late spring runs with temperatures set to reach 33C."Never a rest day," said Canada's record holder in the women's half marathon. "To run more 5K to half marathon I need to run a lot."Seccafien doesn't mind the scorching heat now that she's finally training for a race — a half marathon Dec. 13 in the Australian island state of Tasmania — after two coronavirus pandemic lockdowns kept her out of competition from March through October.Seccafien's mental health suffered greatly through those months. Sharing a small apartment with fiancé Jamie Whitfield, she became overwhelmed by "a spiral of thoughts, a lot of worries" and took a break from training in June before the second lockdown of 111 days.Seccafien often wondered if the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics would indeed be held next summer. Would she get a chance to qualify for the Summer Games in the 10,000 metres? What would a long layoff mean for her career?> Everything felt so much harder because my heart rate was always 20 beats over a normal amount. — Canadian runner Andrea Seccafien on training while struggling with mental health"I didn't know what was wrong [with me]. I was definitely dealing with a lot of anxiety but thankfully we have a really good support group with Athletics Canada," said Seccafien, who also began seeing a sports psychologist in Australia, where she has lived since late 2017 after Jamie landed a job as a post-doctoral researcher at the Melbourne campus of the Australian Catholic University."I also wasn't sleeping well, so it was just a lot of things going on."During lockdown, Melbourne's five million residents could leave home to exercise outside and buy groceries but not travel further than five kilometres. Fortunately, there was 31 km stretch of running space for Seccafien on a nearby trail system. Still, the native of Guelph, Ont., faced many challenges."Everything felt so much harder because my heart rate was always 20 beats over a normal amount," the 30-year-old recalled, her voice cracking with emotion. "My body was amped up all the time.'Nerve-racking' without treatment"I would try to do a workout but running a time that would normally be very easy would feel as if I was doing a threshold or a pace faster and harder than a regular easy run."During tougher training sessions on the road, Jamie would bike alongside Seccafien and joined her on all long runs."That was extremely helpful. It was really hard [emotionally] but we're a good team," said the Melbourne Track Club member, who found it "nerve-racking" running 150 km weekly and not being able to receive physio and massage therapy.Looking back, Seccafien realizes stepping away was necessary after struggling through training and not seeing improvement in her fitness."When we went back into lockdown in July, it gave me time to train on my own, at my own pace and not compare myself to others, which was beneficial to getting back into fitness and confident again," said Seccafien, who also focused on meditation and her daily training responsibilities to work through the anxiety. "I think if I had to go back training [with my group] it would have spiraled again. Now, I feel normal."Seccafien is also in good physical health after tearing her right plantar — the ligament connecting the heel bone to your toes — in September 2018. After attempts to run through the pain led to a stress reaction (deep bone bruise) and prevented her from racing the 10,000, Seccafien reinjured the plantar while finishing second in the 5,000 at the Canadian championships in Montreal on July 25, 2019.She recovered to run two personal-best times in three days that October in Doha, Qatar — 15:04.67 in the semifinals to shave nearly four seconds off her PB and hit the 15:10 Olympic standard, then clocking her first-ever sub-15-minute 5,000 to place 13th in her first world final.WATCH | Andrea Seccafien runs sub-15-minute 5,000m for 1st time:"You always want to finish higher, so the goal in Tokyo would be top eight or 10," said Seccafien, who was 20th at her 2016 Olympic debut in Rio. "In Rio I was so green. I was making moves and wasting energy. Now, I feel I've learned how to run those [championship] races."In Tasmania, the former University of Toronto Track Club runner will race for the first time since setting a 33:05 PB in the 10K on Feb. 23, three weeks after taking down Natasha Wodak's Canadian half marathon record in 1:09:38 at the Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon in Japan."Since August, I have had a consistent block of training and I do think I'm quite fit, so there is no reason it shouldn't go well," said Seccafien, who remains hopeful of running the 5,000 and 10,000 in Tokyo. "I don't know if it'll be a Canadian record race, but I hope to be around that time."
George Bilodeau and Doug Ford have something in common. When it comes to reliable broadband internet access, especially in rural, remote and Northern communities, the mayor of the Municipality of Huron Shores and the premier of Ontario are like a dog with a bone. According to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, more than 1.4 million people in Ontario do not have broadband or cellular access, and about 12 per cent of households in the province are underserved or unserved from a broadband perspective. As more services move online because of the COVID-19 pandemic, poor internet service has left many individuals, businesses, and health0care organizations at a distinct disadvantage. In an effort to close some of those gaps, the Ford government has pledged an additional $680 million on top of a previous $315 million to support Ontario’s Broadband Cellular Action Plan, which hopes to provide 220,000 households and businesses with greater access. This nearly $1 billion investment over a six-year period will be used for shovel-ready projects that will connect unserviced and underserviced communities during COVID-19. Bilodeau hopes that with a big dose of community enterprise, Huron Shores will be able to leverage some of that funding to solve some of the internet connectivity issues in his region. “I’ve done a lot of lobbying, presentations, and cold calls over the last few months, and I always say that the system we have right now is like a two-lane highway, and we are trying to put the traffic of a six-lane highway onto two lanes,” he said. “That’s what we have now. We need a new backbone, which will mean a whole new line. Up-to-date fibre that will be able to take on six-lane traffic with no difficulties whatsoever. Our technology right now is maybe 25 years behind.” Bilodeau is spearheading a $150-million regional broadband network infrastructure project titled Huron & Manitoulin Community-Owned Fibre Infrastructure. If successful, it would provide high-speed internet services to thousands of residents along a corridor that runs from Echo Bay to Nairn Centre, including Manitoulin Island. “The problem is that all the major companies in this area are not really interested in giving us proper broadband services. Right now, we get minimum service, and the promise to bring us into the 21st century is just not there,” explained Bilodeau. “They do Band-Aid solutions here and there, but nothing is up to the capacity that is needed for economic development, industry, and health services.” Huron Shores decided to take matters into its own hands. Bilodeau is endeavoring to build a community-owned system where the municipalities involved would form a corporation and administer the broadband network. “What we’re looking at is a wholesale point of view. We don’t want to take business away from the internet service providers that are in the region. What we would do is supply a better product to these internet service providers, so they can sell a better product to households,” he said. “It would be easy to do a 50/10 and even a gig if a household wants a gig (gigabite). For hospitals and schools, we’re looking at 10 gigs.” The project has already garnered support from more than 30 communities and First Nations along the corridor, including Whitefish River First Nation, Elliot Lake, and Espanola. In fact, almost 90 per cent of the communities along the corridor have sent letters of support with resolutions to Huron Shores. Much of the “legwork” for the project is almost completed, added Bilodeau, including details like how they are going to bring the fibre into the area, and where it’s going to come from. Now, all they need is financial support from the provincial and federal governments. By partnering with ROCK Networks, an Ottawa-based communications systems company, Huron Shores and Whitefish River First Nation were able to put together an application for the provincial government’s Improving Connectivity in Ontario (ICON) program. At the end of September, they received a “positive nod” from the government indicating that their project has been asked to advance to stage 2 of the application process. “Stage 2 is the financing. We need to secure a grant from the provincial government to cover 25 per cent of the cost of the project, which would equal about $37.5 million,” said Bilodeau. “If we are successful in doing that, then the next step would be to see if we could get matching funding from the federal government.” The $1 billion investment from the provincial government doubled the funding for Ontario’s ICON program, bringing the total to $300 million. The program now has the potential to leverage more than $900 million in total partner funding to improve connectivity in areas of need across Ontario. ICON is just one of several provincial initiatives underway to improve connectivity across northern, eastern, and southwestern Ontario. The federal government also recently expanded and enhanced the Universal Broadband Fund to support high-speed internet projects across the country. Originally designed as a $1 billion, the government increased funding for the UBF to $1.75 billion to help connect more Canadians and better prepare for the future. Recognizing the need to accelerate this progress, Nickel Belt MP Marc Serre announced the launch of the Rapid Response Stream of the UBF, an accelerated application process that will allow shovel-ready projects to get started right away. The stream will benefit local telecom companies in Northern Ontario and further contribute to the region’s economic recovery. The application period is now open and community partners and stakeholders are encouraged to apply. “Our communities’ economic development and ability to overcome the challenges of this pandemic greatly depends on having access to quality and affordable internet and cellular coverage for all,” said Serre. “Working closely with municipal governments, the private sector and stakeholders, I will continue to advocate to ensure this important funding will benefit Nickel Belt-Greater Sudbury.” Achieving greater internet connectivity is something that isimportant for Bilodeau, and the communities that he is working with, and he hopes that this project will open up opportunities for the region. “Just as an example, (the other day) I was supposed to have a Zoom meeting with Greg Rickford, the minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines. We were not able to do the Zoom conference,” said Bilodeau. “I had to go on the landline, and I was holding my laptop looking at a slide deck. Minister Rickford was initially on his cellphone, but then he had connectivity issues, so we were both on landlines, with our laptops in front of us. We had to use two old technologies while I was trying to sell my idea.” His region, he added, is really like a “second Muskoka.” “In the last 15 years, Elliot Lake has seen more than 400 new cottages built north of the city. We all need broadband services,” he said. “This will open up opportunities in the region. People won’t need to be down in Toronto working in a tower. They will be able to come up here, build a home, and be able to work from home if we are able to get this project up and running.” The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government. firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @SudburyStar Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star