With application deadlines looming, Canadian high school students are considering their plans for higher education during the pandemic, with some choosing to wait until in-person classes resume.
With application deadlines looming, Canadian high school students are considering their plans for higher education during the pandemic, with some choosing to wait until in-person classes resume.
HOUSTON — President Joe Biden's administration has deported hundreds of immigrants in its early days despite his campaign pledge to stop removing most people in the U.S. illegally at the beginning of his term. A federal judge last week ordered the Biden administration not to enforce a 100-day moratorium on deportations, but the ruling did not require the government to schedule them. In recent days, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has deported immigrants to at least three countries: 15 people to Jamaica on Thursday and 269 people to Guatemala and Honduras on Friday. More deportation flights were scheduled Monday. It’s unclear how many of those people are considered national security or public safety threats or had recently crossed the border illegally, the priority under new guidance that the Department of Homeland Security issued to enforcement agencies and that took effect Monday. Some of the people put on the flights may have been expelled — which is a quicker process than deportation — under a public health order that former President Donald Trump invoked during the coronavirus pandemic and that Biden has kept in place. In the border city of El Paso, Texas, immigration authorities on Friday deported a woman who witnessed the 2019 massacre at a Walmart that left 23 people dead. She had agreed to be a witness against the gunman and has met with the local district attorney's office, according to her lawyers. Rosa was pulled over Wednesday for a broken brake light, detained based on previous traffic warrants, then transferred to ICE, which deported her before she could reach her attorney, said Melissa Lopez, executive director of the non-profit Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services, which represents her. Rosa is being identified only by her first name because she fears for her safety in Juarez, a city across the U.S.-Mexico border from El Paso that's known for violence and gang activity. Jail records confirm that Rosa was booked into the El Paso jail on Wednesday for the warrants and left Friday. ICE had issued what's known as a “detainer,” seeking to hold her on immigration violations the day she was arrested, according to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. The El Paso district attorney's office confirmed in a statement Monday that it had given Rosa's attorneys the documentation needed to request a U.S. visa for crime victims. But the statement also said Rosa “is not a victim of the Walmart shooting case.” The district attorney did not immediately respond to follow-up questions. Her lawyers say Rosa pleaded guilty in 2018 to driving under the influence and ICE later released her, underscoring that authorities under Trump previously found she wasn't a threat to the public, Lopez said. Both Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris vocally opposed the Trump administration's immigration priorities during the presidential campaign. “It’s important that President Biden and Vice-President Harris realize that despite their very clear desires about how immigrants are treated, we continue to see on a local level immigrants being mistreated and disregarded,” Lopez said. ICE said Friday that it had deported people to Jamaica and that it was in compliance with last week's court order. The agency did not respond to several requests for further comment on additional deportation flights or Rosa's case. Officials in Honduras confirmed that 131 people were on a deportation flight that landed Friday. Another flight that landed in Guatemala on Friday had 138 people, with an additional 30 people expected to arrive Monday, officials there said. The White House referred questions to the Department of Homeland Security, but a spokesman did not return requests for comment. Democratic U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar of Texas, whose district includes El Paso, said her office had flagged Rosa's case to the White House. “My concern is that ICE will continue to move quickly before the Biden administration has an opportunity to make assessments and provide further directives,” Escobar said Monday. Two legal experts say that regardless of the judge’s order on the deportation moratorium, ICE could release immigrants with deportation orders, keep people detained or otherwise delay the deportation process. “Scheduling deportations is still a matter of discretion for the agency,” said Steve Yale-Loehr, an immigration law professor at Cornell University. U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton last week granted a temporary restraining order sought by Texas that bars enforcement of a 100-day deportation moratorium that had gone into effect Jan. 22. Tipton said the Biden administration had violated the federal Administrative Procedure Act in issuing the moratorium and had not proven why a pause in deportations was necessary. Tipton on Friday said he would extend his order through Feb. 23. The Justice Department has not yet asked Tipton or a federal appeals court to block the order. The White House on Friday reissued a statement saying it believed a moratorium was “wholly appropriate," adding that "President Biden remains committed to taking immediate action to reform our immigration system to ensure it’s upholding American values while keeping our communities safe.” Biden is expected to issue a series of immigration-related executive orders Tuesday amid the expected confirmation of Alejandro Mayorkas as Homeland Security secretary. Those orders are expected to include the formation of a task force to reunify families separated during the Trump administration. ___ This version corrects that 23 people died in the El Paso massacre, not 22. ___ Associated Press journalists Will Weissert in Washington, María Verza in Mexico City, and Sonia Pérez D. in Guatemala City contributed to this report. Nomaan Merchant, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell denounced newly elected Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Monday, calling the far-right Georgia Republican's embrace of conspiracy theories and “loony lies" a "cancer for the Republican Party.” “Somebody who’s suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9-11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed JFK Jr.’s airplane is not living in reality,” said McConnell, R-Ky. "This has nothing to do with the challenges facing American families or the robust debates on substance that can strengthen our party.” The statement comes as House Democrats are mounting an effort to formally rebuke Greene, who has a history of making racist remarks, embracing conspiracy theories and endorsing violence directed at Democrats. It also puts pressure on House Republican leaders to discipline her. Democrats have teed up action Wednesday to send a resolution to the House floor that would strip Greene of assignments on the House education and budget committees, if House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., doesn’t do so first. “It is my hope and expectation that Republicans will do the right thing and hold Rep. Greene accountable, and we will not need to consider this resolution," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. "But we are prepared to do so if necessary." Some Democrats have called for going further and expelling Greene from the House — an unlikely outcome that would require backing from Republicans, since expulsion requires a two-thirds vote. Another option is censure. Democrats' willingness to act against a member of the opposing party underscores their desire to confront far-right politicians, like Greene, who are closely aligned with some of former President Donald Trump’s fringe supporters, including extremist groups that were involved in the violent Capitol insurrection. It also shines a light on the GOP's reluctance to punish Trump supporters in their ranks for fear of alienating some of the former president's most ardent voters. “If Republicans won’t police their own, the House must step in,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., who is sponsoring the measure to remove Greene from the committees. In a tweet over the weekend, Greene sounded a defiant tone. She also said she had spoken to Trump and was “grateful for his support.” “I will never back down and will stand up against the never ending blood thirsty mob," she tweeted. On Monday, she tweeted that Democrats, if they move forward, will come to regret the “precedent they are setting,” arguing that it would be “used extensively against members on their side once we regain the majority after the 2022 elections.” Greene's views were in the spotlight even before she joined the House last month. The Georgia Republican has expressed support for QAnon conspiracy theories, which focus on the debunked belief that top Democrats are involved in child sex trafficking, Satan worship and cannibalism. Facebook videos surfaced last year showing she’d expressed racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim views. Top Republicans denounced her at the time, hoping to block her from capturing the GOP nomination in her reliably red congressional district in northwest Georgia. But after she won her primary, they largely accepted her. Since then, even more of her past comments, postings and videos have been unearthed, though many were deleted recently after drawing attention. She "liked" Facebook posts that advocated violence against Democrats and the FBI. One suggested shooting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the head. In response to a post raising the prospect of hanging former President Barack Obama, Greene responded that the “stage is being set.” In an undated video posted online, Greene floated a conspiracy theory that falsely suggests that the 2017 mass shooting that killed 58 people at a country music festival in Las Vegas could have been a false flag operation to build support for gun control legislation. “How do you get avid gun owners and people that support the Second Amendment to give up their guns and go along with anti-gun legislation?” Greene said in the video. “You make them scared, you make them victims and you change their mindset and then possibly you can pass anti-gun legislation. Is that what happened in Las Vegas?” She also “liked” a Facebook post that challenged the veracity of a 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Another video captured her confronting Parkland school shooting survivor David Hogg. After her election, she seized on Trump's false claims that the election was stolen and cheered on his supporters the day before the Capitol was stormed. “It’s our 1776 moment!” she posted on the conservative friendly social media platform Parler. Last week, Pelosi pressed for House Republicans to take action against Greene. “Assigning her to the education committee, when she has mocked the killing of little children” in Newtown, “what could they be thinking, or is thinking too generous a word for what they might be doing?” Pelosi said of Republican leaders. “It’s absolutely appalling.” McCarthy is supposed to meet privately with Greene this week. A spokesperson for the Republican leader declined to comment on Monday. Although it's not certain he will take action against Greene, McCarthy has punished members of the House Republican caucus before. Former Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, was stripped of all his committee assignments after expressing support for white supremacists in 2019. Wasserman Schultz acknowledged Monday that it had long been left up to leaders to remove members of Congress of their own party of their committee assignments. But she said Republicans' reluctance to take action left Democrats with little choice. “Rep. Greene's appalling behaviour both before her election and during her term has helped fuel domestic terrorism, endangered lives of her colleagues and brought shame on the entire House of Representatives,” Wasserman Schultz said. “Based on her actions and statements and her belligerent refusal to disavow them, she should not be permitted to participate in the important work of these two influential committees." Brian Slodysko, The Associated Press
Cancer specialists are bracing for a wave of patients suffering from more advanced disease due to delays in both screening and diagnostic testing during the pandemic. About 60,000 Quebecers receive a cancer diagnosis in any given year. But according to a report released by the Quebec Ministry of Health last month, an estimated 4,100 people may have gone undiagnosed between March and July 2020 as the health system grappled with the first wave of COVID-19. Some people may have put off seeking medical attention because they were afraid of the virus. Others likely faced delays in getting routine screening or biopsies. At Montreal's Cedars Cancer Centre, there were 20 per cent fewer diagnoses in 2020 relative to the previous year. "My fear is over the next few months, we will see a significant increase in patients newly diagnosed with cancer," said Dr. Armen Aprikian, who is the centre's medical director and the chief of cancer care at the McGill University Health Centre. Data is still being gathered, but since the fall, Aprikian said several surgeons, oncologists and hematologists have noted seeing patients with more complex or advanced-stage cancers. These cases often require multiple treatments or more difficult surgeries. "The economics on the health system in managing these extra treatments for patients, who otherwise, would have perhaps been cured, all of this is going to be additive," said Aprikian. "The impact is going to be significant, but down the road." The first-wave priority: COVID-19 Last spring, the province halted non-urgent surgeries, fearing hospitals would be overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. Semi-urgent and urgent cancer surgeries were prioritized, but there were significant slowdowns when it came to screening. The provincial breast screening program was completely suspended for several months during the first wave of the pandemic. According to the Ministry of Health, about 91,000 fewer mammograms were done between April and December of 2020 compared to the previous year. Colorectal cancer screening, typically prescribed by a doctor to look for blood in the stool, dropped by 74 per cent last spring. In the event that test returns a positive result the next step is a colonoscopy, which can detect polyps, tumours and other abnormalities. But the volume of colonoscopies dropped by 66 per cent for the same time period. Biopsies and scans were delayed and some cancer treatments were swapped for oral medications that could be taken at home, or radiation therapy. The objective being to free up staff and save operating room time for patients who didn't have alternatives. As we now know, hospitals did not end up bearing the brunt of the novel coronavirus during the first wave. Instead, it swept through the province's long-term care homes, killing thousands of vulnerable seniors. 'We see an impending disaster' For cancer patients, the delays have created a lot of anxiety. A recent study by Canadian and British researchers found there was a significant impact on a person's mortality if their treatment was delayed. The authors found that for every month of delay, the risk of dying increases on average by 10 per cent. At the Jewish General Hospital, doctors say they are already seeing the repercussions of the slowdown. "Newly diagnosed lymphomas and leukemias at a much more advanced stage, breast cancer as well, where people had just kept these things to themselves and managed symptoms," said Dr. Gerald Batist, medical director of the hospital's Segal Cancer Centre. When more cancer cases are diagnosed, the rise requires a higher capacity for both chemotherapy and surgery. "We see an impending disaster," said Batist, who is eager for the province to come up with a cancer plan. "We see a crisis that will have all the makings of the crisis in the long term care facilities." During the summer, services gradually resumed and private clinics were contracted to perform day surgeries as well as colonoscopies and imaging to help tackle the backlog. Still, Batist said the Segal centre hasn't recovered from the first wave of the virus. "We're not able to pick up the slack, both in terms of screening or surgeries because we were depleted in terms of operating technicians and nursing and that's following through into the second wave," said Batist. Once Quebec emerges from the second wave, Batist said extra money will be needed to hire more nurses and extend clinic hours on the evenings and weekends. As it stands, the province's hospitals as a whole are functioning at about 50 per cent of their regular capacity, although many on the island of Montreal have restricted their activities to as little as 30 per cent of the normal caseload. On Friday, the Health Department's assistant deputy minister in charge of hospitals, Dr. Lucie Opatrny, sent a letter to administrators asking them for proposals for a gradual ramping up of non-urgent procedures. The clouds may be starting to lift, the question is how much damage has been wrought by the storm. Building a system for the future While cancer specialists and advocacy groups wait for a targeted provincial cancer plan, they are encouraging people to see their doctor if they have symptoms. More than half of the patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer are already at stage three or four of the disease by the time it is detected, which means it has usually spread to other parts of the body, said Barry Stein, president of Colorectal Cancer Canada. Although he finds the delays distressing, Stein hopes the grim reality of the statistics forces the province to rethink the way health care is delivered. "We have to plan for the future, not just be reactive," said Stein. He'd like to see the province launch a population-based screening program for colorectal cancer. Rather than relying on doctor visits to prescribe the test, the government would send letters inviting people to get screened every two years once they turn 50. If the test is positive, it would be followed up with a colonoscopy appointment. "It's the only cancer you could prevent before it happens," said Stein. According to the Ministry of Health, 60,000 fewer colonoscopies were done between April 2020 and the beginning of January than over the same period the previous year. To deal with the backlog, he'd like to see the province consider opening private clinics, which exist in Ontario and are covered by health insurance. In terms of the bigger picture, he believes it is time to expand the definition of cancer care to go beyond hospitals. While it makes sense for hospitals to oversee more complex cases, treatment and surgery, once the patient is in remission, those with early-stage cancers or at low risk of recurrence could be treated at the community level. "Your general practitioner could look after you instead of having to go to the hospital," said Stein. "Why clog up the system in the oncology department?" These patients could be followed or monitored at what Stein refers to as survivorship clinics, where blood work, colonoscopies or radiology could be done. "If we want to build a more resilient health care system," he said, "this is the time."
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Monday Feb. 2, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 18,290 new vaccinations administered for a total of 975,519 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 2,573.978 per 100,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 1,124,816 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 86.73 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 1,531 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 10,080 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 19.25 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 16,500 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 61.09 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 985 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,510 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 47.343 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 9,225 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 81.41 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 3,823 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 14,906 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 15.274 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 28,850 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 51.67 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 3,020 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 17,277 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 22.149 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 21,675 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 79.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 796 new vaccinations administered for a total of 239,023 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 27.934 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 238,100 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 100.4 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 2,256 new vaccinations administered for a total of 341,900 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 23.276 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 411,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 83.06 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 1,032 new vaccinations administered for a total of 41,817 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 30.368 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 55,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 75.14 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 88 new vaccinations administered for a total of 35,447 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 30.061 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 35,091 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 101 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 93 new vaccinations administered for a total of 106,347 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 24.159 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 122,725 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 86.65 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 9,651 new vaccinations administered for a total of 138,892 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 27.066 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 144,550 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 96.09 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 889 new vaccinations administered for a total of 7,385 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 176.967 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 14,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 35 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 51.28 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 9,471 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 209.912 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 14,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 32 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 65.77 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 148 new vaccinations administered for a total of 5,464 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 141.094 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 12,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 31 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 45.53 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published February 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — It had been a while since Alana Fiks had been able to open her shop in Winnipeg when she spoke about the impact of COVID-19. The co-owner of Black Market Provisions, which sells food and housewares, said the business has done OK as the store moved to curbside pickup when case counts rose through the fall and winter. But other LGBTQ-owned business have had a rougher ride, she said. Fiks said she's recommended some of them look at federal aid programs, while also trying to send business their way. "There's probably a lot of people out there who really need them," she said in a telephone interview. The question is whether those programs targeting LGBTQ-owned companies are doing the job, with owners saying federally targeted aid remains steps behind what is available in the private sector. Compounding problems is that broader programs don't appear to collect diversity data on ownership that LGBTQ entrepreneurs say would better track shifts in government procurement, for example. "The federal programs, they're still in their infancy and I feel like they have a ways to go to catch up even right now," said Connie Stacey, president and founder of Edmonton's Growing Greener Innovations, which sells high-end batteries and solar technology. "To be honest, it's the first time we've seen any initiatives that are coming out to support diverse groups, but we're a long ways from seeing the real impact of what they could potentially be doing." But, she says, "you've got to start somewhere." The LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce says there are more than 28,000 such businesses in the country, contributing an estimated $22 billion in economic activity and employing more than 435,000 people. They are often in the food-services sector, which has been hard-hit by the pandemic and is likely to take longer to rebound because it often relies on in-person interactions. The businesses are generally smaller and newer than non-LGBTQ-owned businesses. That means they tend to have less money in reserve when times get tough, and fewer connections to rely on. "We have a lot of customers who definitely come to us because they know we're queer-owned," Fiks said. "There is also a camaraderie of being a queer in business. We have a couple in our neighbourhood that are all queer-owned, and lots of Winnipeg, and we all stick together and send each other business." For those in other areas, like Stacey's green-energy company, the challenge is also being taken seriously when vying for large procurement contracts. The chamber's CEO, Darrell Schuurman, says that about half of the group's members have hidden their LGBTQ ownership at one point or another. Nearly one-third have said they lost contracts because of their ownership. That overarching concern harms their growth potential because they're hiding a piece of who they are, Schuurman said. "That's a challenge and a barrier that they're facing," he said. "When you couple that with the pandemic and the economic crisis, it just adds greater challenges." Federal aid programs have doled out billions to businesses to help keep them afloat as revenues fell as public health restrictions took hold, even while expenses remained steady. Schuurman said many of his members weren't able to access some of the programs early on because of their structure. For instance, many had contract employees, which meant they couldn't access the wage subsidy because they didn't have a traditional payroll. Questions about aid are part of a survey the chamber has sent to its members. Preliminary data should be available in the next month. The Liberals have since made changes that Schuurman said should aid many businesses that were originally shut out. What the chamber is looking for now is a bigger push to diversify federal procurement efforts to give members a chance to compete for contracts. "It's not an advantage … it's just about making sure that they have that ability to compete," Schuurman said. "Over the last year, I think that we have certainly seen the government advance a lot more on this." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 2, 2021. Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
A decades-old debate over development in an important wildlife corridor in an Alberta mountain community is to be back before council next week. Plans for two projects, which make up about 80 per cent of the remaining developable land in Canmore, show they could almost double the town's population to nearly 30,000 in the coming decades. "This is the first plan that was able to be developed with clear guidance from a council in Canmore," said Chris Ollenberger, managing principal with Quantum Place Developments, which is overseeing the proposed Three Sisters Village and Smith Creek projects. "These area structure plans are probably the best ... in the entire Bow Valley for balanced, responsible development that is sustainably orientated, climate-goal orientated ... and respects wildlife." Ollenberger said the plans, which are to go before council Feb. 9, also address concerns about a lack of affordable housing in the tourist town near Banff National Park. If council gives first reading to the plans next week, they would go to a public hearing in March. Experts said they are concerned the latest proposals for the eastern edge of Canmore still don't address concerns. Adam Ford, an assistant professor in the Biodiversity Research Centre at the University of British Columbia Okanagan, said the developments would add more pressure to an already busy valley. "It's death by 10,000 cuts," said Ford, who suggested the two plans need to be considered in a cumulative way. Ford said one of the main issues is the wildlife corridor that goes through town — a concern echoed by local experts. "We know that this valley is of international importance from the Yellowstone region in the south all the way up to the Yukon in the north," said Hilary Young with Yellowstone to Yukon, a conservation group based in Canmore. "This tiny little constriction through the Bow Valley, where it's already quite developed, (would) be pushing wildlife even further up the slope and risking that they won't move through the valley anymore. It could block wildlife movement entirely." The wildlife corridor — and how wide it needs to be to allow animals including grizzly bears, elk and wolves to move efficiently — has been debated for decades after a 1992 environmental assessment found it to be an important area. In June 2018, Alberta Environment and Parks under an NDP government said the wildlife corridor would be too narrow under another Quantum proposal. It was reworked by the developer and approved by the United Conservative government early last year. "We appreciate the extensive work that has been done to date that built on the high quality of work that (Alberta Environment and Parks) identified in the (previous) submission," said in a letter from the province on Feb. 26, 2020. "When considering the improvements that have occurred in the Bow Valley in the last 25 years on the basis of wildlife and habitat protection, there is reason to be optimistic for wildlife now and in the future." The approval came with recommendations, including creation of better habitat in the corridor, a detailed plan for highway crossing structures and fencing, and company participation in efforts to reduce conflicts between people and wildlife. Ollenberger said the developer has a plan to deal with those issues, but he admits the wildlife corridor is a challenge. "There's no book that everybody says this is the way and, if you just do this, all is well," he said, noting there are many variables to take into account. He said safeguards, including a fence around the developments and a new wildlife pass that would allow animals to move under the Trans-Canada Highway, would address concerns. Ford, Young and local wildlife biologist Karsten Heuer said that wouldn't be enough with so much development. "It would change the character of our community," said Heuer, who suggested the projects would add congestion and, as plans stand, don't fully address affordable housing for the town. He and Young noted the development would cover the entire footprint of Three Sisters land and leave little room for wildlife. "The science on wildlife movement hasn't changed since 2017 when they last submitted a proposal," said Young. "It's still very clear that this narrowing of the corridor would actually have much broader consequences of wildlife movement through the valley." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 2, 2021 Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press
BEIJING — China’s top foreign policy adviser is urging closer ties with the U.S. under the Biden administration, while saying Washington must “effectively respect China’s position and concerns on the Taiwan issue.” The head of the ruling Communist Party’s office on foreign affairs, Yang Jiechi, said the sides will have their differences but should not allow them to derail relations. In remarks Tuesday to the influential U.S. National Committee on United States-China Relations, Yang continued the positive tone China is taking toward the new U.S. administration following heightened tensions under former President Donald Trump. Ties sunk to a new low over differences on trade, human rights and Taiwan, the self-governing democracy that China claims as its own territory and threatens to bring under its control by military force. “China and the United States are two large countries with different histories, cultures and systems, and thus have differences on some issues. It is crucial to properly control them and not allow them to interfere with the overall development of bilateral relations," Yang said in the videotaped conversation. The U.S. should fulfil its commitments to Beijing “abide by the one-China principle, and effectively respect China’s position and concerns on the Taiwan issue,” Yang said. The positive tone fuels perceptions that China’s leaders are hoping for a fresh start in relations and a more civil discourse with Washington, even while deep divisions remain. The U.S. is pressing China over trade, allegations of intellectual property theft and policies toward Tibet, Muslim minorities in Xinjiang and Hong Kong. China resents U.S. support for Taiwan along with the U.S. military presence in the South China Sea and what it sees as a broad-based U.S. campaign to restrain its growth. Biden's nominee for United Nations ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, last week called China “a strategic adversary” that threatens the world and expressed regret for a speech she gave in 2019 that praised China’s initiatives in Africa and made no mention of its human rights abuses. The Associated Press
With travel severely restricted, millions of European consumers are still waiting for refunds from their airlines. Many accepted a vouchers after their flights were cancelled, but with holidays off the agenda for now - could could those travellers be entitled to cash instead?View on euronews
The populist trading rally, organized in online forums such as Reddit's WallStreetBets, has helped attract a flood of retail cash into stocks such as GameStop, burned hedge funds that had bet against the stocks and roiled broader markets. Frankfurt-listed shares of GameStop, the trigger for the slugfest between amateur investors and Wall Street hedge funds last week, also plunged 37% at the open following a 19% slide on Monday. ** BROKER CAPITAL - Robinhood, the easy access brokerage app which has fueled the trades, raised another $2.4 billion in funding on top of the $1 billion it raised last week after its finances were strained by the retail trading frenzy, but will that be enough?
OTTAWA — The vast majority of Canadians support tighter restrictions on international travel imposed by the federal government, a new poll suggests. Eighty-six per cent of respondents agree with stricter measures that suspend flights to most sun destinations and require quarantining at a hotel at the passenger's expense upon arrival in Canada, according to an online survey by Léger and the Association for Canadian Studies. The poll also found that 87 per cent of respondents think the government should go further by banning international travel until there are several consecutive days of reduced COVID-19 numbers. The wariness of foreign trips stems in part from more transmissible — and possibly more lethal — variants of the virus emerging abroad as well as homegrown politicians jetting off to far-flung beaches during the holidays, says Léger executive vice-president Christian Bourque. “We probably would not have gotten such high numbers before the whole talk about the South African variant, the Brazil variant," Bourque said in an interview. "I think this probably jolted Canadians in a way. "And then when you see people coming back with a very nice tan, you’re thinking, 'Why am I making the effort and you're not?' And in certain cases it was MLAs and even (provincial) cabinet ministers," senators and MPs, he noted. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced last Friday that Canadian airlines have suspended flights to Mexico and the Caribbean until April 30 and that returning passengers will soon have to self-isolate at a federal facility for up to three days after taking a PCR test at the airport. The reaction differed depending on geography, with 91 per cent of respondents from Quebec and Atlantic Canada in favour of the new restrictions but just three out of four Albertans backing the clampdown, the poll found. The possibility of even stricter rules such as an outright ban on international travel raises questions around the flow of essential goods, many of which enter the country in the bellies of passenger planes, and around freedom of movement as guaranteed in the Canadian Constitution. Section 6 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that "every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada," though all rights are subject to reasonable limits. The urge for tougher travel rules comes as Canadians find their mental health on the wane, with just 29 per cent of survey respondents rating it as very good or excellent, the lowest since the pandemic began. "We’re getting into the doldrums of February, and things are not improving. If you look from November to today, it’s a steady decline in self-perception of the state of your mental health," Bourque said. Conducted Jan. 29 to 31, the online poll surveyed 1,559 Canadians. It cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 2, 2021. Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
VICTORIA — A Victoria-area First Nation chief says he has been assured by the Royal B.C. Museum that steps will be taken to determine how a stone pillar declared to be an Indigenous artifact may be the recent work of a local artist. Ron Sam of the Songhees First Nation says he was called last July when workers pulled the 100-kilogram pillar with a face off the beach. After the story was made public last week, an artist came forward to media outlets saying he made the pillar and it disappeared off the beach where he was carving it four years ago. Sam says he has spoken to museum CEO Jack Lohman about the pillar and the possible confusion. Lohman says in a statement that the museum is working closely with area First Nations and is reviewing its policies with respect to historical works that surface. Grant Keddie, the museum's archeology curator, did not wish to discuss the pillar but said last week that it may have been the same one mentioned by First Nations' elders to an anthropologist in the late 1800s. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
An EU plan for a fifty-fold increase in electric cars this decade to help cut greenhouse gas emissions will require an 80 billion euro ($96.5 billion) investment in charging points to support it, power industry group Eurelectric said on Tuesday. The European Union has said it needs 30 million or more zero-emission cars on its roads by 2030 as part of efforts to cut emissions by at least 55% this decade versus 1990 levels. The bloc had about 615,000 such vehicles at the end of 2019, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association.
OTTAWA — The Department of National Defence says the first of 15 new warships being built for the Royal Canadian Navy will be delivered years later than expected as officials working on the $60-billion project grapple with unexpected design and construction challenges. The delay means Canada will need to spend more on its 12 aging Halifax-class frigates to keep them floating longer, and is sure to set off a fresh wave of debate and lobbying around what amounts to the largest military procurement in Canadian history. Yet the Defence Department’s head of procurement insists the project remains on budget thanks to built-in contingencies, while navy commander Vice-Admiral Craig Baines expressed confidence that his force would not be unduly affected by the delay. That is despite a recent report that outlined concerns about the advanced age of the frigates, which was making it more difficult to find spare parts and conduct other maintenance on the 1980s Halifax-class warships. “When you put ships in saltwater over time, there’s going to be an effect,” Baines told The Canadian Press in an interview. “But right now, based on all our estimates on the conditions of the ships, we’re very comfortable that we’ll be able to transition with this plan.” The delay is nonetheless the latest setback for the new fleet of warships, which are known in military circles as Canadian "surface combatants" and are expected to serve as the Navy’s backbone for the better part of the century. The warship project was launched in earnest nearly a decade ago when Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax was selected in October 2011 to build the fleet, with the total cost estimated at around $26 billion and the first ship to be delivered in the mid-2020s. That vague schedule remained largely unchanged, at least on paper, even as the estimated price tag ballooned to $60 billion and Ottawa ordered several smaller ships so Irving would have work until the surface combatants were ready for construction. But Troy Crosby, the Defence Department’s assistant deputy minister of materiel, revealed Monday that the first ship is now scheduled for delivery in the early 2030s as officials grapple with the final design and face longer-than-expected construction times. The new warships are based on the Type-26 frigate, which is also being built by the United Kingdom and Australia, but Canadian officials have been making numerous changes to the design to meet Canada’s unique military — and industrial — requirements. At the same time, Crosby said the British and Australian experiences have shown that construction of the new vessels will take 7 1/2 years, rather than the original estimate of five years. “So when we look at the overall timeline, we're looking at slightly longer timelines,” he said. “We're looking at the first ship being delivered to us in the early 2030s. ... In this case, we're really more specifically looking at the 2030-31 timeframe.” The schedule slippage comes as the parliamentary budget officer is preparing to release a highly anticipated update on the estimated cost of the warship project. Defence officials have quietly expressed concern the review will show a sizeable increase. Crosby, however, was adamant that the project remains within the $60-billion budget established by the Liberal government in 2017. “The project had originally included a significant amount of contingency that had been put there to address these unknowns,” he said. “That contingency is now being applied, and that's exactly what it's there for. So with that update done, we're still confident at this point that it's going to fit within the budget.” He also said Ottawa will not pony up more money for Irving to retain its workforce as the current plan is to start cutting steel on the first new warship as scheduled in 2023-24, while work on the final design continues. A similar approach is being taken with the Navy’s two new supply ships, which are being built in Vancouver. Irving is currently working on a fleet of much smaller Arctic patrol ships for the navy. It originally planned to build five, before the government ordered a sixth in November 2018 to keep Irving’s workers busy until the new warships were ready for construction. The government then committed $1.5 billion for two more Arctic patrol ships in May 2019, this time for the Canadian Coast Guard, for the same reason. The delay does mean the navy will need to continue operating its Halifax-class frigates longer, which means investing more money into the ships and managing how and when they are used. Defence analyst David Perry of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute expressed concern about the new delay and what it means for the frigates, some of which are dealing with corrosion and metal fatigue that could limit how long they can remain in service. An internal Defence Department report published last year echoed some of those concerns, saying the navy’s maintenance facilities were having an increasingly tough time repairing the frigates thanks in part to a lack of spare parts and the age of the fleet. And while Crosby said the government is working with British and Australian officials as well as industries to find ways to save time, Perry said the warship project has a long history of delays and cost overruns. “At this point in time, this project hasn't met a single one of its major milestones,” Perry said. “So 2030-31 is now the no-earlier-than-that-date for me.” Ottawa has rebuffed repeated calls to scrap its plan to build the ships in Canada, which advocates say could save the country tens of billions of dollars. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 2, 2021. Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
Any pullback in GameStop Corp's shares potentially exposes some investors to losses. Shares of GameStop, which had seen a spectacular rally, fell 31% on Monday to close at $225, 53% lower than their Jan 28 peak of $483. Analysts worry some new or inexperienced investors could face losses if they bought in as the stock was peaking.
Most years, Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Services goes through its annual recruitment blitz. But the 2020 recruitment didn't go ahead as planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the 2021 campaign is trying to overcome challenges caused by COVID restrictions. "There are three main selection phases in the recruitment process," said Deputy Chief Dave Meldrum. "There is an aptitude test, some physical abilities testing and interviews in each of those phases, and they're all being adapted or changed to meet the challenges presented by this pandemic." Every year the fire department deals with retirements and promotions and needs new career firefighters to fill the gaps. There is usually a one-day, large-scale meeting for potential firefighters to sign up and undergo testing. But plans have been modified this year. "In previous years applicants would have gone to a very large gymnasium setting to write a paper booklet test for the aptitude testing," said Meldrum. "This year, the aptitude test will be done online so people can do it from their own home, so we can keep people physically distanced from one another for that phase." Anyone interested in becoming a professional firefighter in HRM should keep an eye on the department's website for additional details as the recruitment plan is finalized. "Physical testing will have to be done in person but we'll have reduced group sizes and physical distancing in place," said Meldrum. "That will also include masking, some pre-screening and constant disinfecting after each person does their testing." MORE TOP STORIES
Lena Recollet didn't understand why her son was refusing to complete one of his assignments — until she discovered what it was. "He got really upset; he called it paper bag animals," she said. "I looked and it was worse than what he was saying. There was an LCBO bag," Recollet told CBC Toronto. The assignment was for a Grade 9 virtual course called Expressions of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Cultures in the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). "This was a non-Indigenous teacher trying to tell the students to make medicine bags with paper bags and they have to draw their favourite animal on it," said Recollet, who is Anishnaaabe and a language instructor with the TDSB. The teacher had used the paper liquor store bag as an example for the students to follow. Recollet is from Wiikwemkoong First Nation on Manitoulin Island but now lives in Toronto. A medicine bag is a deeply spiritual and sacred item that has been used by Indigenous peoples for thousands of years for protection. They are generally made out of leather, not paper. The TDSB says the teacher is no longer instructing the course, but Indigenous educators say the incident speaks to a larger structural issue concerning the lack of professional development and hiring practices. Recollet said she informed the board's Urban Indigenous Education Centre and filed a complaint with the board's Human Rights Office against the teacher, Donna Blanco. "It's not an appropriate assignment. There's so many things wrong with it; misrepresentation, cultural appropriation, using an LCBO bag is racism," she said. "Even if we weren't Indigenous, an LCBO bag shouldn't have been used to begin with. He's in Grade 9." In her complaint, Recollet said, she listed the desired outcome as having Blanco removed from the course and asked the board to ensure her son was not in a class of hers again. But Recollet said the bigger issue is having a non-Indigenous teacher instruct the Indigenous arts course. She also wants to see the process of submitting a racism or discrimination complaint within the board improved. Assignment 'makes a mockery of things we value' professor says Jennifer Brant teaches courses on Indigenous literatures, anti-racism and settler colonialism, and structural and colonial violence in education at the University of Toronto. She says these are the types of assignments "that connect to the negative stereotypes against Indigenous peoples and are completely inappropriate and harmful." "For Indigenous students, this is a direct attack on cultural identity and makes a mockery of the things that we value," Brant said, adding that an Indigenous arts course should be taught by an Indigenous educator. Brant said her own kids have also been assigned insensitive projects throughout their schooling, and is disappointed that these incidents are still happening. "I want to say it's shocking, but it isn't shocking. It's deeply troubling how common these types of insensitive or inappropriate assignments occur." Brant said as the push continues to bring more Indigenous content into the education system, she feels there needs to be more mandatory training. "I feel teachers have not had enough professional development opportunities or they aren't thinking deeply enough about how to do that in appropriate ways." TDSB responds In an emailed statement to CBC News, the TDSB said it "found this incident to be completely unacceptable and immediately took steps to address this cultural appropriation," adding, "this particular lesson is not part of the curriculum and should not have been taught." When asked why a non-Indigenous teacher was instructing the course, the board said: "While our preference is for Indigenous teachers to teach Indigenous courses, that is not always possible." The TDSB says non-Indigenous teachers can teach this course providing they receive additional training through the board's Urban Indigenous Education Centre. It says in some cases, teachers have also enrolled in an additional courses. The board notes Indigenous artists and community members are available to support staff and that the TDSB is actively exploring ways to increase the number of Indigenous staff "not just in teaching, but in all areas of the school board. Part of this work will be through the dismantling of systemic barriers faced by Indigenous educators." Blanco, the teacher, did not respond to CBC's request for comment. The TDSB confirmed she is still working at the board but is no longer teaching the course. Recollet says she told her son his feelings about the assignment were valid. She drove him to a craft store and he made the bag out of leather instead of paper to complete the assignment. "This shouldn't be happening at all. These programs exist because people fought for these programs to exist," she said. And while she doesn't believe in 2021 that fight should still be happening, she's hoping that speaking out provokes change. "This is deep work."
Does wearing two masks provide more protection? It depends, but it’s possible that doubling up could help in some situations. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing a cloth mask made with two or more layers, and ensuring it covers your nose and mouth. The agency says it should fit snugly so there aren't any gaps at the sides of your face. Wearing just one mask should be enough for most situations, as long as it fits well and isn't loose, said Dr. David Hamer, an infectious disease expert at Boston University. “Starting out with a good mask to begin with is going to be key,” Hamer said. Still, some people might want extra protection if they're at risk for severe illness if infected or will be in situations where they expect to be around others for extended periods, such as on a plane. One option in scenarios when you want extra protection is to wear a cloth mask as well as a regular surgical mask, said Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco. Gandhi said that combination -- with either mask on top -- could help achieve a similar effect as the N95 mask. She recommended the added protection for people who will be indoors in areas where transmission rates are high — which could reflect the circulation of more contagious variants. Another option Gandhi and a colleague recommend for situations where you want “maximum” protection: A two-layer cloth mask that has a filter material in between. With single cloth masks for everyday use, Gandhi noted it's important that they're made of tightly woven material and have at least two layers, which creates “an obstacle course” that makes it harder for virus-carrying particles to break through. ___ The AP is answering your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Submit them at: FactCheck@AP.org. Read previous Viral Questions: Can I use a face shield instead of a mask? Does wearing a mask pose any health risks? Should I get a COVID-19 vaccine if I’ve had the virus? The Associated Press
Some parents of children with physical or developmental disabilities say a provincial program that's supposed to offer their families respite has instead become a burden during the pandemic, costing them time and money. Special Services at Home (SSAH) is managed by Ontario's Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. The program provides financial assistance to help caregivers pay for specialized equipment and deal with everyday tasks. The idea is to give parents more time to dedicate to their children, some of whom require round-the-clock care. All it's done is cost me money ... and tons and tons of time fighting for this. - Nicole Ullmark, parent and SSAH recipient But some parents say they've waited months to be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses — more than three times the typical wait before COVID-19 — adding to their stress rather than helping alleviate it. "The amount of money that we have to outlay for stuff is quite honestly astronomical, and so to finally get approved for a program like that felt like it was really a helpful thing," said Nicole Ullmark, whose 10-year-old son Christopher was on a wait-list for years before finally being approved for SSAH funding in August. "Now, to be frank, all it's done is cost me money ... and tons and tons of time fighting for this, and I don't have that extra time. So I'm just carrying the financial load of this program." 'More of a burden' Ullmark's son has a progressive genetic condition that has robbed him of the ability to walk or talk, along with many of his fine motor skills. In addition to SSAH, he was approved for a similar program for enhanced respite last summer. Ullmark began submitting receipts right away, a process that can take hours each time she files a claim. Since then, she said she's only been reimbursed for about five per cent of the nearly $8,000 in costs she's submitted for everything from help with house cleaning to special ski-like attachments that help Christopher's wheelchair move through the snow. Ullmark said she and her husband have had to empty their retirement savings to help cover some of those costs, along with the cost of renovations to make their home accessible. "It's tough as families to have to need any sort of assistance. No one wants that. [But] ... you want it to actually be helpful, and [SSAH is] not," she said. "These are families that really are struggling ... and the last thing they need is more of a burden put on them." 'An added stress' Dawn Bellefeuille's 17-year-old son Sean has CDKL5 deficiency disorder, suffering regular seizures and requiring 24/7 care. He's been receiving SSAH for about 12 years after spending four years on a wait-list. Bellefeuille said before the pandemic, it would typically take between two and four weeks to be repaid for expenses the family incurred, but that has tripled since March. Claims she submitted at the end of August weren't repaid until December. "It's an added stress that as a parent of a special-needs child we don't need. We have frustration on a daily basis," she said. Ministry blames delay on new recipients The problem isn't limited to families in Ottawa. Numerous others across Ontario have contacted CBC with similar concerns about excessive delays in receiving repayments since last spring, sometimes placing them in financially precarious positions. Last spring, the province did provide families with some funding up front specifically because of COVID-19, but for many that money was spent long ago. The ministry acknowledged there's been a delay in reimbursing families in more than a dozen jurisdictions east of Toronto, blaming it on the administration associated with 1,300 new families that recently joined the program, as well as pandemic-related technical problems. "Families can expect to receive reimbursements for November over the next 20 business days," the ministry wrote in an email to CBC late last week.
Moncton, N.B., councillors voted Monday to release $2 million to a non-profit seeking to open affordable housing units in the city before it has met some of the conditions council set when originally approving the funding. Rising Tide Community Initiatives Inc. plans to buy property to open 125 units of affordable housing and support services for tenants over three years. City council voted to approve spending $6 million on the plan in November, but attached four conditions. Those included obtaining matching provincial start-up funding, securing long-term funding beyond the three years, and two related to establishing a long-term plan and the organization's governance. While the province agreed to provide matching support, city staff told council that the other conditions have yet to be fully met. Dale Hicks, a co-founder of Rising Tide, said several governance-related things like obtaining charity status are still underway, but there are properties that could be purchased soon. "We've been working with city staff and everybody was quite aware that the some of the conditions that were outlined in that motion could be addressed right away, that was going to take several months for them to be addressed," Hicks said Monday evening. Hicks said the organization is preparing to hire a few staff members and has a list of potential properties to purchase, one that keeps changing because of the region's hot housing market. He said Rising Tide is also awaiting word on whether it will receive federal funding through the Rapid Housing Initiative, which could alter its plans. That money needs to be spent within a year. Rising Tide was launched last year to meet the city's affordable housing strategy objective that calls for creation of an entity that would boost the amount of lower-cost housing in the city. Rising Tide's business plan called for those living in the units to be charged $300 per month, with the organization hiring staff who would provide tenants with wraparound support services. The first year would see 25 housing units opened. Hicks said he expects to be able to accomplish that goal this year and the city releasing the funding will help make that possible. Monday's council vote followed a previous debate about the issue during a private council meeting, with Monday's discussion mainly around whether to require the organization to provide public updates on its progress through the year. "What came out of the meeting, my understanding was that we were going to try to get this out to them as quickly as possible that this was done," Coun. Bryan Butler said. Marc Landry, the city manager, told councillors staff are working with the organization to ensure the other conditions are met. Money from reserve accounts A condition for Rising Tide to provide three updates this year was added before council voted unanimously to release the funding. Coun. Susan Edgett suggested those updates happen before the city authorizes releasing the 2022 contribution of $2 million. The money to pay for this year's contribution will come from reserve accounts, money already collected through taxes but held for future city spending.
A Russian court jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny on Tuesday, ignoring the West in a ruling the opposition politician blamed on President Vladimir Putin's personal hatred and fear of him. The Moscow court handed Navalny a three-and-a-half-year sentence, but his lawyer said the anti-corruption blogger would actually serve two years and eight months in jail because of time already spent under house arrest. The decision, which followed nationwide protests calling for Navalny's release, will further strain relations with the West, which is considering imposing sanctions on Russia over its handling of the case.