As COVID-19 cases surge in Ontario and Quebec, hospitals in both provinces are preparing in case they can't treat everyone and laying out the criteria for determining who gets prioritized for critical care.
As COVID-19 cases surge in Ontario and Quebec, hospitals in both provinces are preparing in case they can't treat everyone and laying out the criteria for determining who gets prioritized for critical care.
Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) now says the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months in order to boost the number of Canadians being vaccinated. For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, that means going from a three week interval to a full four months. "NACI recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine up to four months after the first," the committee said in a statement. Prior to this new recommendation, NACI had said that the maximum interval between the first and second shots of the Moderna vaccine should be four weeks, the interval for the Pfizer-BioNTech product should be three weeks and the interval for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should be 12 weeks. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. Since first doses of all three vaccines have been shown to dramatically increase immunity to the disease, or to significantly reduce the illness associated with contracting COVID-19, the committee said stretching the interval would help protect more Canadians sooner. NACI said that it reviewed evidence from two clinical trials that looked at how effective the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were after a single dose. Those studies, NACI said, showed the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines started providing some level of protection 12 to 14 days after the first dose. By the time the second dose was administered — 19 to 42 days after the first — the first shot was shown to be 92 per cent effective. Population studies find lower protection Outside of clinical trials, NACI looked at the effectiveness of a single shot of these two vaccines in the populations of Quebec, British Columbia, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States. NACI said that analysis showed the effectiveness of a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine was between 70 per cent and 80 per cent among health care workers, long-term care residents, elderly populations and the general public. "While this is somewhat lower than the efficacy demonstrated after one dose in clinical trials, it is important to note that vaccine effectiveness in a general population setting is typically lower than efficacy from the controlled setting of a clinical trial, and this is expected to be the case after series completion as well," NACI said. The committee said that published data from an AstraZeneca clinical trial indicated that delaying the second dose 12 weeks or more provided better protections against symptomatic disease compared to shorter intervals between doses. Earlier this week, before NACI changed its interval advice, B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Henry said data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and countries around the world showed a "miraculous" protection level of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Moderna or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The head of Moderna's Canadian operations, Patricia Gauthier, said Monday that the company's own trials, and the conditions under which the vaccine was approved by Health Canada, are tied to a four-week interval. "That being said, we're in times of pandemic and we can understand that there are difficult decisions to be made," Gauthier said. "This then becomes a government decision. We stand by the product monograph approved by Health Canada, but governments ... can make their own decisions." Gauthier said she was not aware of any studies done or led by Moderna on what happens when the interval between the first and second doses is changed from four weeks to four months. 'We have to do it safely and watch carefully' Dr. David Naylor, who has been named to a federal task force charged with planning a national campaign to see how far the virus has spread, said the data have been "very encouraging." "The evidence is there for the concept of further delay," Naylor told CBC News Network's Power & Politics today. "We [had] trial data from earlier showing that going out from 90 days, a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective. So things are triangulating." He said health officials need to pay close attention to the data coming out of other countries to determine if the protection provided by the first dose remains strong four months after it was administered. "We do it because we can cover more people with a single dose of the vaccine, spread the protection, prevent more severe disease and prevent fatalities, and the evidence is clear that that's what you can do if you spread those doses out widely. But we have to do it safely and watch carefully," Naylor told host Vassy Kapelos. Watch: The evidence is there for the 'concept of further delay' of second doses: Dr. Naylor: Storage and transport recommendations also changed Health Canada also announced today that after reviewing a submission from Pfizer-BioNTech, it would authorize changes to the way the vaccine is handled in Canada. The new rules allow the vaccine to be stored and transported in a standard freezer with a temperature of between -25 C and -15 C for up to two weeks, instead of the previous requirement that it be stored in ultra-cold conditions of -80 C to -60 C. Vials of the vaccine stored or transported at this higher temperature for no longer than two weeks remain stable and safe and can then be returned to ultra-cold freezers once, said the department.
By Jamie Mountain Local Journalism Initiative Reporter EARLTON – A set of stop signs that had been installed recently in Earlton was the unfortunate victim of theft and vandalism. Acting public works foreman Caleb Fotheringham told Armstrong Township council at its regular meeting on February 24 that he was notified on February 14 that two stop signs, along with an all-way sign below the stop sign, had been stolen. The signs are located at the intersection of 10th street and Sixth Avenue, near the Earlton Recreation Centre. “After investigating I noticed that the stop ahead sign had been broken off as well and thrown into a ravine,” Fotheringham told council. He noted that there had been a fresh snowfall the night before the incident, which fortunately made it easy to track down the culprits. “I called the police and an officer and I went to the house. We spoke with the residents and we were able to get the signs back. I told the offenders that a bill would be coming their way for my time and for the 4x4 posts they broke.” Fotheringham said they wouldn’t be pressing charges in light of that, which the offenders agreed to. The stop signs were originally erected at the intersection back in the fall as there were speeding concerns in that area of Earlton with cars entering and leaving the town. At the time, council felt it was the best option to combat the speeding issues. Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker
SOUTH DUNDAS – Two employees of the Municipality of South Dundas have left their positions in the last month, and a third person is retiring. Recreation program coordinator Jamie Scott resigned from his position, with his last day being on February 16th. Scott was with the municipality for nearly two years and hired in May 2019. Meagan Bingley, who was business retention and expansion coordinator for South Dundas’ economic development department, departed to return to the insurance industry. Bingley was hired in October 2020. Director of Corporate Services andClerk Brenda Brunt informed council last week of her upcoming retirement. Her nearly 31 year career with South Dundas and pre-amalgamation Williamsburg Township has seen Brunt serve as clerk, marriage commissioner and at one point acting-CAO. More information on Brunt’s retirement will be presented in a report to council, which is expected on March 22nd. Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
Brad Gushue won his first Canadian men's curling championship in a sold-out hometown venue that erupted in joy after his game-winning throw. The three-time champion will try to win another Tim Hortons Brier title in an arena setting that will be the complete opposite. Play begins Friday night in a spectator-free Markin MacPhail Centre as elite men's domestic curling returns after a long absence due to the pandemic. The Scotties Tournament of Hearts provided a successful kickoff to a run of six straight bonspiels at Canada Olympic Park. Now the Brier takes centre stage as 18 teams — many of them competing for the first time in months — square off for the right to hoist the Tankard. "It's going to be interesting and really I have no idea what to expect," Gushue said. "I think once we get through the first weekend, you'll probably settle in and know the level (everyone) is at and then you just kind of accept it and battle it out." The preliminary round will continue through March 11. The top eight teams will qualify for the two-day championship round. The top three teams will advance the playoffs on March 14. The second- and third-place teams will meet in an afternoon semifinal with the winner to face the first-place side in the evening final. It has been four years since Gushue won his first Brier in front of a euphoric crowd in St. John's, N.L. He beat Alberta's Brendan Bottcher last year in Kingston, Ont. The Canada skip is listed as an early 2.35-to-1 favourite to repeat by online sports book Coolbet Canada, just ahead of Northern Ontario's Brad Jacobs, wild-card entry Kevin Koe and Bottcher. "I think the fact that there have been so few games and the practice time hasn't been there for a lot of teams, it's a bit of a crapshoot to be honest," Gushue said. "I think this could go a lot of different ways than what it would if we had all had our regular run-up to the Brier." Like many rinks at the recent Scotties Tournament of Hearts, most Brier teams were invited by their respective associations to play after the cancellation of annual playdowns due to the pandemic. "I think we'll probably be as patient as we can because I think everybody is going to make some mistakes," Gushue said. "It's the teams that don't compound those mistakes that are going to be successful." There is no play-in game this year. Ontario's Glenn Howard, Koe's Alberta-based team and Mike McEwen's rink from Manitoba are the wild-card entries. Koe will attempt to win a record fifth Brier title as a skip, a mark he shares with Ernie Richardson, Randy Ferbey and Kevin Martin. Koe is a headliner in Pool B along with Gushue, Ontario's John Epping and Saskatchewan's Matt Dunstone, who finished third last year in Kingston. They're joined by Quebec's Mike Fournier, Greg Smith of Newfoundland and Labrador, P.E.I.'s Eddie MacKenzie, Nunavut's Peter Mackey and Jamie Murphy's Nova Scotia team that will be skipped by Scott McDonald. Bottcher, McEwen and Howard are in Pool A along with Jacobs, Manitoba's Jason Gunnlaugson, B.C.'s Steve Laycock, New Brunswick's James Grattan, Greg Skauge of the Northwest Territories and Yukon's Dustin Mikkelsen. The Brier winner will represent Canada at the April 2-11 world men's curling championship in the Calgary bubble. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter. Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press
Jasper is another step closer to seeing the Connaught Drive Affordable Apartments become reality following a decision by municipal council at their March 2 regular meeting. Council approved installation of utility services to the GC, GB and GA parcels in 2021 in conjunction with the construction of a 40-unit apartment building, a modular construction containing 32 one-bedroom and eight two-bedroom suites. The project represents the first phase for lands identified to host new affordable housing in the community. Council also directed administration to develop the borrowing bylaws required to fund Connaught site utility services, to a maximum of $3.647 million and present them at a future regular council meeting. Administration will also allocate $350,250 in the 2021 budget for upfront project costs for the Connaught Drive Affordable Apartments, subject to approval of a Rapid Housing Initiative grant applied for by the Jasper Community Housing Corporation. At the start of council’s discussion, Coun. Bert Journault said he was opposed to spending the money to extend the services to parcel GA, noting that it was unfair to saddle the taxpayer with the costs. “But I certainly support the proposal for the development of that area,” Journault said. “That’s a late property. It will provide our community with a lot of houses.” Deputy mayor Helen Kelleher-Empey noted all the work should be done simultaneously as the area had many residents and two hotels. “I know it’s a lot of money up front but if we’re going to tear up the west end of Connaught I think we should do the work all at once,” Kelleher-Empey said. “Let’s do the work. Let’s get it done and safe (for) the residents and the businesses on that end of town, to not be doing this piece by piece. Do it at once. It saves money in the end.” Coun. Paul Butler agreed with Journeault initially, while Coun. Jenna McGrath pointed out that administration said parcel GA is important for technical reasons. Chief administrative officer Bill Given said the recommendation is built on the requirement to reduce and eliminate the risk of water stagnation via a dead ending, which would make installing utilities for just sites GB and GC more challenging and costly if not impossible. He also noted an additional challenge is about firefighting capacity. “In order to maintain the appropriate volume of water required for fire flows for the hydrants and for high density housing, as is likely on GB and GC parcels, we need to have a high volume of water coming into the sites,” Given said. “This is not about encouraging or supporting development on GA. It is about maintaining appropriate fire flows.” A table showed that servicing just parcel GC would total about $1,840,434, while servicing all three sites at the same time would cost an additional $1,806,666 for a total of $3,647,100. In contrast, if a phased approach is taken, additional incremental costs of $211,100 would be required. By servicing all three parcels at once, $211,000 would be saved and there would be support for private sector interest in near term development on parcel GB. As well, disruption would be minimized to Connaught Drive. The annual debt servicing costs on a $1.8-million debenture over a 25-year term are about $97,500 and about $195,000 on a $3.6-million debenture over a 25-year term. Wastewater Treatment Plant Council directed administration to enter into contract negotiation with Aquatera Utilities Inc. for a 10-year operating contract of the Jasper Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). Since Jan. 27, 2020, the WWTP has been operated by a contracted service provider (EPCOR) under a one-year service agreement. The agreement was extended until June 30, 2021 to complete the RFP process and ensure an orderly transition. A standard services agreement (SSA) was included in the RFP to help proponents refine their services proposals while mitigating the risk of misunderstanding and disagreement during final contract negotiation. “This is a substantial contract,” said Mayor Richard Ireland. The SSA contract will be negotiated and ratified by council and utility rates will need to be adjusted annually. Administration doesn’t anticipate an increase of utility rates for the 2021 year. Canada Healthy Communities Initiative Council carried a motion to approve the submission of an application to the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative for up to $250,000 for improvements to public spaces within the townsite. The improvements include a streetscape plan, sidewalk improvements, planters, benches, wayfinding improvements and a patio grant. Applications must be submitted by March 9. Review committees will start meeting to make decisions on March 10 and all applicants will receive results by April 30. Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
WASHINGTON — The United States is at a COVID-19 crossroads — and public health officials are worried about which path it will choose. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, is urging Americans not to let their guard down. For a second straight day, Walensky is warning about the potential for highly contagious COVID-19 variants to undo the country's hard-won progress. Her message is competing with a torrent of seemingly good news. President Joe Biden says the U.S. will have enough COVID-19 vaccine doses in stock for every adult American by the end of May. And a number of states are easing their pandemic restrictions, most recently Texas, which is planning to reopen completely by next Wednesday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
Collège Boréal’s practical nursing program will be available in Hearst and Kapuskasing earlier than expected. The two-year program is currently available in Sudbury, Timmins and Toronto. Feb.16, the college announced the expansion of the program to all of its seven campuses including Hearst, Kapuskasing, Nipissing and Windsor. Originally, the program was supposed to be available starting September 2022. The decision to advance the program in Hearst, Nipissing and Kapuskasing to September 2021 was made taking into account the ongoing pandemic and the dire need for healthcare professionals in northern communities, said Collège Boréal’s director of Nipissing campus Rachel Quesnel. “We’re answering the call from our communities. Our communities spoke loudly, so we’re just making sure we can help with the dire need for healthcare professionals right now,” she said. “We already had a need for professionals before COVID, so we can understand that with COVID it has precipitated that need.” The program in Windsor will go ahead as initially planned in 2022 in order to undertake renovations and get the labs prepared, Quesnel said. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
HALIFAX — A First Nations chief in Nova Scotia has released a letter from Ottawa outlining a plan to have Indigenous fishers participate in moderate livelihood fisheries during the commercial season. In the letter released today by Sipekne'katik Chief Mike Sack, Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan says her department wants to give Indigenous fishers access to commercial fisheries through voluntary buyouts of existing licences. She says her department is prepared to negotiate agreements with Indigenous communities to establish "small-scale" moderate livelihood fisheries during the commercial season in the "near term." Jordan says the fisheries will operate while negotiations continue on how First Nations in Nova Scotia can affirm their treaty rights to fish for a moderate livelihood. She says any moderate livelihood fishing activity must be authorized by her office through licences issued under the Fisheries Act. Indigenous fishers in Nova Scotia say a 1999 Supreme Court of Canada decision affirms the Mi'kmaq treaty right to fish for a "moderate livelihood'' when and where they want — even outside the federally regulated commercial fishing season. That decision was later clarified by the court, however, which said Ottawa could regulate the Mi'kmaq treaty right for conservation and other limited purposes. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
A capsule look at the 18 teams competing in the March 5-14 Canadian men's curling championship in Calgary (team members listed skip to lead along with home club location). Teams listed in alphabetical order in their pools: POOL A ALBERTA Brendan Bottcher, Darren Moulding, Brad Thiessen, Karrick Martin; Edmonton. Bottcher is looking to end a streak of three straight second-place finishes at the Brier. Don Bartlett will handle coaching duties. He won in Calgary in 1997 with Kevin Martin — Karrick's father — at skip. BRITISH COLUMBIA Steve Laycock, Jim Cotter, Andrew Nerpin, Rick Sawatsky; Vernon The veteran team will hit a milestone in its opener as Laycock, Cotter and Sawatsky will all reach the plateau of 100 Brier games played. Tyler Tardi, a two-time world junior champion, is team alternate. MANITOBA Jason Gunnlaugson, Adam Casey, Matt Wozniak, Connor Njegovan; Morris. Gunnlaugson lost the play-in game in 2018 before reaching the main draw last year. Casey has previously played for three other provinces at the Brier (N.L., Saskatchewan and P.E.I.). NEW BRUNSWICK James Grattan, Jonathan Beuk, Andy McCann, Jamie Brannen; Oromocto. Beuk will replace Paul Dobson at vice-skip for this event. Grattan made his first career Brier appearance in Calgary in 1997. NORTHERN ONTARIO Brad Jacobs, Marc Kennedy, E.J. Harnden, Ryan Harnden, Sault Ste. Marie. Jacobs and the Harnden brothers won Olympic gold in 2014 with Ryan Fry. They enter play as the top-ranked team in the country. NORTHWEST TERRITORIES Greg Skauge, Tom Naugler, Brad Patzer, Robert Borden; Yellowknife. Longtime territorial rep Jamie Koe didn't participate in this year's N.W.T. championship. Skauge, a Brier alternate for Koe on three previous occasions, won a two-team playdown for the berth. WILD CARD NO. 1 Mike McEwen, Reid Carruthers, Derek Samagalski, Colin Hodgson; West St. Paul, Man. One of three wild-card entries in the field, McEwen earned the first spot based on his No. 5 national ranking. He won the play-in game last year but didn't make the four-team Page playoffs. WILD CARD NO. 3 Glenn Howard, Scott Howard, David Mathers, Tim March; Penetanguishene, Ont. Howard recently hurt his ribs while snowmobiling and will likely turn to alternate Wayne Middaugh more than originally planned. They won a world title together in 2012 with a different lineup. YUKON Dustin Mikkelsen, Alexx Peech, Brandon Hagen, Robert Mckinnon; Whitehorse. Mikkelsen was acclaimed for the spot after the team skipped by 2020 Yukon champ Thomas Scoffin was ruled ineligible to compete in the territorial playdown. POOL B CANADA Brad Gushue, Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant, Geoff Walker; St. John’s. Gushue won his third title in four years last season in Kingston, Ont. The team won two bonspiels in Halifax last fall. This will be the first time this season that they've played with the Alberta-based Walker. NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR Greg Smith, Greg Blyde, Alex McDonah, Evan McDonah; St. John’s. With an average age of 22.25 years, Smith will skip the youngest team in the field. He's the only one in the foursome with Brier experience. NOVA SCOTIA Scott McDonald, Paul Flemming, Scott Saccary, Phil Crowell; Halifax. McDonald will be skipping the Bluenosers as a replacement for Jamie Murphy, who declined to make the trip west. McDonald reached the championship pool in his lone Brier appearance in 2019 with Ontario. NUNAVUT Peter Mackey, Jeff Nadeau, Greg Howard, Jeff Chown; Iqaluit. Mackey beat Wade Kingdon in a two-team territorial playdown last January that went the five-game distance. ONTARIO John Epping, Ryan Fry, Mat Camm, Brent Laing; Toronto. Epping holds the No. 2 position in the Canadian rankings and is looking for his first Brier title. Laing leads all players in the field with a .759 career winning percentage at this event. PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND Eddie MacKenzie, Tyler Smith, Sean Ledgerwood, Ryan Lowery; Crapaud/Montague. MacKenzie returns for the sixth Brier appearance of his career. He made his debut in 1994 at Red Deer. QUEBEC Mike Fournier, Martin Crete, Felix Asselin, Jean-Francois Trepanier; Glenmore/Etchemin/Valleyfield. Crete is the experienced Brier hand of this foursome with eight career appearances at the national championship. Fournier, Asselin and Trepanier return for the first time since they debuted in 2018. SASKATCHEWAN Matt Dunstone, Braeden Moskowy, Kirk Muyres, Dustin Kidby; Wadena. Dunstone broke through at the Brier last season with a third-place finish. The two-time Canadian junior champion is looking for Saskatchewan's first Brier title since Rick Folk's victory in 1980. WILD CARD NO. 2 Kevin Koe, B.J. Neufeld, John Morris, Ben Hebert; Calgary. Koe leads all players in the field with an .824 career winning percentage in the Brier playoffs (14-3). John Morris replaced Colton Flasch at second last March. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter. Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press
“Klara and the Sun,” by Kazuo Ishiguro (Knopf) “Klara and the Sun,” by Nobel-winning writer Kazuo Ishiguro, takes readers on a journey through the mind of Klara, one of many artificial friends who have been built to keep lonely children company. Klara is a one-of-a-kind machine whose keen observational abilities are consistently praised by the human beings who meet her. She may be a machine, but her thoughts and emotions are deeply real. Klara is chosen at the store by a young girl named Josie who connects with her immediately. She comes home with her to learn that Josie has a serious illness. Ever devoted to the child who chose her, Klara takes it upon herself to ensure that Josie remains safe and healthy for as long as possible. Ishiguro creates a fascinating world through Klara’s eyes as she works to understand how humans operate, while at the same time working through a growing number of feelings of her own. Throughout the book, Klara is more or less treated as a person and sometimes, you may even forget that she isn’t one. Ishiguro’s prose are soft and quiet. It feels like the perfect book to curl up with on a Sunday afternoon. He allows the story to unfold slowly and organically, revealing enough on every page to continue piquing the reader’s curiosity. The novel is an intriguing take on how artificial intelligence might play a role in our futures. It is a poignant meditation on love and loneliness, and asks us to ponder whether someone like Klara can every truly embody the human spirit, or if the soul is something that can never be manufactured. —- Read more about Molly Sprayregen at https://www.mollyspray.com. Molly Sprayregen, The Associated Press
Toronto police say a man who was in a position of authority with the Royal Canadian Air Cadet Program has been charged with sexual assault. The force says the man was with the cadet program in Toronto in November 2019 and allegedly sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl. They say the 27-year-old man surrendered to police on Feb. 24 and is no longer in his position of authority. Police say the man faces charges that include sexual assault and sexual exploitation of a young person. He is scheduled to appear in court on April 12. Police say there may be other alleged victims. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
SHERBROOKE – It’s taken eight months and a million dollars, but Historic Sherbrooke Village has managed to paint the town red … and green … and brown … and, indeed, every restoration colour the living museum can conjure to bring tourists back in a post-pandemic world. Frankly, with visitation and revenue from visitation down by 80 per cent in 2020, compared with the previous year’s season, it’s not a moment too soon, notes Executive Director Stephen Flemming: “Visitor volume was very low in 2020, with all of our events, learning programs and public activities halted due to Covid-19. Still, he says, “It was a great year for site improvement and for this we owe a world of gratitude to all levels of government, our staff and our contractors, who assisted in this major undertaking. This 50th anniversary project is being completed on time and on budget and has fulfilled all objectives.” Last June, the Village received $1 million from the provincial government to renovate its world-renowned heritage properties by the end of the fiscal year, March 31, 2021. Since then, the grant – part of a province-wide, $228 million community stimulus package designed to offset the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic – has been used to repair and upgrade many of the living museum’s roughly 90 vintage structures, and complete work on a new community park. “I couldn’t be more pleased to see that they’ve succeeded during these very difficult times,” says Lloyd Hines, MLA for Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie and Minister of Transportation and Active Transit (formerly Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal), who represented the province at the announcement ceremony in June. “That wonderful facility was in urgent need of some major capital upgrades for sure, but I knew all along that they had great management.” Perhaps, but it was no walk in the historic park, either. Completed – or very near to completed – projects include: new roofs for Cool House, McMillan House, the nature centre, maintenance storage shed, courthouse, telephone office, boat shop, guide office and shed, the jailhouse, and Exhibit Centre, which also received major bathroom upgrades with accessibility components and outside work. The tearoom was fitted for a new roof, front and sides. St. James Church underwent a full renovation, receiving a new bell tower roof, front window replacements and glass, and an exterior paint job. The woodworking shop sported new windows and doors. Add to this: new LED street lights, 12 heat pumps throughout the Village, re-topped chimney flues, an expanded courthouse bathroom, and a new wheelchair-accessible park replete with gazebo. “Something like this does not come along every day,” says Rodney MacDougall, director of maintenance and restoration at the Village. “There were many challenges along the way … where you are put in charge of organizing a million-dollar budget, and making a village beautiful again. [But] I would absolutely do it again.” So would, it’s fair to say, Mark MacIsaac, who owns and operates MacIsaac Construction, the local construction firm contracted to manage much of the roofing. “It was great to see the historic architecture,” he says. “How well they did stuff back then … The quality of the work was amazing.” Says Lynn Hayne, the Village’s event manager: “Funding from the Canadian Heritage, COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Culture and Heritage and direction from Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal allowed us to add an extra week of work for much of the Village staff and purchase cabinets and window coverings to preserve displays and protect the provincial heritage collection against sun damage and fading. In addition, it covered the purchase of electronics to catalogue and record collection items.” According to Flemming, all stimulus funds were spent in Nova Scotia, “with the vast majority spent close to home. This project created jobs and extended seasons for crews and created a major economic stimulus in our community at a time when it was dearly needed. Sherbrooke Village is ready and able to help with recovery from impacts of Covid-19 on tourism along the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia.” Prior to the outbreak, Historic Sherbrooke Village was one of the province’s must-see destinations, attracting an average of 25,000 visitors a year from across Canada and the world. Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
The Fort Nelson First Nation and the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality are voicing their support for a proposed wood pellet facility after a Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report criticized the project, which involves cutting down vast tracts of forest and turning them into pellets for export overseas. Most wood pellets are made with waste materials like branches and trees that can’t be used to produce lumber, combined with milling byproducts such as wood chips and sawdust. But Peak Renewables doesn’t have access to byproducts and plans to log whole trees for pellets, which would be shipped overseas and burned to produce heat and electricity. The report said the plan would not do enough to support Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, but those communities disagree. Last year, the First Nation signed an equity agreement with Peak Renewables to ensure it has a say in logging activities and plant operations. “Without talking to us, conclusive statements about Fort Nelson First Nation’s forestry projects have been made by groups that are far removed from our territory,” Chief Sharleen Gale said in a Feb. 23 news release. “These statements totally fail to take into account the livelihoods of our people and our extensive land stewardship work.” The Narwhal requested an interview with the Fort Nelson First Nation but did not receive a response prior to publication. Northern Rockies Mayor Gary Foster told The Narwhal the majority of community members welcome the proposed pellet plant, which will create jobs and economic stimulation in a town that has suffered over a decade of recession. “There’s always going to be a few people in any community that are going to be opposed,” he said in an interview. “And we have a few of those. But honestly, I would be shocked if it was more than five per cent of the population.” As The Narwhal recently reported, the province is currently considering a proposal from Canfor to transfer its logging licence to Peak Renewables, which would give the pellet company logging rights to over 500,000 cubic metres of wood per year. The public has until March 3 to comment on the proposal. Fort Nelson residents have been struggling since 2008, when the city’s two mills shut down. The ensuing recession saw people lose their homes and businesses. For the past 13 years, the region has had very little commercial forestry activity. There have long been calls for more jobs in the region. According to Peak Renewables, the proposed project would create 60 jobs at the plant, 300 logging jobs and 150 secondary jobs in related industries like maintenance and equipment supply. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report said the plant would only employ around 50 people and compared that to the 600 people who were employed between the two Fort Nelson mills. Foster told The Narwhal an apples-to-apples comparison is misleading, as mills are increasingly turning to automation, which means fewer jobs are created. “If those same mills existed here today, they would not be employing anywhere near the number of people they had employed then,” he said. As part of its plans to build the pellet facility, Peak Renewables bought the pair of closed mills from Canfor for around $10 million last year. Ben Parfitt, resource policy analyst for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and author of the report, said he is worried the project will lead to unsustainable logging and won’t provide the economic stimulus needed. “From a jobs perspective and from a forest health perspective, this is not going to take the region in the direction that I think it wants to go with, which is to ensure that there is a maximum number of jobs at the local level that help to stimulate the local economy and that they have good healthy forests now and in the future to work with,” said Parfitt, who is also a freelance contributor to The Narwhal. In a news release circulated with the report, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Conservation North and Stand.Earth called on the province to delay its decision and consider other uses for the forest that could create more jobs while using less wood. But the Fort Nelson First Nation said the licence transfer and proposed pellet plant align with its long-term goals to stimulate the economy and rebuild the local forest industry. “Our partnership allows us to own these opportunities, to create sustainable jobs and to chart a sustainable course for future generations,” Gale said in the statement. “The partnership is committed to both existing and future local value-added opportunities. This is reconciliation in action.” The nation and the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality also manage B.C.’s largest community forest, which was set up in 2019 and includes a licence to log over 200,000 cubic metres per year. In her statement, Gale called out critics for ignoring the benefits the pellet plant would bring to the region. “Public statements by people far removed from our community and the project have wholly failed to mention the project’s strong commitment to the development of both existing and future local value-added businesses, including Fort Nelson First Nation forestry tenures and the Fort Nelson First Nation community forest partnership with the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality.” Parfitt emphatically agreed that the Fort Nelson First Nation should control decisions made on its territory. He said his recommendation is for the province to hand over management of the entire Fort Nelson timber supply area to the Indigenous community and its local partners. The nation could then proceed with supporting Peak’s pellet plant or pursue other options. The province has never done this before and Fort Nelson’s harvestable forest is the second-largest in B.C. The timber supply area spans nearly one million hectares, which is about twice the size of P.E.I., from which over 2.5 million cubic metres of trees can be harvested every year. “There is nothing stopping the provincial government from turning the entire TSA over to the First Nation and to the non-Indigenous community in the region in order for them to have a substantial building block for figuring out what a new forest industry in the region could look like.” But Gale said its choice to partner with the pellet company and support the licence transfer is an inherent right. “Since Canada forced us onto reserves and claimed our land for themselves, we have been told how we should live in our own territory. We unquestionably hold the best knowledge of our territory and an unalienable right to self-determination and to freely pursue our economic, social and cultural development in our lands.” Foster said the biggest barrier to rebuilding a forest-based economy in Fort Nelson is the nature of the forests themselves. “We have valuable conifer in amongst not very valuable aspens,” he said. “In order to get at that conifer, you have to remove the aspen and you have to find a place for it — you can’t ship it down the rail line because it doesn’t have much value.” He said this is where Peak Renewables comes in. The company would log both trees, using the lowest-value and waste material for its pellet production. “Once you free up that conifer, then you’ve got a wood of sufficient value that you can ship out or manufacture into higher-value commodities,” Foster said. Peak Renewables told The Narwhal in an emailed statement that it would make sure trees that can be used for other purposes won’t be ground up for pellets. “We expect that the younger, high-quality aspen will go into either veneer or furniture stock, with any remaining material (branches and tree tops) being used for pellet production.” Peak Renewables added it would support local operations whenever possible. “[Spruce] will firstly go to the small independents in Fort Nelson and surrounding area, and then to other mills to support jobs in northern B.C. It just makes financial sense to try to use the logs as close as possible to where they are harvested.” Foster said without a facility like Peak’s proposed pellet plant, it wouldn’t be economically feasible to log the high-quality wood. “This is a first step and it’s a very important first step.” The proposed logging licence transfer has other critics. In a Feb. 22 article for Canadian Biomass, Gordon Murray, executive director of the Wood Pellet Association of Canada, said buyers of B.C. pellets are concerned about the proposal and logging intact forests to produce pellets won’t be well-received in the marketplace. “To put it bluntly, there is no market for pellets from the logging of vast forests for the sole purpose of pellet production,” he wrote. “WPAC does not support wood pellet manufacturing proposals that are predicated on the large-scale harvesting of forests for the sole purpose of pellet production.” Gary Fiege, president of the Public and Private Workers of Canada Union, which represents forestry workers, told The Narwhal there are better options. He said the aspen could be logged for oriented strand board, or OSB, adding that a mill to manufacture this product in nearby Fort St. John recently announced it was reopening after shutting down in 2019. OSB, which is similar to plywood, is widely used in construction and known for its structural strength. Fiege said if the aspen were used to produce OSB, it would not only provide more direct jobs at a mill, it would also stimulate the local and regional economy. But after 13 years with no proposal to restart the mills, locals are ready for an alternative. “The Fort Nelson First Nations and the Northern Rockies have been very clear [we will] make sure that our forests are sustainable, that we don’t over-log this area,” Foster said. “I’m very optimistic that as this takes hold, we will see more and more value-added [manufacturing] come into the community.” Matt Simmons, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Narwhal
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says extra vaccine shipments could make it possible to vaccinate all willing Canadian adults before September. The United States has an earlier target at the end of May, but Trudeau cautions against using the U.S., with its worse record of infections and deaths, as a guide for what Canada does.
PRAGUE, Czech Republic — The political crisis in Slovakia deepened on Wednesday after a member of the ruling coalition demanded a reconstruction of the Cabinet. The crisis was triggered by a secret deal to acquire Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine orchestrated by the country’s prime minister despite disagreement among his coalition partners. Richard Sulik, head of the Freedom and Solidarity party, said the situation in the coalition is so serious that “we can hardly continue this way.” “It’s evident we haven’t succeeded in the fight against the pandemic,” Sulik said. His party said unspecified changes in the government are needed for the coalition to continue. Sulik has often clashed with Prime Minister Igor Matovic over how to tackle the pandemic but the current crisis is the most serious problem the coalition has faced. Matovic has defended the deal to acquire 2 million Sputnik V vaccines, saying it will speed up the vaccination program in one of the European Union's countries hit hardest by the pandemic. But it was condemned by Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok, who was nominated to the post by Sulik’s party and who said the vaccine was a tool in Russia’s hybrid war against the West. Korcok said the purchase cast doubts on his country’s clear pro-Western orientation. Another coalition partner, the For People party, didn’t rule out an option to leave the coalition. The head of that party, Deputy Prime Minister Veronika Remisova, said any vaccine needs approval from the EU’s drug regulator. Matovic acknowledged on Wednesday that he acquired the Russian vaccine against the will of his partners but urged them not to use the conflict to destroy their coalition. “As the prime minister, I think it's my duty to do the maximum to save the lives and health of people in Slovakia,” he said in a video message. Remisova met Sulik and other leaders — including another critic of the Sputnik V deal, President Zuzana Caputova — over the crisis Wednesday. After the meeting, Sulik said his party was “by no means” in favour of early elections. Parliament speaker Boris Kollar, the leader of the fourth coalition party, We Are Family, called on his partners to put aside their disputes and negotiate a way to move forward. Kollar invited representatives of all the four coalition parties to meet later Wednesday. Pro-Western Matovic struck a deal last year to govern with the pro-business Freedom and Solidarity party; the conservative For People, a party established by former President Andrej Kiska; and We Are Family, a populist right-wing group that is allied with France’s far-right National Rally party. ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Karel Janicek, The Associated Press
Dr. Heather Morrison says she is glad to have another weapon in her COVID-19 arsenal now that the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine has been approved for use in people under 65. "Every vaccine is good for us and we will use it," she said in a COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday. In addition to the AstraZeneca vaccine, Canada has also approved vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said it is up to the provinces and territories to determine who is best placed to get which vaccines, but all are safe and effective in reducing serious illness and death connected to COVID-19. Premier Dennis King said he told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a discussion Tuesday that P.E.I. is ready to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine. "I confirmed to him that P.E.I. wants to get as many people vaccinated as fast as we possibly can to get through this and that we would gladly be accepting the AstraZeneca vaccine and putting in in the rotation through public health." Morrison said the first shipments of the new vaccine should arrive within the next week. Not recommended for those over 65 The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has recommended against using the AstraZeneca vaccine for people older than 65. Morrison said initially, the AstraZeneca vaccine will be reserved for "younger healthy adults that are front-line essential workers in certain categories." Morrison reiterated that she'd like to see at least 80 per cent of P.E.I.'s adult population — which would be just over 100,000 Islanders — choose to get vaccinated with one of the vaccines. "We know we will have enough vaccine," she said. More from CBC P.E.I.
One of Kamloops’ most wanted, who had been on the lam for nearly a year, has been arrested in Vancouver. Robert James Rennie, 33, was arrested on Monday (March 1) by Vancouver Police officers following a traffic stop at 2:20 a.m. He was wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for charges of armed robbery, assault with a weapon and forcible confinement stemming from a drug-related Valentine’s Day robbery and kidnapping in 2019. Rennie was one of three men arrested in connection with the incident. The other two men — Michael Mathieson and Justin Daniels — have since been sentenced. The robbery and kidnapping took place in the midst of a violent local gang war and involved people active in the Kamloops drug trade. In January, Mathieson, 38, was sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver to 6.5 years in a federal prison after being convicted of armed robbery, unlawful confinement, kidnapping with a firearm and assault. Incriminating text messages and selfie photos on a phone seized by anti-gang police officers led to his conviction. After credit for time served in pre-trial custody — 1.5 days for every day served — Mathieson has less than six years left to serve. Daniels, charged alongside Mathieson, pleaded guilty last August and was sentenced in October 2020 to 7.5 years in a federal penitentiary. The 40-year-old pleaded guilty to counts of armed robbery, kidnapping with a firearm and robbery. After being given credit for time served, he has 5.5 years left behind bars. Police stumbled upon a kidnapping in progress in the early-morning hours of Feb. 14, 2019, while monitoring a wiretap as part of a separate, ongoing investigation. The violent spree began hours earlier when a man was beaten and robbed inside a suite at the Hospitality Inn in Lower Sahali. Assailants then went to the Acadian Inn, downtown on Columbia Street, where they held a couple against their will and lured an acquaintance to the scene with the promise of money. The target arrived with his girlfriend and another man. The two men were robbed, strip-searched and hog-tied. The woman was then kidnapped and taken to the target’s home in Dallas, which was ransacked, then driven to Kelowna. In Kelowna, the kidnapped woman was handed over to a driver, to be taken back to Kamloops. On the drive from Kelowna to Kamloops, she was rescued by police during a high-risk traffic stop in Falkland. On Feb. 15, 2019, Mounties arrested Daniels at a home on Bernard Avenue in Kelowna. Mathieson was arrested five days later, on Feb. 20, 2019, in a home on Brandon Avenue on the North Shore of Kamloops. Rennie was arrested during a traffic stop two days after that, on Feb. 22, 2019, in Kaleden, a small town 13 kilometres south of Penticton, along Highway 97 and on Skaha Lake. Rennie, who had obtained bail following his arrest, fled from a halfway house in April 2020 and had been on the run since, having failed to show up for his trial last September. He remains in custody, with his next court appearance scheduled for March 11. Michael Potestio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kamloops This Week
After nearly four straight months, top doctors in Toronto and the Peel Region are asking the province to lift stay-at-home orders. Both are recommending a move into the grey zone of Ontario's pandemic framework as soon as March 8, which is when the province's current stay-at-home orders for the regions are set to expire. The move would still see the regions locked down but with what Toronto's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa called "more flexibility." Residents "earned this change... often at a personal sacrifice," de Villa said during a news conference on Wednesday. However, both she and her Peel region counterpart, Dr. Lawrence Loh, cautioned people to continue to stay at home, only leaving for essential reasons. "I know it has been long and we all want to get back to normal," Loh said during a separate news conference, but "chasing normal too quickly could mean losing the progress that we've made to this point." WATCH | Toronto's mayor, top doctor recommend lifting stay-at-home order, moving back into grey zone The updates come as Ontario reports an additional 958 cases of the illness. The total number of deaths connected with the novel coronavirus has now surpassed 7,000 in the province. However, the new cases reported Wednesday are the lowest single-day increase logged in the last two weeks. In Toronto, there were 290 new cases reported, according to de Villa. In Peel region, Mayor Bonnie Crombie said they're averaging 95 cases per 100,000 people, an increase from 88 cases per 100,000 people last week. A visibly disappointed Crombie had hoped to move Peel region into the less severe red zone. "I'm really hoping this week's case numbers are just an anomaly," she said, adding she will be asking Loh to do weekly reviews "in the hope that we can progress to the red zone and beyond very soon." Both de Villa and Loh expressed concerns over the rise of COVID-19 variants, which are more transmissible than the original virus. In Peel region, Loh said there are currently 100 confirmed cases of variants of concern, up from just five a week ago. In Toronto, de Villa said "the number of cases screening positive for a variant has more than doubled." Both acknowledged how hard this announcement will be for some residents who have now spent 15 straight weeks under stay-at-home orders — 100 days. A spokesperson for the Ontario minister of health said residents can expect an announcement this Friday, adding that a decision will be made "in consultation with local medical officers of health." Loh urged caution, saying that what happens in the coming weeks will determine whether Peel region begins its exit from the pandemic or descends into a third wave. Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel's top doctor, is urging caution when it comes to reopening, saying 'a third wave would devastate our small businesses.' (CBC) "I don't want to reopen only to have the province pull the emergency brake," he said. "A third wave would devastate our small businesses." In Toronto, de Villa encouraged people to act in ways that do not "squander" this opportunity. "While I believe moving into grey is reasonable, we are also scaling up enhanced safety measures to protect those essential front-line workers who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19," she said. "This is the right approach," said Toronto Mayor John Tory, adding that "vaccinations taken together with regional and economic realities make it the right time for Toronto to move cautiously back." Both Toronto and Peel region's vaccination efforts are being hampered by delays in supply. "Vaccines do us no good if they're not in arms yet," Loh said. "We must stay the course."
TORONTO — Veteran Canadian strawweight Randa (Quiet Storm) Markos will face Luana Pinheiro at UFC 260 on March 27. It will mark the 17th UFC fight for the 35-year-old from Windsor, Ont., who made her debut in the promotion in December 2014. Markos (10-10-1) has lost three straight and four of her last five, dropping her record in the UFC to 6-9-1. Markos lost a decision to Japan's Kanako Murata last time out in November. Pinheiro (8-1-0) is making her UFC debut after posting a first-round KO win in November over Stephanie Frausto in Dana White's Contender Series. The 27-year-old Brazilian has won her last six outings. The main event at the UFC's Apex production facility in Las Vegas sees Stipe Miocic (20-3-0) put his heavyweight title on the line against No. 1 contender Francis (The Predator) Ngannou (15-3-0). Miocic won by unanimous decision when they met at UFC 220 in January 2018, There are two other Canadians on the UFC 260 card. Flyweight Gillian (The Savage) Robertson, a native of Niagara Falls, Ont., who makes her home in Port Saint Lucie, Fla., faces Miranda (Fear The) Maverick and Quebec middleweight Marc-Andre (Power Bar) Barriault takes on Morocco's Abu (Gladiator) Azaitar. Robertson and Miranda were supposed to meet Feb. 13 at UFC 258 but the Canadian had to withdraw due to a non-COVID-related illness. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
BISMARCK, N.D. — Republican and Democratic legislative leaders were finalizing a resolution Wednesday to expel a North Dakota House member accused of threatening and sexually harassing women at the state capitol. House Majority Leader Chet Pollert told The Associated Press that the resolution to expel GOP Rep. Luke Simons will be introduced on the House floor Thursday. Simons, who has denied wrongdoing and refused Republican leaders' calls for him to resign, is accused of a pattern of sexually aggressive, lewd, and threatening behaviour, dating back to shortly after he took office in 2017. The GOP-controlled Legislature reconvened Wednesday after its midsession break known as crossover. Pollert and Democratic House Minority Leader Josh Boschee said they worked together over the recess to craft the expulsion resolution. Legislative officials said there is no record of any lawmaker being expelled since statehood. Pollert said lawmakers on Wednesday will discuss the process outlining the potential removal of Simons. The resolution could be debated by a yet-to-be formed committee, an existing committee, or by the entire House, the leaders said. Pollert and Boschee said they preferred the latter. “Rep. Simons will have his day and will be able to defend his actions,” Pollert said. A 14-page document compiled by the nonpartisan Legislative Council includes allegations that Simons made “advances” toward female staffers and interns, commented on their appearances and tried to give one staffer an unsolicited shoulder massage. One staffer described his behaviour as “really creepy.” Simons, 43, said in a statement issued late Tuesday that the allegations “have been totally misconstrued and taken out of context.” “If the Legislature decides to inquire into any of my conduct or any of the allegations made by the director of the Legislative Council, then I look forward to a full and complete public hearing in which witnesses are heard, the true facts are determined, and where I am provided all of my due process rights and afforded the opportunity to require the attendance of witnesses, if necessary by subpoena,” Simons’ statement said. Simons, a barber and rancher, is a member of the loosely organized Bastiat Caucus, a far-right group that supports limited government and gun rights. Simons has insisted on social media that he’s being targeted for his politics. Simons’ attorney, Lynn Boughey, said he believes the House cannot expel Simons, and beyond censure, can only impeach him, which would require a Senate trial. Legislative leaders and their lawyers note the North Dakota Constitution says either chamber can expel a member with two-thirds approval. That would mean 63 members of the House would need to approve. Republicans hold an 80-14 advantage in the chamber. James MacPherson, The Associated Press