Prof. Karen Grépin says countries most successful in the fight against COVID-19 have adopted a two-week quarantine for all travellers.
Prof. Karen Grépin says countries most successful in the fight against COVID-19 have adopted a two-week quarantine for all travellers.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
All Northern Manitoba First Nations youths can now take a survey by the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Inc. to determine their needs during the COVID-19 crisis. To be conducted until until March 16, the survey sets to gain insights on potential programs the MKO can develop to support the youth from First Nation communities in Northern Manitoba as the pandemic continues. “Children and youth have shown a lot of resilience during this difficult time, and as leaders, it is important we acknowledge the strain this pandemic has had on our young people,” said MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee during the survey launch on Tuesday. “Ages 12 to 18 are the demographic that somehow seems to be forgotten, but that is something we want to address.” Settee noted that solutions are often laid upon youths without their input on the matter. MKO wants to empower them through the findings of the survey. Survey results on the youths’ concerns and needs will be used to inform the next steps in the development of the organization’s child and youth mental wellness strategy. “We want to let them know that they are not alone and that there are people who are listening to them and care for them,” said Settee. The survey can be accessed online at www.surveymonkey.com/r/mkoyouth. It is also available for downloading and printing on MKO’s website. When the survey ends, gift cards worth $50 each will be distributed at random to 10 lucky youths who complete the survey. The winners will be chosen through a draw. Nicole Wong is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Nicole Wong, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun
Texas on Tuesday became the biggest state to lift its mask rule, joining a rapidly growing movement by governors and other leaders across the U.S. to loosen COVID-19 restrictions despite pleas from health officials not to let down their guard yet. The state will also do away with limits on the number of diners who can be served indoors, said Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who made the announcement at a restaurant in Lubbock. The governors of Michigan and Louisiana likewise eased up on bars, restaurants and other businesses Tuesday, as did the mayor of San Francisco. “Removing statewide mandates does not end personal responsibility,” said Abbott, speaking from a crowded dining room where many of those surrounding him were not wearing masks. “It’s just that now state mandates are no longer needed." A year into the outbreak, politicians and ordinary Americans alike have grown tired of rules meant to stem the spread of the coronavirus, which has killed over a half-million people in the United States. Some places are lifting infection control measures; in other places, people are ignoring them. Top health officials, including the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have responded by begging people repeatedly not to risk another deadly wave of contagion just when the nation is making progress in vaccinating people and victory over the pandemic is in sight. U.S. cases have plunged more than 70% over the past two months from an average of nearly 250,000 new infections a day, while average deaths per day have plummeted about 40% since mid-January. But the two curves have levelled off abruptly in the past several days and have even risen slightly, and the numbers are still running at alarmingly high levels, with an average of about 2,000 deaths and 68,000 cases per day. Health officials are increasingly worried about virus mutations. “We stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned on Monday. Even so, many states are allowing restaurants to resume indoor dining, reopening movie theatres and expanding mass gatherings, while Americans are eager to socialize again. An Indianapolis-area bar was filled with maskless patrons over the weekend. In Southern California, people waited in lines that snaked through a parking lot on a recent weekday afternoon for the chance to shop and eat at Downtown Disney, part of the Disneyland. (The theme park's rides remain closed.) And Florida is getting ready to welcome students on spring break. “People want to stay safe, but at the same time, the fatigue has hit,” said Ryan Luke, who is organizing a weekend rally in Eagle, Idaho, to encourage people to patronize businesses that don’t require masks. "We just want to live a quasi-normal life.” Miichael Junge argued against a mask mandate when officials in the Missouri tourist town of Branson passed one and said he hasn’t enforced it in his Lost Boys Barber Company. He said he is sick of it. “I think the whole thing is a joke honestly,” he said. “They originally said that this was going to go for a month and they have pushed it out to indefinitely. ... It should have been done a long time ago.” In San Francisco, and upbeat Mayor London Breed announced that California gave the green light to indoor dining and the reopening of of movie theatres and gyms. Florida is getting ready for spring break travellers to flock to its sunny beaches. The state is considered to be in an “active outbreak,” along with Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and South Carolina, according to the data-tracking website CovidActNow. Florida Gov. Rick DeSantis made it clear during his annual State of the State speech Tuesday that he welcomes more visitors to Florida in his drive to keep the state’s economy thriving. Municipalities can impose their own mask rules and curfews, restrict beach access and place some limits on bars and restaurants, but some have virtually no such measures in place ahead of the season. Miami Beach will require masks both indoors and out and will restrict the number of people allowed on the beach as well as in bars and restaurants. “If you want to party without restrictions, then go somewhere else. Go to Vegas,” Miami Beach City Manager Raul Aguila said during a recent virtual meeting. “We will be taking a zero-tolerance attitude towards that behaviour.” In Michigan, a group called All Business Is Essential has resisted Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s virus policies, and many people are abandoning mask requirements and other measures, said group leader Erik Kiilunen. “At some point you’ve got to look yourself in the mirror and say, ‘Do I want a zero-risk life?’” he said. “It’s become a farce, really. People have quit living for a year, at what price?” “I think everybody wants things to get back the way they were,” said Aubrey D. Jenkins, the fire chief in Columbia, South Carolina, whose department issues dozens of $100 citations every weekend to bar-goers who refuse to wear masks or keep their distance. “But we still have to be real cautious.” ___ Webber reported from Fenton, Michigan. Associated Press writers Brendan Farrington in Tallahasee, Florida; Anila Yoganathan in Tucker, Georgia; John Flesher in Traverse City, Michigan; Heather Hollingsworth in Mission, Kansas; Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar in Washington; Melinda Deslatte in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Paul J. Webber in Austin, Texas; Janie Har in San Francisco; and David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan, contributed to this story. The Associated Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan is looking to follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. Chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab says information from that province as well as from Quebec and the United Kingdom suggests that a first shot effectively protects against the novel coronavirus. He says he hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. Shahab says if that were to happen, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. He says all adults in the province could be vaccinated with a first dose by June. Premier Scott Moe says such a shift would be a game-changer for how long public-health restrictions would stay in place. "What that (would) look like over the course of the next number of weeks as opposed to having that conversation over the course of the next number of months," Moe said during a briefing Tuesday. The province said when it first outlined its vaccine rollout that it would wait between 21 and 28 days between shots as recommended by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. The province says about 80,000 vaccinations have been given across the province. It says at least one of the approved vaccines to fight COVID-19 has made its way into every long-term care home. Health officials say 91 per cent of residents opted to get their first shot of the two-dose vaccination. Second doses have gone into the arms of long-term residents in about 53 per cent of facilities. The province says it expects to receive about 15,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot approved by Canada last week. Shahab says Saskatchewan will follow advice from a national panel of vaccine experts that it be used on people under 65. The vaccine's effectiveness in people older than that hasn't been sufficiently determined because there were not enough seniors in clinical trials. Another 134 new cases of COVID-19 were reported Tuesday as well as two deaths. Shahab and Moe say daily case numbers and hospitalizations have stabilized and continue to decrease — signs they say could lead to some public-health measures being relaxed. Moe said he would like to see some way for people to have visitors in their homes. That hasn't been allowed under public-health orders since before Christmas. The current health order is to expire March 19. Moe said his government could provide details as soon as next week on what restrictions might be eased. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 2, 2021 Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said Tuesday that the U.S. expects to take delivery of enough coronavirus vaccines for all adult Americans by the end of May, two months earlier than anticipated, as his administration announced that drugmaker Merck & Co. will help produce rival Johnson & Johnson’s newly approved shot. With the bolstered supply, Biden also announced he would be using the powers of the federal government to direct all states to prioritize vaccinating teachers, and said the federal government would provide the doses directly through its pharmacy program. He challenged states to administer at least one dose of the vaccine to all teachers by the end of March as part of his administration's efforts to reopen more schools across the nation. "We’re now on track to have enough vaccine supply for every adult in America by the end of May,” said Biden, who likened the partnership between the two drug companies to the spirit of national co-operation during World War II. The announcement comes as the White House looks to speed the production of the single-dose J&J vaccine and accelerate the nation’s plans to reach “herd immunity” in the U.S. and begin restoring normalcy after the pandemic. Biden noted that vaccine supply was only one bottleneck toward that goal, and that the new challenge will be injecting doses into arms as swiftly as possible. To that end, the Biden administration told governors Tuesday to prepare for their supplies of vaccine to continue to climb over the coming weeks. Additional doses are also heading toward a federally backed program to administer doses in more accessible retail pharmacies. Those pharmacies will be key in getting the vaccines into the arms of teachers, which will help reopen schools to better educate students who have been at risk at falling behind during the pandemic. "Let’s treat in-person learning as the essential service that it is," Biden said. Biden had originally suggested that the supply would be enough to vaccinate every adult American by the end of July. But despite the good news, he was leery of predicting when the nation would return to normal. He said, “My hope is by this time next year we’re going to be back to normal," adding that he maybe it could come sooner. Officials have said J&J faced unexpected production issues with its vaccine and produced only 3.9 million doses ahead of its receiving emergency use authorization on Saturday. The company has promised to deliver 100 million doses by the end of June. White House press secretary Jen Psaki also announced Tuesday that the federal government was increasing supply of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to states next week to 15.2 million doses per week, up from 14.5 million previously. States will also receive 2.8 million doses of the J&J shot this week. On a call with governors Tuesday, White House coronavirus co-ordinator Jeff Zients said states should prepare for administering 16-17 million total weekly doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by the end of March, climbing to 17-18 million weekly by early April. The supply of J&J doses to states, expected to dip after the initial shipment this week, will climb to 4-6 million weekly doses by the end of March and 5-6 million doses weekly through the end of April. More than 800,000 doses of the J&J vaccine will also be distributed this week to pharmacies to administer in a separate federally-run program that also includes 2.4 million doses of the other two shots. Both figures are expected to steadily increase, as the White House increasingly looks to the capacity of pharmacy chains like CVS and Walgreens to help speed the nation's mass vaccination campaign. Facing questions about the company's slipping delivery schedule, J&J Vice-President Richard Nettles told lawmakers on Capitol Hill last week that the company had faced “significant challenges” because of its “highly complex” manufacturing process. The assistance from Merck was expected to help J&J meet its production commitments and expand supply even further, but the administration did not immediately provide specifics. Psaki said that an "across the administration effort” was required to get the two historic rivals to work together on the vaccines, even though conversations between the two companies have been going on for months. “There’s a difference between conversations and it moving forward,” she said. President Joe Biden is set to highlight the development in a speech Tuesday afternoon, as his administration now expects to have enough supply of the three approved vaccines to inoculate all eligible American adults by June — though actually delivering the injections could take longer. It was not immediately clear when the effect of Merck's assistance would be reflected in supply. Previously, federal officials have cautioned that setting up the highly specialized manufacturing lines to produce vaccines would take months. The White House said Merck would devote two plants to the production process. One would make the vaccine and the other would handle inserting the vaccine into vials and ensuring strict quality controls. Psaki said the Biden administration was using its powers under the Defence Production Act to help Merck retool to work on the production. The news was first reported by The Washington Post. Compared to the two-dose versions produced by Moderna and Pfizer, the J&J vaccine is less resource intensive to distribute and administer, making it a critical piece to U.S. plans to spread vaccinations around the world — but only once Americans are inoculated. The J&J vaccine can be stored for months at refrigerated temperatures, rather than frozen, and doesn’t require patients to return for a second dose three or four weeks later. J&J has set up a global production network that includes brewing bulk vaccine at its Janssen facility in the Netherlands, and with a company in the U.S., Emergent BioSolutions, and another in India, Biological E. Ltd. Other contract manufacturers are lined up to help with later steps, including putting the vaccine into vials, in the U.S., Italy, Spain and South Africa. In the scramble to create COVID-19 vaccines, the three Western drug makers who’ve dominated the vaccine industry for decades — Merck & Co., Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline — surprisingly all fell short. Merck halted its own plans to develop a coronavirus vaccine earlier this year, finding that their candidates were generating an inferior immune system response compared with other vaccines. It said it would instead focus its work on developing treatments for COVID-19. Now, amid the global clamour for more vaccine doses, those heavyweights are helping manufacture doses for less-experienced rivals whose vaccines won the first emergency authorizations from regulators. Merck has since said it was in talks to help other drug companies with vaccine production, but wouldn’t say Tuesday whether other deals are imminent. “Merck remains steadfast in our commitment to contribute to the global response to the pandemic and to preparing to address future pandemics,” the Kenilworth, New Jersey-based company said in a statement. Sanofi Pasteur, named for pioneering French biologist Louis Pasteur, produces more than 1 billion vaccine doses a year and is a leader in pediatric, influenza and polio vaccines. It, too, has had delays with its COVID-19 vaccine candidates. While it tries to resolve those problems, Sanofi has agreed to bottle and package about 125 million doses of the vaccine from Pfizer and German partner BioNTech, as well as roughly 12 million doses per month of J&J's vaccine. GlaxoSmithKline, which makes vaccines against shingles, hepatitis, meningitis and many childhood illnesses, has focused its COVID-19 efforts on combining its adjuvant technology with rival companies’ vaccines. Adjuvants boost immune system response to vaccines, meaning smaller doses could be used and supply could be stretched. ___ Johnson reported from Fairless Hills, PA. Lemire reported from New York. Lauran Neergaard in Washington contributed to this report. Zeke Miller, Linda A. Johnson And Jonathan Lemire, The Associated Press
CALGARY — A Calgary man has admitted to slitting his girlfriend's throat and, days later, stabbing to death his mother and stepfather. Crown prosecutor Shane Parker said Tuesday that Dustin Duthie, 27, pleaded guilty to the second-degree murders of Taylor Toller and Shawn Boshuk and the first-degree murder of Alan Pennylegion. An agreed statement of facts said Toller, Duthie's girlfriend of five years, was last seen on video footage from outside her condo unit about 4 a.m. on July 26, 2018. Duthie was captured on video leaving the condo alone about an hour later. Police found Toller, 24, five days later with her throat slit and "tucked into her bed as if she was asleep." The agreed statement of facts mentions a torn-up note in which Duthie explains why he killed Toller, but the document does not detail the note's contents. On the same day Toller was found, Duthie stabbed Boshuk, his mother, six times in their home and covered her with a plastic sheet, the statement said. Boshuk had messaged Toller's grandmother a day earlier, concerned about how her son would react to police contacting him about Toller's disappearance. The statement said Pennylegion witnessed Duthie cleaning his mother's blood in the kitchen and Duthie attacked his stepfather, stabbing him eight times. Duthie and his stepfather had a tense relationship at the time and Duthie had threatened violence against Pennylegion over the years, the statement said. One of Duthie's pit bulls was stabbed but survived with surgery. Pennylegion's pet dog, Odie, found with his owner in the main floor bathroom, was also stabbed and died. The statement said Duthie shaved his head, showered, and changed his clothes after killing his mother and stepfather. About 10:50 a.m. on July 31, he called 911 and confessed to the killings. The document said he was "contemplating 'suicide-by-cop.'" A sentencing date has not yet been set. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021 The Canadian Press
More than a century after the Komagata Maru arrived carrying hundreds of South Asian immigrants who were forbidden to step foot in British Columbia, New Westminster city council has passed a motion to rename the city's ferry docks in memory of the hardships endured by those on board. The Japanese steamship was chartered by wealthy Sikh businessman Gurdit Singh, who was then living in Hong Kong, and its passage was a direct challenge to Canada's racially discriminatory immigration rules. When it arrived In Vancouver in May 1914, the ship was immediately greeted by immigration officials who refused to let its passengers, most of whom were Sikhs, disembark. Although the vessel was detained in Vancouver, New Westminster council has voted unanimously to rename the city's ferry terminals to commemorate the incident. The Q to Q ferry carries passengers between Queensborough and the New Westminster Quay and according to council documents, the terminals are symbolic because they represent access to the land that was denied. "We are very happy," said Raj Singh Toor, vice-president of the Descendents of the Komagata Maru Society, speaking Tuesday on CBC's The Early Edition, about Monday's council decision. The Q to Q ferry travels from a dock below the Inn at the Quay to the Port Royal public dock in Queensborough. (City of New Westminster) A painful past The society consists of 15 families all over Canada who are direct descendants of the passengers, Toor's grandfather among them. After being refused by the Canadian government, the Komagata Maru was forced to return to India and was met by British soldiers. Twenty passengers were killed and others jailed following an ensuing riot. Toor's grandfather spent five years in prison. "A very, very painful, very hard time," said Toor, adding that passengers sometimes went up to three days while anchored off the coast without access to food or water. Toor first asked the city to recognize the Komagata Maru incident in 2019. In October of that year, he shared his grandfather's story with council and asked for a park or street or something civic to be named in memory of the passengers's ordeal. Toor told CBC that after he spoke, council agreed to look into whether the New Westminster South Asian community helped support the ship's passengers and said if this proved to be the case, action would be taken. Raj Singh Toor's grandfather was aboard the Komagata Maru in 1914.(Jesse Johnston/CBC) On Monday, staff reported back its research found a man, Met Singh, who lived in New Westminster in 1914 and belonged to The Shore Committee — a group of B.C. residents that organized to support Komagata Maru passengers through fundraising efforts, legal services and the provision of food and water. It was enough proof for staff to recommend council consider naming the ferry docks and the motion passed unanimously. An exact date has not yet been set for the renaming. Toor says the gesture means a lot to him. "It's a great reminder for New Westminster residents ... how we can learn from the past to create a better British Columbia." LISTEN | Raj Singh Toor talks about what it means to have the city of New Westminster commemorate the Komagata Maru incident:
CALGARY — The founder and CEO of Good Earth Cafes Ltd. says the Calgary-based chain could potentially double its 45 locations across Canada through a program to take over coffee shops being closed down by international chains such as Starbucks.In January, Seattle-based Starbucks said it would complete its plan to close up to 300 coffee shops across Canada by the end of March as part of a "transformation strategy'' to respond to changes in consumer habits during the COVID-19 pandemic.Michael Going of Good Earth says his company is already looking at potential sites to be redeveloped and is recruiting partners for multi-unit franchises as well as single unit owner operators.Good Earth says it has hired Stan Boniferro of Stabon Enterprises to work with landlords and developers in identifying sites with proven performance, infrastructure and good growth prospects. The first Good Earth shop opened in Calgary in 1991. The chain says it aims to offer ethically sourced coffee and fresh food while promoting community interaction and environmental responsibility.Going says franchisees would cover the cost of renovating the former Starbucks to match Good Earth's theme and design. He declined to give a specific target number for Good Earth's program."We're not going to take 300. First of all, there's not 300 good locations they're leaving behind," said Going."We could double the number of locations we have now in a couple of years time."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Naval Academy is developing plans to begin vaccinating midshipmen this month so students can deploy to ships and with Navy teams as part of their training this summer, Vice Adm. Sean Buck told Congress Tuesday. If the vaccines are available, the midshipmen would be the first military academy students to receive the COVID-19 shots. The plans come as the Naval Academy wrestles with a new uptick in positive coronavirus cases, and has locked down the campus in Annapolis, Maryland, for 10 days. Students have been restricted to their rooms for classes and meals, and can go outside for a maximum of two hours a day, with only one roommate. The lockdown was announced on Sunday, and includes the suspension of sports events and practices, other than the men's varsity basketball team, which will participate in post-season play because the athletes have been isolated since last week. Speaking to the House Defence Appropriations subcommittee, Buck said that he's given Navy leaders a timeline for when he'd like to begin giving vaccines to midshipmen who will be deploying out to the fleet. Generally, students go out on fleet cruises in the summer after their freshman year, do a four-week training stint in the fleet after their sophomore year and go on a higher-level fleet cruise after their junior year. Often the training is part of the process to determine what service job interests them. “Our Navy has prioritized the operational forces first. They’re getting vaccinated. They have a very safe and healthy bubble,” Buck told lawmakers. “And for them to be willing to accept our midshipmen from the academy as well as midshipmen from NROTC universities around the country, we need to vaccinate them prior to the summer training.” The Navy has had several small outbreaks on ships, both deployed and at home ports, and leaders have been trying to get crews vaccinated in order to avoid upticks in the virus. The USS Theodore Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier, had a massive outbreak early last year while at sea, and was sidelined in Guam for weeks while the crew went through a methodical quarantine process. To meet the training timelines, Buck said a small initial group of students would have to start getting vaccines by the last week of March, in order to get out to their deployments in mid-May. That would give them time to get both shots, and have two weeks to ensure their immunity was in full effect. Buck and the superintendents for the Army and Air Force academies told lawmakers that they have all started providing vaccines to their faculty and staff, based on the priorities set by the CDC and the Defence Department. But the Air Force and Army academies haven't yet begun preparations to give shots to students. Army Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., said about 4,000 staff and faculty have gotten the vaccine so far, which is about half. At the Naval Academy, more than 900 of the roughly 2,300 staff and faculty have gotten shots, including some who got vaccines in the local community based on their eligibility. The military leaders said first responders and vulnerable people are prioritized, as noted in the CDC and Pentagon guidelines. Williams added that he's confident students will want to get the vaccine once it's available. Air Force Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, superintendent of the Air Force Academy in Colorado, noted that the cadets are “the most healthy of our population and they fall into the lower level” of the priorities. Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the face of the U.S. government’s pandemic response, has donated his personal 3D model of the COVID-19 virus to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The museum on Tuesday honoured Fauci with its Great Americans Medal. “Dr. Fauci has helped save millions of lives and advanced the treatment and our understanding of infectious and immunologic diseases across more than five decades of public service,” said Anthea M. Hartig, the museum’s director. “His humanitarianism and dedication truly exemplify what it means to be a Great American." The museum asked Fauci to contribute a personal artifact to mark the pandemic, and he chose the lumpy blue and orange ball that he used to explain the complexities of the virus in dozens of interviews. The model was made with a 3D printer and shows what the Smithsonian’s announcement calls “the various components of the SARS-CoV-2 virion (the complete, infectious form of the virus), including the spike protein.” Fauci showed off his new medal in a video call Tuesday night, calling it “an extraordinary and humbling” honour. “This has been a terrible year in so many respects,” he said. “Decades from now, people will be talking about the experience that we went through.” Fauci, 80, is the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. After serving as the beleaguered and frequently sidelined face of the Trump administration's COVID response, Fauci was retained as a senior adviser to President Joe Biden. The Great Americans Medal was founded in 2016. Previous honorees include former secretaries of state Madeleine K. Albright and Gen. Colin L. Powell, tennis star Billie Jean King and musician Paul Simon. Fauci received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian award, in 2008 from then-President George W. Bush for his decades of work, dating back to the earliest days of the AIDS crisis. Ashraf Khalil, The Associated Press
Between the public and Catholic English school boards in Windsor-Essex, there are 13 active COVID-19 cases. On Tuesday, the Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) added one new case to its website, bringing the total active cases in the board to nine. To date, the board says since the start of the school year in September 2020 it has had 134 confirmed cases of the disease. Here's a breakdown of where the current active cases are: Bellewood Public School: one student case. Honourable W.C. Kennedy Collegiate: two student cases. King Edward Junior and Senior Public School: two student cases. LaSalle Public School: one student case. Northwood Public School: one student case. Meanwhile, the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board (WECDSB) has four total active cases and five classes dismissed, these include:
OTTAWA — Canada's chief public health officer says new COVID-19 cases are starting to tick back up after a month-long decline, giving urgency to the question of who should receive doses of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine due to arrive in Canada Wednesday. The "moderate increase" at the national level noted by Dr. Theresa Tam is in keeping with models forecasting a spike in cases over the next two months unless stricter public health measures are imposed to combat more contagious strains of the virus. “The concern is that we will soon see an impact on hospitalization, critical care and mortality trends," Tam said Tuesday. Canada saw 2,933 new cases on average over the past week, a figure similar to last Friday's numbers that revealed week-over-week increases of between eight and 14 per cent in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. The uptick comes as provinces figure out how to allocate their various vaccines, especially as Canada receives 500,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine produced at the Serum Institute of India. About 445,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are also arriving this week, said Procurement Minister Anita Anand. Guidance on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has caused some confusion. Health Canada authorized its use last week for all adults but the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends it not be administered to people 65 and over. The advisory committee cites concern over limited data from clinical trials for older patients. Health Canada also acknowledges that issue. But the advisory panel, which recommends how vaccines should be used, says the limitation means seniors should take priority for the two greenlighted mRNA vaccines — Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — where dearth of data is not an issue. Alberta's health minister said Monday the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca's vaccine to anyone over 65. British Columbia, Ontario and Prince Edward Island are on similar courses, though details on who will get those jabs is not always clear. "With clinical testing of AstraZeneca limited to those under 65, we will need to adjust our plan to look at a parallel track for some of these more flexible vaccines in order to cast the widest net possible," the B.C. health ministry said in an email. Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott characterized Oxford-AstraZeneca as "very versatile " because it lacks the same cold-storage requirements as the two other vaccines in use in Canada. It won't go to seniors, but she said shots might be administered in correctional facilities for that reason. P.E.I. will target AstraZeneca at "healthy younger individuals who are working in certain front-line, essential services," said Dr. Heather Morrison, the province's chief medical officer of health. Health officials in Quebec and New Brunswick say they await further advice from health authorities and are taking time to examine how to deploy the latest vaccine. Nova Scotia's chief medical health officer Dr. Robert Strang said the province has yet to give an answer to Ottawa "about whether we actually want to take the vaccine." All provinces must provide a response by midday Thursday, he said. Two experts say essential workers who are more likely to contract and transmit COVID-19 should be prioritized for immunization with the Oxford-AstraZeneca doses. Caroline Colijn, a COVID-19 modeller and mathematician at Simon Fraser University, and Horacio Bach, an adjunct professor in the division of infectious diseases at the University of British Columbia, also say the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine could be better promoted by provincial health officials as a strong alternative to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Oxford-AstraZeneca reported their vaccine is about 62 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19 while Pifzer-BioNTech and Moderna have said the efficacy of their vaccines is about 95 per cent. But Colijn and Bach say the fact there have been no hospitalizations from severe illness and no deaths among those receiving the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine needs to be underscored because people awaiting immunization seem to be fixated on the higher efficacy data for the first two vaccines approved in Canada. "If the AstraZeneca vaccine will prevent you from getting really sick that's still a win for you," Colijn said. "I see this huge, huge benefit of vaccinating young people, particularly people with high contact, essential workers, sooner." No province has been spared from the increase in new variants circulating across the country, though several continue to ease anti-pandemic restrictions. Modelling from the Public Health Agency of Canada projected a steep surge in new cases starting late last month — and reaching 20,000 new cases a day before May — if public health measures weren't tightened. Since that Feb. 19 forecast, restrictions in many regions have loosened as Canadians return to restaurants, cinemas and hair salons. But Tam said Canada is gaining ground on "the vaccine-versus-variants leg of this marathon" every day. "Canada is prepared, and Canada remains on track," she said. Provinces have now reported 1,257 cases of the B.1.1.7 mutation that was first identified in the United Kingdom, 99 cases of the B. 188.8.131.52 strain first identified in South Africa, and three of the P. 1 variant first identified in Brazil. There have been 870,033 cases of COVID-19 in Canada and 22,017 deaths as of Monday night. There were 30,430 active cases across Canada, with an average of 42 deaths reported daily over the past week. Provinces are also figuring out whether to stick to the original injection schedules or extend the interval between doses beyond three or four weeks. The national advisory committee is expected to update its recommendations this week. Ontario is waiting for that guidance, while B.C. is pushing ahead with its plan to prolong the interval to four months. Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, said Monday the decision was based on local and international evidence that shows the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines provides "miraculous" 90 per cent protection from the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. — With files from Camille Bains, Kevin Bissett, Laura Dhillon Kane and Holly McKenzie-Sutter. Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Nearly a decade ago, the United States was touting Myanmar as an American success story. The Obama administration reveled in the restoration of civilian rule in the longtime U.S. pariah as a top foreign policy achievement and a potential model for engaging with other adversaries, such as Iran and Cuba. But today, Myanmar is once again an international outcast, facing a new wave of U.S. sanctions. A coup has returned the military to power and pro-democracy activists, reform advocates and journalists have been attacked and detained in a brutal crackdown. The collapse is not America’s fault, to be sure, but it follows inconsistent efforts to nudge the Southeast Asian nation further toward democracy, enthusiasm for which was diminished by a systematic campaign of repression against Muslim minorities in the country's north. After years of robust diplomacy with Myanmar under President Barack Obama focused mainly on then-opposition leader and now jailed State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi, the Trump administration adopted a largely hands-off policy. It focused primarily on Myanmar’s strategic importance in the competition between the United States and China for influence in the region. Myanmar has become a reminder that, for all the hopefulness and anticipation of Obama administration officials – many of whom now serve in the Biden administration – there are limits to America’s ability to shape developments in another nation, particularly one so reclusive and far away. The restoration of civilian rule after six decades of dictatorship was at least partially the fruit of one of the Obama administration’s earliest attempts to reach out to a country long denounced by the U.S. Overtures to Iran and Cuba would come later, buoyed in part by what appeared to be success in Myanmar. Sanctions were eased, diplomatic representation bolstered and aid was increased. Obama made two trips to Myanmar, also known as Burma, as president and his two secretaries of state, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, each visited the country twice themselves. Clinton’s visit in 2011 was the first by a U.S. secretary of state since 1955.. She met with Suu Kyi at the lakeside home where the opposition leader had been held under house arrest for years, Just six years earlier, President George W. Bush's Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had branded Myanmar as one of six “outposts of tyranny” for the military’s refusal to brook dissent and rejection of democratic elections. And, in 2007, as world leaders gathered at the annual United Nations General Assembly, a crackdown on Buddhist monk-led protests, the so-called “Saffron Revolution,” attracted widespread concern and international condemnation, including high-profile repudiations from Rice and then-first lady Laura Bush. Thus, the opening initiated by Obama and Clinton in 2010 augured what many hoped would be a new beginning for Myanmar, whose military leaders were then ostensibly concerned about being overly reliant on China for trade and security. There was initial enthusiasm over the thaw, over Nobel peace laureate Suu Kyi’s elevation to a leadership role despite being barred from running for office, and over Myanmar’s steady but hesitant opening of its once cloistered country. But that soon faded, most notably over the government’s treatment of Rohingya Muslims, who became the target of a ruthless campaign of repression and abuse. Repeated entreaties to Suu Kyi, who was appointed State Councilor after her National League for Democracy won 60% of the vote, and others on behalf of the Rohingya and other minorities went unheeded. Still, the Obama administration continued to have faith in her. “Proud of my friend Aung San Suu Kyi and the people of Burma for never giving up in the long struggle to bring change to their country,” Clinton said in 2015, after having devoted an entire chapter of her 2014 memoir “Hard Choices” to the Obama administration’s policies toward the nation. Despite Kerry’s two trips to Myanmar, the administration became rapidly consumed with the Iran nuclear deal and normalization of ties with Cuba. At the same time, it was pursuing an ill-fated effort to forge an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. So Myanmar’s halting and imperfect democratization was left largely untended by officials in Washington. When President Donald Trump took office in 2017, his administration made no secret of the fact that it was focused less on bilateral ties than in concentrating on a broader effort to blunt China’s growing regional influence. In November 2017, Trump’s first Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, made that administration’s only high-level visit to the country and on his return declared that the military-backed violence against the Rohingya in northern Rakhine state amounted to “ethnic cleansing.” Sanctions on the country’s top military leaders followed the next month. But since then, U.S. attention to Myanmar has been sporadic, dominated primarily by public expressions of disappointment in Suu Kyi, who defended the military crackdown in Rakhine and opposed efforts to initiate and international investigation into it. Stirrings of the Feb. 1 coup, coming as those elected in November 2020 elections won by Suu Kyi’s party were to take their seats in parliament, did not appear to be a priority in Washington, where officials were preoccupied by domestic political problems of their own. In its final weeks in office, the Trump administration made no public comments about growing civilian-military tensions in Myanmar despite speaking out about democracy concerns in Venezuela, Tanzania, Uganda, Cuba, Iran and Russia. After taking over on Jan. 20, the Biden administration was similarly silent until Jan. 29 when the U.S. Embassy in Yangon signed onto a joint statement with several other embassies to support democracy in the country and to oppose “any attempt to alter the outcome of the elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition.” The warning went unheeded by the military. “There was a risk that the Burmese generals were playing us,” Clinton wrote about the 2010-11 rapprochement with Myanmar in “Hard Choices.” That fear may have been prescient. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
On Wednesday, the verdict in Toronto’s van attack trial will be revealed. Alek Minassian has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. Erica Vella reports.
HALIFAX — Just before two RCMP officers opened fire on a fellow officer and a civilian during last year's Nova Scotia mass shooting, they struggled with congested radio channels and mistook a man wearing a bright vest for the killer. These are among the fresh facts revealed Tuesday in a police watchdog agency report clearing the Mounties of criminal wrongdoing after they fired five shots with high-powered rifles outside the Onslow, N.S., firehall. The six-page report by the Serious Incident Response Team says the "totality of the evidence" prompted the officers to believe the killer was standing just 88 metres away from them on the morning of April 19. "They discharged their weapons in order to prevent further deaths or serious injuries .... The (officers) had reasonable grounds to believe the person they saw, who was disobeying their orders, was the mass murderer who had, in the preceding hour, killed three more persons," it concludes. The six-page document traces the 10:21 a.m. incident — which didn't result in deaths or injuries — to the early hours of the morning, when the two officers were recalled to duty at 3 a.m. for a briefing as the shootings that would take 22 lives unfolded. According to the report, they were told that the spouse of the killer had said the gunman was driving a replica RCMP car and was wearing an orange vest. "They learned that several children had witnessed their parents being shot dead .... The actual total number of victims was unknown at the time of the briefing because several buildings in Portapique were on fire, and whether there were additional victims had not yet been determined," the report says. They also had been briefed that the gunman had high-powered weapons with laser-mounted sights. Several hours after the first briefing, there were radio transmissions saying the killer had murdered a woman in Wentworth, N.S. At that point, the two officers were "transitioned from investigators to being involved in the hunt for the killer," the report says. Through the morning, reports of additional murders came over the radio, including two women in the Debert, N.S., area, which is about a 10-minute drive from the Onslow firehall. As they approached the firehall, which had been designated as a rest area, they saw a marked RCMP car parked in front and a man wearing a yellow and orange reflective vest standing next to the driver's door. According to the report, the two officers didn't realize a uniformed RCMP officer was sitting in the vehicle. The investigation says the two officers repeatedly tried to advise other RCMP officers by radio of what they were seeing but couldn't get through. Felix Cacchione, the director of SIRT, said in an email to The Canadian Press that he didn't have an exact time of arrival. "I can only extrapolate from the radio communications that it was about a minute before shots were fired," he wrote. According to the report, both officers got out of their vehicle with their rifles and were still unable to reach anyone on the radio. The report says they yelled "police," and "show your hands," but the civilian in the vest ducked behind the car before popping back up and running toward the firehall. The Mounties opened fire, with one officer firing four shots and the other a single shot. During the killer's 13-hour rampage, the report found, there were 7,731 radio transmissions over emergency response channels. It says the "sole reason" the reason the officers couldn't transmit before opening fire was because "there was no available talk path due to the heavy volume of radio traffic." It concluded the officers had a "lawful excuse" to fire their guns and didn't break Criminal Code provisions that prohibit officers from using their firearms in a careless manner. "Based on everything (the officers) had seen and heard since coming on duty and what they had just observed, they had reasonable grounds to believe that the (civilian in the vest) was the killer and someone who would continue his killing rampage," says the report. In a statement on its Facebook page Tuesday, the Onslow Belmont Fire Brigade said it is "frustrated and disappointed that there will be no accountability for the RCMP. Their actions that day endangered lives, damaged property and caused mental health issues for many of the people involved." An RCMP spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether any disciplinary action has been taken against the two officers. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said both people shot at outside the firehall were RCMP officers.
With B.C. and other regions opting to delay the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, doctors are weighing in on whether it's the best course of action.
PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. — In all, Lionel Desmond spent five years seeking treatment for debilitating mental disorders that emerged after he served as an infantryman during a violent tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2007. In 2011, he was diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression while still serving in the military. But it wasn't until 2016 — almost a year after he was discharged from the military — that he was also diagnosed with "mixed personality traits," an inquiry in Nova Scotia learned Tuesday. The provincial fatality inquiry is investigating why the former corporal bought a rifle on Jan. 3, 2017 and fatally shot his 31-year-old wife, Shanna, their 10-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, and his 52-year-old mother, Brenda, before killing himself in their rural Nova Scotia home. The inquiry has heard much evidence about Desmond's PTSD and depression, mental disorders that combined to cause poor sleep, vivid nightmares, anti-social behaviour, hyper-vigilance and flashbacks that forced him to relive gruesome firefights. But something new was introduced Tuesday by Dr. Robert Ouellette, a psychiatrist at Ste. Anne's Hospital in Montreal, where Desmond was assessed and received in-patient treatment between May 30 and Aug. 15, 2016. Ouellette said Desmond also suffered from so-called mixed personality traits, which mainly involved obsessive compulsive and paranoid behaviour. The psychiatrist said these traits, which were not full-blown disorders, complicated Desmond's treatment because they made him suspicious of other people's motives and unwilling to trust others. "He was not sure if we were working with him or against him," Ouellette testified. As well, Ouellette said these traits seemed to feed Desmond's mistrust and jealousy towards his wife. "They doubt everybody," he said, referring to Desmond's condition. "They will not confide in others because they feel they will turn against them." Ouellette said Desmond's anger and jealousy toward his wife wasn't caused by his PTSD, but the psychiatrist said the condition "might have exacerbated these traits of his personality." Ouellette stressed that the former corporal would have benefited from taking additional medications, something he agreed to do before he arrived at the hospital. But by June 16, 2016, Desmond told Ouellette he would not be taking more drugs. At one point, Desmond told the psychiatrist: "You're not going to take the demon out of me." Still, Ouellette said his patient had made progress in the initial stabilization program, when he reported better sleep patterns, more energy, increased socialization and virtually no depression. That's why Ouellette recommended Desmond for the residential phase of the treatment program, even though he felt his chances for success were only "50/50." In the end, Desmond refused to take new medications, and he left the treatment program before it was finished in August 2016, the inquiry has heard. "If he would have taken the right medications, he would have shown more progress in the residential program and later at home," Ouellette said. The prescribed medications and therapy at the hospital would have also helped Desmond control his outbursts, he said. "Anger was a major problem for him," he said. When asked if Desmond should have been able to access firearms, Ouellette said that would have been a bad idea, mainly because of his anger management challenges. Despite Desmond's lack of co-operation when it came to medications, Ouellette reported that his patient was highly motivated to attend the residential program because he was desperate to become a better father and husband. "There were a lot of problems with his wife," Ouellette said. "He made that the purpose of being with us .... He was always talking more about his marital life than his PTSD symptoms." Ouellette said Desmond's wife told hospital staff that her husband had never been physically violent toward her and their daughter, and she said she was not afraid of him. The psychiatrist said Shanna and Aaliyah Desmond had visited him in Montreal for four days, and there was every indication it was a successful encounter. Desmond left the hospital in August 2016. The inquiry has heard that Desmond received no therapeutic treatment for the next four months, even though Veterans Affairs Canada was in the process of getting him the help he needed. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. — By Michael MacDonald in Halifax The Canadian Press
The Downtown Eastside is dealing with two serious public health issues — a rise in COVID-19 cases and an outbreak of shigellosis, a highly contagious bacterial infection caused by unsanitary conditions. A tenant who lives in the Hazelwood, a single-room occupancy hotel in the Vancouver neighbourhood, says she’s concerned about her neighbours after learning from staff in her building that at least 20 residents have tested positive for COVID-19. In SRO hotels, residents live in small rooms and usually share bathrooms and kitchens, so it’s difficult to self-isolate. The Tyee is not identifying the tenant because of fears that she will face repercussions if others learn she lives in the building, including risks to her safety. She said she has been vaccinated, so she’s not that worried about her own health. “I’m concerned more about my neighbours, because they are part of the vulnerable population,” she said. Residents include heavy drug users and people “with multiple disabilities and probably very low immune systems, and lots of co-existing health problems,” she said. The tenant is also questioning why it appeared to take so long for notices warning residents of the outbreak to be posted in the building. Notices posted by Vancouver Coastal Health and reviewed by The Tyee say the exposure started Feb. 10 and is ongoing. “That notice was posted on Feb. 24, so that’s two solid weeks where the tenants here had no clue they were in danger,” said the tenant. The CEO of the company that operates the Hazelwood says there are currently 100 cases in two buildings operated by Atira Women’s Resource Society or Atira Property Management, a for-profit subsidiary of the society. Between Feb. 7 to 20, 142 new COVID-19 cases were recorded for the local health area that includes the Downtown Eastside. Janice Abbott declined to speak to The Tyee about the COVID-19 clusters, referring The Tyee to Vancouver Coastal Health. Vancouver Coastal Health did not respond to The Tyee by publication time. But in a Twitter post, Abbott said there are currently two clusters of cases in one building in the Downtown Eastside and another building outside the neighbourhood. Abbott said an outbreak of another disease called shigellosis, caused by the shigella bacteria, is also a concern. On Saturday, Vancouver Coastal Health warned that over 10 people from the Downtown Eastside had been hospitalized over the past few weeks after contracting shigellosis. Shigella is a bacteria present in feces that can spread when people don’t have access to proper hand washing, safe food preparation or clean bathrooms. It causes diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps and some people can become severely ill and need treatment with antibiotics to recover, according to a notice Vancouver Coastal Health sent to Downtown Eastside housing and social service providers. It can also be transmitted through sexual contact. Shigella infection is a major cause of dysentery. Vancouver Coastal Health told housing providers to ensure that bathrooms and showers are kept clean, staff and tenants have access to frequent hand washing and hand sanitizer, and bathrooms are regularly stocked with soap and hand sanitizer. The Hazelwood tenant The Tyee spoke to said that her building is kept fairly clean, but “it definitely could be better.” The Tyee previously reported on complaints that the Gastown Hotel, a provincially-owned SRO also operated by Atira Property Management, is not being cleaned properly. According to the Hazelwood tenant, Atira Property Management paid tenants earlier in the pandemic to regularly sanitize common touch points like elevator buttons and doorknobs. However, that program was recently cut, according to the tenant. Abbott declined to respond to questions about that program. “I feel like leaving people in the dark really contributed to the rapid spread” of COVID-19, the tenant said. “And also, the lack of cleaning and sanitization.” Over the past few weeks, Vancouver Coastal Health has been working to give COVID-19 vaccines to people who live in the Downtown Eastside and are homeless, live in shelters or reside in supportive housing. Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, has said that people from the Downtown Eastside who get COVID-19 are more likely to be hospitalized. According to Abbott, 115 residents of Atira-operated buildings, or five per cent of total residents, have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Of Atira staff, 91 people have tested positive, or seven per cent of total staff. Three residents have died after contracting COVID-19. The Tyee has asked Vancouver Coastal Health for more information about the shigellosis outbreak and will update this story when we receive the health authority’s response. Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
McMurray Métis elder Anne Michalko said she felt like she was on her way to freedom when she learned she would be getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Michalko, 83, spent much of the past year in quarantine. On Thursday, she made a rare venture outside her home for her first vaccine shot. Her second shot comes one month before her birthday in May. She hopes she can celebrate turning 84 with family. “Can you imagine feeling excited to go out and get a needle?” she said. “I’m looking forward to sitting around the fire pit and enjoying each other’s company. Maybe I’ll take my great grandson for a walk.” Alberta’s vaccine rollout plan entered Phase 1B on Feb. 7, allowing anyone born before 1946 to get a vaccine. Anyone living in retirement centres, senior citizen lodges and other supportive living homes can also get vaccinated. There have been 546 people in Fort Chipewyan that have had their first vaccine dose. The community has been prioritized because of its remote location and limited health care services. The rollout has given some relief to a community with a long memory that includes the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, which wiped out three-quarters of the community. One victim was Chief Alexandre Lavoilette, the first chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. Chief Allan Adam of ACFN remembers stories of the Spanish Flu from his late grandmother. She was 18-years-old when the pandemic hit the community, he said. “She said people were lost because they had also lost their chief,” said Adam. “Nobody knew where to go.” Adam is thankful Fort Chipewyan has not experienced anything like the Spanish Flu over the past year. He said he is proud of the work the work the community is doing to keep people safe. “A lot of history was lost from the older people at that time,” he said. “We were lucky and we dodged a bullet this time.” Chief Peter Powder of Mikisew Cree First Nation said stories of the Spanish Flu made some people anxious to get vaccinated. “That’s where people’s heads were at, just hearing about that and how bad it was back in the day,” said Powder. Powder said encouraging young people to get vaccinated has been a priority, since they are more likely to travel outside the community. Some people have been excited to get vaccinated, but Angela Conner, a nurse with Nunee Health, said she has seen some hesitancy in the community. Nunee Health is promoting vaccination and trying to fight false information shared online. The hamlet received a second shipment of vaccines on Feb. 28. “Everything that we use is evidence-based,” said Conner. “We’ve been opening up our facility here for any questions. Quite a few people have called and we did have our nurse practitioner open for any kind of consults.” Other Métis leaders feel they have been left out of Alberta’s vaccination program. Since the first vaccines arrived in Alberta, elders on First Nations or Métis settlements have been getting vaccinated if they are between 65 and 74. Some communities that are mostly Métis are not considered settlements, meaning those elders must wait until the general public can be vaccinated in the fall. A community like Conklin, for instance, is mostly Métis and has seen 11 per cent of its population get COVID-19. But the community is considered a rural hamlet under the responsibility of the municipality. Fort McKay’s Métis community is also on municipal land and not considered a settlement. McMurray Métis has 45 elders between 65 and 74 who will be left out of Phase 1B because the Local is based in Fort McMurray. “In Alberta, it is recognized that Indigenous elders are part of a first priority,” said Bryan Fayant, McMurray Métis’ disaster and recovery strategist. “Our elders are a part of the regular rollout and I just don’t think that’s enough.” email@example.com Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
A group of insects that became extinct about 10 million years ago are actually not damselflies, says Simon Fraser University paleontologist Bruce Archibald. In an academic journal article published in late February, Archibald and his colleagues name 16 new species and categorize them under their newly coined suborder Cephalozygoptera, which means "head damselflies." Both Zygoptera and Cephalozygoptera are now divisions under the order for flying insects, Odonata. Archibald has spent three decades examining insect fossils on the Okanagan Highland, a 200-kilometre plateau running from southern B.C. into northern interior Washington, an area that includes McAbee, B.C. and Republic, Wash. Whetwhetaksa millerae, one of the newly discovered species for instance, is named after the word whetwhetaks, which means dragonfly-like insects in the language of Colville Indian Reservation located near Republic. Full image of a fossilized Okanopteryx fraseri, one of the new species named by the SFU scientific team.(Copyright Zootaxa) While conducting research, team member Robert Cannings, curator emeritus of entomology at Royal B.C. Museum, noticed something different about the insects' heads. "These heads look really weird," Archibald said to Brady Strachan, the guest host of CBC's Daybreak South. "We started looking into this a lot more, and we realized that they are not damselflies at all." Wing of Okanagrion hobani, an extinct damselfly-like insect species categorized under the new suborder Cephalozygoptera, a named coined by Simon Fraser Univerity paleontologist Bruce Archibald. Fossils of Okanagrion hobani were unearthed in the McAbee fossil beds in B.C.'s southern Interior.(Zootaxa) Archibald says the confusion between Cephalozygoptera and Zygoptera stemmed from German paleontologist Hermann Hagen, who in 1858 said the oddly rounded head and eyes of Cephalozygoptera were caused by distortion of the Zygoptera's short and wide heads during fossilization. Archibald's team argued against this theory after looking through 150 years worth of scientific literature. "We realized that this odd shape was only in this one group and none of the ones outside of this group," he said. "When we saw the big picture, we realized that this was actually the true shape of their heads and that this distinguished them from damselflies." Paleontologist Bruce Archibald says scientists have confused Zygoptera, meaning damselflies, with Cephalozygoptera for more than 150 years. (Bruce Archibald) Cephalozygoptera insects existed in B.C. and Washington about 50 million years ago, he says, but disappeared from the Western Hemisphere about 30 million years ago while surviving in Europe and Asia. Archibald says he's glad to have debunked a century-old academic mystery. "It was like figuring out a giant puzzle, like doing a big Sudoku," he said. "It was very satisfying to come up with an answer and understand what was going on here." Tap the link below to hear Bruce Archibald's interview on Daybreak South: