Natalie Sideserf of Sideserf Cake Studio in Austin, Texas creates a realistic cake that looks like a McDonald's Filet-O-Fish! Unreal!
Natalie Sideserf of Sideserf Cake Studio in Austin, Texas creates a realistic cake that looks like a McDonald's Filet-O-Fish! Unreal!
An envoy hired to defuse tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous commercial lobster fishermen in Nova Scotia has released a bleak interim report highlighting poor communication and a lack of trust between both sides. The report by Université Sainte-Anne president Allister Surette found perhaps the only thing the fishermen can agree on is blaming the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for the situation. "The lack of trust and respect has been presented to me by many of the individuals I interviewed," Surette said in his interim report filed with Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan and Carolyn Bennett, minister for Indigenous-Crown relations. "Firstly, I have heard from Indigenous and non-Indigenous parties of the lack of trust in government," Surette wrote. "Added to this level of the lack of trust and respect, some interviewed also expressed the lack of trust and respect within parties involved in the fishery and I also heard of the lack of trust and respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals, stakeholder groups and organizations." Appointed by Ottawa Surette was named special federal representative by the Trudeau government after an outbreak of violence and protests at the launch of an Indigenous moderate livelihood lobster fishery by the Sipekne'katik band in St. Marys Bay last fall. The band cited the Mi'kmaq's right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood, recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999 but never defined by Ottawa. The fishery was conducted outside of the regulated season for commercial lobster licence holders in Lobster Fishing Area 34, who objected saying the fishery was a blatant violation of fishery regulations. The reaction included alleged assaults, arson, blockades, volleys of wharfside profanity and online venom. It garnered international attention. The blowup capped years of tensions over an escalating Sipekne'katik food, social and ceremonial lobster fishery in St. Marys Bay that was, in some cases, used as a cloak for a commercial fishery. Lobster caught under food, social and ceremonial licences cannot be sold. In one case, a Crown prosecutor said the lobster caught under those licences from Sipekne'katik supplied an international "black market operation." Despite a number of federal initiatives to integrate the Mi'kmaq into the fishery since 1999 — including half a billion dollars for training and buying out and providing commercial licences — there has been a lack of progress defining moderate livelihood and implementing the fishery. Expectations of the First Nations were not met, leaving many of them to doubt the sincerity of DFO, Surette reported. Debate over enforcement Surette said the issue is complex and will not be easily solved. Non-Indigenous fishermen have argued there is not enough enforcement when it comes to Indigenous lobster fishing while the bands have complained of harassment. "However, the point to note on this matter, and more closely related to my mandate, seems to be the lack of clear direction from the government of Canada and the multiple facets and complexity of implementing the right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood," he said in the report. Surette's mandate is not to negotiate but rather to "restore confidence, improve relations" and make recommendations to the politicians. His interim report calls for more dialogue to build trust, suggesting areas of declared common interest like conservation and marketing. A lack of information from DFO was a recurrent complaint from the commercial fishermen, said Surette. "There should be some type of formal process for the non-Indigenous to be kept up to speed, especially the harvesters, since this could affect their livelihood. Some process, even though they're not involved in negotiation, that they could have input or at least understand what's going on," he told CBC Radio's Information Morning on Friday. Improving communication He made three suggestions for improving communication: a clearinghouse for accurate information, a formal process for talks between the commercial industry and the government of Canada, and forums to create a "safe space" to talk on important issues without extreme emotions. Surette interviewed 85 people — 81 per cent were non-Indigenous. "In some cases, they were heavily focused on the fishery. Others said that they preferred dealing with the ministers at this present time," he told CBC News. Surette said he will be reaching out to gather more perspectives. MORE TOP STORIES
Saskatchewan will start to stretch out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses, as supplies run short. Second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine will be administered up to 42 days after the first dose. Official guidelines say the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is meant to be given as two doses, 21 days apart, while Moderna recommends spacing doses 28 days apart. The National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI), a body made up of scientists and vaccine experts, say provinces should follow the dosing schedule as closely as possible, but the panel is now offering some wiggle room. WATCH | Canada's COVID-19 vaccine advisory committee approves delaying 2nd dose NACI recommends spacing out the doses up to 42 days when necessary. The recommendation is also supported by the World Health Organization and Canada's chief medical health officer. "The flexibility provided by a reasonable extension of the dose interval to 42 days where operationally necessary, combined with increasing predictability of vaccine supply, support our public health objective to protect high-risk groups as quickly as possible," reads a statement released Thursday from Dr. Theresa Tam, as well as the provincial and territorial chief medical officers of health. The same day, Saskatchewan announced it would further space out its doses. "Saskatchewan will be implementing these recommendations of up to 42 days where operationally necessary in order to deliver more first doses to eligible people," the government of Saskatchewan said in a news release. WATCH | Dr. Howard Njoo addresses questions on taking first and second dose of vaccine 42 days apart: Saskatchewan's supply runs short As of Friday, 96 per cent of the province's vaccines have been administered, and new supplies coming in are not enough to replenish what has been used. Pfizer has said it will not ship a single vial of its highly effective vaccine to Canada next week as the pharmaceutical giant retools its production facility in Puurs, Belgium, to boost capacity. Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, says it's very reassuring to have the length between doses extended to 42 days. "When there's a sudden, further disruption that does present challenges," Shahab said during a news conference on Tuesday. "Most provinces are able to give the second dose of both Pfizer and Moderna within 42 days ... and that becomes very important with the disruption of shipment." Scott Livingstone, the CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, agreed. "It does mitigate some of the decreased doses coming in. We also know through contact with the federal government that once the Pfizer plant is back online, they'll be increasing our shipment," Livingstone said during Tuesday's news conference. Livingstone said the new shipments coming in will be allocated for an individual's first and second shot. WATCH | Canada facing delays in vaccine rollout More vaccines on the way Another shipment of vaccines will arrive in Saskatchewan on Feb. 1, says the government. The province is expecting 5,850 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine and 6,500 doses of Moderna's vaccine. The government says they will be distributed to the Far North West, Far North East, North East and Central West. A second shipment of 7,100 doses from Moderna will arrive on Feb. 22, and will be distributed to the Far North East, North East and Central East. "Our immunization team is trying to be as nimble as possible knowing that we could at any time through the pandemic receive more vaccines, but also then having to readjust our targets and still focusing on the most needy in this Phase 1, and we will continue to do that as vaccine supply keeps coming back up," Livingstone said.
The RM of Edenwold has cut a $120,000 cheque to the Town of Balgonie as the town purchased a new pumper truck for its fire department. RM reeve Mitchell Huber said the $120,000 has come out of budgeted funds from 2019 and 2020 to support fire department equipment purchases. Huber added being able to support a fire department who is a mutual aid partner helps the whole area. “Balgonie had come to us asking for our support in purchasing another truck and we approved supporting a percentage of that truck’s cost,” Huber said. The cheque has already been sent to Balgonie, whose mayor Frank Thauberger was happy to see an aging pumper truck replaced. The truck, which is scheduled to arrive this summer, cost $363,000. Balgonie covered $243,000 of the cost from reserves, as council and administration had been setting money aside over a number of years for its replacement. “Every time you are dealing with a major purchase, you have to look at all the variables on it,” Thauberger said. “Right now, it feels good. We weren’t anticipating any money from the RM but now that it’s come through, we are very thankful for their support. It makes our budget look a lot better too. It’s very important to have good equipment for your fire department. We were running with an old truck that needed to be replaced and was having problems.” Keith Borkowsky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Quad Town Forum
MILAN — Italy’s data protection authority said Friday it was imposing an immediate block on TikTok’s access to data for any user whose age has not been verified. The authority said it was acting with “urgency” following the death of a 10-year-old girl in Sicily, who died while participating in a so-called “blackout” challenge while using the Chinese-owned video-sharing social network. Prosecutors in Sicily are investigating the case. The data protection authority noted it had advised TikTok in December of a series of violations, including scant attention to the protection of minors, the ease with which users under age 13 could sign up for the platform — against its own rules — the lack of transparency in information given to users and the use of automatic settings that did not respect privacy. “While waiting to receive a response, the authority decided to take action to ensure the immediate protection of minors in Italy registered on the network,’’ the authority said in a statement. The block will remain in place at least until Feb. 15, when further evaluations will be made. TikTok earlier this month rolled out some tightened privacy features for users under the age of 18, including a new default private setting for accounts with users aged 13 to 15. The new practices, affecting users around the world, followed a move by U.S. regulators to order TikTok and other social media services to disclose how their practices affect children and teenagers. The Associated Press
OTTAWA — A group of large businesses in Banff National Park is proposing a rapid COVID-19 testing project meant to help reopen the economy safely. Yannis Karlos, the head of the group, said rapid testing can guarantee the safety of the community while allowing the return to a semblance of normality in a place heavily dependent on tourism. "We're just looking for options to take a different approach to ensure that our community remains safe," said Karlos, who owns a distillery and restaurant in Banff, Alta. "Back in March, our community basically fully shut down and we had an extremely high level of unemployment," he said. Karlos said the group of businesses that represent 5,300 employees would cover the costs of deploying COVID-19 rapid tests if the Alberta government will supply them. "The way we envision it is becoming a public-private partnership, so we're looking for some assistance from the municipality as well as from the province," he said. Town of Banff spokesman Jason Darrah said the municipality will support the project. "We want to support however possible, such as offering facilities for doing it," he said. Sandy White, the co-founder of a coalition of academics, medical professionals and business leaders called Rapid Test and Trace Canada, which is working with the businesses in Banff, said millions of rapid tests already bought and distributed by the federal government are sitting in warehouses across Canada because provincial governments are either unable or unwilling to deploy them. "The overall mismanagement of this file in particular, to say nothing of vaccines and everything else, has been depressingly indicative of Canada's response to this thing," he said. White, who himself owns two inns in Banff, said other countries have responded to the pandemic more efficiently than Canada using rapid tests and other measures to reopened their economies safely. "We are drowning in this situation and we've had a year to get all these wonderful things in place and we could be Taiwan or South Korea or Australia or New Zealand but we're not," he said. "That's very frustrating." White said the 90-day rapid-testing project proposed for Banff would aim to test as many of the town's roughly 8,800 residents as possible within the first two days. After that, the program would test between five and 10 per cent of residents every day. "We are quite confident that with a strategy like that, we can eradicate COVID within the community," he said. Banff had close to 200 active cases of COVID-19 at the end of November, when the economy had reopened and tourists were in town. "The goal really is to be able to safely reopen the economy and encourage tourists to come back to town," he said, noting local jobs depend on tourism. He said the program could also be used as a "test case" to prove that a rapid-testing strategy can work to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. White said his organization is speaking with several groups across the country, including universities and Indigenous communities, to prepare rapid-testing project proposals. "It would be us advising and assisting in setting up pilots and executing on them with the government really just providing testing services in the form of the tests and maybe some basic guidance," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press
With Ontario moving to get children back in the classroom, educators are being urged to keep mental health top of mind as the ongoing disturbances of the pandemic continue to pose unprecedented psychological challenges for young people. An updated report by Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, released Thursday, includes recommendations on mental health that underscore the importance of having accessible support services and increased in-person educational resources in Ontario schools to mitigate learning gaps caused by pandemic school disruptions. The report also adds the need for schools to encourage social interactions whenever possible to address the health effects of social isolation on children’s mental health. Sick Kids hopes its recommendations will be implemented by the province, following Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s announcement of a gradual return to in-person learning, starting with seven school boards in regions where infection rates are lower. Greater Toronto Area students are still learning remotely, but the province said it aims to reopen schools when it is safe to do so. The mental health of young people continues to be adversely impacted by the pandemic. A Sick Kids’ study cited in Thursday’s report revealed 70 per cent of children and adolescents in Ontario reported worsening mental health since the pandemic began. Much of the impact, the report added, is related to social isolation. “We really value connections with other people, and kids do as well,” said Dr. Daphne Korczak, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Sick Kids. Things like playing with friends, interacting with their teacher and engaging in extracurricular activities are all crucial to a child’s mental health, Korczak added, and are things that have not been made possible due to the pandemic’s disruption on schooling. The study found that while more than 50 per cent of children with pre-COVID-19 mental health challenges showed worsening symptoms, around 40 per cent of previously healthy children have also experienced high rates of depression, anxiety, irritability and inattention. Eating disorders among youth are also on the rise during the pandemic, according to pediatric doctors across the country. Admissions to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and Sick Kids have jumped around 30 to 60 per cent from 2019 levels, with cases primarily involving restrictive eating, including anorexia nervosa. With these ongoing mental health challenges, Kimberly Moran, the CEO for Children’s Mental Health Ontario, said it is imperative that mental health remains at the forefront as infection rates lower and children gradually return to in-school learning across the province. In particular, Moran said mental health aspects of the curriculum should be re-emphasized as soon as students return to the classroom. “We have to recognize that we’ve had yet another period of disruption,” Moran said of the extended school closures after the holiday break in December. “Some of the things that started happening in September, we have to restart them again.” This includes reminding children of the mental health support that is available to them in school, and emphasizing the need for open communication between teachers and parents should mental health needs arise. Moran also echoed the need for children to engage in more social activities to help mitigate the growing anxiety many are facing about being away from friends and their normal routines. “If we can ask our teachers to try and facilitate that as much as possible, that is also super important to get kids sort of back into the groove of being with other kids,” Moran said. In response to Sick Kids’ recommendations on mental health, Toronto’s school boards said they remain committed to supporting students’ well-being both during the pandemic and beyond through their team of social workers and psychologists. On extracurricular activities, Shazia Vlahos, a spokesperson for the Toronto Catholic District School Board, said social clubs and initiatives can be continued virtually during the closure period. She added that per Ministry of education guidelines, “schools can offer clubs and organized sports if physical distancing is possible and equipment and spaces are cleaned and disinfected between each use.” Ryan Bird, a spokesperson for the Toronto District School Board, said some extracurriculars have not been possible in a remote environment, but running clubs may be possible depending on level of interest. These decisions are made on a school-to-school basis, he said. The TDSB, Bird said, has also been bolstering up their mental health initiatives by increasing outreach of the board’s mental health support staff through educational YouTube videos, and by providing online mental health seminars for parents and caregivers. He added staff will be reviewing Sick Kids’ recommendations “to determine if any improvements to our existing supports can be made.” To bolster mental health initiatives in schools, the Ontario government pledged $20 million in the summer, part of which was used to hire more mental health support staff for the province’s 72 school boards. But Moran maintains boosting funding for community services is also needed, as that’s where most children receive treatment after a mental health issue is identified by a school or parent. Wait-lists for these services, she added, are still too long. The cost of inaction on the part of everyone, Korczak said, could be steep with adverse mental health effects on children lasting way beyond the pandemic. “The concern is that as time goes on, the opportunity to be resilient will decrease, so does kids’ ability to buffer day-to-day frustrations compared to their pre-pandemic selves also decreases,” she said. Under the second lockdown, Korczak added, children’s resilience and strength has become more fragile. With files from The Canadian Press Nadine Yousif is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering mental health. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Follow her on Twitter: @nadineyousif_ Nadine Yousif, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
Two senior British parliamentarians called on Friday for an investigation into a British-registered company possibly linked to last year's devastating explosion in Beirut, after Reuters found that the firm had not disclosed its beneficial owners. The company, Savaro Ltd, is registered at a London address, and like all British firms is required to list who owns it with Britain's companies register, known as Companies House. In an e-mail to Reuters this week, the woman listed as Savaro's owner and sole director at Companies House, Marina Psyllou, told Reuters that she was acting as an agent on behalf of another beneficial owner, whose identity she could not disclose.
Approximately 30 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel have been deployed to Garden Hill First Nation to provide humanitarian assistance and address the emergent needs of the community. Between Jan. 17 and 18, members of the CAF were sent to support an Indigenous Service Canada-led liaison and reconnaissance team to rapidly assess the situation in the northern Manitoba community. Following a formal Request for Assistance, the CAF arrived at the First Nation on Wednesday to work alongside other community members and other government departments and agencies. “In Island Lake, we have been working hard to try to mitigate the transmission of the COVID-19 virus,” Alex McDougall, executive director of Four Arrows Regional Health Authority (FARHA) told Winnipeg Sun on Friday. “Bringing down the number of cases in the region is something we want to see very quickly, and having the military personnel in the community to assist with the immunization plan is something that needs to continue.” FARHA oversees health services for all Island Lake Anishininew Nation communities, including Garden Hill First Nation, Wasagamack First Nation, St. Theresa Point First Nation and Red Sucker Lake First Nation. Garden Hill First Nation is located 610 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg and 350 air kilometres southeast of Thompson. Manitoba’s Island Lake district saw a total of 300 active cases as of Thursday with 266 of those cases from Garden Hill First Nation. According to CAF spokesperson Jessica Lamirande, tasks which the CAF has been called to do are: · Provide general duty support to the community and nursing station for clerical, maintenance, cleaning duties of isolating personnel where required; · Integrate into the local Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) command post in the community to coordinate activities with the Chief and his Council and other government partners; · Assist in the establishment and operating of a local Alternative Isolation Area (AIA), · Arrange for training and support to incoming staff in the operation of the AIA; · Provide limited assistance with patient management tasks, including triage, secondary assessment, monitoring of patients, testing and treatment of COVID-19 patients; · Where necessary assist with home wellness checks; and · Offer transportation assistance to other responding government departments in and out of the affected area for cargo and personnel, if required. Last Friday, approximately one-third of the 5,300 Moderna vaccines allocated to Manitoba First Nations arrived at Island Lake. Garden Hill First Nation received 320 doses of the vaccine during the weekend. Despite many COVID-19 cases in the region, there is still some who refuse to receive immunity against the virus. “We are seeing apprehension within the community members in Garden Hill. The situation there is bad as well as overall in Island Lake. Community members are frustrated and scared at the same time,” said McDougall. “This is a strong indicator that we need to continue with our education and awareness piece, and share with our members the importance of participating in the immunization plan,” he added. The FARHA has been working with the provincial and federal government for two decades to bring in critical infrastructure in the area such as a hospital that can provide services to the residents of Island Lake. McDougall said that patients suffering from COVID-19 in Island Lake need to be flown out to Winnipeg to receive treatment. Currently, the Garden Hill community is under lockdown, with non-essential travel prohibited. 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
WASHINGTON — New first lady Jill Biden took an unannounced detour to the U.S. Capitol on Friday to deliver baskets of chocolate chip cookies to National Guard members, thanking them “for keeping me and my family safe” during President Joe Biden's inauguration. “I just want to say thank you from President Biden and the whole, the entire Biden family,” she told a group of Guard members at the Capitol. “The White House baked you some chocolate chip cookies," she said, before joking that she couldn't say she had baked them herself. Joe Biden was sworn into office on Wednesday, exactly two weeks after Donald Trump supporters rioted at the Capitol in a futile attempt to keep Congress from certifying Biden as the winner of November's presidential election. Extensive security measures were then taken for the inauguration, which went off without any major incidents. Jill Biden told the group that her late son, Beau, was a Delaware Army National Guard member who spent a year deployed in Iraq in 2008-09. Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46. “So I'm a National Guard mom,” she said, adding that the baskets were a “small thank you” for leaving their home states and coming to the nation's capital. President Biden offered his thanks to the chief of the National Guard Bureau in a phone call Friday. “I truly appreciate all that you do,” the first lady said. “The National Guard will always hold a special place in the heart of all the Bidens.” Jill Biden's unannounced troop visit came after her first public outing as first lady. She highlighted services for cancer patients at Whitman-Walker Health, a Washington institution with a history of serving HIV/AIDS patients and the LGBTQ community. The clinic receives federal money to help provide primary care services in underserved areas. Staff told the first lady that cancer screenings had fallen since last March because patients didn't want to come in because of the coronavirus pandemic. More and more patients are taking advantage of options to see a doctor online. When the issue of universal access to broadband internet was raised, Jill Biden, who is a teacher, said she hears from teachers around the country who can't get in touch with their students because of the spotty access in some areas. “We just have to work together and address some of these things," she said. “The first thing we have to do is address this pandemic and get everybody vaccinated and back to work and back to their schools and get things back to the new normal.” Darlene Superville, The Associated Press
The NBC Sports Network, which is best known for its coverage of the NHL and English Premier League, will be going away at the end of the year. NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua announced the channel's shutdown on Friday in an internal memo to staff. “At the conclusion of 2021, we have decided that the best strategic next step for our Sports Group and the entire Company is to wind down NBCSN completely,” Bevacqua said in the memo. NBCSN is available in 80.1 million homes, according to Nielsen's latest estimate, which is less than ESPN (83.1 million) and FS1 (80.2 million). The channel was launched by Comcast in 1995 as the Outdoor Life Network. It was best known for carrying the Tour de France until it acquired the NHL in 2005. It changed its name to Versus in 2006 and then to NBC Sports Network six years later after Comcast bought NBC Universal in 2011. Bevacqua said in the memo that Stanley Cup playoff games and NASCAR races would be moving to USA Network this year. USA Network, which is available in 85.6 million homes, had already been airing early-round playoff games since 2012. “This will make USA Network an extraordinarily powerful platform in the media marketplace, and gives our sports programming a significant audience boost,” Bevacqua said. “We believe that the power of this offering is the best long-term strategy for our Sports Group, our partners, and our Company.” The news of NBCSN shutting down also comes during a time when many of NBC Sports Group’s most valuable sports properties are coming up for renewal. This is the last season of a 10-year deal with the NHL and negotiations for the EPL rights, beginning with the 2022-23 season, are ongoing. Many have predicted that the next rights deal with the NHL will include multiple networks with former broadcast partners ESPN and Fox Sports expected to be in the mix. NBC's current deal averages $200 million per season. Premier League deals are usually for three years, but NBC secured a six-year package in 2015 by paying nearly $1 billion. NASCAR, which has its races from July through November on NBC and NBCSN, has a deal through 2024. IndyCar's contract, which includes the Indianapolis 500 on NBC, expires at the end of this year. The sanctioning body said in a statement that NBC “has always been a transparent partner, and we were aware of this upcoming strategy shift." Tag Garson, Wasserman’s senior vice-president of properties, said TNT and TBS have already proved it's possible to have a cable channel that does a good job of meshing entertainment programming with sports. “NBC has done a great job with hockey and soccer that it would be hard for anyone to walk away from that,” he said. “How many windows can your fit sports programming into at USA? That’s where the internal discussions are going to be and understanding the right balance to have between sports and entertainment.” NBC could also put additional events on its Peacock streaming service, which debuted last year. There are 175 Premier League games airing on Peacock this season. Joe Reedy, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Canadian scientists say blood thinners appear to prevent some COVID-19 patients with moderate illness from deteriorating further, offering a "massive" advance in treatment they expect will ease suffering and lesson strain on hospital ICUs. University Health Network scientist Ewan Goligher said Friday that blood thinners could soon be part of standard care after the interim results of global trials showed Heparin reduced the probability of requiring life support by about a third. The news comes on the heels of promising early data for another COVID-19 drug targeting seniors, as health systems across the country wrestle with the impact of a recent surge in cases and long-term care homes battle devastating outbreaks. Considering how many people around the world end up in intensive care because of COVID-19, Goligher said this finding is "massive." "They're very, very ill, they're often in the ICU for a long time. It's a devastating life event," Goligher, a critical care physician at Toronto General Hospital, said of the patients he sees. "Even if they do survive, it means immense suffering, and to prevent people from becoming critically ill is huge." Interim results of clinical trials spanning five continents in more than 300 hospitals suggest full-dose blood thinners could significantly reduce the number of severe cases that are now straining health-care systems. The study involved more than 1,300 moderately ill patients admitted to hospital, including hundreds of people admitted to hospitals across Canada. Researchers found the full dose was more effective than the lower dose typically administered to prevent blood clots in hospitalized patients. Goligher, co-chair of the therapeutic anticoagulation domain of the trial, said he expected patients at his downtown hospital would be on routine blood thinners "imminently," and "fully expected" hospitals around the world would, too. "Before people change their practice they're going to want to see the full paper published so we're working very hard now to write up the results and get them published in a high impact journal," he said. "One of the exciting things about this treatment is that Heparin is already cheap, widely available, and available in low and middle-income countries, as well as countries like Canada and the United States. So this is a cheap therapy that can make a significant impact on outcomes for patients." Goligher said researchers still needs to look into other questions surrounding blood thinners, such as whether to continue treatment if a moderately ill patient develops severe COVID-19, and whether adding an antiplatelet agent would help. Doctors noticed early in the pandemic that COVID-19 patients suffered an increased rate of blood clots and inflammation. This led to complications including lung failure, heart attack and stroke. Back in December, investigators found that giving full-dose blood thinners to critically ill ICU patients did not help, and was actually harmful. However, Goligher noted there have been other drugs that appear to ease mortality in severe cases, expecting more trials to release promising data soon. Goligher was heartened by the news that blood thinners could soon ease a devastating winter surge of infections. "I personally find the thought that this treatment will prevent (patients) from getting to this state incredibly gratifying. It's even better than if it was an effective treatment for severe COVID-19, to be able to prevent people from becoming severe is huge." The trials are supported by international funding organizations including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the NIH National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute in the United States, the National Institute for Health Research in the United Kingdom, and the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia. Meanwhile, U.S. drugmaker Eli Lilly said this week that early trial data reveals its antibody drug bamlanivimab – developed in partnership with Vancouver’s AbCellera Biologics – can prevent some COVID-19 illness in nursing home residents and staff. Early data from a Phase 3 trial found that in addition to offering therapeutic value, bamlanivimab "significantly" reduced the risk of contracting symptomatic COVID-19 among 965 residents and staff of long-term care facilities in the U.S. Health Canada has approved its use as a therapy for mild to moderate cases of COVID-19, but not to prevent infection. A spokesman for Eli Lilly Canada said the company expected to present the new data to Health Canada, but noted their findings were still early. In November, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada had purchased 26,000 doses of the drug, with shipments to arrive between December 2020 and February 2021. But Lauren Fischer, VP of corporate affairs for Eli Lilly Canada, says the drug is not being used on patients here yet. Fischer said the provinces have raised "some implementation concerns" about bamlanivimab, which involves an hour-long intravenous infusion. "The provinces are still considering their approach to making it available but we haven't seen a lot of progress on that," Fischer said. "The provinces have really moved with commendable speed on vaccinations, they've shown that they can overcome implementation difficulties to make needed solutions available.... We stand ready to partner with provincial governments as they try to make those solutions happen." The drug is meant for patients over the age of 65 with underlying conditions. Dr. Doron Sagman, Eli Lilly's VP of research and development and medical affairs, said the early data suggests some level of protection for older Canadians waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine, or if their immune response to a vaccine is not as robust as others. "The intent again is to provide a therapeutic bridge to those vaccines and fill a gap in those individuals who have been affected by the illness and have not yet been vaccinated," said Sagman. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Friday that Health Canada relies on clinical experts "on the ground" treating patients "to decide what's best for them." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press
White City ratepayers will see a property tax increase in 2021 after town council set its annual budget Jan. 11, but the increase will be mitigated in part by the results of this year’s provincial property revaluation. Settled by a 5-2 vote, council passed a budget that increases the residential and commercial mill rate by 0.33 mills, or 9.7 per cent, to 3.719 mills. Base taxes are also going up, with developed properties to pay $990 this year — up $40 or 4.2 per cent from last year — and undeveloped properties to pay $710, up $30 or 4.4 per cent over last year. With preliminary data from the Saskatchewan Assessment Management Agency’s 2021 revaluation showing a province-wide decrease in residential property values, however, the actual increase to White City’s property tax revenues is budgeted at 2.86 per cent. Council had initially sent the budget back to administration in December with the goal of achieving a 0.01 per cent tax increase. However, with utility accounts running in deficit, recent water rate increases yet to bring those services to self-sufficiency, and concerns over the future impact of hypothetical spending cuts that would have been required to balance the budget without increasing taxes, administration came back in January and recommended the tax increase to council. Councillors Hal Zorn and Scott Moskal voted against the final budget as presented, while Mayor Brian Fergusson, Deputy Mayor Rebecca Otitoju and councillors Andrew Boschman, Bill Krzysik and Kris Moen voted in favour. The 2021 budget projects gross operating revenues of $7.09 million, gross operating expenditures of $7.161 million and gross capital expenditures of $5.541 million. With $2.231 million in grants and other capital contributions factored in, along with amortization, debt repayments, a $390,394 transfer from the town’s reserves, and the issuance of $2.673 million in new long-term debt, the town is projecting a surplus of $4,552 for the year. White City residents had previously taken on almost $5.5 million in debt over the 2019 and 2020 tax years combined. Overall outstanding debt levels are projected to double from $9,037,900 in 2019 to $18,346,275 in 2023 due to projects such as the Multi-Use Recreation Facility, Betteridge Road buildout, and a Town Centre Office. Some of these projects, such as Betteridge Road, are slated to be funded by development levies. “There are some risks council should be aware of here, with respect to how soon we get development moving in this community again,” town manager Ken Kolb told council. “One, potential new borrowing would be required for the wastewater facility, and how soon we are able to collect that back as well. Those are a couple of unknowns which affect our capital plans going forward this year.” When Fergusson asked what that risk meant overall, Kolb replied if lands around the Town Centre area aren’t developed, the development levies needed to pay for it won’t be collected. “If we do get the ability to approve development in 2021, then our risk is significantly reduced,” Kolb said. “I wouldn’t recommend you proceed with construction until such a time you have development agreements signed and the developments approved by Community Planning.” Kolb said they can continue to plan for projects such as the Betteridge Road improvements or the Multi-Use Recreation Facility though there could be delays. When councillors started debate after the budget presentation, Moskal repeated his support for the near-zero per cent tax increase. “To draw that contrast in that unfortunate and unnecessary competitive nature between the RM and White City, and that they have held the line in the last two years while we have increased, it is important for us to hold the line noting that things will change with the annexation decision regardless of that decision,” Moskal said. “If we are successful in that annexation as we have proposed, things will change and they won’t change for the worse as taxes would not be going up for residents. That being said, if the decision is in part or fully declined we will need to revisit how we operate and spend in this town. We will be limited in future growth. We will not be able to expand. We will be restricted and that means a lot of things change.” Others such as Otitoju, said they shouldn’t be comparing tax rates with the RM of Edenwold in the first place. “We do need to be competitive and comparable, but I have a concern services could be stopped by doing this,” Otitoju said. “We need to make sure we make a budget that addresses concerns now. Whether we are successful with annexation or not, those are concerns for tomorrow.” Keith Borkowsky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Quad Town Forum
The auditor general of Canada has a "clean" opinion of the Northwest Territories government's 2018-19 financial statements. "This means that the information in the statements is reliable," said auditor general Karen Hogan. Hogan appeared remotely before the territorial government's Standing Committee on Government Operations on Friday for a belated review of the government's 2018-19 public accounts. The review was supposed to take place in May 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hogan made two observations during her video presentation. The first had to do with public-private partnerships, also known as P3s. The new Stanton Territorial Hospital — which has had a significant impact on the government's finances — came into being through a public-private partnership. P3s are "usually large and complex," said Hogan. "It is therefore important to have accurate reporting of costs for informed decision making." She noted that auditors found public-private partnerships were recorded accurately, with one exception, and that correcting it resulted in a $30-million increase to both tangible capital assets and liabilities presented in the 2017-18 financial statements. Hogan's second observation had to do with the recording of certain revolving funds' revenues and expenses. Revolving funds can be continuously replenished to help ensure certain government operations. A recording correction resulted in a $34-million increase in both the revenues and expenses presented in 2017-18, said Hogan. "It wasn't an error in that revenues were forgotten or expenses were forgotten, it was just the way they were presented," she said. Gov't has 'limited flexibility' to raise money The public accounts are the annual financial statements of the government and include information on assets, liabilities, net debt and the accumulated surplus or deficit. Each year the auditor general of Canada audits the territory's consolidated financial statements and gives its opinion on whether the statements are a fair and accurate reflection of the government's financial position. The auditor general also looks at noteworthy transactions to ensure that they fall within the government's powers. The 2019 public accounts show that the N.W.T. government had revenues of about $2.4 billion and had expenses of about $2.03 billion, leaving an operating surplus of about $4 million, Julie Mujcin, N.W.T.'s comptroller general, told the committee. Although the government had an operating surplus, it has "limited flexibility" to raise money, as well as "vulnerabilities" related to its revenue sources, "which requires a need for careful fiscal management," said Mujcin. She said the government's finances in 2018-19 were affected in part by the opening of the new Stanton Territorial Hospital, as well as wage increases under government workers' collective agreement. The comptroller general also noted public agencies' challenges in completing audits and reports within the legislated timeframes. Yellowknife North MLA Rylund Johnson noted that the public accounts under review were based on a budget approved by the previous legislative assembly. He also said that many revenue projections from that time were "inaccurate" because, among other factors, "COVID obviously messed up a lot of this."
A Komoka resident and lifelong environmentalist is building Middlesex Centre’s first net-zero energy house, hoping to spark a trend in the region. A net-zero home minimizes energy use for heating and cooling, while producing its own energy through solar panels. “It’s been a personal mission and passion of mine to try to educate, not to preach, and to live by example,” said Terry Keep. “Even a guy who is not a builder can do this with the right people around them.” Keep has been building his new carbon-neutral family home amid the pandemic and expects to be finished by April. He spent years researching the process before breaking ground last fall. The 2,300-square-foot (214-square-metre) home will feature solar panels on its steel roof, along with thicker walls for better insulation and triple-pane windows to reduce energy use. The lumber used is all Forest Stewardship Council certified. The driveway will use permeable pavers so stormwater can drain through into the ground. “It’s a nicer, quieter, dryer, tighter home,” Keep said. It’s also one of few homes to feature an electric furnace — the home uses no natural gas — and a heat pump. The house is divided into three zones, each heated only when necessary. Though net-zero homes are available in the London region — Sifton’s West Five development, for example, is geared toward sustainable living — Keep said building one independently in other neighbourhoods isn’t common. He’s documenting the building process — he calls it a “labour of love” — on YouTube, aiming to show carbon-neutral homes can be accessible and affordable for everyday consumers, not just environmentalists. He also wanted to prove you don’t have to move to a new neighbourhood to get a carbon-neutral house. “It’s the desire to show people it’s a regular neighbourhood, my home will stand beside a regular, code-built home,” Keep said. “I want people to see it can be done.” Walk through Keep’s house in progress, and it looks like any other mid-century modern home — with hints of Frank Lloyd Wright — not something out of The Jetsons. About 20 per cent of the average home's carbon footprint comes from household energy consumption. It takes about seven years for a solar-powered house to recoup the investment costs. But Keep has faced many hurdles getting his environmentally sustainable house off the ground, even without pandemic hiccups, such as labour and supply shortages. Finding architects, builders and tradespeople with knowledge and experience in developing net-zero houses was a challenge, Keep said, and getting them to commit to a single house even harder. “It’s been a really interesting ride,” said the home's builder, Frank Oosterhoff, who owns Great Lakes Construction. Keep said Middlesex Centre is a progressive area in terms of sustainability, citing the newly built net-zero firehall, and the community centre’s solar panels. Once his own house is finished, Keep plans to pursue building a row of affordable, net-zero townhouses. “The next generation is starting to realize there's value in that,” he said. “If everyone can afford one, they’ll buy it — if they can’t afford one, they won’t.” Keep drives a plug-in hybrid vehicle and is also a vegetarian. He was a founding member of EnviroWestern, a group at Western University that promotes sustainability. “We make small steps to get to a big impact over our life,” Keep said. “It doesn’t happen over a short period.” email@example.com Twitter.com/MaxatLFPress Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
ROME — Simone Zaza scored twice to rescue a 2-2 draw for relegation-threatened Torino at Benevento in coach Davide Nicola’s debut on Friday in Serie A. Nicolas Viola’s first-half penalty and a deflected shot from Gianluca Lapadula early in the second half had put Benevento ahead by two goals. But Zaza responded with a header two minutes after Lapadula’s goal and then equalized in stoppage time by redirecting a throughball with one touch. Nicola replaced the fired Marco Giampaolo on Tuesday. Torino stayed in the relegation zone while Benevento remained 11th. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
The Ontario government is kicking off a new social media campaign with actors, singers, athletes, and business owners who are all asking you to remain at home. Meanwhile, data tracking mobility in the city continues to show progress. Matthew Bingley reports.
The Delta Hospice Society (DHS) appears to have capitulated in a standoff between its board of directors and Fraser Health that was forcing terminally ill residents of the Irene Thomas Hospice to move out by the end of next month. In a public letter dated Jan. 21, the society states, "... the board notified Fraser Health they will evacuate the Irene Thomas Hospice facility by the required date, so there will be no disruption in patient care." Last year, the government announced it was severing the service agreement with the Delta Hospice Society and withdrawing $1.5 million in annual funding over the society's decision to stop offering medically assisted death. On Feb. 25, 2021, operation of the facility and the building will be assumed by Fraser Health, but earlier this month the health authority said DHS was not engaging in discussions aimed at transitioning patients and staff. To ensure continuance of care, Fraser Health said it had no choice but to move dying patients out of the hospice and into a long-term care facility, a move that upset families of residents and many in the greater community. But in the letter, the DHS board now says it "... is hopeful there will be no disruption in service, no need to transfer patients and no need to absorb existing patients elsewhere in Fraser Health." Chris Pettypiece of the group Take Back Delta Hospice said he was surprised by the society's sudden change of heart. "We didn't see it coming but are pleased to see the right decision — one that supports patients and staff," he said. "This is a decision that should have been made a lot earlier to have avoided all the stress and grief for the people affected." The Irene Thomas Hospice has been at the centre of a fight for control ever since a new board of directors came to power in late 2019, banned Medical Assistance in Dying at the 10-bed-hospice and tried to change the society's constitution in order to turn it into an expressly Christian organization. CBC reached out to Delta Hospice Society chair Angelina Ireland and Fraser Health for comment but has not heard back.
WASHINGTON — It's a proven political strategy: Underpromise and overdeliver. President Joe Biden, in his first three days in office, has painted a bleak picture of the country's immediate future, warning Americans that it will take months, not weeks, to reorient a nation facing a historic convergence of crises. The dire language is meant as a call to action, but it's also a deliberate effort to temper expectations. In addition, it is an explicit rejection of President Donald Trump’s tack of talking down the coronavirus pandemic and its economic toll. Chris Lu, a longtime Obama administration official, said the grim tone is aimed at “restoring trust in government” that eroded during the Trump administration. “If you’re trying to get people to believe in this whole system of vaccinations, and if you want people to take seriously mask mandates, your leaders have to level with the American people,” he said. Biden said Thursday that “things are going to continue to get worse before they get better” and offered “the brutal truth” that it will take eight months before a majority of Americans will be vaccinated. On Friday, he declared outright: “There’s nothing we can do to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months.” It's all part of Biden's pledge that his administration will "always be honest and transparent with you, about both the good news and the bad.” That approach, aides say, explains Biden’s decision to set clear and achievable goals for his new administration. The measured approach is drawing praise in some corners for being realistic -— but criticism from others for its caution. Trump often dismissed the seriousness of the virus and even acknowledged to journalist Bob Woodward that he deliberately played down the threat to the U.S. to prop up the economy. Even as death tolls and infection rates soared, Trump insisted the country was already “rounding the turn.” Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said Biden’s pledge for 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days in office might fall short of what’s needed to turn the tide on the virus. “Maybe they’re picking a number that’s easier to achieve, rather than the number that we need to achieve. I would urge people to be bolder than that,” he said. Adalja argued that the goal they’ve set “should be the bare minimum that we accept.” But he also acknowledged that there’s a major political risk in overpromising. “You don’t want people to be discouraged or feel like the government is incompetent” if they fail to meet a goal, he said. “It’s a disappointingly low bar,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a public health expert and emergency physician. Biden on Friday acknowledged the criticism, saying he was hopeful for more vaccinations, but he avoided putting down a marker that could potentially fall out of reach. “I found it fascinating that yesterday the press asked the question, ‘Is 100 million enough?'" he said in the State Dining Room. "A week before, they were saying, ‘Biden, are you crazy? You can’t do 100 million in 100 days.’ Well, we’re — God willing — not only going to 100 million. We’re going to do more than that.” In fact, while there was some skepticism when Biden first announced the goal on Dec. 8, it was generally seen as optimistic but within reach. The Biden administration might be taking lessons from the earliest days of the Obama administration, when there was constant pressure to show real progress in turning around the economy during the financial crisis. One former Obama administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak freely about internal conversations, said there was a fevered effort during the first few months of Obama's first term to play down the focus on evaluating the president’s success within his first 100 days because aides knew the financial recovery would take far longer than that. In one notable misstep, Obama’s National Economic Council chair, Christina Romer, predicted that unemployment wouldn’t top 8% if Congress passed the administration’s stimulus package to address the financial crisis. It was signed into law a month into Obama's first term, but by the end of that year, unemployment nevertheless hit 10%. The risk in setting too rosy expectations is that an administration might become defined by its failure to meet them. President George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech in 2003 — at a time when the Iraq War was far from over — became a defining blunder of his presidency. Trump provided an overreach of his own in May 2020, when he said the nation had “prevailed” over the virus. At the time, the country had seen about 80,000 deaths from the virus. This week, the U.S. death toll topped 412,000. Trump’s lax approach and lack of credibility contributed to poor adherence to public safety rules among the American public. Former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Trump’s handling of the virus caused so much damage to public perceptions of its severity that it’s important for Biden to set a contrasting tone. “I think it is really important to start telling the American people the truth. And that has not happened in a year, since we found the first case of coronavirus, so he’s got a lot of damage to undo,” she said. “This is a very serious, very contagious, deadly disease, and anything other than that message — delivered over and over again — is, unfortunately, adding to the willingness of lots of people to pay no attention to how to stop the spread of the disease.” Alexandra Jaffe And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
The RM of Edenwold will go a little longer yet without a permanent chief administrative officer in place, following the retirement of Kim McIvor. A possible replacement candidate for McIvor was preparing for a move to the area in December but for family reasons was not able to make the move.For now that leaves Karen Zaharia, the RM’s assistant administrator, as acting CAO, with Jedlic also assisting with some of the CAO duties on a temporary basis. “We had initiated a search to replace (McIvor) last summer and into the fall,” Jedlic said. “We had a number of excellent candidates and ultimately one we worked with over a period of time who surely would have been an excellent candidate for the RM of Edenwold.” Due to personal circumstances, that candidate withdrew during late stages of the search process. That forced the RM of re-initiate the search process. While the CAO search continues, Reeve Mitchell Huber has also assisted with administration duties in the interim. The CAO opening has been posted by Boyden Canada, an executive search firm. Job requirements include having a Rural Class A certificate in Local Government Administration or a relevant professional degree, along with 10 years of related municipal government experience. Keith Borkowsky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Quad Town Forum
PITTSBURGH — The son of a couple killed in a Pittsburgh synagogue attack that killed 11 worshippers is suing the National Rifle Association, arguing the group’s inflammatory rhetoric led to the violence. Marc Simon, the son of Sylvan and Bernice Simon, filed the wrongful death lawsuit Thursday in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court against the NRA, the gun maker Colt’s Manufacturing Co., and accused shooter, Robert Bowers, news outlets reported. Colt manufactured the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle allegedly used by Bowers. A fourth defendant is the unknown business that sold Bowers the gun. Bowers is charged with killing 11 congregants at the Tree of Life synagogue in the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history. Police said the former truck driver expressed hatred of Jews during and after the October 2018 rampage. “Bowers was not born fearing and hating Jews,” the suit claims. “The gun lobby taught him to do that.” Bowers has pleaded not guilty. No trial date has been set, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. The plaintiff argues gun lobbyists like the NRA radicalized people with “mendacious white supremacist conspiracy theories.” The lawsuit also says Colt could have prevented the AR-15 from “bump firing,” or using a modification that allows the rifle to fire more rapidly. An NRA spokesperson declined comment on the lawsuit. The group filed for bankruptcy last week, and the claims against them in Simon’s lawsuit will be stayed as a result of the group’s reorganizing. Colt did not respond to request for comment. Besides a wrongful death claim, the complaint accuses Colt of product liability and says the gun is more akin to a military-style weapon than a civilian product. The Associated Press