With meteorologist Tyler Hamilton.
With meteorologist Tyler Hamilton.
Jim Lowes had never thought about being an organ donor until he read a story about Logan Boulet nearly three years ago. Boulet was one of 16 people who died in April 2018 when a truck driver blew a stop sign and drove into the path of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team's bus in rural Saskatchewan. Thirteen players were injured. Boulet, 21, had signed up to be an organ donor on his birthday, five weeks before the crash. "He had already planned on giving his organs," said Lowes, who lives in Burlington, Ont. "That really struck me. "What a brilliant young man. Most kids at that age are not thinking about donating their organs." Six people across Canada benefited from Boulet's organs and the Logan Boulet Effect soon followed. Nearly 147,000 Canadians registered to be donors in the two months after learning the player had signed his donor card. It also led to Green Shirt Day every April 7, the anniversary of Boulet's death, to promote organ donor awareness and registration across Canada. Canadian Blood Services says more than a million people have registered a decision about organ donation in the years since Boulet's death. There are about 12 million Canadians on provincial registries. Lowes, 61, said he was inspired by Boulet to be a living donor. "I was too old to donate (part of) my liver ... but I checked into the kidney," he said. "I ended up donating one of my kidneys." Canadian Blood Services says the number of living donors increased in 2019 but dropped about 30 per cent to 427 in 2020. Deceased donors also dropped about 21 per cent to 654. Officials say the decline was due to COVID-19. "The impact we've seen has changed over the year," said Dr. Norman Kneteman, a transplant surgeon at University of Alberta Hospital and a member on an expert advisory committee with Canadian Blood Services. During the first wave of COVID-19 last spring, there was fear of the unknown, he said. "Donation really slowed down and very nearly stopped for awhile." Surgeries considered non-essential were delayed. There were fewer trauma patients who might become donors. And there was an early concern about transmission of the novel coronavirus between donor and patient, which he said is extremely rare and can be managed with careful testing. Kneteman, also a director for the division of transplantation at the U of A, said programs were almost back to normal by summer, and surgeons kept up with transplants during the pandemic's second wave. "We did see through the year — 2020 — that we had between 10 and 15 per cent reduction in activity in transplant for all organs," he said. "We have some catch-up to play there." Boulet's father said his family hopes an online campaign, which started this week, reminds people about organ donation. "We just want people to register their intent, what they want to do, whether they want to be an organ donor or don't want to be an organ donor," Toby Boulet said from Lethbridge, Alta. He said it's disappointing organs went unused in the early days of COVID-19. "We lost many, many chances in Canada to have transplants," he said. "There are chances to save lives. There are chances to make people's lives better and, even though COVID has enveloped and consumed all of us ... we can't forget about organ donation and transplantation." Canadian Blood Services said there were some bright spots in 2020. Newfoundland and Labrador brought in a new way last April for residents to register as organ donors. An online registry started in Saskatchewan last September. Nova Scotia recorded higher donation rates as awareness increased before a presumed consent law that requires people to opt out of organ donation. "The law came into effect in January, but we had been working on changing the system in preparation for the law for the past 18 months," said Dr. Stephen Beed, medical adviser for the Nova Scotia organ and tissue donation program. "We've ended up having by far the most successful donation year." Beed, who was working in an intensive care unit in Saskatoon the week of the Broncos crash, has a special connection to the Boulet family. "I was involved in taking care of Logan," he said. "It's quite remarkable to think I am living in Nova Scotia and doing a lot of donation-related work here, and then happened to be involved with one of the most tragic and significant donation-related circumstances we've had." Beed said the crash was noticed around the world. "To be able to find something positive in the middle of such a tragic circumstance — with Logan's gift — is something that really resonated and continues to resonate." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021 Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press
BRUSSELS — An inquiry into claims that the European Union’s border and coast guard agency was involved in illegally pushing back migrants has cleared Frontex of links to most of the incidents but has been unable to establish what happened in five cases, according to the official report into the allegations. The report is by a special working group set up to investigate media allegations that staff, ships or aircraft working with Frontex took part in or were near more than a dozen pushback incidents in the sea between Greece and Turkey last year. Its findings will be the focus of an extraordinary meeting of the agency’s management board on Friday. Frontex, which is responsible for patrolling the external borders of the 27-nation EU, has rejected the pushback allegations and said that its own internal inquiry could find no evidence to substantiate the claims. Greece, which is in charge of operations involving co-ordinating Frontex on its territory, has also denied reports of pushbacks by its border officers. Pushbacks are forcibly preventing people from entering a country when they might want to apply for asylum. They are contrary to refugee protection agreements, which say people shouldn’t be returned to a country where their life and safety might be in danger due to their race, religion, nationality or political views. They also contravene EU law and policy. The working group cleared Frontex of any wrongdoing in 8 cases, but said in five cases “it has not been possible to completely resolve the incidents beyond any reasonable doubt,” according to part of the restricted report, dated March 1 and seen by The Associated Press. Investigators could not determine whether the people involved in the five incidents were picked up by Turkish authorities or made it safely onto Greek soil. “There is no indication of anybody injured, reported missing or having died in connection with the respective incidents,” the report said. The probe, by experts from seven European countries and the European Commission, was set up weeks after reports of collective migrant expulsions were revealed in an October joint investigation by media outlets Bellingcat, Lighthouse Reports, Der Spiegel, ARD and TV Asahi. ___ Follow AP’s global migration coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/migration Lorne Cook, The Associated Press
Federal Liberal government staffers were worried that a donation of medical-grade masks for Korean War veterans in Canada would send the wrong message as the country grappled with shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) at the outset of the pandemic. The Republic of Korea, commonly known as South Korea, shipped more than one million face masks to veterans around the world last May as a "token of appreciation" for those who fought in the 1950-53 conflict on the Korean peninsula. Some 35,000 KF94 masks, the Korean equivalent of the gold standard N95 respirator, were shipped to Canada to be distributed to the 5,900 surviving veterans of the war. The South Korean government said it wanted to help these elderly Canadian Armed Forces veterans — their average age is 88 years old — at a time when masks were scarce in Canada and the novel coronavirus was claiming the lives of hundreds of seniors in Canada's long-term care homes. "We know how difficult it is to obtain this personal protective gear in Canada at this moment," Ambassador Yun Je Lee, the consul general of the Republic of Korea in Montreal, told CBC News at the time. "This can never match the warm hands you extended to us, but we hope this will help you overcome the current crisis." Behind the scenes, however, federal political staffers worried that helping to facilitate the donation might lead to awkward comparisons with the plight of Canadian health care personnel struggling to acquire PPE to protect themselves at work. The federal government's PPE procurement efforts at the time were beset by problems with shaky supply chains in China and a protectionist push in the U.S. to reduce shipments to other countries. Jake McDonald holds up a package of masks sent to him by the Republic of Korea. McDonald served in the Korean War at the age of 17.(Dave Laughlin/CBC) According to documents tabled at the House of Commons health committee last week, the government staffers urged Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) to downplay the South Korean announcement and relegate news of the donation to a social media post to avoid media inquiries. One staffer floated the idea of redeploying the masks to meet other needs. While procurement agents previously had ignored warnings about shortages in the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile (NESS) and rebuffed an offer from U.S. industrial giant Honeywell to supply Canada with N95 masks, by May it was abundantly clear that the country did not have enough PPE on hand for doctors and nurses working on the front lines. Supplies were stretched so thin that some health care workers were sanitizing their masks in microwaves. "I worry about the optics around the government of Canada facilitating the distribution of N95s in settings where they are not recommended for use when doctors are pulling all the stops to stretch the existing supply that they have," wrote Sabrina Kim, then the issues advisor to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in a May 20 email. "I submit for your consideration that some low key social media expressing Canada's thanks (rather than a news release) would invite fewer questions about N95 mask distribution, testing & healthcare priorities. Just my 0.02$!" she added. Kathleen Davis, a senior foreign policy adviser in the Prime Minister's Office, agreed with Kim that a plan to issue a news release thanking the South Korean government should be scrapped to avoid generating what she called "unnecessary controversy." "Agree with this, for what it's worth," she wrote. Andrew MacKendrick, a communications planning staffer in the Prime Minister's Office, asked if Health Canada or the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) raised any red flags about this donation to a relatively small subset of the Canadian population at a time when there were supply demands elsewhere. "Are there any issues with Health/PHAC that these donations are going to specific places vs. to PHAC and then area of greatest need?" Andrew MacKendrick, a communications staffer in the Prime Minister's Office, asked John Embury, the director of communications to Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay. Travis Gordon, a senior policy adviser in Health Minister Patty Hajdu's office, said the federal government couldn't easily intercept the donation to make up for shortfalls elsewhere. "Given that it's a donation, I suppose we can't redirect them to where they are sorely needed (hospitals)," Gordon wrote. "We will just try to avoid this spinning into a story about how some vets in some LTC homes will get N95s while doctors in hospital are limited to one per day," he added. "Please let us know if any interesting media Qs come your way on mask grade/distribution." In total, 35,000 face masks were sent out in bags like this one to Korean War veterans across Canada.(Eddy Kennedy/CBC) John Brassard, the Conservative critic for veterans affairs, said it's "egregious" that the government was even considering "confiscating" masks destined for elderly war veterans. "It tells me just how miserably unprepared the Canadian government was in terms of PPE and providing PPE to front line health care workers, including doctors," Brassard told CBC News. "It was a gift. A gift from the South Korean government to elderly Canadian war veterans who served in the Korean conflict. The fact they were even thinking about confiscating this gift, it's disturbing." After pushback from his colleagues, Embury ultimately dropped plans to release a statement to the media celebrating the donation and the diplomatic gesture. "No problem, we will pull the plug," he wrote on May 20. He also said he would ask the South Korean embassy to hold off on publicizing the donation until after the prime minister's scheduled press conference on May 21 so that Trudeau could avoid questions from the media. "Asked them to delay releasing their NR until after the PM's news conference, but no guarantee on that," he said. "Great thanks," Kim said in response. On May 21, the prime minister announced support for off-reserve Indigenous communities in the morning. A ceremony commemorating the face mask donation was later held at the South Korean embassy in Ottawa. MacAulay did not attend that ceremony but the department's deputy minister, Walt Natynczyk, was on hand. "They were clearly embarrassed by the PPE situation. They were trying to tamp down this news release, and hold off. They didn't want the prime minister to be asked about it because they didn't want him to be embarrassed," Brassard said. Reached by phone, Embury said VAC had planned to send out a news release but the South Korean embassy "jumped out ahead of us" and released one of its own, "and we just rolled with the punches." He said a press release was "only one possible channel" to acknowledge the donation, and MacAulay later had a private Zoom call with the South Korean ambassador to thank him for the donation. "We didn't have any reluctance to publicize the gift of masks," Embury said. The donation ultimately received scant coverage in the mainstream press until CBC News in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador profiled some grateful Korean War veterans at the end of June, nearly a month after the masks had first arrived in Canada. "I feel very proud that they remembered some of the guys that were over there. A lot of the guys never came back," one recipient, Jake McDonald, said of the South Korean donation.
The European Commission on Thursday announced goals for the 27-nation bloc to reduce poverty, inequality and boost training and jobs by 2030 as part of a post-pandemic economic overhaul financed by jointly borrowed funds. The goals, which will have to be endorsed by EU leaders, also include an increase in the number of adults getting training every year to adapt to the EU's transition to a greener and more digitalised economy to 60% from 40% now. Finally, over the next 10 years, the EU should reduce the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion by 15 million from 91 million in 2019.
When the hockey season resumes, 13-year-old Matéo Pérusse-Shortte will be taking a shot at a long-standing problem in his sport: racism. The Montreal teen and his mother Moashella Shortte are starting a hockey diversity group in Quebec to make the sport more inclusive by allowing players of colour to share their experiences. Pérusse-Shortte, a right winger, was only eight when he first had to confront racism head-on. As he pursued his hobby into his teens, the discrimination continued. Matéo Pérusse-Shortte first experienced racism while playing hockey at the age of eight.(Kwabena Oduro/CBC) "We were in the semi-finals and I scored the tying goal. I got to celebrate in the stands and there was a family flipping me off and calling me the N-word," he said. "Coaches would look at me differently, maybe [give me] less ice time … I felt it, the ignorance of coaches." A self-described hockey mom, Shortte says being one of the only parents of colour in those stands was an additional barrier to speaking about the prejudice her son faced. Teen hockey player Matéo Pérusse-Shortte says a family in the stands once called him the N-word. He first confronted racism head-on when he was eight years old. (Submitted by Moashella Shortte) "If I start telling people, 'Hey, you know, this happened to my son,' I know exactly what's going to happen: those people are going to talk to me less and less," she said. "People are not comfortable to talk about race, and Black people are not comfortable to put themselves out there because we know that we will be isolated." Plans for the group are still in development, but the first online session is scheduled for September and will be open to players, parents and coaches. "I would love to see coaches seeking out information on how they can support their Black players, how they can learn to identify when racism is taking place and what to do about it," said Shortte. Once the group is launched, Pérusse-Shortte says he hopes to have a greater sense of belonging. "I hope to feel more comfortable in my sport after all of this." (CBC) For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
P.E.I. potato growers now have a new pesticide to use to help fight a costly pest called wireworm. In October 2020, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency approved the registration of broflanilide, the active ingredient in two new insecticides. One targets wireworm in cereal crops, such as wheat; the other does the same thing in potato and corn crops. "I think it will be a game changer for a lot of producers that have been without a very effective, easy-to-use insecticide for quite some time," said Ryan Barrett, research and agronomy co-ordinator with the P.E.I. Potato Board. "We have some insecticides available that do an okay job. But this new insecticide, broflanilide, appears to actually kill wireworm rather than just stunning them." Costly problem Barrett said wireworm has been a costly problem for the potato industry on Prince Edward Island over the years. "It's probably one of the largest yield-robbing diseases or pests that potato producers deal with here in P.E.I.," he said. "It's particularly bad in the fresh-market industry, as a table-stock potato that has a lot of wormholes on it just becomes unmarketable. So for a lot of those varieties and a lot of growers growing for those markets, it's a huge yield robber." Barrett says the new insecticide, broflanilide, appears to actually kill wireworms like this one rather than just stunning them. (Ryan Barrett ) Barrett said wireworm can also be an issue with a potato destined for processing as a French fry or potato chip as well. "I think we had previously estimated that wireworm damage in P.E.I. potatoes was costing over $5 million a year in damage, plus the cost of insecticides, plus the cost of growing some of these different crops. So we are talking about big-dollar figures here," Barrett said. In 2018, the total cost was estimated at $10 million, including the control measures. "So, yes, it will cost something to put the insecticide on the crop, but I think in terms of what it will do, the damage that it will prevent, hopefully, will be significant." Invasive species Until now, Barrett said P.E.I. potato growers have been using other insecticides to fight wireworm, but also changing how they do their tillage and crop rotation. They have been adding crops such as brown mustard or buckwheat, which have been shown to reduce some of the damage from wireworm in later plantings in the same field. Barrett said a table-stock potato with this kind of wormhole damage on it becomes unmarketable. (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada ) Barrett said it was important that research on the new product was done here on P.E.I. because the wireworm found on the Island is a invasive species from Europe, and not the dominant species in most of the rest of North America. "There are insecticides that work in Saskatchewan or work in Alberta on their wireworms, but don't work here," Barrett said. "So it's very important to have research done locally on our species of wireworm, and when they showed that it actually works on what we have here in Prince Edward Island, that was huge." Potato growers on P.E.I. have been planting fields of mustard and buckwheat to help fight wireworms. (Submitted by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada) Christine Noronha has been testing the new pesticide since 2015. "We would plant the potatoes by hand in the furrow, and then we sprayed the insecticide in the furrow and covered it up," said Noronha, a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Charlottetown. "We would look at, is it affecting the emergence of the potato plants? And then looking at yield, is it affecting the yield?" Noronha said it's important that this chemical kills the wireworms, rather than just paralyzing them, to stop the population from rebounding in subsequent years. (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada ) "Then, at the end of the year, we would actually look at the potatoes, and count the number of holes that we had on the tubers, and that would tell us if there was any damage, or any reduction in damage." Noronha said it's important that this chemical kills the wireworms, rather than just paralyzing them, to stop the population from growing. "Because wireworms don't only affect potatoes; they feed on other crops as well," Noronha said. "If you go in with your barley the following year, and you have a big population, you're going to lose some of your crop because of wireworms." During Noronha's research, they planted the potatoes by hand in each furrow, then sprayed the insecticide into the furrow and covered it up. (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada ) Noronha said the new pesticide also may have less impact on the environment. "The newer chemicals, they're more environmentally friendly and they don't move as much in the soil — and also, they're less toxic to other organisms as well," she said. "Broflanilide is persistent in soil, but is not expected to move through the soil and reach groundwater because it binds strongly to the soil surface. In water bodies, broflanilide will move to sediments where it may remain over time," says Health Canada's documentation about the new pesticide ingredient (see link at bottom). "When used according to the label directions, broflanilide poses acceptable risk to wild mammals, birds, beneficial insects, earthworms, terrestrial and aquatic plants, fish, or amphibians." Ryan Barrett calls wireworm one of the largest yield-robbing pests for potato growers on P.E.I. (Ryan Barrett) Noronha said she will continue to look for other strategies for dealing with wireworm, but noted this is a big deal for P.E.I. potato growers. "Because at one point, the damage was really, really high and they couldn't even sell their crop. "This was a good thing that happened, and we were — all the researchers — happy to see that there is something for them to use." More P.E.I. news
Honda Motor Co Ltd on Thursday unveiled a partially self-driving Legend sedan in Japan, becoming the world's first carmaker to sell a vehicle equipped with new, certified level 3 automation technology. The launch gives Japan's No.2 automaker bragging rights for being the first to market, but lease sales of the level 3 flagship Legend would be limited to a batch of 100 in Japan, at a retail price of 11 million yen ($102,000). Still, the new automation technology is a big step towards eliminating human error-induced accidents, chief engineer Yoichi Sugimoto told reporters.
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Thursday, March 4, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 77,572 new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,091,700 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 5,519.103 per 100,000. There were 129,330 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 2,611,680 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 80.09 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 4,472 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 24,757 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 47.279 per 1,000. There were 1,800 new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 35,620 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 966 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 12,596 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 79.405 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 14,715 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 9.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 85.6 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 6,054 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 35,291 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 36.163 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 61,980 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 56.94 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 7,424 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 33,741 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 43.255 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 46,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 72.13 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 17,382 new vaccinations administered for a total of 472,710 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 55.245 per 1,000. There were 100,620 new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 638,445 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 74.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 27,398 new vaccinations administered for a total of 754,419 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 51.359 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 903,285 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 83.52 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 1,966 new vaccinations administered for a total of 80,171 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 58.221 per 1,000. There were 8,190 new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 116,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 8.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 68.73 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 1,361 new vaccinations administered for a total of 81,597 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 69.20 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 74,605 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 109.4 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 10,229 new vaccinations administered for a total of 255,283 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 57.992 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 274,965 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 92.84 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 6,627 new vaccinations administered for a total of 289,809 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 56.476 per 1,000. There were 18,720 new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 382,740 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 75.72 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 990 new vaccinations administered for a total of 18,158 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 435.12 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 18,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 96.07 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 19,775 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 438.285 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 19,100 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 42 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 103.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 5,327 new vaccinations administered for a total of 13,393 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 345.84 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 23,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 62 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 56.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
At least 19 Myanmar police have crossed into India to escape taking orders from a military junta that is trying to suppress protests against last month's coup, an Indian police official said on Thursday, adding that more were expected. The men have crossed into Champhai and Serchhip, two districts in the northeastern state of Mizoram that share a porous border with Myanmar, the official said, declining to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue. There have been several instances recounted on social media of police joining the civil disobedience movement and protests against the junta, with some arrested, but this is the first reported case of police fleeing Myanmar.
The probe will consider if Apple has a dominant position in the distribution of apps on its devices in the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said. Payment policies related to Apple's App Store have for long drawn complaints from app developers as it requires them to use its payment system, which charges commissions of between 15% and 30%.
NEW YORK — Paramount+ debuts Thursday as the latest — and last — streaming option from a major media company, this time from ViacomCBS. It's betting that consumers are willing to add yet another paid streaming service in an increasingly crowded field. Its backers hope a smorgasbord of offerings — live sports and news, reboots of properties like “Frasier" and “Rugrats," original shows like “Star Trek: Discovery" and the ViacomCBS library — will entice viewers. But its relatively late entrance to a competitive landscape and a $4 price increase compared to its predecessor, CBS All Access, could make it a challenging sell. “Paramount+ has a mountain of challenges ahead of it," said Tim Hanlon, CEO of Vertere Group, playing off the Paramount+ tagline, “A mountain of entertainment." (The venerable Paramount logo features — you guessed it — a mountain, and the streamer's recent ad campaign featured a number of characters from its shows climbing a snowy peak.) Over the last year and a half more and more streaming services have debuted to challenge the reigning triumvirate of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Disney+ kicked things off in late 2019, followed by WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, NBCUniversal’s Peacock and Discovery+. In a way, ViacomCBS is a pioneer; CBS, then a separate company, debuted CBS All Access in 2014. The new service effectively rebrands All Access and adds other Viacom Properties channels including Comedy Central, BET, MTV and Nickelodeon. But Paramount+ could have a brand awareness problem, Hanlon said. Most people associate the name Paramount with the mountainous title card that appears before movies. “Most consumers have very little understanding that Viacom, Paramount and CBS have the same parent, so the marketing team has a big job in front of it," he said. Second, the pricing may leave some scratching their heads. The ad-free tier launching Thursday is $10 a month. That's $4 more than CBS All Access, although the new service will offer a lot more material, including live news and sports. A $5 monthly ad-supported version will launch in June, but it won't include the live local CBS stations that CBS All Access offered. Showtime and BET+, both owned by ViacomCBS, will remain separate subscription services. Still, the service also has some potential advantages over others. CBS All Access, Showtime and BET+ now have nearly 30 million subscribers, some of who will shift to Paramount+. ViacomCBS projects that those services will reach 65 million subscribers by 2024, with most of the growth coming from Paramount+. ViacomCBS plans to increase its investment in streaming, from $1 billion a year to at least $5 billion annually by 2024. It will introduce 36 original shows in 2021, including a spinoff of “60 Minutes" called “60 Minutes+," a documentary series about the making of “The Godfather," a reboot of MTV's “The Real World" that reunites the original New York City cast from 30 years ago, and series based on movies including “Fatal Attraction" and “Flashdance." “Viacom really has all assets they need to have a thriving business,” said Brian Wieser, GroupM global president of business intelligence. “A meaningful investment in original programming attracts people to the platform. And a deep library causes people to stay. Put those two together and you could have a viable successful service.” But they may not be taking bold enough steps to stand out, said Colin Gillis, director of research at Chatham Road Partners. ViacomCBS said some of the studio’s films, including “Mission: Impossible 7” and “A Quiet Place Part II,” will go to its fledgling streaming service, Paramount+, after 45 days in theatres. But that's not as bold a step as HBO Max has done, releasing 17 of their films on HBO Max the same day they're released in theatres. “That type of strategy, plus being late to the market, looks a lot like a ‘me too’ move'," Gillis said. “If they want to act like a second tier streaming service, they're doing a fantastic job." Mae Anderson, The Associated Press
RED DEER, Alta. — Some employees of a pork processing plant in central Alberta that shut down after a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility are afraid to go back to work, the union president says. Olymel's facility in Red Deer was shut down Feb. 15 because of the COVID-19 outbreak that claimed three lives and infected 515 workers. The company announced late Wednesday it had been given approval to gradually reopen by Alberta Health. Slaughter operations are scheduled to resume today and cutting room operations on Friday. The plant processes about 10,000 hogs per day. UFCW 401 president Thomas Hesse said he received no word from the company that the plant was reopening. "Obviously the bottom line for Olymel is they're just putting pigs ahead of people," Hesse in an interview Wednesday. "What you've got is a frightened workforce. There's this enormous amount of fear and anxiety, and now a layer of grief on top of that, and they expect employees to jump to attention and parade back to work." The union represents about 1,800 workers at the plant. Hesse said the union interviewed between 600 and 700 workers who indicated they were afraid to return to work. He said that wasn't done by Olymel, Alberta Health Services or Occupational Health and Safety. Hesse said he expects some workers will take advantage of their right to refuse unsafe work. "I have no confidence in the safety of the workplace," he said. Olymel said the reopening will come with a number of strict measures. Alberta Health experts will be on site when operations resume and will offer rapid testing. The company said 1,370 employees at the plant have been tested since Jan. 1. The company says it has added more space to the facility to enhance physical distancing. Additional staff have been assigned to monitor and enforce the updated measures, Olymel said. Employee groups have been recalled to take part in training sessions covering all implemented health measures, adjustments and the action plan developed for reopening. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. — By Bill Graveland in Calgary The Canadian Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Thursday, March 4, 2021. There are 875,559 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 875,559 confirmed cases (29,930 active, 823,524 resolved, 22,105 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 2,812 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 78.75 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20,365 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,909. There were 60 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 299 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 43. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.11 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 58.16 per 100,000 people. There have been 24,676,396 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 997 confirmed cases (153 active, 838 resolved, six deaths). There were three new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 29.3 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 35 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is five. There were zero new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.03 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 199,347 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 137 confirmed cases (22 active, 115 resolved, zero deaths). There was one new case Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 13.78 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 20 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 107,377 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,646 confirmed cases (30 active, 1,551 resolved, 65 deaths). There were three new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 3.06 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 30 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.64 per 100,000 people. There have been 343,260 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,438 confirmed cases (38 active, 1,372 resolved, 28 deaths). There were three new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 4.86 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There were zero new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.04 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 3.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 238,399 tests completed. _ Quebec: 289,670 confirmed cases (7,336 active, 271,908 resolved, 10,426 deaths). There were 729 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 85.56 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,198 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 743. There were 19 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 81 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 121.59 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,320,910 tests completed. _ Ontario: 303,763 confirmed cases (10,397 active, 286,352 resolved, 7,014 deaths). There were 958 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 70.56 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 7,590 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,084. There were 17 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 121 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 17. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.6 per 100,000 people. There have been 10,964,481 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 32,000 confirmed cases (1,146 active, 29,953 resolved, 901 deaths). There were 50 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 83.09 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 413 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 59. There were three new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 14 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.15 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 65.32 per 100,000 people. There have been 535,163 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 29,059 confirmed cases (1,431 active, 27,239 resolved, 389 deaths). There were 121 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 121.41 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,079 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 154. There were two new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 10 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is one. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33 per 100,000 people. There have been 579,326 tests completed. _ Alberta: 134,454 confirmed cases (4,649 active, 127,903 resolved, 1,902 deaths). There were 402 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 105.14 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,421 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 346. There were 12 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 36 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 43.01 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,414,903 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 81,909 confirmed cases (4,718 active, 75,819 resolved, 1,372 deaths). There were 542 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 91.65 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,559 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 508. There were seven new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 34 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.09 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.65 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,941,589 tests completed. _ Yukon: 72 confirmed cases (zero active, 71 resolved, one death). There were zero new cases Wednesday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.38 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,183 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 42 confirmed cases (two active, 40 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 4.43 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 14,664 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 359 confirmed cases (eight active, 350 resolved, one death). There were zero new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 20.33 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of eight new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,718 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
When Michael Cnudde, who has autism, learned that lawyers for the man accused of Toronto's deadly van attack in 2018 would be using the disorder as a defence for their client, his immediate reaction was: "How dare they?" Yet despite the rejection of that argument on Wednesday by Ontario Superior Court Justice Anne Molloy, who found Alek Minassian guilty on all 10 counts of first-degree murder, there is still concern that the trial itself further stigmatized the autistic community. "There's a lot of damage that's been done already," said Cnudde, who dismissed the defence's arguments as "junk science." Minassian, who was also found guilty of 16 counts of attempted murder, had pleaded not guilty to all charges. His lawyers argued that he was not criminally responsible for the deaths and violence he wrought because his autism spectrum disorder (ASD) left him incapable of determining that his actions were morally wrong. Autism activists expressed outrage at the unsubstantiated defence. During the trial both Autism Ontario and Autism Canada released statements denouncing the defence's attribution of their client's actions to his "autistic way of thinking." WATCH | Defence misunderstands autistic people, PhD student says: While Malloy dismissed the defence's argument, she did determine ASD qualifies as a "mental disorder" under Section 16 of the Criminal Code. That section allows a defendant to claim they were not criminally responsible for a crime committed "while suffering from a mental disorder that rendered the person incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of the act or omission or of knowing that it was wrong." But Malloy's ruling that ASD should be a consideration under Section 16 is in itself troubling, says Cnudde. "Even raising that possibility is concerning. It just further raises the issue of one day, this happening all over again," said Cnudde, who is communications and resource development specialist at Autism Ontario but was speaking on behalf of himself. Doris Barkley of Stratford, Ont., whose 23-year-old son Ryan has autism, says she believes a lot of people who heard ASD used as a defence will now have a faulty opinion of people with autism, that "they can be evil like this and want to kill others. "And I think that's where a lot of damage has been done," she said. WATCH | Remembering the victims: Pandora's box In a statement, Autism Ontario said while it was relieved by the verdict, it was also concerned about the damage already inflicted on the community. The organization said the case has forced it to push back against the stigma it thought it had made progress on removing over the past few decades. "We are concerned about the potential ramifications of this defence being used in future cases and the difficulties it will cause for autistic people and their families," Margaret Spoelstra, executive director of Autism Ontario, told CBC News in an interview. She fears that "the Pandora's box is open on this," and that there could be "long-term implications." "I think that is an additional barrier to inclusion," Spoelstra said. "Having this story attached to autism adds another barrier to people finding opportunities and acceptance in their community." WATCH | Family members, victim and Crown attorney react to judge's decision: Backlash from the case Dermot Cleary, board chair of Autism Canada, said he believes the trial and the autism defence has certainly made life more difficult for those with the disorder. "Once the charges are laid and once the defence is articulated through the media, there's a perception on the part of some viewers that it's true, that there's some basis in truth, otherwise it wouldn't have been uttered," he said. He said his organization has received an inordinate number of anecdotes and experiences of those with ASD who say they have been dealing with a backlash from the case. In her ruling, Malloy said there was no other Canadian case dealing directly with whether ASD is a "mental disorder." But Cleary said her decision to characterize it as such motivates his organization to see what can be done to take a closer look at her description and whether "it can be made to more accurately reflect those on the spectrum." "The last thing we want to see is this exploited again, as it was done here. Because, you know, in balancing the benefit to the defence of one individual at the cost of the stigma to half a million Canadians, to me, that just does not seem like a good way to proceed." Criminal defence lawyer Karen McArthur, who was not involved in the case, said she doesn't believe, however, courts will now be besieged with ASD defences. But she said the autism community should be prepared for heightened scrutiny of the disorder itself, and the extent to which those with autism may have a diminished understanding of their acts. That this defence was raised "will send ripples across changing seas, as to whether or not autism diminishes one's understanding of their acts or their ability to control same," she said. "This may cause hardship for the autism community in the immediate future." Voula Marinos, an associate professor in the department of Child and Youth Studies at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., says she doesn't believe this case "will open the floodgates," but that ASD could be used in sentencing of lesser crimes. "This is what you're most likely to see that someone being found guilty of an offence and at sentencing they introduce ASD as a mitigating factor," she said.
Buckingham Palace says Prince Philip has had a 'successful procedure for a pre-existing heart condition.' Meanwhile, Prince Harry's wife, Meghan, has accused Buckingham Palace of 'perpetuating falsehoods' about the couple.
Hudson's Bay Co. hopes to transform its website into Canada’s next online shopping marketplace in a bid to position itself as a premium, home-grown alternative to e-commerce heavy hitters like Amazon. The company will open its website to third-party sellers starting later this month, adding hundreds of new brands and thousands of items to its online assortment of products at a time when pandemic restrictions have curtailed in-person shopping. The new site will include electronics and sporting goods, pushing the retailer beyond tried-and-true categories like clothing and home decor as it seeks to attract and retain customers who increasingly demand a strong online presence. The company has to find the right balance between maintaining its premium brand and expanding its inventory, executives said in an interview. "Although it will very much be a vast assortment, it will feel curated," said Adam Powell, senior vice-president of omni customer experience. "We're not going to approach it in the same way that Amazon our Walmart would, which is 'absolutely everything goes' … with little consideration other than having as many products as possible." Shoppers will have access to more products, some of which will be sold and shipped directly by Hudson’s Bay -- and can be returned in store -- while others will be sold and shipped by third-party sellers that also manage returns for those items. The Hudson’s Bay marketplace, hosted on the Mirakl software-as-a-service platform, comes a little over a year after the iconic company was taken private. Since then, many of its department stores have been closed for months on end amid COVID-19 restrictions, hundreds of workers have been laid off and competition online has soared as consumers take to internet shopping in record numbers. Although the company’s digital strategy was in place before the pandemic – the retailer relaunched its website last April using a new e-commerce platform from Salesforce – it has taken on more urgency amid lockdowns. "This was the most logical way to really expand our digital first strategy at a supercharged rate," Iain Nairn, said president and CEO of Hudson's Bay. "It opens up thebay.com for one-stop shopping." Even post-pandemic, retail watchers say consumers will continue to shop more online and look for “omni-channel” options such as picking up online purchases at stores, while in-store shopping will focus more on interacting with products. “It’s actually creating the store to be more exciting and have more experiences,” Nairn said. “There may not be as much absolute product but there will be more options for them to look at" before they purchase online. The idea is to use stores as more of a showroom for products, with a wider selection available online and shipped directly to customers, Powell said. “What we want to do is extend the aisle for in-store shoppers,” he said. “We want our in-store customers to know that when they're shopping in our stores, they have access to a much broader catalogue than what resides within those four walls.” Like the new HBC marketplace, some other online retailers like Best Buy, Walmart and Amazon also allow third-party sellers. Yet HBC is banking on the department store’s unique position as a Canadian retailer with a reputation for higher-end goods to attract customers. The company has about 225 million website visits a year and 5.6 million loyalty rewards members, numbers HBC expects will attract sellers interested in reaching Canadian shoppers. Hudson's Bay marketplace will feature large multinational third-party sellers of brand-name goods as well as smaller vendors, artisans and entrepreneurs, the company said. The retailer even issued a call out for "cool local and Canadian brands" with direct-to-consumer shipping capabilities and inventory on hand, providing a national platform for handmade products that might normally be sold on websites like Etsy, Facebook marketplace or Kijiji. “It will be a variety of different sellers that will run the gamut from big strategic partners that are larger well-known organizations to smaller or independent businesses,” Powell said. “It gives us a great opportunity to showcase local products and local retailers from the communities. The focus will be on merchandise customers are already searching for, including technology, sports equipment, pet products, food and drink and health and wellness, Powell said. “We can tell by our search results that these types of categories are products that our customers are already looking,” he said. “If Nintendo launches a new console, we see that coming up in our search results, so it won’t feel foreign to a customer to stumble upon these new categories that we're going to be introducing. "It'll be a real natural extension from our existing business, and it'll still be very much in keeping with the types of areas and quality that we want to portray with our customers." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press
During the past six months of making grocery and alcohol deliveries around downtown Toronto, Taryn Ellis has racked up an estimated $500 in parking tickets while performing what she considers to be an essential service. "We try to park right in front of the building, run in, deliver, come back out," said Ellis. "Sometimes I'll be gone two minutes and I'll have a parking ticket on my car." Ellis, who started working as a full-time courier in 2019, says her job has become more difficult during the pandemic due to a substantial increase in orders and what she calls the "extreme" enforcement of bylaws by parking officers. Those challenges are greatest in dense downtown areas like Liberty Village, she explained, where there are few legal parking spaces near the high-rise buildings where she frequently makes deliveries. Her typical solution has been to park in "no parking" or loading zones, usually leaving a hand-made "out for delivery" sign on the dashboard of her yellow SUV. Finding a legal parking spot is sometimes not a feasible option, she said, especially when that would mean hauling large orders of groceries or heavy boxes of bottles across multiple blocks. "I know what I'm doing is wrong," Ellis said. "But it'll just make my job so much easier if the city puts something in [place] about this." Existing parking zones 'helpful,' but too few, driver says Toronto bylaws allow delivery and courier vehicles to stop in some areas where normal parking is prohibited. However, drivers are not allowed to leave their vehicles unattended if they go into a building. WATCH | CBC Toronto reporter Nick Boisvert speaks with delivery drivers frustrated with limited parking The city operates a limited number of delivery vehicle parking zones where they can park for up to 30 minutes. The city also runs a Courier Delivery Zone pilot project, which allows couriers to park for a certain amount of time, usually 15 or 30 minutes. "There aren't very many," said Shaniece Sylva, another courier who delivers groceries using her own private vehicle, of the downtown parking zones. "Those are very helpful." Some major logistics companies, including Purolator, are testing new delivery models, including electric cargo bikes.(CBC / Radio-Canada) Like Ellis, Sylva said couriers do not have access to legal and convenient parking in many parts of the city. "Usually, if I am parked illegally it's only because there is no other parking around or I would have to walk quite far to do the delivery," Sylva said. City exploring changes Ellis is asking the City of Toronto to consider bylaw changes that would give couriers and delivery people the right to temporarily park in otherwise illegal zones or for the city to establish additional delivery zones in high-traffic areas. She has started a petition asking the city to make those changes. The City of Ottawa offers a similar program through its "business identity card permit," which allows the drivers of delivery vehicles to park in certain restricted zones for up to 15 minutes for $130 annually. Toronto considered a similar program in 2011 with a proposed $600 annual fee, but the plan was never adopted. Staff with the city are now considering possible changes to delivery and parking regulations as part of Toronto's Freight and Goods Movement Strategy, which seeks to improve safety and efficiency given the increasing number of delivery vehicles on city streets. "The city has recognized this for years," said Mike Layton, who represents Ward 11, University-Rosedale, one of two city councillors on the Toronto Parking Authority committee. Layton said the city will have to work with delivery companies to develop new models that consider a range of factors, including commerce, traffic, road safety and the environmental impact of delivery vehicles. He listed a wider adoption of cargo bikes and the creation of distribution centres from which smaller vehicles could be deployed as possible options. In some neighbourhoods, he said dedicated delivery parking zones could also make sense. "This past 12 months has just given us a cause to put more of our energies into trying to resolve it sooner rather than later," Layton added.
The United Nations' human rights chief asked Ethiopia on Thursday to allow monitors into Tigray to investigate reports of killings and sexual violence that may amount to war crimes in the northern region since late 2020. "Victims and survivors of these violations must not be denied their rights to the truth and to justice," Michelle Bachelet said in a statement, expressing her fear that violations could continue without outside scrutiny. Fighting between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's federal troops and forces of the region's former ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), has killed thousands of people, forced hundreds of thousands from their homes and hit infrastructure badly.
Paul Harrington has been a leading figure with the Lower Churchill Project since he began working as an embedded contractor with Nalcor Energy in 2007. He is one of seven senior project managers fighting against the release of their pay information from 2019.(Terry Roberts/CBC) Seven senior contractors working on the Muskrat Falls hydro and transmission project — including longtime project leader Paul Harrington — are fighting a request to Nalcor Energy to have their 2019 compensation information made public. That's despite the fact Nalcor believes the information should be released. As well, legislative changes made nearly three years ago lifted the veil of secrecy over compensation to embedded contractors, and previous court rulings have also come down on the side of full disclosure. What's more, Nalcor released a comprehensive breakdown of Harrington's compensation in September 2019, in response to a CBC News access to information request. It revealed the project leader was billing up to $75,000 per month, including HST, for services performed a few years earlier. As of March 31, 2017, Harrington's daily rate of compensation was almost $2,000. CBC News filed a follow-up access to information request three months ago with the provincial energy corporation, seeking a list of the nearly two dozen most senior members of the Lower Churchill Project management team, and the amount of money the companies they represent were paid for their services in 2019. With the exception of Gilbert Bennett, who is executive vice-president for power development and a top official at Nalcor Energy, the senior project team is comprised primarily of contractors, or consultants, many of whom incorporate their own companies and hire themselves out to Nalcor. On Feb. 8, Nalcor released the names and pay of 13 members of the project team, with the annual fees for 2019 ranging from a low of just over $210,000, to a high of more than $395,000. But Nalcor initially withheld the identity and compensation details for eight members of the management team. That's because those eight members, including Harrington, filed a complaint with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, in a bid to have the information shielded from public release. But one of those eight, Ray Butler, later withdrew his complaint to the privacy commissioner and Nalcor released his financial information on March 2. Butler is the construction manager at the Soldiers Pond converter station, switchyard and synchronous condenser facility. Butler's company is called RB Consulting Services Inc., and was paid more than $406,000 by Nalcor in 2019. This is a list of 14 senior contractors working on the Lower Churchill Project, and their compensation for 2019.(Nalcor Energy) A Nalcor official said the corporation is withholding information relating to the seven other senior contractors until it receives direction from the information and privacy commissioner, which is now reviewing the matter. Information and privacy commissioner Michael Harvey confirmed in an email Tuesday that his office received "several" complaints after Nalcor issued notices to those involved that it would be disclosing the information to CBC News. Harvey could not provide specifics of the complaints, but confirmed his office will investigate whether disclosure of the information should be withheld under sections 39 or 40 of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Michael Harvey was appointed Newfoundland and Labrador's information and privacy commissioner in July 2019.(Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner) Those sections allow for the withholding of information if it would be harmful to the business interest of a third party, or if the disclosure would be harmful to personal privacy. Harvey said the investigations commenced in early February, and the legislation requires the investigations to be concluded within 65 business days. However, Harvey said his office is working with Nalcor and the complainants to reach an informal resolution. Otherwise, Harvey noted that it's possible the issue may not be resolved until mid-May. The senior managers are also entitled to appeal any recommendations from Harvey's office to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. Paul Harrington among the holdouts Meanwhile, CBC News was unable to confirm the identities of all seven, but has confirmed through sources that Harrington, who joined the project team in 2007, five years before the troubled project was sanctioned, and Ron Power, who is deputy project manager responsible for Muskrat Falls power generation, are among the holdouts. Harrington is a key architect on a project that is billions over budget and years behind schedule, and is not expected to achieve full commercial power until the end of 2021, at a final forecast cost of more than $13 billion. The project was sanctioned in late 2012 with a projected in-service cost of $7.4 billion, with first power scheduled for July 2017. For nearly a decade, Harrington was the overall project director for the Lower Churchill Project, but is currently project director for electricity generation at Muskrat Falls. Harrington vigorously — though unsuccessfully — fought a similar battle to shield his compensation in 2017 and 2018, and launched a court challenge against a CBC request for his pay information. He also applied to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador for an order prohibiting questions about his compensation when he appeared before Justice Richard LeBlanc at the Muskrat Falls commission of inquiry in late 2018. Harrington's lawyers said in court documents that releasing these details "would not serve the public interest, but would cause undue financial harm to him and his consulting company." But those legal challenges lost steam after LeBlanc ruled "there will be no restrictions," and it was revealed at the inquiry that Harrington was being paid a day rate of nearly $1,700 up to March 31, 2011. A subsequent access request two years ago revealed Harrington's day rate had increased to $1,945 as of March 30, 2017. The documents also revealed that Harrington billed Nalcor $74,800 including HST for his services in November 2016, though at least one month that year was below $40,000. Lifting the veil of secrecy Five years ago, the provincial government passed legislation requiring an annual listing of all public employees who receive a total compensation of more than $100,000 in a calendar year. Nalcor employees are included, and the list for 2019 revealed that CEO Stan Marshall received a $315,000 bonus on top of an almost $460,000 salary, while executive vice-president for power development Gilbert Bennett received an almost $70,000 bonus along with a $334,000 salary. Temporary workers on the Muskrat Falls project are not included on the so-called "Sunshine List," even though the project is publicly funded. So nearly three years ago, following months of intense media scrutiny of the issue, the provincial government made changes to the Energy Corporation Act, allowing for the identities and amount of money paid to contractors hired directly by Nalcor to work on Muskrat to be subject to disclosure under the province's access to information laws. At the time, then-Natural Resources Minister Sioban Coady said such secrecy was "not reasonable or necessary." In 2017, prior to a change in the legislation, Marshall said that "If it was up to me, I'd release it." The Muskrat Falls hydro and transmission project is scheduled to achieve full commercial power later this year, four years later than originally planned when the project was sanctioned in late 2012.(Nalcor Energy) Insiders say secrecy is preferred by the contractors because they compete with each other for work. But the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner ruled in 2017 there was "no evidence" that releasing the information would unfairly expose contractors to "risk of financial or other harm." In a similar case, the province's teachers' association launched a legal challenge against the Sunshine List, calling it an unnecessary invasion of privacy. The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador agreed. But that ruling was overturned in 2018 by the Court of Appeal, which rejected privacy arguments like those made by the Nalcor contractors, and concluded that pay details for people on the public payroll is public information. The NLTA unsuccessfully took its case to the Supreme Court of Canada. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Starting Thursday, clients and staff at Ottawa's six homeless shelters will receive a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Shelters were initially part of the second phase of the city's vaccine rollout plan, but according to city officials, the Ontario government is looking to target facilities that have been subject to serious outbreaks. "COVID-19 has had a significant impact on Ottawa's shelter system," said Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches during a virtual media briefing Wednesday. Etches confirmed that all of the city's shelters have experienced an outbreak and that "one-quarter of the clients, about 220 people, having tested positive for the virus since mid-January." There are about 860 clients currently in the city's shelter system. People will be screened and will need to consult with a health-care provider before getting vaccinated. "With vaccination, it will mean that a lot fewer people will be able to get COVID and therefore a lot fewer people will be able to transmit COVID," said Wendy Muckle, CEO of Ottawa Inner City Health, who's also advocated for Ottawa's homeless to be vaccinated. Shelters can increase capacity Muckle said it's likely not everyone will be vaccinated in the first round, so there will still be some infection and transmission "but it will be on a much smaller scale" that before. She said it's likely that shelters will slowly be able to increase their capacities and support programs that were put on hold can resume. Ottawa Inner City Health will also be working on a flexible schedule with shelters to make sure everyone who's homeless can get the shot, Muckle said. The organization is aiming to have all first doses done over the next two weeks. Second doses will be given two weeks after that. Those not staying at a shelter are still eligible to be vaccinated through outreach centres.