Lucy Tulugarjuk, Executive Director of Nunavut Independent Television Network, talks about the launch of Uvagut TV -- a new 24/7 tv channel that will feature programming in Inuktut languages with English subtitles.
Lucy Tulugarjuk, Executive Director of Nunavut Independent Television Network, talks about the launch of Uvagut TV -- a new 24/7 tv channel that will feature programming in Inuktut languages with English subtitles.
Residents of Simon Place and Ryan’s Road were likely glad to hear the Town of Spaniard’s Bay will be putting money towards addressing flooding concerns in their area. “Because of the complexity of the issue, we needed engineers to help us come up with a resolution,” said Mayor Paul Brazil during the February 9 meeting of council. The engineering firm in question is Progressive Engineering, which sent the town a proposal with a staged estimate totalling up to $20,950 concerning the flooding concerns on Simon Place and Ryan’s Road. Councillor Eric Jewer moved to approve Progressive Engineering to proceed in accordance with the proposal. Council voted unanimously to approve the motion. Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
Newtonbrook Secondary School received hate mail over its new course tackling anti-Black racism, but administration says it’s just “strengthening their resolve.” Last week, the principal of Newtonbrook Secondary School received a manila envelope with no return address. Inside, was a copy of the Star’s newspaper article about the school’s new course on deconstructing anti-Black racism, which was scrawled over with racist remarks. “N------ have taken over the school system!” the anonymous sender wrote, along with a note about not wanting their children to attend school with Black boys. Toronto police were called to the school and an investigation is underway. D. Tyler Robinson, co-author and project lead of the course, said that the tone of the letter, coming from an adult or parent, doesn’t surprise him. “Kids aren’t the issue. The student interest is not the issue,” Robinson said. “Parents with fixed notions of how things are, and other community members at large with fixed notions of how things are, this is where the problem lies.” Robinson has taught for 11 years at seven different schools across the TDSB — from affluent areas to economically and socially depressed areas — and he said he’s always found that students want to discuss race and racism. News of the course was first covered last month by the Star, and as it gained more media attention, a TDSB parent’s event where Robinson was speaking was “Zoom bombed.” Anonymous attendees hijacked the virtual event playing Guns N’ Roses music videos when Robinson attempted to speak about the course. The Grade 12 university prep course “Deconstructing anti-Black Racism in the Canadian and North American Context” covers language, the history of Black people in North America, media stereotypes and how oppression connects to other groups. It was written by four past and present Newtonbrook teachers over the summer of 2020, and the team has been working to bring it to other schools around the province. At least six will be teaching it next year so far. Instances like the hate mail and the Zoom bombing are overt forms of racism, which Robinson says he can find some “empathy” and understanding with the fact that they have yet to unlearn hate. “But how do we deal with the covert racism?” he wonders. “How do we engage principals who don’t want to run this course?” TDSB spokesperson Shari Schwartz-Maltz said that principals and superintendents met with TDSB equity representatives right after the hate mail was received and while they “were appalled, and incredibly upset,” it also reaffirmed the work. “(It was) beautiful to see such a strengthening of the resolve ... to continue the work.” Schwartz-Maltz told the Star. “It opened a lot of eyes and said, ‘This is why we need the course.’” This incident comes just weeks after the TDSB’s released its first human rights report, which revealed the degree of racism and oppression it has to reckon with within its schools. Racist incidents — particularly anti-Black ones — made up the majority of hate incidents that had been investigated between 2018 and 2020. Education Minister Stephen Lecce condemned the hate mail in a statement to the Star, saying: “We condemn this vile form of anti-black racism — it has no place in our province or country … We are committed to combating racism in our communities and systemically in Ontario institutions.” Schwartz-Maltz echoed that the role schools play is more than teaching math, but these lessons of addressing racism as well. “Schools are places where we help kids become the people that they should be: compassionate, tolerant, open their eyes to the world, and understanding and loving of people,” Schwartz-Maltz said. Angelyn Francis is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering equity and inequality. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: email@example.com Angelyn Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
(Sheehan Desjardins/CBC - image credit) "Ready," asks Leah Morris capturing her border collie Skye's attention. "Let's go." The dog dashes ahead, seemingly out of control. "She's very smart and thankfully, she listens to me," Morris said. Gliding on purple and white cross-country skis with a leash attached to the two-year-old canine, Morris follows behind continuing to provide commands. Leah Morris and Skye the border collie go skijoring once a week. "Right," she turns right. "Left," a smooth left. "Stop," the duo comes to a — you guessed it — halt. 'Adrenaline rush' The sport is called skijoring and is sometimes done with horses or snowmobiles, said Morris, an Atlantic Veterinary College student from Nova Scotia. She said she decided to give it a whirl this year after the pandemic put a hold on activities she would normally take part in during the winter. "I've definitely had more time to get out with her," said Morris. "A lot of the time, we don't go super fast. Like she's not a crazy dog, so we just go along — that's really nice, especially when you're in a nice spot. "When you get a slight downhill or when she's feeling energetic, we can go a bit faster. That's a nice little adrenaline rush and pretty fun." 'I never liked cross-country skiing that much because I like kind of the adrenaline rush and the downhill,' says Morris. 'Having her with me, pulling me kind of gives you that little extra adrenaline.' Morris has had Skye since she was a puppy. She said she trained her to know her left and right by tossing dog treats then shouting the direction. "She definitely mastered it pretty, pretty quickly." Skijoring challenges After learning directions, Morris said she would connect Skye to her bike and the pair would go cycling. From there, it was a rather simple transition to the skis. "I think she thought it was strange the first time that I asked her to pull me when I'd been doing all my training trying to get her to not pull on a leash," she said. "I think she likes it." And there's no debating that when Skye runs into the distance with no destination in mind. "She's pretty energetic and so anytime we can get out together in the nature, it's lovely." 'She was a little nervous of the skis at first, but having a nice long line that was bungee kept me far enough away from her that I think she got over her little fear, the noise that they made,' Morris says. There are challenges to skijoring in Prince Edward Island, however. For one, Morris said you have to find a trail that allows both skis and dogs. And those trails must be groomed. "It kind of rules out most trails that are groomed for skiing," she said. "If snow's too deep and she always gets snow stuck in her paws and on the skis, it's really hard to get any momentum going." 'Something a little bit different' But regardless, Morris said she thinks the skijoring community is growing and encourages other Islanders to give it a try. "It's really a sport you can do with any breed. I've seen people taking out their tiny little Yorkies. I've seen people with huskies," she said. "I think it's really good for dogs like her with a lot of energy to give them, you know, something a little bit different than just a walk in the park." 'It's pretty great, honestly,' says Morris. 'She's been pretty reliable.' And as Skye grows impatient, Morris returns to her skis and smiles down at her dog. "Ready?" Then almost as if exhaustion is a foreign concept, Skye's legs begin to build up power as the pair moves forward in the snow and on to enjoy the rest of their adventure. More from CBC P.E.I.
Clearing the snow on roadways in town is a co-ordinated effort, from lining up staff to run equipment to alerting residents to move their vehicles in the areas being cleared. “Our first goal when we’re doing this is to make sure things are safe for drivers and pedestrians,” said John Greathead, director of operations with the Municipality of Jasper (MOJ). “From November to March, our focus is beating the weather and trying to stay ahead of the road conditions. We look at it as road maintenance. We’re geared up for snow removal.” Greathead said the town crew makes sure intersections and high-traffic areas - including Connaught Drive, Patricia Street and Miette Avenue - are cleared as soon as possible. Salting and sanding are part of the routine. “They’re out daily, working on that,” Greathead said. “We make sure we keep the walkability up on sidewalks and crosswalks.” Greathead explained that preempting the weather challenges presented by mother nature takes focus. “We pay attention to the weather a lot,” he said. “If we anticipate a significant snowfall or a change in the weather, we pre-wet the roads for easier removal of snow.” There are 12-to-14 workers involved in clearing the snow for a major snowstorm. After snow is plowed, crews use a snowblower to load it into dump trucks and it gets transported to the snow dump on Whistlers Road. Greathead, along with communications officer Amanda Stevens, explained in email that this snow clearing equipment includes two municipality-operated graders, two trucks to sand/salt the roads, two trucks and a pup trailer for hauling. There’s also a snowblower used that can move 3,500 tonnes per hour. “It can move more snow, more quickly, than we could possibly provide trucks for,” Greathead said. Greathead and Stevens added, “Additionally we have our grounds crew which look after cleaning municipal-operated sidewalks, specific Parks properties (under an agreement with Parks Canada), using many pieces of equipment including two tractors with sweeping attachments, a skid steer, a Toolcat and numerous shovels.” A couple of factors have led to cost savings for the municipality. Staff have been busier this year because a bulk of the work is being done in-house as opposed to contracting out trucks to haul snow away, and that has saved the municipality “a lot of money.” “We expect to see a significantly lower cost for this season once we finalize all the costs in the spring due to the lighter than normal snowfall this season so far as well as performing most of the work in-house as opposed to contracting out,” Greathead and Stevens said. “We usually spend more than $220k per winter season.” When an area is scheduled to be worked on, signage is placed on the streets at least 24 hours in advance and sometimes a few days before, when it’s possible. “If you see signage in your neighbourhood, it means the entire street will be plowed,” they said. “Whenever possible, it’s best to remove your vehicle from the street the night before, as snow removal operations may start in the early hours of the morning.” If signage was placed on the street less than 24 hours in advance, no tickets can be issued. Residents are expected to move their vehicles until the snow removal is complete. “We aim for compliance first but tickets ($65) can be issued if vehicles are not removed and signage was placed within the prescribed timeline,” Greathead and Stevens said. Residents and business owners are responsible for clearing the ice and snow on the sidewalk in front of their properties. Any accumulation of snow in excess of two centimetres has to be removed within 24 hours. Compliance is encouraged but if it comes down to it, a $100 fine may be issued. “Jasper is very pedestrian-friendly and people of all walks of life, from young parents with strollers to school-aged kids to seniors, use the sidewalk,” Greathead and Stevens said. “It is important that everyone do their share to keep our sidewalks safe and clear of snow and ice for everyone to use.” Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
A new report that looks at the human trafficking transportation corridors throughout the country also reveals that Canadian women are most commonly the victims.
(CBC - image credit) The N.W.T.'s chief public health officer said she expects the territory to have full herd immunity — meaning, 75 per cent of the eligible adult population having received two doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine — by the end of the April. Territorial officials, including Premier Caroline Cochrane, had previously stated that their goal was to have 75 per cent of the eligible population vaccinated by the end of March. At the territory's weekly COVID-19 update on Wednesday, Dr. Kami Kandola said the territory will receive 16,200 doses of the vaccine later this week and another 16,200 doses in the territory's fifth and final shipment, at the end of March. She said the vaccination rollout to the general population in N.W.T. is expected to begin in late March or early April 2021, provided the territory receives its fifth shipment of doses in full and on time. She said this will allow 75 per cent of the population to receive one dose by the end of March and two doses by the end of April. "The N.W.T. is still leading the country in the delivery of first doses, which are already giving strong protection to about 42 per cent of our adult population," she said. Kandola said that as of Feb. 20, the territory had administered 14,520 first doses of the vaccine, and 1,932 second doses. She said all 33 N.W.T. communities have second-dose clinics scheduled. Outside of Yellowknife, Hay River and Inuvik, they are open to residents who are getting their second dose and to any resident who is 18 and older wishing to get their first dose. On Wednesday, the territory announced it was expanding second-dose clinics in Yellowknife beginning March 1 to allow people who received their first Moderna vaccine dose between Jan. 23 and 30 to get their second dose. Officials also announced they had finalized a schedule for vaccine clinics in all of the territory's communities, although they stipulated it was subject to change based on the supply and delivery of vaccine. Kandola said that if people hadn't received their first dose at a previous clinic in their community, they can still receive them at second-dose clinics. She also said that N.W.T. residents can now get vaccinated anywhere in the territory, not just the community in which they live. "If you are not going to be in your community for your second dose, or now want your first dose, you can now get the vaccine in another community anywhere in the Northwest Territories where there is a clinic going on," she said. She added that medical records are electronically stored and people will be assessed based on their home community's priority requirement, not the one they're in, if they're not home. Missed Wednesday's news conference? Watch it here: Travel not recommended during March break Students and teachers across the territory are about to go on March break. Kandola said she knows it's a time people often travel but she reminded people that non-essential travel outside the N.W.T. is still not recommended. She said transmission rates across Canada and other parts of the world are still high, the N.W.T. still needs to get 75 per cent of its adult population vaccinated, and public health officials still need more data on the impact of COVID-19 variants because they are more infectious than the original strain. "We still need to keep our guard up to keep the pandemic under control," Kandola said. Three hospitalizations from Gahcho Kué mine outbreak Kandola said three people who contracted COVID-19 at the Gahcho Kué diamond mine have been hospitalized. She wouldn't elaborate on their condition for privacy reasons but said it was a "stark reminder that we need to take this pandemic seriously." "We still have work to do to defeat this virus," she said. She said there are eight active cases at the mine right now. There have been 19 cases of COVID-19 at the mine and 11 people have recovered, Kandola said. She added public health officials "remain cautiously optimistic the situation at the mine has stabilized." Kandola also said the outbreak at the Gahcho Kué winter road worksite is over. The worksite, which is operated by a contractor and is 40 kilometres away from the mine, had three cases of COVID-19, all of which have recovered. Kandola said there hasn't been a new case there since Feb. 1. No Yukon-N.W.T. travel bubble at this point On Feb. 18, the office of the chief public health officer announced it will consider self-isolation exemptions for people traveling from Nunavut. On Tuesday, N.W.T. Health Minister Julie Green said in the legislature that she was hoping for "good news" on a possible travel bubble, or some form of freer travel, between the N.W.T. and Yukon by the end of March. Green said she would be meeting with Kandola about it Wednesday. Kandola said at the news conference that she is not considering a travel exemption for people who are entering the territory from Yukon at this point in time. She said that Yukon hasn't submitted a timeline or any direction as to whether they're going to ease their travel restrictions. "Should Yukon decide to ease their travel restrictions, we just have to take into consideration these issues around the border to Alaska and the border to B.C. and the entry from other provinces," said Kandola. Case numbers As of Tuesday, the territory had 10 active cases, five of which are N.W.T. residents and five are from outside the territory. According to the government's website, the N.W.T. has had 74 cases since the pandemic began, and 64 of those people have recovered.
MADRID — Lionel Messi scored twice in the second half as Barcelona stayed near the top of the Spanish league by defeating Elche 3-0 on Wednesday in a match postponed from the first round because of the coronavirus pandemic. Jordi Alba also scored after the break to help Barcelona move back to third place in the league standings, two points behind second-place Real Madrid and five from leader Atlético Madrid, which still has a game in hand. Barcelona was coming off two consecutive setbacks at home — a 4-1 loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of the round of 16 of the Champions League and a 1-1 draw against Cádiz in the Spanish league. Wednesday's match was postponed as Barcelona was among the clubs given extra time to rest after playing in the Champions League late into last season. Messi reached 18 league goals with his double, moving two ahead of Atlético Madrid’s Luis Suárez — his former Barcelona teammate — at the top of the scoring list. He opened the scoring at the Camp Nou Stadium in the 48th minute with a shot from inside the area after a give-and-go exchange of passes with Martin Braithwaite, then added to the lead in the 68th after picking up a pass from Frenkie de Jong and fending off a few defenders before finding the net. Alba closed the scoring in the 73rd after being set up by Braithwaite and Messi. It was a fourth loss in six matches for Elche, which dropped to second-to-last in the 20-team standings. It had defeated Eibar in the previous round to end a 16-game winless streak in the league. Barcelona's next two matches are against Sevilla — on Saturday in Seville in the Spanish league and on Wednesday at home in the second leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals. The Catalan club lost the first leg 2-0 away. The second leg against PSG in the Champions League will be on March 10 in Paris. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni Tales Azzoni, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Jill Biden offers comforting advice to Kelly Clarkson, telling the singer and talk-show host as she goes through a divorce that things happen for the best and that life will eventually “look better.” The first lady — a divorcee herself — also reveals one thing she looks forward to when COVID-19 clears up and explains why women should take some time for themselves every day as she does. She spoke during an interview with Clarkson that is set to air nationally on Thursday. Clarkson recently brought her show to the White House for a socially distant conversation with Jill Biden in the East Room. NBC released interview excerpts Wednesday, including a clip of Jill Biden offering comforting words about carrying on after a relationship breakup. Citing her late mother's advice, she tells Clarkson things happen for a reason. She also says her divorce freed her to meet Joe Biden and have a family with him. “My mother always said to me things are going to look better, tomorrow,” Jill Biden said, encouraging Clarkson to “take one day at a time, and things will get better.” 'I look back on it now, and I think, you know, if I hadn’t gotten divorced, I never would have met Joe," she continued. “I wouldn’t have the beautiful family I have now. So I really think things happen for the best and I think, Kelly, over time, I don’t know how long it’s been for you, but I think, over time, you heal, and you’re going to be surprised and I can’t wait until that day comes for you.” Clarkson has spoken in other interviews about the pain of her public breakup. She filed for divorce last year from Brandon Blackstock after nearly seven years of marriage. They have two children. After marrying Joe Biden, Jill Biden helped raise his sons Beau and Hunter after their mother and baby sister died in a car crash in 1972. The couple later had a daughter, Ashley. Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015 at age 46. The Bidens also have six grandchildren. During her first solo television interview, Jill Biden also discussed her interest in education, military families, cancer research and healing the country. She also answered questions from members of the show's live, virtual audience. “Maybe go have a martini and some french fries,” she replied to one audience participant who asked about the one thing she would do when COVID-19 clears up. She also explained why she makes sure to exercise and take time out for herself. “I love to exercise. I run, I bike. It clears my head, so that’s really important to me and I think all women should have something, it doesn’t have to be exercise, although hopefully it would be," she said. “Just to take a moment for yourself.” “So I get up early, and that’s my time that I have for myself," Biden said. Darlene Superville, The Associated Press
(CBC News - image credit) New Brunswick MLAs from all parties voted Wednesday to call officials from the pension management agency Vestcor in front of the Legislature's public accounts committee, in a striking show of support for Auditor General Kim Adair-MacPherson in her ongoing dispute with the former Crown entity. But late in the day, Premier Blaine Higgs issued his own statement declaring his government would not alter legislation to force Vestcor to submit to Adair-MacPherson's oversight as she has requested "There is no plan to change legislation," said Higgs in the statement, which largely took Vestcor's side in its stand off with the auditor general "Vestcor was set up to operate independently, reporting to shareholders, who are the pension holders." The premier's tone on the issue was a stark change from the morning, when government and opposition MLAs spoke unanimously of their support of a motion aimed at advancing Adair-MacPherson's effort to review Vestcor's operations. "Members of the government side support the motion fully keeping in the spirit and the theme of government members supporting the auditor general fully at all times," said Progressive Conservative MLA Jeff Carr prior to casting his own vote to summon Vestcor to answer questions. Miramichi MLA and People's Alliance member Michelle Conroy, who noted the motion passed unanimously. Although the motion to summon Vestcor was originally made Tuesday by People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin, Green Party MLA Megan Mitton also spoke in favour of it, as did Liberal MLA Robert McKee "I think its important that we be able to ask questions of Vestcor," said McKee. People's Alliance MLA Michelle Conroy paused to make note of the unanimous support "Thank you everybody. We love to see a collaborative working government." Committee Chair and Liberal MLA Lisa Harris echoed Conroy's statement and congratulated all members for the non partisan support of the auditor general. "This is an example of how public accounts is supposed to work," said Harris after the vote to summon Vestcor was approved. "Bravo team." Auditor General Kim Adair-MacPherson says her office has the authority to audit Vestcor. Vestcor is the Fredericton-based organization set up to manage what is now $18 billion in New Brunswick government pension and other funds. Formally known as the New Brunswick Investment Management Corporation, it was created by the province and owned by it directly for more than two decades, with reviews by the auditor general's office of its operations commonplace.. However, in 2016, it was given its independence and rebranded as Vestcor. When Adair-MacPherson requested access to a number of its financial documents beginning in late 2019, the agency refused. In a statement released this week, Vestcor accused the auditor general of attempting to overstep her authority now that it is on its own. "Our analysis and advice have indicated that the auditor general should be much more limited with respect to access to Vestcor related information than what had been requested, and we therefore have had to respectfully decline these requests," read the statement Auditor general doesn't agree The defiance has been received cooly by Adair-MacPherson, who is adamant Vestcor is still subject to provincial oversight, and this week she turned to MLAs for help enforcing her point. In a written response to the vote by MLAs, Adair-MacPherson said she was pleased the public accounts committee so quickly agreed to call Vestcor to appear before it. "The hope of this recommendation, along with others in our report, is to prevent future disagreements over access so that my office can fulfil our legislated mandate as per Auditor General Act and conduct necessary audit work of over $18 billion in New Brunswick public sector related funds," she said. But within hours, her key request to the province that it change legislation to explicitly list Vestcor as falling under her jurisdiction to audit was rejected by Premier Higgs. In his statement he said he was not opposed to MLAs summoning Vestcor to answer questions and suggested it might enlighten some about the body's independence. John Sinclair is president of Vestcor, which maintains the auditor general has limited access to the company's information. "I understand it was voted on to have Vestcor appear at Public Accounts, and I hope that will result in the committee fully understanding the structure and reporting practices of Vestcor," said Higgs in the statement. Billions of dollars in funds Vestcor invests impact the New Brunswick government's financial statements and the province pays Vestcor millions of dollars in annual pension contributions on behalf of employees Last year, when hundreds of millions of dollars in nuclear decommissioning and spent fuel management funds managed for NB Power by Vestcor lost value in the COVID-19 market crash in March, it transformed the utility's profit into a loss and drove up the province's deficit. Adair-MacPherson insists those financial ties mean Vestcor is still within her authority to audit. "Vestcor is an auditable entity because, in substance, it is both a service provider on behalf of the Province and a funding recipient from the Province," she wrote in her report. "The auditor general is entitled to free access to information that relates to fulfilling her responsibilities, such as the audit of the Province's financial statements, which requires information from Vestcor." Other questions Adair-MacPherson also made the point Vestcor obtained its independence in part on suggestions it would be freed up to market its expertise and manage funds for public bodies outside New Brunswick "We have had preliminary discussions with some fairly big public sector pools of money, even outside the province," she quotes Vestcor CEO John Sinclair telling MLAs back in 2016. But no out of province pools of money have yet signed on and Adair-MacPherson told MLAs they should be asking questions about that. "In our view, potential growth outside New Brunswick was one of the main arguments Vestcor and its representatives used to convince legislators that Vestcor needed to be a private entity," said Adair-MacPherson in her report. "Since Vestcor has not grown its public sector client base outside of New Brunswick, an audit by the auditor general could verify and publicly report on what steps Vestcor is taking to grow its public sector client base." The motion voted on by MLAs requires Vestcor to appear before the public accounts committee in the coming days, but also puts it on a permanent list of "entities who are regularly called to appear before the committee."
OTTAWA — Parliament’s budget watchdog is predicting another multibillion-dollar increase in the cost of a new fleet of warships for the Royal Canadian Navy, pegging the price for what was already the largest military procurement in Canada’s history at more than $77 billion.Parliamentary budget officer Yves Giroux’s latest estimate is $17 billion more than the government’s stated price for the 15 warships, which are to be built in Halifax over the next two decades and form the navy’s backbone for most of the century.Giroux’s estimate is in a highly anticipated report released Wednesday that is likely to set the stage for some tough discussions — and heavy industry lobbying — on whether Canada should push ahead on the project or change tack.To that end, the budget officer’s report includes a number of potential scenarios designed to provide a clearer picture of what options are available to the government should it decide to go in a different direction — and how much each would cost.That includes scrapping the existing plan to base the 15 warships on the British-designed model called the Type-26, which Canadian defence officials have repeatedly described as the right ship for Canada, and choosing a different design for the fleet.Giroux and his team also looked at the idea of a hybrid fleet, in which Canada builds three Type-26 ships and supplements them with 12 other vessels. That would mimic how the navy was previously built, with three Iroquois-class destroyers and 12 Halifax-class frigates.The Type-26 frigate is also being built by the United Kingdom and Australia, but Canadian officials have been making numerous changes to the design to meet Canada’s unique military and industrial requirements.Those changes have been made more complicated by the government’s attempts to pack all the capabilities from the navy’s now-retired destroyers and existing frigates into one type of ship.The destroyers provided air defence while the frigates specialize in hunting submarines.The PBO found that the government could save $40 billion if it built only three Type-26 frigates and supplemented them with 12 smaller, less capable Type-31s, which is similar to what Britain has decided to do.Canada could also save $50 billion if it scrapped plans to build any Type-26s and went with an entire fleet of Type-31s, according to the report, though the PBO notes that the Type-31 was “designed to operate alongside the ‘higher-end’ Type-26.” Restarting the entire project could result in a four-year delay to the start of construction.Giroux acknowledged during a media briefing that building a “hybrid fleet” would incur added costs over the long term due to the need for more training and spare parts for different types of ships, among other things, which were not figured into his calculations.“It also means that you don't put all your eggs in the same basket,” he added. “So if you find a major defect in one class of ship, you have a fallback option. You're not bound by 15 ships.”The PBO also looked at the potential cost to switch to a type of warship called the FREMM that is currently being built for the United States and which Giroux described as on par with the Type-26 in its capabilities.The budget officer found a revised project would cost around $71 billion whether the government decided to build an entire fleet of FREMMs or three Type-26s and 12 FREMMs.The Defence Department stood by its $60-billion cost estimate on Wednesday, arguing Giroux put too much emphasis on the ship's weight in his calculations, and noting his figure included tax. It also called the Type-26 "the right ship" for the navy, suggesting the other designs would not meet Canada' needs.While it said selecting a new design "is not an option we will be pursuing," the department did not specifically address the idea of a hybrid fleet.“As a taxpayer, I really hope they're right on the $60 billion — and even lower if they can,” Giroux said. “But we're confident that our cost estimate is the most likely scenario: $77 billion. I'm confident we have an accurate cost estimate.”The warship project was launched in earnest nearly a decade ago when Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax was selected in October 2011 to build the fleet, with the total cost estimated at around $26 billion and the first ship to be delivered in the mid-2020s.That vague schedule remained largely unchanged, at least on paper, even as the estimated price tag ballooned to $60 billion and Ottawa ordered several smaller ships so Irving would have work until the surface combatants were ready for construction.But defence officials revealed to The Canadian Press earlier this month while that construction on the first Type-26 is set to begin in 2023-24, the ship won't be delivered until 2030-31. Officials nonetheless insisted that the $60 billion budget would be sufficient despite the new delays.Giroux said his team’s analysis found a one-year delay in the project would add $2.3 billion to the overall cost, while a two-year delay would result in the fleet costing $4.8 billion more.Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and chief of the defence staff Admiral Art McDonald also appeared in a promotional video this month for a new design facility for the Type-26 that was organized by BAE Systems, which designed the warship, suggesting the government is doubling down on the warship.Wednesday’s report is the result of a request from a parliamentary committee for the PBO to look into the warship project, and had been highly anticipated given the amount of money involved and the relative lack of information about the project from the government.It also comes as the federal auditor general prepares to release her own report Thursday on the federal government’s entire shipbuilding strategy, which includes not only the 15 new warships but dozens of other vessels for the Navy and Canadian Coast Guard.The Naval Association of Canada, which represents current and retired naval officers, sent a commentary to members of Parliament last month warning them to exercise caution when it came to Wednesday’s PBO report.Giroux acknowledged that naval officials are in a better position to determine what the navy needs in its new fleet, and that each of the different designs provide pros and cons. However, he said MPs asked his office to look at the costs, “and that’s what we did.”“Ultimately, it's up to decision-makers to make these trade-offs as to what the navy needs and what Canada can afford,” he said. “And by providing them with these cost estimates, we're allowing them to have better information to make these important decisions.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
Monday, March 15 -- that's when the head of Ontario's vaccine distribution task force says the province will launch an online appointment portal. It’s also the day seniors 80 and older become eligible to book their first shot. As Travis Dhanraj reports, the delay in activating the online portal has triggered criticism from the opposition.
On Feb. 9, the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Association issued a press release to its membership about the Ontario Energy Board’s upcoming hearing to eliminate Hydro One’s seasonal rate class and transfer those customers to one of their three residential rate classes; urban, medium density or low density. FOCA has been against this move since it was first put forward, as it will increase hydro rates for nearly 80,000 of its members. While the OEB’s decision to eliminate the seasonal rate class is final, this hearing will determine Hydro One’s proposed mitigation measures, to soften the blow of the rate hikes for over half of its current seasonal rate consumers. The changes are expected to take effect on or after Jan. 1, 2022. The OEB first made the decision to eliminate the seasonal rate class back in 2015. Several years and appeals hearings later by Hydro One, FOCA and others, the OEB finalized their decision to get rid of the seasonal rate class on Sept. 17, 2020. Last October, Hydro One sent in a draft rate application which illustrated how the elimination of the seasonal rate class would impact those customers. In this report, Hydro One found that the elimination of the seasonal rate class would result in a small rate reduction to the nearly 70,000customers moving to the medium density rate, while the nearly 80,000 customers being moved to the low-density rate would see their rates jump by about $54 per month. According to Terry Rees, the executive director of FOCA, the OEB has been looking Hydro One’s report over for the past several months. Once Hydro One has informed all of its consumers of the change, the OEB will hold a hearing to ask Hydro One any further questions, to consider any input from FOCA and other interested parties, and to determine whether rate mitigation is required and what that rate mitigation should be. If rate mitigation is deemed appropriate, Hydro One has been tasked with initiating these measures for the 77,595 seasonal rate customers who will see an increase in their hydro bills. This will of course depend on their usage, according to Rees. “We think in an era of low inflation, lots of economic pressures, especially in the north and in rural Ontario, that’s something that’s a pretty troubling decision,” he says. Hydro One’s proposed mitigation measure is a rate increase of not more than 10 per cent per year, spread out over a number of years, to reduce the impact to those seasonal residents who will now be paying more for service. According to their October report to the OEB, they would provide a fixed monthly credit for the seasonal customers affected based upon their prior year’s average monthly consumption. They estimate that these credits would need to be in place for nine years at a total cost of $150 million. Regarding billing and meter reading, they recommend that it be based upon seasonal customers’ usage level and patterns and their current reading and billing method. According to Hydro One, this would meet their needs while overall billing and meter reading costs would be minimized. Hydro One’s rate classes determine how much someone pays for hydro depending on their location and usage. A property qualifies as seasonal if it’s a secondary residence where the owner lives for less than eight continuous months out of the year. The 147,679 seasonal rate class consumers would mostly fall into the low-density residential rate class (77,595) or the medium density residential rate class (69,839), with only a handful of customers falling into the urban residential rate class (245). Alex Stewart is a spokesperson with Hydro One, and says that in the coming weeks, these seasonal customers will get a notice from the OEB with details on the next steps for the seasonal class elimination. “The notice will include details on moving customers to one of the three residential rate classes and the projected bill impacts associated with the move. This change could increase electricity costs for a typical seasonal customer by $650 per year,” he says. At the upcoming hearing, likely to be sometime this spring, the OEB will hear from Hydro One, FOCA and any other intervenors who wish to participate. If somebody does want to participate and have their say, they are invited to contact the OEB by visiting www.oeb.ca or by calling 1-877-632-2727, and quoting OEB file number EB-2020-0246. While the OEB has steadfastly refused to back down on eliminating the seasonal rate class, they will be looking at Hydro One’s proposals to mitigate the rate increase for their seasonal customers who will fall into the low-density rate category, as well as any comments from intervenors like FOCA. After the hearing, Hydro One will be implementing this changeover from the seasonal rate to the residential rates for its seasonal customers. This is a process that they estimate will cost between $3 million and $4 million. Rees is one of those customers affected by the upcoming rate change, as he lives south of Bancroft near Apsley. He had already gotten his notice, and was surprised to find out he would be classified as a low-density residential rate customer when this change takes effect. “I have neighbours on either side of me, about 100 feet away, so it’s not really remote. It’s typical of central Ontario. You can see your neighbour but they’re not too close,” he says. While surprised at his rate change, Rees also realized that the rate change may impact more people in the near northern parts of the province than he’d anticipated. “I thought it would be the north and the more remote areas [of Ontario] that would be affected,” he says. How does Hydro One determine who is a low density versus medium or urban density rate customer? According to Stewart, the urban density zone is defined as areas containing 3,000 or more customers with a line density of at least 60 customers per circuit kilometre. “The medium density zone is defined as areas containing 100 or more customers with a line density of at least 15 customers per circuit kilometre. The low-density zone is defined as areas other than urban or medium density zone,” he says. According to Hydro One, the main reason for the rate increases for current seasonal rate payers who fall into the low-density rate category is that these customers will not qualify for some of the subsidies available to normal residential consumers in the aforementioned rate categories, like the Rural and Remote Electricity Rate Protection and the Distribution Rate Protection. At the upcoming OEB hearing, Rees explained the basis of FOCA’s remarks in defence of its members, who will be facing this rate hike at some time next year. “We will remind them that we’ve been against this change and why. I think they will be based on the fact that we have to consider people’s household budgets and their ability to pay and how such a dramatic change would be budgeted for. And so, we’ll certainly be encouraging them to consider whatever mitigation is available to soften the blow.” Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times
TORONTO — The Weeknd's "Blinding Lights" is making Canadian history on Spotify. The Toronto-raised singer's hit single has become the first song by a Canadian artist to pass two billion plays on the streaming platform. And he's only the fourth artist in the world to join this elite group of massively popular songs. Ahead of him is "Dance Monkey" by Australia's Tones and I (2.1 billion streams), "Rockstar" by American Post Malone (2.12 billion) and the leader "Shape of You" from English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran (2.7 billion). A couple of other Canadians could also reach two billion streams with one of their songs later this year. Drake's "One Dance" is teetering around the mark with 1.98 billion streams, which ranks him one spot behind the Weeknd as the No. 5 most-streamed song. Shawn Mendes' "Senorita" is at No. 9 with 1.7 billion plays. The Weeknd's streaming numbers were helped by his performance at the Super Bowl, which gave his entire catalogue of albums a boost. But it's fellow Torontonian Drake who holds the biggest streaming crown on Spotify. He earned the platform's most-streamed artist of the decade honour at the end of 2019. Follow @dfriend on Twitter. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press
(Matthew Mukash - image credit) A community caribou hunt organized in northern Quebec by some Innu hunters from Matimekush-Lac John, near Schefferville, Que., has some Chisasibi tallymen and Cree government officials worried. The hunt happened on lands west of Schefferville and east of Chisasibi, northwest of Brisay, in northern Quebec between the end of January and mid-February. The area is more than 1,800 kilometres northeast of Montreal. About 280 caribou from the Leaf River herd were reportedly harvested by the group, a Cree investigation found, according to Cree Grand Chief Abel Bosum. "We are not against hunting of caribou by the Innu of that community, but only that protocols were not followed, where those people whose trap lines where the hunt took place were not informed beforehand," said Bosum in Cree, adding he was also concerned so many caribou were harvested from a vulnerable herd. We are not against hunting of caribou by the Innu. - Abel Bosum, Cree Nation Grand Chief One of the traplines where the hunt took place is the responsibility of Cree tallyman Bobby Neacappo. He said he was also disappointed in how the hunt was carried out. "I feel that the hunt was not respectful, in the amount of caribou that were taken," said Neacappo in Cree. Tallymen are what Cree land stewards are called. Hunting restrictions in place In 2018, the Cree Nation Government put voluntary limits on the harvesting of the Leaf River herd. The sport hunt on the Leaf River herd has been closed since 2018. The government also banned the Indigenous hunt of the George River caribou herd. Bosum said he is aware of how important the caribou is for Innu people. "We understand there is a need ... the Innu people [have].… [The caribou hunt] that's their way of life, and we respect that and we acknowledge that, " said Bosum, who added that Cree leadership have sent a letter expressing their concerns over the hunt to Réal McKenzie, Chief of Matimekush-Lac John. Caribou near Radisson, Que., in 2019. "We need to maintain that respect among nations and also the respect for our trappers and our tallymen ... who depend on the wildlife," said Bosum, in English. McKenzie did not respond to requests for an interview. The population of the Leaf River herd stands at around 190,000, down from 600,000 20 years ago. The 2020 George River Caribou census estimates the population of the herd to be 8,100 animals, which is up from historic lows in 2018, but drastically down from population highs of 750,000 animals, according to figures from Newfoundland and Labrador. Overlapping territory The area where this recent hunt happened is at the far eastern regions of Cree territory in an area where the Innu say they also traditionally hunted. It is territory that is covered by the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, signed in 1975, to which the Innu were not signatories. ''There [are] certainly areas that have been considered overlaps between the [James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement] signatories and the Innu," said Bosum, in English. "There's been a number of attempts in the past to try to resolve these overlaps. But nothing has come out of it." Bosum said Cree leadership is also asking for a meeting with Quebec government officials. "To discuss both what happened, but more importantly to see what are the options going forward," said Bosum. Leaf River caribou near the Cree community of Chisasibi on Nov. 16, 2020. Cree officials say conservation efforts are working, but now is not the time to over-harvest. Chisasibi tallyman Bobby Neacappo said in the past, the hunts by the Cree, the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach and Innu of Matimekush-Lac John in that area, were an "occasion, where people were happy to see each other." "In those days, there was always a leader that the hunting group would listen to. This was always how it was in the past," said Neacappo, in Cree. Neacappo said he didn't want the harvested caribou taken away from the hunters, but to have them stay with hunters from Matimekush-Lac John. "Our community is in the process of addressing this with the Innu community and CNG (Cree Nation Government), and I'll wait for that to happen, because this should not happen again."
One of the few bright spots to the pandemic shines through in a crop of new entrepreneurs. For some, the shakeup in daily routines has brought the push they needed to jump into new business ideas that didn’t seem possible before. For husband and wife duo Seher Shafiq and Saad Khan, the absence of commutes to and from work and socializing opened up free hours that didn’t exist before the pandemic. An idea shaped up over a dinner conversation: Cardamom & Co., a tea and spice delivery service that could help their friends and family spread a little joy around in a rough time. They quickly got to work, setting up a Shopify website and Instagram account last summer. The venture offers care packages, chai kits and loose leaf teas, packed by hand in a small office in their North York condo. The focus is on gift giving and attempting to bridge the gap of social isolation. “Everything that we do comes with a personalized handwritten card so people love being able to send something to their friends, family (and) colleagues.” For Khan, the venture feels like a productive use of time. “I feel good, like we’re not wasting our time,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to do something on my own and I feel like we just got handed this opportunity.” Like Cardamom and Co., Ottawa-based Boxed & Loved has zeroed in on gift boxes that can help people share the love while staying apart. Each box contains items personalized with a name, phrase or inside joke, explained co-founders and neighbours Noor Kamran and Dunia Jaradat. The pandemic made them think about what they could offer others, Kamran said. “COVID kind of forced us to think, ‘What is it that we can contribute?’” she said. “Maybe this is the time that forces you to slow down and think of what you’ve always enjoyed.” “Usually (the boxes are) tailored towards the gift recipients. So we talk to our clients on what they think that gift recipients would enjoy, whether it be self care items like face masks or bath bombs,” Jaradat said. With four children under age three between them, the pair wanted something to do that they loved and allowed them to manage their time alongside parenting. “It’s two people doing it, and we’re neighbours so we’ll share the tasks,” Jaradat said. For Kamran, the venture meant jumping headlong into a project instead of overthinking. “We just kind of (decided), ‘Let’s just do this and we’ll see how it pans out, how the logistics work.’” Whether it’s within your circle, or on a large-scale, there are more than a few businesses that have been started with others in mind. Manilla.co, for example, is an app that’s working to help people send money internationally, without the usual high banking and wire transfer fees. Two of the founders, Ashiana Ismail and Nehi Igbinijesu, spoke with the Star and said they made this app specifically with international students in mind. As former students themselves, they know many of their peers often rely on family support while studying overseas. And then there’s Goodszilla, founded by Toju Ogbeide. “It comes from the concept of a marketplace, that uses buying and selling of goods to do good at the world,” Ogbeide said. Goodszilla allows users — whether everyday people or retailers — to sell products and donate a portion of their sales to a charity of their choice. When Ogbeide first moved to Canada from Nigeria, he got involved in volunteering at food banks, Casey House and other organizations. When he was decluttering his place for a move, he thought, “How can I monetize these items (and) actually support the organizations that I’ve worked at in the past?” He noticed auctions were a popular way charities raised money, and he knew that funds could be more valuable than physical things, so he thought a platform where all of that was combined would be neat. Whether it’s a scrappy endeavour started in a condo, or bigger visions looking for funding, this kind of entrepreneurship is picking up. Both Manilla.co and Goodszilla are part of an incubator program at Parkdale Centre for Innovation, which has helped entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground since it opened in 2018. Rusul Alrubail, founder of the Parkdale Centre for Innovation, noticed a significant jump in applicants for the centre’s most recent cohort. People are finding time and motivation to invest in a new business idea and the reasons can vary, but Alrubail has noticed that even prior to the pandemic, the reason marginalized people can turn to entrepreneurship can have greater stakes. It can be a way to create opportunities for themselves when they face systemic barriers in their chosen fields. “It’s a way out for them,” Alrubail said. “People are literally starting businesses because they don’t have access to career opportunities. And they need that financial security.” As a result of the pandemic, unemployment peaked in May 2020 at 13.7 per cent, according to Statistics Canada and as of January it’s 9.4 per cent. For some, entrepreneurship may be a better option to finding traditional work in a hard economy. Either way, a time of upheaval can be a time to chase a dream. Mahnoor Khan said she had left her full-time job before the pandemic hit after feeling disillusioned and disenchanted with the rigidity of — something the onset of COVID-19 exacerbated. She remembers feeling something was structurally wrong with the economy and the way people work. Last summer, Khan found herself in the middle of home renovations. “I was renovating some space, my own personal home, and (thought) ‘I really just love this, I wish I could just do this,’” Khan recalled in a Zoom video call with the Star. Already inspired to take on a creative venture, Khan shared her feelings with her new business partner Maham Babar who suggested the two team up to launch Amavi Design Studio. The pair, who handle interior design and staging, have seen a growing stream of business since their studio launched. “You keep having these ideas of the kind of work space you wish there was or you know, ‘If I was a boss, I would do it like this,’” Khan said. “I feel like COVID really just proved to people that there’s no reason why you can’t work half of the week from home and still be as productive.” Her takeaway from the venture? Just jump into new ideas. “You just need to do it, you just need to do something — whatever you’re thinking.” Angelyn Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jenna Moon, Toronto Star Staff Reporter, Toronto Star
If you can't find a summer cottage rental in Southwestern Ontario and your Plan B is camping, better start thinking of a new backup. Summer campsites at Ontario Provincial Parks are being snapped up months ahead of time, with some of the most popular times in the region already booked full. Chalk it up to a second summer of the pandemic's fallout, with traditional vacation travel no longer an option and people with a year of COVID-19 restrictions under their belt thinking far ahead. “We’re anticipating a really busy 2021 season,” said Megan Loucks, discovery specialist at Pinery Provincial Park. “We’ve noticed a lot more people are trying to book . . . it’s more competitive this year.” Bookings at Ontario Parks made between Jan. 1 and Feb. 5 nearly doubled over the same time last year, rising to 58,475 reservations provincewide, up from the 29,504 in the same period in 2020. More than half of the reservations are for the province’s five busiest parks: the Pinery near Grand Bend, Algonquin, Killbear, Sandbanks and Bon Echo. In Southwestern Ontario, the Canada Day long weekend is already fully booked at the Pinery, Turkey Point, Long Point and Sauble Falls. While getting a reservation at the Pinery is often difficult during the height of the summer even in a normal year, Loucks said the shoulder season is becoming more popular. “We definitely noticed an increase in our spring reservations, much like all throughout the year,” she said, adding winter day use has also spiked. Park bookings open up five months in advance at 7 a.m. each day, but cancellations can free up spots last minute, Loucks said. Last year brought record numbers to Ontario Parks, with more than 11 million visits for day use or overnight camping. Loucks said that’s not likely to slow down this summer, as lockdown-weary residents seek safe, outdoor getaways within the province amid the ongoing virus crisis. “A lot of our visitors are just looking for that outdoor space and being able to get outside and connect with nature,” she said. “I think that has a lot to do with our increased visitation.” firstname.lastname@example.org The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
OTTAWA — International Development Minister Karina Gould says the first injection of a COVID-19 vaccine in Ghana is a significant milestone for a new global vaccine-sharing program created to bring doses to low-income countries. But the NDP wants the House of Commons to censure the Canadian government for being the only G7 country to accept doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the program, known as COVAX, later this year. Some 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in the West African country of Ghana on Wednesday, months after the rollout of vaccines in Canada and the rest of the developed world, which has underscored the inequity COVAX was seeking to avoid. COVAX was founded last year with the backing of the World Health Organization to bring vaccines to countries that can't afford them, and rich countries that have invested heavily in the program, such as Canada, are entitled to doses for their own domestic use. NDP development critic Heather McPherson says Canada's decision to exercise its legal right to the COVAX doses highlights the fact the Liberal government has failed to guarantee enough of a domestic supply of vaccines. She says she will be pushing the Commons committee on foreign affairs and international development to allow her party's motion to be debated and voted on in the full Parliament. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
(Friends of the Foundry - image credit) A coalition of professionals and community members is releasing its vision for a historic Toronto property the Ontario government is seeking to demolish. The century-old buildings at the Dominion Wheel and Foundries site sit on a provincially-owned parcel of land that is being sold and redeveloped as a mixed-use housing development. Demolition began in January but was halted after residents won a temporary court injunction. A hearing on the matter set for this Friday has now been postponed to allow consultations between the province, the City of Toronto and the local community. CBC Toronto revealed this week that the Doug Ford government approved a private sale of the land, located on Eastern Avenue in the West Don Lands, but will not release the identity of the purchaser. The community group Friends of the Foundry, together with several architects, urban designers, and affordable housing experts, released a proposal on Wednesday that they say would create hundreds of residential units, community space, retail, all while preserving the site's two most important historic buildings. "This concept has been guided by development principles that are anchored in the historical context of the Foundry and builds on what has become a well-loved neighbourhood with a distinctive sense of place," Shirley Blumberg of KPMB Architects said in a statement from community group Friends of the Foundry. The group seeks to retain the site's most important historical building's, known as the Foundry and the Machine Shop. The above rendering shows the proposed 'Foundry Lane' public area. The exploratory concept for the site was developed by Blumberg and Bruno Weber, also of KPMB, urban designer Ken Greenberg, DTAH architect Joe Lobko, George Brown College's Luigi Ferrara, and housing experts Sean Gadon and Mark Guslits. The plan would deliver approximately 688,400 square feet of gross floor area and create 870 residential units. A minimum 30 per cent would be affordable housing. The plan also includes approximately 120,000 square feet of community and retail space. In line with the province's plan for the site, the group's proposal includes three new residential towers. But it also retains the historic Foundry and Machine Shop buildings, described by Greenberg in a virtual presentation on Wednesday as "handsome and robust historic industrial structures" that contribute "to our cultural memory" and enhance "the unique identity of the city and the neighbourhood." Demolition required for site cleanup, province says The Ford government has maintained that the land is contaminated and the buildings must be demolished in order for environmental remediation to begin. The Dominion Foundry site hit the headlines in January when the province began demolishing one of the buildings over the objections of local community groups. In its presentation Wednesday, the group pushed back, citing other examples of Toronto heritage buildings that have been maintained during environmental cleanup, including residential sites such as the Wychwood Barns. Architect Joe Lobko said the two buildings are too special to let go. "Just throwing it away on some blithe assumption that you need to [demolish it for] environmental remediation, that really needs to be challenged," he said during the presentation. As for the sale of the land, responding to CBC Toronto's story on Monday, Premier Doug Ford said the identity of the purchaser can't be released until its finalized. "The deal has not been signed yet. It's not done," Ford told reporters Monday. "Once that deal is signed, we'd be more than happy to be transparent."
CHARLOTTETOWN — Health officials in Prince Edward Island are reporting two new cases of COVID-19 today. Officials say the cases involve two women — one in her 20s and one in her 30s — and are related to travel within Atlantic Canada. The two cases are linked to a previously reported infection in the Atlantic region. Officials are advising anyone who was at the Toys "R" Us store on Buchanan Drive in Charlottetown between 10 a.m. and noon on Tuesday to isolate and to get tested for COVID-19. Prince Edward Island has three active reported infections. The province has reported a total of 117 COVID-19 cases and no deaths linked to the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — A man over the age of 70 is the fifth person to die in Newfoundland and Labrador because of COVID-19, health officials said Wednesday. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald announced his death during an emotional public health briefing. While reminding residents that someday the pandemic will be over, Fitzgerald teared up and had to take a moment before she could continue. "One day we will be able to gather together and hug our friends and family," she said, her voice breaking. "Hold fast, Newfoundland and Labrador." Fitzgerald reported eight new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, all in the eastern health region of the province, which includes the capital, St. John's — where an outbreak began several weeks ago. Officials have said the outbreak was caused by the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first detected in the United Kingdom. Despite low case numbers over the past few days, Newfoundland and Labrador remains under lockdown and Fitzgerald said residents must stay on guard. There are 345 active reported infections in the province and six people are in hospital with the disease, she said. Health Minister John Haggie confirmed that two patients of a St. John's hospital have been diagnosed with COVID-19, adding that it's not clear how they contracted the virus. "There is no outbreak," he said about the hospital. Haggie said health officials expect regular shipments from Pfizer to resume, including weekly shipments of 6,000 doses. He said the second and third phase of the province's vaccination plan will be released Friday, adding that officials are ready to ramp up vaccinations as soon as they have enough of the vaccine to do it. Pfizer, he said, has also promised an extra 80,000 doses in March and another 249,000 doses by the end of May. "Those last two quantities, we have not seen hide nor hair of as yet," Haggie told reporters. "But given the comments on the national scale, we're hopeful and optimistic that we may see some or all of that, in which case we have a plan to ramp up vaccination." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press