A year after recording the first COVID-19 death in Europe, Italy is still reeling from the effects of the pandemic. And to make an economic recovery, the government will need to turn to youth and women — groups long overlooked in the country.
A year after recording the first COVID-19 death in Europe, Italy is still reeling from the effects of the pandemic. And to make an economic recovery, the government will need to turn to youth and women — groups long overlooked in the country.
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.
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
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
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
Nunavut MLAs say there is a lack of transparency about how petroleum products are purchased for the territory. MLAs have delayed two bills related to fuel supply and fuel purchasing to be reviewed in the spring sitting in June. MLA for Iqaluit-Manirajak, Adam Arreak Lightstone, called the bills "very complex" and "significant," which is why they need more time to go over the legislation. "Petroleum products and the way that it has been managed in the territory for the last 20 years is somewhat of a mystery," said Arreak Lightstone in the legislature last Thursday. Nunavut buys fuel in bulk and the price they pay for it determines how much the government needs to sell it for. The money used to buy fuel comes from an account called the revolving fund. Bill 54, the Act to Amend the Revolving Funds Act, would give the government's petroleum products division an extra $100 million to buy fuel. Currently, the petroleum products division has $250 million to buy fuel. Iqaluit Manirajak MLA says the Petroleum Products Division is a 'mystery.'(Beth Brown/CBC) The government says this legislation would have allowed the government to buy more fuel while prices are low, saving residents money. Finance Minister George Hickes said the increase in the fund would have saved $32 million on fuel purchases. Hickes tabled the legislation in the October sitting and the bill has been delayed since then. Hickes said that has cost the government an additional $15 million in lost savings. But MLA for Arviat North-Whale Cove, John Main, says he doesn't understand how the government arrived at its estimate of $32 million in savings. "We have tried to conduct more research into this amount by asking our own government, what kind of accounting wizardry was done to come up with this phantom $32 million fund, and where is this stemming from?" said Main. Finance Minister says the bill is simple The revolving fund works on a break-even basis, meaning this money is paid back when fuel is purchased. But because market fuel prices don't stay the same all year, a different pocket of money, called the stabilization fund, is used to subsidize higher fuel prices so residents aren't charged more. But this fund is in a $18-million deficit, more than the allowed $10 million in borrowing for the fund. Hickes said, because of COVID-19, fewer people bought fuel, so the fund wasn't filled back up. Finance Minister George Hickes urged MLAs not to delay Bill 54. The Bill would have allowed additional spending on fuel, which he says would have saved the territory millions. (Beth Brown/CBC) "In light of the hardships Nunavummiut were facing due to COVID[-19], it just wasn't appropriate or the right time to impose a fuel price hike just before Christmas and going into our coldest months," said Hickes in the legislature last week. Arreak Lightstone said the deficit was caused by the pandemic and should be supplemented through COVID-19 funding. But Hickes said the government doesn't feel that diverting money from the health and safety of Nunavut residents is an appropriate option. Bill 54 would allow a $20-million deficit in the stabilization fund to recover fuel costs over a longer period of time. "It seems to be over-analyzed," Hickes told CBC. "I think this is a very basic piece of legislation." The minister of community and government services, Jeannie Ehaloak, said if the bill was passed this sitting, fuel prices would drop in April. CBC asked the department about expected fuel costs for April because of the delay of Bill 54, but it responded that they can't determine retail prices of fuel until they finish purchasing products for 2021.
Apple supplier Foxconn said it expects first-quarter revenue to rise more than 15% from a year earlier, boosted by strong iPhone sales and robust demand for electronics during lockdowns worldwide to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. The world's largest contract electronics manufacturer has previously forecast strong demand for the new iPhone 12, saying its business will be supported by "stronger than expected" sales for smartphones and for telecommuting devices amid a coronavirus-induced work-from-home trend. Taiwan-based Foxconn, in a short statement on Thursday, said it expects consumer electronics revenue, which includes smartphones and smart watches, to rise more than 15% in the January-March quarter from a year earlier.
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.
The U.S. government has been slow to approve licenses for American companies like Lam Research Corp and Applied Materials Inc to sell chipmaking equipment to China semiconductor giant SMIC, sources said, as the impact of a global chip shortage spreads. Many licenses for U.S. suppliers to ship an estimated $5 billion dollars' worth of equipment and materials have not come through, according to more than half a dozen industry sources, though numerous companies submitted applications soon after the Chinese company was blacklisted in December.
A Green MLA wants to know if government will reinstate a moratorium on student loan repayments in the province. Lynne Lund raised the issue during question period in the legislature Wednesday. The province put a hold on student loan repayments between March and September last year to help students manage the economic impacts of the pandemic. In February, the student union at UPEI called on the province to bring back its moratorium on student loan payments. The union wants the new moratorium on payments to run from April through September, which Lund said she supports. Lund said she raised the issue with government for the first time last November and is still waiting for an answer. Green MLA Lynne Lund also called on government to forgive $2.8 million in student debt in the upcoming budget. (Legislative Assembly of P.E.I.) "Students are still waiting for an answer from this government. This is a significant monthly expense of lots of recent graduates and they are asking for help," Lund said. "Does your government intend to reinstate the moratorium on student loan repayments, yes or no?" 'Identified as a priority' Lund told CBC News she has received several letters from recent graduates that say repaying their student debt has been a serious hardship. She said she tabled a petition in the legislature with nearly 300 signatures from students and former students calling on government to put a hold on loan repayments. Responding to Lund's question, Minister of Education and Lifelong Learning Natalie Jameson said there are a number of other financial supports available for students. She said government has invested in non-repayable loan options for students, including the George Coles bursary. Jameson said students don't have to make payments on their provincial loans while they remain full-time students and don't have to start repaying their loan for a year after they are no longer a full-time student. She said students also don't pay interest on their provincial loans. Minister of Education and Lifelong Learning Natalie Jameson did not say whether or not government would reinstate the moratorium on student loan payments but says government has received the request from the UPEI Student Union and is looking into it. (Legislative Assembly of P.E.I. ) Jameson did not say whether or not government would reinstate the moratorium. Jameson told CBC News that government has received a budget submission recommendation from the student union at UPEI that the moratorium be reinstated and government is considering the request. "It's one that we've discussed and identified as a priority," Jameson said. "We have a number of financial supports available but certainly we're always looking for innovative solutions to reduce financial burdens for students." Lund also called on government to forgive $2.8 million in student debt in the upcoming budget. Jameson said she can provide answers to questions around debt forgiveness once the budget is tabled. More P.E.I. news
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
Chrystia Freeland seemed only too happy on Wednesday to mention some recent grumbling about the Liberal government's pandemic spending over last year. For most of 2020, the government was faced with questions about whether it was delivering financial supports fast enough and broadly enough. Now, some are wondering aloud whether the government spent too much. "I've been surprised to read some commentary suggesting that Canadians may be doing too well for their own good," the finance minister said. "Some have pointed to rising household disposable income in the first nine months of last year as evidence that our government acted too swiftly and too effectively to support Canadians." It will not surprise you to learn that Freeland disagrees with that take. And if Freeland is eager to note that criticism, surely it's because she and the government know how difficult it might be for any of their political opponents to campaign against any of the specific measures the Liberals took to support Canadian households over the past 12 months. But it remains to be seen how all that spending — and the historic deficit that resulted from it — will frame the political debate going forward. On Monday, Statistics Canada released estimates that suggest Canadian households ended up with more disposable income through the third quarter of 2020 because of the unprecedented sums the federal government transferred to individuals through various support programs. "Although households did experience notable declines both in wages and salaries and in self-employment income in the second quarter, the value of COVID-19 support measures provided by governments more than compensated for those losses," StatsCan said. The gains were highest in the second quarter and proportionally larger for those with the lowest amount of disposable income in 2019. Before April 2020 and June 2020, StatsCan estimates, the households that had less than $26,500 in disposable income for 2019 saw their disposable income increase by 33.6 per cent. For those households with more than $64,900 in disposable income in 2019, the increase in disposable income in the second quarter of 2020 is estimated at 7.1 per cent. A person walks through an almost deserted Yorkdale Shopping Centre as Toronto enters the first day of a renewed coronavirus lockdown on Nov. 23, 2020.(Carlos Osorio/Reuters) As of October 3, 2020, the federal government had paid out $81.6 billion through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which provided $2,000 per month to those who lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns. Beyond the CERB, the federal government also moved forward with a number of other supports, including a new student benefit (estimated to cost $3 billion) and a series of measures aimed at "vulnerable Canadians" (at an estimated cost of $14.9 billion). More analysis is needed to fully understand the distribution and impact of government spending last year, but the basic finding — that support exceeded income losses — has been put forward before. Tammy Schirle, a professor of economics at Wilfrid Laurier University, notes that some of those in the bottom quintile would not have been making money before the pandemic began — and so wouldn't have lost any income — but they still would have benefited from increases in the Canada Child Benefit and the GST credit, which could have helped with extra expenses. An 'acceptable compromise' Research conducted by Schirle and three co-authors also estimated that nearly half of the job losses that occurred between February and April 2020 were suffered by those in the lowest quarter of earners. "Generally, there was criticism at the time that some workers with the lowest earnings would have received more income than was lost," Schirle said in an email this week, referring to the CERB. "However, in the context that Canadians needed something rolled out quickly, and our current infrastructure for [employment insurance] would not suffice, this was an acceptable compromise in my view." In a global emergency, too much help is likely better than too little. But the federal government may have faced a choice between moving fast and moving with precision — between making sure that people who would need money got it quickly and making sure that people only got as much money as they absolutely needed. Social policy in a hurry "CERB payments were flat amounts because the government did not have the capacity [in information and technology] to income-test the benefit," said Jennifer Robson, a professor of political management at Carleton who has been consulted by the government on EI reform (full disclosure: Robson is a friend). "The choice was 'automatic' or 'income-tested.' But until and unless we build serious back-of-house capacity in our social programs, you can't have both for a crisis of this scale." Robson also suggested that if the CERB did end up overcompensating people, the question could be flipped around to ask whether that proves too many people in this country were being paid unreasonably low wages in the first place. The Liberal government has since transitioned away from the CERB and StatsCan's estimates show that the disposable income increases dropped off significantly in the third quarter. John Lester, a fellow at the University of Calgary's school of public policy and a former analyst at the Department of Finance, argued in December that the government should have been quicker to deal with the issue of "overcompensation." The threat of inflation In her fall economic statement, Freeland suggested that increased disposable income and savings could act as "preloaded stimulus" to spur economic growth once the Canadian economy reopens. Mikal Skuterud, a professor of economics at the University of Waterloo, said the risk is that excessive stimulus could trigger inflation, though he argues that the actual severity of that risk is a "million-dollar question that nobody knows the answer to." For now, the political criticism is muted. The Conservative Party has criticized the size of the deficit and Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole has noted that the Trudeau government spent more per capita than comparable countries. The Conservatives also have argued that the government should have moved faster to deliver a wage subsidy and have criticized the fact that some large, profitable companies were able to access the wage subsidy. But they do not seem eager to make the case that Canadians got more money than they deserved or truly needed — presumably because they know how well that would go over with those Canadians who received federal support. Ahead of a federal budget — and possibly a federal election — the larger question is how the spectre of a significant deficit will affect both fiscal policy and the political debate going forward. Canadians might be thankful for all the support that the federal government has provided, but will they come out of this pandemic with new worries about government debt? And if so, are Conservatives interested in trying to connect with that anxiety to build support for a much more fiscally restrained approach?
Insurance is notoriously complicated, and few people have the time or desire to pore over their policies. But some basic knowledge can go a long way — and that’s where an insurance agent can help, by clearing up some of the most common misconceptions they encounter. Here are five things agents say are helpful for customers to know. 1. INSURANCE DOESN’T COVER EVERYTHING When it comes to insurance, “Most people don’t understand the details,” says Andrew McGill, agent at The Insurance Shoppe in Collierville and Nashville, Tennessee. For instance, they often don’t realize that most homeowners policies won’t cover flood or earthquake damage. If your home is at risk for these disasters, you need separate coverage. Auto policies generally cover only personal use of your car, so if you’ve picked up a side gig delivering groceries or meals during the pandemic, you likely need additional coverage, says Keya Pratt, agent and CEO of Pratt Insurance LLC in Richmond, Virginia. Otherwise, accidents you have on the job may not be covered. Insurance policies of all types also generally exclude wear and tear, says Katherine Navarro Wong, a State Farm agent in Santa Rosa, California. She often gets calls from policyholders asking if their insurance will pay for things like broken dishwashers or aging gutters. The answer is no. Insurance is designed to cover sudden, accidental damage, not regular maintenance. “We’re not going to replace (an) old pipe,” Wong says, “but if the pipe accidentally burst and ruined the wall and the flooring,” that would be covered. 2. A GAP IN COVERAGE CAN BE COSTLY There are various reasons you might let your car insurance policy lapse, whether you’re having trouble paying your bills or you no longer own a vehicle. But this could cost you, Pratt says. “People tend to shop insurance after they’ve already cancelled their insurance, (but) unfortunately that’s a huge negative” when calculating your price. After a gap in coverage, insurers view customers as riskier and charge higher rates. You can avoid this by shopping for quotes before your policy expires, buying nonowner car insurance if you’re between vehicles and asking your carrier for leniency if you’re struggling to make payments. 3. YOU CAN’T GET COVERAGE FOR SOMETHING THAT’S ALREADY HAPPENED If you get into an accident and your car needs repairs, you might want a rental vehicle to help you get around. But by that point it would be too late to add that coverage, Wong says. Your auto policy would pay for this only if you had rental car coverage in place when the accident happened — not if you added it the day after. The same goes for other insurance. For example, say a storm leaves an inch of water in your basement, but you haven’t purchased flood insurance. You can still buy coverage for future disasters, but it won’t pay for damage your home has already sustained. 4. YOU SHOULDN’T SKIMP ON LIABILITY INSURANCE Many people focus on buying enough coverage for their belongings, but the liability insurance on your policy may be even more important. It pays for injuries or property damage that you’re at fault for. A lawsuit “is going to be more devastating than losing your laptop (or) ring,” Wong says. Including legal fees, the cost can total hundreds of thousands of dollars, especially if someone is seriously injured. To protect yourself financially, buy enough liability insurance on your auto and home insurance policies to cover your net worth. 5. YOUR AGENT IS THERE TO HELP Confused by your policy’s fine print? Don’t struggle through it on your own, says Jana Schellin Foster, agent at Nevada Insurance Agency Co. in Reno, Nevada. “We’re here to take care of you and walk you through this process.” Foster advises interviewing agents to make sure you trust them and they have the services you need. Once you’ve found an agent you’re comfortable with, Wong recommends touching base once a year or whenever there are changes in your life. This might include getting married, buying a new car or renovating your home, all of which could trigger updates to your insurance. The most important thing to have in your agent is trust, Foster says. “You get so busy with your kids and your job and whatever else you have going on; you shouldn’t have to think about what you need your insurance to do.” _______________________ This article was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Sarah Schlichter is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. RELATED LINKS: NerdWallet: Flood Insurance: What It Costs and What It Covers https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/insurance/flood-insurance?utm_campaign=ct_prod&utm_source=ap&utm_medium=mpsyn Sarah Schlichter Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
MOSCOW — The European Medicines Agency said it has started a rolling review of Sputnik V, many months after the vaccine was first approved for use in Russia and after dozens of countries around the world have authorized it. In a statement Thursday, the European regulator said the review is based on results from lab studies and research in adults, which suggests the vaccine may help protect against coronavirus. Despite skepticism about Russia’s hasty introduction of the vaccine, which was rolled out before it had completed late-stage trials, the vaccine appears to be safe and effective. According to a study published in the journal Lancet, Sputnik V was about 91% effective in preventing people from becoming severely ill with COVID-19. The EMA has not set a date for when its expert group might meet to assess Sputnik V data to decide if it should be approved across the European Union, but the rolling review process is meant to expedite the authorization process, which can typically take several months. The Associated Press
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — A Dutch court ruled Thursday that a deeply religious father who kept some of his children isolated from the outside world for years in a remote farmhouse can't stand trial on charges including child sexual abuse because he has been incapacitated by a stroke. The decision came after prosecutors last month asked the court in the northern city of Assen to drop the case because the 68-year-old suspect wasn't fit to stand trial. It brings to an end a case that made headlines around the world after one of the man's sons raised the alarm and authorities discovered the father had been living for years with six of his children in the farmhouse in the eastern Netherlands. At a preliminary hearing in January last year, prosecutors portrayed the father, identified only as Gerrit Jan van D., as a deeply religious man who saw his family as “chosen by God” and did everything in his power — including physical beatings and other punishments — to keep them from succumbing to what he considered malign outside influences. The court ruled Thursday that a 2016 stroke had so badly affected the father's ability to communicate that continuing with the case would breach his fair trial rights. “He doesn't sufficiently understand what is happening in the courtroom,” court spokesman Marcel Wolters said in a video statement. The six children who were kept on the farm are now all young adults. Three older siblings had earlier left the family’s isolated life. Their mother died in 2004. The Associated Press
Katy McAvoy hoped she would have more time for her job search after her 5-year-old daughter started in-person kindergarten in mid-November after months of virtual learning due to the pandemic. The unpredictable schedule made it difficult for McAvoy to find time for interviews and networking or to figure out a feasible work schedule. So even though school opened again in January, McAvoy, who was furloughed from her job with a local arts organization last June and permanently laid off in November, decided to stop searching.
India's foreign minister arrived in Bangladesh on Thursday ahead of a visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi amid efforts to resolve the fate of 81 Rohingya refugees who are on a boat adrift in international waters. Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar will hold talks with his Bangladeshi counterpart on water sharing, trade and border issues, said two Indian officials in New Delhi. "Of course, the Rohingya refugee issue will come up during the Indian minister's day-long visit but the prime agenda will remain around Modi's upcoming visit," said a senior foreign ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
Post secondary student Ivette Rincon recalls living in a rental house with 10 other people, which she describes as a "terrible condition." She is in favour of a new bylaw that would allow city inspections of residential rental housing units on a regular basis. "You constantly complain to the landlords, and there doesn't seem to be a standard or procedure. It looks like it's just a way of them getting their profit and not caring for the residents," Rincon said. City council will have four options to consider Monday: Keeping the status quo. Imposing a mandatory licensing bylaw on residential rental units city-wide. Imposing a voluntary city-wide licensing bylaw. Starting a two-year pilot project that imposes a mandatory bylaw on rental units in Wards One and Two. The last option is what Ward 2 Coun. Fabio Costante is advocating. He says those are the wards with the most student rentals, and city officials have noticed that students are hesitant to complain to the city when they are living in deplorable conditions. Ward 2 Coun. Fabio Costante wants to see a two-year pilot project for licensing rental homes.(Dale Molnar/CBC) "I think it's sensible. I think it allows us to build the infrastructure and to roll this out in a way that is doable," Costante said. In a report, city inspectors have added pictures of dangerous and sub-standard living conditions they have come across over the years including, collapsing ceilings from water damage, excessive black mould and filthy bathrooms. In one case, inspectors found a bed tucked away in an area of a basement with a flashlight as a light. City inspectors found this "bed" in a small nook in a basement in one housing rental.(City of Windsor) "This whole policy is intended for tenant safety," said Costante. Recent college graduate Sania Vega has also experienced sub-standard living conditions in rentals and agrees the city needs to crack down. She says she lived in housing with undesirable characters. "They had all the garbage in one room and if you have to go out, you'll be scared to go out and it's just a horror story," said Vega. But Borys Sozanski, who owns several rental houses near the University of Windsor, says the unscrupulous landlords will fly under the radar, not apply for a license and the cost of the program will fall to the good landlords to bear. He says the city should step up enforcement of current bylaws. He believes that demand for the housing — which is already waning due to the COVID pandemic — will further erode this fall and so students who need accommodations won't have to settle for sub-standard conditions. The decent housing units will satisfy demand. Filthy bathroom in a rental house inspected by city officials.(City of Windsor) "Forces will push out the people who have not taken care of their properties," said Sozanski. Sozanski says landlords will also just pass the cost of licensing onto the renters. But Costante says that has not been proven in other jurisdictions where licensing has been imposed. "It's just the cost of doing business," said Costante. If council chooses to go the licensing route, details around who must pay and how much will still have to be worked out. Black mould found in one rental house by city inspectors.(City of Windsor)
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%.
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
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