NEW YORK — All federal prisons in the United States have been placed on lockdown, with officials aiming to quell any potential violence that could arise behind bars as law enforcement prepares for potentially violent protests across the country in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday. The lockdown at more than 120 federal Bureau of Prisons facilities took effect at 12 a.m. Saturday, according to an email to employees from the president of the union representing federal correctional officers. “In light of current events occurring around the country, and out of an abundance of caution, the decision has been made to secure all institutions,” the Bureau of Prisons said in a statement. The lockdown decision is precautionary, no specific information led to it and it is not in response to any significant events occurring inside facilities, the bureau said. To avoid backlash from inmates, the lockdown was not announced until after they were locked in their cells Friday evening. Shane Fausey, the president of the Council of Prison Locals, wrote in his email to staff that inmates should still be given access in small groups to showers, phones and email and can still be involved in preparing food and performing basic maintenance. Messages seeking comment were left with Fausey on Saturday. The agency last put in place a nationwide lockdown in April to combat the spread of the coronavirus. During a lockdown, inmates are kept in their cells most of the day and visiting is cancelled. Because of coronavirus, social visits only resumed in October, but many facilities have cancelled them again as infections spiked. One reason for the new nationwide lockdown is that the bureau is moving some of its Special Operations Response Teams from prison facilities to Washington, D.C., to bolster security after President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Authorities are concerned there could be more violence, not only in the nation’s capital, but also at state capitals, before Trump leaves office Jan. 20. A Bureau of Prisons spokesman said the agency was co-ordinating with officials at the Justice Department to be ready to deploy as needed. Earlier this month, about 100 officers were sent to the Justice Department's headquarters to supplement security staff and were deputized by the U.S. Marshals Service and given special legal powers to “enforce federal criminal statutes and protect federal property and personnel,” said the spokesman, Justin Long. The specialized units typically respond to disturbances and other emergencies at prisons, such as riots, assaults, escapes and escape attempts, and hostage situations. Their absence can leave gaps in a prison’s emergency response and put remaining staff at risk. “The things that happen outside the walls could affect those working behind the walls,” Aaron McGlothin, a local union president at a federal prison in California. As the pandemic continues to menace federal inmates and staff, a federal lockup in Mendota, California, is also dealing with a possible case of tuberculosis. According to an email to staff Friday, an inmate at the medium-security facility has been placed in a negative pressure room after returning a positive skin test and an X-ray that indicated an active case of tuberculosis. The inmate was not showing symptoms of the lung disease and is undergoing further testing to confirm a diagnosis, the email said. As a precaution, all other inmates on the affected inmate’s unit were placed on quarantine status and given skin tests for tuberculosis. The bacterial disease is spread similarly to COVID-19, through droplets that an infected person expels by coughing, sneezing or through other activities such as singing and talking. Mendota also has 10 current inmate cases and six current staff cases of COVID-19. As of Wednesday, the last day for which data was available, there were 4,718 federal inmates and 2,049 Bureau of Prisons staff members with current positive tests for COVID-19. Since the first case was reported in March, 38,535 inmates and 3,553 staff have recovered from the virus. So far, 190 federal inmates and 3 staff members have died. __ Balsamo reported from Washington. __ On Twitter, follow Sisak at twitter.com/mikesisak and Balsamo at twitter.com/mikebalsamo1 Michael R. Sisak And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
A worker at Agnico Eagle's Meliadine gold mine, located about 25 kilometres north of Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, has tested positive for COVID-19, the company said in a news release Friday. The worker tested positive on Jan. 8, but the positive test result was confirmed on Jan. 13, the release says. Prior to arriving at the mine, the person was tested on Dec. 24 and the result came back negative. They were tested again twice — once after being on site for three days, then on Day 5 — about results were also negative, the release says. But on Jan. 8, the person "developed mild COVID-19 symptoms and was immediately placed in isolation," the release says. "The employee presumptively tested positive on the same day." Agnico Eagle says the person was isolated on site until they could be flown out on a special charter flight later that day. There have been nine confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the mine since the start of the pandemic, an Agnico Eagle spokesperson told CBC News Saturday via email. 11 contacts identified Contact tracing identified 11 employees who may have had contact with the positive case, says the release. The impacted workers were flown out of the mine on a special charter on Jan. 8, and were tested on Jan. 9. The results were all negative, says the release. The infected worker and the 11 close contacts are now self-isolating at home for 14 days, said the Agnico Eagle spokesperson. Contamination risk is "deemed low," the company says, but common areas at the mine, such as the gym, smoke shacks and recreational room, have been closed for cleaning and disinfection. The public health risk to Rankin Inlet is also "very low," as the mine isolated itself from the community in March, and sent all Nunavummiut employees home with 75 per cent of their base salary to reduce the risk of potential transmission to Nunavut communities. Agnico Eagle is working closely with Nunavut's office of the chief public health officer and following its recommendations, the company says.
MONTREAL — Quebec is reporting 2,225 new COVID-19 cases and 67 further deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. The number of hospitalizations dropped for a second day, this time by 22 for a total of 1,474 patients, with four fewer patients in intensive care for a total of 227. Health Minister Christian Dube tweeted that all Quebecers need to continue to follow public health rules to ensure cases and hospitalizations go down. The province's Health Department reported 2,430 more recoveries, for a total of 210,364. Quebec currently has 21,640 active cases. The province has now reported 240,970 confirmed infections and 9,005 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2021. The Canadian Press
BERLIN — Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus missed a penalty in a 1-1 draw with lowly Mainz while Leipzig again missed the chance to move to the top of the Bundesliga on Saturday. Leipzig, which was denied top spot in losing to Dortmund 3-1 last weekend, could manage only 2-2 at Wolfsburg and it remains a point behind league leader Bayern Munich. Bayern hosts Freiburg on Sunday. Dortmund was looking for its fourth win in five league games under new coach Edin Terzic but was frustrated by a committed performance from Mainz in Bo Svensson’s second game in charge. The draw was enough for Mainz to move off the bottom on goal difference from Schalke, which visits Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday. Dortmund got off to a fine start with Erling Haaland firing inside the left post in the second minute. But the goal was ruled out through VAR as Thomas Meunier was offside in the buildup. Jude Bellingham struck the post toward the end of the half and it was as close as Dortmund came to scoring before the break. Mainz defended doggedly and took its chance in the 57th when Levin Öztunali eluded Mats Hummels with a back-heel trick and let fly from 20 metres inside the top right corner. The visitors almost grabbed another shortly afterward when Alexander Hack struck the crossbar with a header. The 16-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko had just gone on for Dortmund and he played a decisive role for his side’s equalizer in the 73rd, keeping the ball in play before sending in a cross that was cleared by Mainz defender Phillipp Mwene – only as far as Meunier, who fired back in to equalize. Meunier was then fouled in the penalty area by Hack, giving Reus a chance to score from the spot. The Dortmund captain sent his kick outside of the left post. It could have been worse for Reus’ team as Mainz captain Danny Latza hit the post late on. Dortmund remained fourth, four points behind Bayern, which has a game in hand. Werder Bremen scored late to beat Augsburg 2-0 at home, Cologne drew with Hertha Berlin 0-0, and Hoffenheim vs. Arminia Bielefeld also ended scoreless. Stuttgart hosted Borussia Mönchengladbach in the late game. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP CiaráN Fahey, The Associated Press
The recent discovery of about 100 dead and discarded turrs in Flatrock has one seabird biologist concerned about best hunting practice and lack of regulation. Bill Montevecchi told CBC Radio's The Broadcast images were sent to him after a hiker stumbled upon the flock of dead birds floating in the ocean and was worried there may have been a "catastrophe." But, he said, the best he could decipher from the images was that the birds were killed by hunters, and only their breasts had been taken while the carcasses were left behind to waste. "I get concerned. If somebody is going to shoot this magnificent bird, and cherry pick out the prime cut and then chuck the bird away, you know, you killed a bird that is quite fantastic," he said. "Eat it. Use it." Montevecchi said many hunters are agreeing with him that the scene in Flatrock this week was "cheating," while others have been on his case accusing him of wanting to halt the hunt. He said that isn't the case — that he supports the hunt, but doesn't support the overkill or wastefulness. Montevecchi acknowledged the fact that the possession limit is 40 birds, and that the large culling in Flatrock could have come from more than one person that day, meaning a group of hunters would have been within their limit. Even still, he said buying or selling migratory game birds — such as turr — and the fact that there were about 100 dead in the water is concerning. "If somebody is breasting birds, and there's more than 100, I really hope those aren't being sold. But, I have no idea," he said. "Let's assume it's from three guys, they're not over their possession limit, and they're going to eat the birds. But, they still chucked an awful lot of it away. I just have trouble resolving it." Bigger problems But Montevecchi said the bigger problem is with the regulators, such as Environment Canada, which he says aren't doing their jobs. "It's like they're hiding under a rock or something," he said. "And don't take my word for it. Ask any hunter, look on social media, they know." He said the RCMP can also enforce federal regulations, and game wardens in Newfoundland and Labrador can do the same if asked. As for Environment Canada, he said it's turning a blind eye to the problem and should be accountable for the population of turr. "We know in Witless Bay the murres are having a really tough time, and those are the common murres. Mostly what gets hunted here and the thick-billed murres from the Arctic," he said. "[The] Canadian Wildlife Service and Environment Canada says those populations are OK, but I think there's a lot of uncertainty in those estimates." Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Fiona Brinkman, a researcher in bioinformatics and genomics at SFU, discusses the different COVID strains that have shown up in B.C. and the implications in our fight to beat the pandemic.
WILMINGTON, Del. — In a dig at the outgoing Trump administration, President-elect Joe Biden said the team of scientific advisers he introduced Saturday will lead with "science and truth. We believe in both.” Biden is elevating the position of science adviser to Cabinet level, a White House first, and said that Eric Lander, a pioneer in mapping the human genome who is in line to be director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, is “one of the most brilliant guys I know.” Lander said Biden has tasked his advisers and “the whole scientific community and the American public” to “rise to this moment." Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris used the rollout of the science team to recall her late mother, a cancer researcher whom she credited with teaching her to think critically. “The science behind climate change is not a hoax. The science behind the virus is not partisan,” Harris said. “The same laws apply, the same evidence holds true regardless of whether or not you accept them.” Both Biden and Harris veered from their prepared texts to hold up the scientists as examples to children across the country. “Superheroes aren’t just about our imagination,” Harris said. “They are walking among us. They are teachers and doctors and scientists, they are vaccine researchers ... and you can grow up to be like them, too.” Lander is the founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and was the lead author of the first paper announcing the details of the human genome. He would be the first life scientist to have that White House job. His predecessor is a meteorologist. The president-elect is retaining the director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, who worked with Lander on the human genome project. Biden also named two prominent female scientists to co-chair the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Frances Arnold, a California Institute of Technology chemical engineer who won the 2018 Nobel Prize in chemistry, and MIT vice-president for research and geophysics professor Maria Zuber will lead the outside science advisory council. Lander held that position during Obama administration. Collins, in an email statement, called Lander “brilliant, visionary, exceptionally creative and highly effective in aspiring others.” “I predict he will have a profound transformational effect on American science,” Collins said. The job as director of science and technology policy requires Senate confirmation. Science organizations were also quick to praise Lander and the promotion of the science post to Cabinet level. Elevating the position "clearly signals the administration's intent to involve scientific expertise in every policy discussion,” said Sudip Parikh, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's largest general scientific society. Biden picked Princeton's Alondra Nelson, a social scientist who studies science, technology and social inequality, as deputy science policy chief. Lander, also a mathematician, is a professor of biology at both Harvard and MIT and his work has been cited nearly half a million times in scientific literature, one of the most among scientists. He has won numerous science prizes, including a MacArthur “genius” fellowship and a Breakthrough Prize, and is one of Pope Francis' scientific advisers. Lander has said in talks that an opportunity to explain science is his “Achilles' heel": “I love teaching and more than that, I firmly believe that no matter what I do in my own scientific career, the most important impact that I could ever have on the world is going to be through my students.” ___ Borenstein reported from Kensington, Maryland. Bioll Barrow And Seth Borenstein, The Associated Press
Ottawa is reporting 136 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday. Western Quebec has confirmed 43 new infections today. Today's Ottawa update Ottawa Public Health (OPH) recorded 136 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday. OPH also declared 111 more cases resolved and reported no new deaths. The infection rate in Ottawa has risen to record levels since around Christmas, prompting OPH to declare the city is once again in a COVID-19 crisis. The current lockdown in eastern Ontario went into effect Dec. 26, and is now scheduled to last until Feb. 11. A provincial stay-at-home order is also in effect. Numbers to watch 88.9: The number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 Ottawa residents, down from Friday. 1.01: The average number of people infected by a single COVID-19 case, or R(t), has been in gradual decline this month but remains unchanged since Friday. OPH aims to keep the number below one. 4.1%: Ottawa's average test positivity percentage, down from 4.5 per cent. Across the region Health authorities in western Quebec are reporting 43 new cases of COVID-19 but no more deaths. Quebec's lockdown lasts until Feb. 8. It includes an 8 p.m. curfew that went into effect last weekend.
WASHINGTON — A Missouri woman has been charged with taking a splintered name plate belonging to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the riot at the U.S. Capitol. Emily Hernandez, of Sullivan, was charged Friday with with five counts, including disorderly conduct that impedes the conduct of government business and the stealing or disposing of government property. She had not been arrested as of early Saturday afternoon, according to court documents. Her home phone number rang unanswered. The FBI received online tips from at least three people saying Hernandez was the person seen in TV news footage holding up a broken engraved piece of wood bearing the words “House” and “Nancy” during the storming of the Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump, an agent wrote in an affidavit. The riot happened Jan. 6 as Congress was meeting to vote to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral win. Five people died in the mayhem. Law enforcement officials across the country have been working to locate and arrest suspects who committed federal crimes and have brought dozens of cases in federal court and the District of Columbia Superior Court. Sullivan is located about 60 miles (97 kilometres) southwest of St. Louis. The Associated Press
Northwest Territories health officials are urging anyone who has been in self-isolation in Hay River or Kátł'odeeche First Nation since Jan. 1 to arrange for a COVID-19 test. On Thursday, public health officials said wastewater testing suggested there are one or more cases of COVID-19 in the area. The Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory also reports a "persistent positive COVID-19 signal in Hay River wastewater" collected on Jan. 11, said Dr. Andy Delli-Pizzi, N.W.T.'s deputy chief public health officer, in a news release issued Saturday. But so far, no one who has tested for COVID-19 since then has been a positive case, said Delli-Pizzi. "Currently, there is not enough information to confidently assess public risk," he said. "But with evidence pointing towards at least one undetected case of COVID-19 in Hay River, we are asking the public to assist in containing the situation quickly to prevent transmission." Public health officials are also asking anyone who is self-isolating because they entered N.W.T. from another jurisdiction, and has been in Hay River or Kátł'odeeche First Nation since Jan. 1, to be tested. Residents who fit that criteria should be tested, regardless of symptoms. Previously, public health officials had focused on people who were self-isolating between Jan. 1-6. Public health officials are also urging essential workers, who were not self-isolating because they had an exemption to work in Hay River or Kátł'odeeche First Nation since Jan. 1, to arrange for testing. "High-risk essential service workers" who are not symptomatic and were already tested as part of their permission to work, such as health-care workers, are exempt, said Delli-Pizzi. People who were self-isolating in Hay River or Kátł'odeeche First Nation since Jan. 1, but who have since left those communities, should contact the local health centre to arrange for a test. Hay River testing clinic open this weekend To accommodate the testing, public health officials are extending the hours of a dedicated testing clinic. The testing clinic in Hay River, located at 52 Woodland Drive, will run Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Residents looking to get tested should call public health at 867-874-8400 to book an appointment and a public health nurse will call back. The nurse can also help with arrangements for transportation to the clinic for those who need it. Public health officials are urging those arriving for drive-thru testing to follow the signs, stay in their vehicles and wait their turn. They're also reminding people to wear a mask when they go for their test. Delli-Pizzi is reminding people that if they do get a positive result, public health officials will follow up for contact tracing and to try to find where a person may have been exposed to COVID-19.
Durham Regional Police are investigating after a body was found in Lake Ontario in Oshawa Saturday morning. Police say human remains were located in the water just after 10:30 a.m. near Farewell Street and Harbour Road. The death does not appear to be suspicious at this time, police say. The investigation is ongoing. No further information has been released at this time.
An ice climber who fell approximately 12 metres was rescued by RCMP on Friday in central Alberta. On Friday, Rocky Mountain House RCMP responded to a report of a fallen ice climber at around 2:30 p.m. A SOS beacon was received by police, locating the climber at the south end of Abraham Lake, roughly 211 kilometres southwest of Red Deer. The 28-year-old climber was rescued by Ahlstrom Helicopters, with the help of Rocky Mountain House Search and Rescue. STARS Air Ambulance was also on site to transport the climber to a Calgary hospital. The rescued ice climber suffered serious but non-life threatening injuries from the fall.
For 12-year-old Ava Tran, watching herself on the Heartland season premiere last Sunday was "cool." For her mom Melissa Tran, it was surreal. "It was one thing to see her on set [when] we were filming, but then to actually see her on the screen after all the hard work she's put into this was pretty awesome to see," Melissa told The Homestretch. Tran plays the character of Parker on the new season of the show in her first professional acting role. "It's amazing, all the actors, they're so nice and it's just so awesome to be on a show this big," she said. Heartland, the popular family drama filmed in and around Calgary, is now in its 14th season. The new character of Parker brought the drama right in the first episode, with a surprise plot twist. "Well, it was very interesting and it was really hard for me to not tell my friends, any of my friends the plot," Tran said of the spoiler. "It was a big secret to keep." Before getting the role, most of Tran's acting was done in school plays and small gigs. But acting is in the family blood — Tran has two sisters and an aunt who are also in the business. Still, landing the role of Parker was a big deal, and it was months in the making, she said. "So first I had to audition in March, right before COVID hit, and that was really good," she said. "I felt like I did a really good job because they looked at me, they smiled, and they really [had] much feedback for me." From there, Tran got on the short list. "My callback was closer to the end of August, right after my birthday, so that was really fun and really exciting. And then I found out I got the role just shortly after school started," she said. Now, it's down to work. Tran said she looks forward to playing a strong-willed character and bringing more drama. "She's a very independent girl, and she's not afraid to share her opinions, because she has very strong opinions," she said. "She's a very environmentally-friendly girl." Tran said she feels her own personality is quite similar to the character she will play, with one exception — her character is afraid of horses. "I just love animals so much," Tran said. "We are very much alike because I care about the environment, I have strong opinions about things. And she's 12 and I'm 12. And yeah, it's just really cool to just put my own ideas into my character." Season 14 of Heartland airs Sundays on CBC and CBC Gem. With files from The Homestretch.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said it is "deeply disappointed" by Mexico's decision to close its investigation of ex-Defense Minister Salvador Cienfuegos, after the Mexican attorney general decided not to press charges. The decision, which Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador publicly backed on Friday, and a document dump by Mexico's government of U.S. evidence against Cienfuegos, threatens to strain strategic U.S.-Mexico security ties. On Friday, on Lopez Obrador's instructions, the foreign ministry tweeted the link to a 751-page document that included detailed logs of alleged Blackberry communications.
A Fort Liard, N.W.T., resident has tested positive for COVID-19, the Northwest Territories' chief public health officer announced Saturday. The positive case is the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Fort Liard, a hamlet nearly 545 kilometres southwest of Yellowknife. It is related to travel outside the territory, said Dr. Kami Kandola in a news release Saturday, adding that the person is currently isolating and doing well. Known close contacts are self-isolating and a rapid response team is going to the community to assist further, said Kandola. The team will work to gather more information about potential risks to public health. The investigation is in its early stages, but there is "some likelihood" of additional COVID-19 cases, said Kandola — though, there are currently no public exposure notices. For the time being, people in Fort Liard should avoid gatherings of any size with people outside their household, said Kandola. Public health officials may issue more local recommendations when they get more information about the situation in Fort Liard, says the news release. Kandola reminds everyone to self-isolate when required, practice physical distancing, stay home when feeling unwell, and for residents to call their local health centre to arrange a test at the first sign of symptoms.
FREDERICTON — New Brunswick's COVID-19 case count continues to rise with 27 new cases identified Saturday.The province now has 267 active cases, a figure much higher than in the rest of Atlantic Canada.Public health says there are seven new cases in both the Moncton and Edmundston regions, four in both the Saint John and Fredericton areas, three in the Campbellton region and two in the Bathurst area.All of the most recently identified patients are self-isolating while public health officials investigate the source of their infections, while three patients are currently in hospital.New Brunswick has had a total of 911 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 631 recoveries and 12 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, says the province is at a critical point in the outbreak of the virus.“We need the co-operation of all New Brunswickers to help us reduce the spread of the virus," Russell said in a news release. "We need to come together now, to get through this together.”Meanwhile, health officials advised that a positive case had been identified involving a traveller who may have been infectious on an Air Canada flight on Dec. 31. They said Flight 8910 departed Toronto for Moncton, N.B., at 11:23 a.m.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2021. The Canadian Press
In order for a personal support worker employed in a long-term-care home to make ends meet in Toronto, they’d have to clock at least 50 hours every week. Here’s how the numbers break down: PSWs in unionized long-term-care homes start at about $20.80 per hour, and can earn up to about $22 hourly. If they are paid for 37.5 hours of work per week, they will gross $40,560 in a year at the starting rate, but the take home after tax is closer to $32,000. But this is over $10,000 short of the 2020 cost of living in Toronto, estimated by lowestrates.ca. The insurance company found that for a single person renting a one-bedroom apartment, the cost of living is close to $42,500. Meanwhile, in 2015, $55,117 was the median income for single-adult households in Toronto, according to Statistics Canada, which is just below the amount needed to meet the cost of living today, after tax. Someone earning that amount would only have to put in about 20 extra hours over the course of a year to make ends meet — less than half an hour a week. Cost of living can be greater too if the person is supporting a family, and it would be even more challenging if the person is the sole breadwinner for their household. Long-term-care homes have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, shedding light on a system that has been dysfunctional for years. With cases and deaths climbing in the sector, the need to address ongoing issues has been made all the more urgent. In Ottawa, a COVID-19 outbreak in a women’s shelter was linked to two long-term-care workers who were staying in the facility because they could no longer afford rent with their income. Where PSWs are concerned, there is no oversight body, like there is for nurses, which advocates say has caused issues with low pay, precarious work and high turnover. Matthew Cathmoir, the head of strategic research at the Service Employees International Union which represents health-care workers in Ontario, said PSWs wind up working as much overtime as possible to supplement their income. “They accept as much overtime as possible; they’ll work doubles. So, they’ll work a 16-hour shift, which is unsustainable ... it’s incredibly difficult work — hard on the body, hard on the mind (but) they have to do it,” he said. Many PSWs also had more than one job, which was restricted during the pandemic to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Pandemic pay has offered a $3 per hour wage bump for eligible long-term-care workers, but Cathmoir notes that there have been challenges with the rollout. All the while, in a recent survey the SEIU posed to its members working in long-term care, 92 per cent of the 700 or so respondents reported feeling overworked and understaffed during the pandemic. “It’s difficult work. It’s dangerous,” Cathmoir said. “It takes a special type of person to work, specifically, and that goes for all (health-care positions).” 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
TORONTO — A tentative deal that could see General Motors Canada pour a billion dollars into Ontario's beleaguered automotive sector could bring the province one step closer to modernizing its economy and keeping local production afloat, according to a prominent Canadian manufacturing association. GM and national union Unifor announced the deal on Friday night, saying the two sides had reached a preliminary agreement to transform the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ont. into a hub for commercial electric vehicle manufacturing. The deal, valued at $1 billion, is still subject to ratification by union members later this weekend. Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters hailed the announcement as a breath of fresh air for a sector that has struggled to retain jobs and fend off other North American competitors for years. "It is good news for Ontario, for those employees in the auto sector, and for the businesses and employees in the supply chain that supports auto assembly in Ontario," association President Dennis Darby said in an email to The Canadian Press. GM dealt Ontario a blow when the last pickup trucks rolled down the line at its Oshawa assembly plant just before Christmas in 2019. The shutdown led to layoffs for the roughly 2,600 people employed at the plant, which had been in operation since 1953 and had nearly ten times as many workers on its assembly lines during its 1980's hay day. Unifor, politicians and even U.K. singer Sting fought the decision to close the plant. GM eventually relented and saved 300 jobs with a $170 million investment to turn a portion of the operation into a auto parts plant. Experts have since predicted a pivot towards electric and self-driving cars and trucks would help Canada contend with competition from the southern U.S. and Mexico. While both regions' auto sectors flourished, Unifor estimated Canada dropped to the No. 10 auto manufacturing country in the world in 2017, down from No. 4 in 1999. "Over the past few years the province has lost production to other jurisdictions, and this (new GM) announcement like some previous ones in the past year by other manufacturers helps provide some much needed stability and hope for the future continued viability of this sub-sector of manufacturing," said Darby. GM said it intends to use the Ingersoll plant for the production of delivery vans dubbed BrightDrop EV 600s, a new venture the company touted at the Consumer Electronics Show this week. The GM deal, if approved, would mark the latest in a string of negotiation triumphs for Unifor as it seeks to bolster Canada's automotive industry. The union struck deals with General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler last year that included support from the federal and Ontario governments. A Ford deal reached in September included $1.95 billion to bring battery electric vehicle production to Oakville, Ont., and a new engine derivative to the southwestern Ontario city of Windsor. The Fiat Chrysler agreement included more than $1.5 billion to build plug-in hybrid vehicles and battery electric vehicles. General Motors agreed in November to a $1.3 billion dollar investment to bring 1,700 jobs to Oshawa plus more than $109 million to in-source new transmission work for the Corvette and support continued V8 engine production in St. Catharines, Ont. If the latest GM deal is ratified, Unifor said recent negotiations would have helped pump $6 billion into the provincial auto sector. Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Economic Development Minister Vic Fedeli issued the statement celebrating the most recent announcement. "This announcement is an important signal that Ontario’s economy remains competitive even in these difficult times," they said. — `with files from Anita Balakrishnan in Toronto This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2021. Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Ontario Provincial Police say they've charged three of their own veteran officers and suspended four others over allegations of corruption related to the province's tow truck industry. The force alleges the accused officers provided preferential treatment to towing companies within the Greater Toronto Area.The charges and suspensions stemmed from an investigation first launched in October 2019. The officers facing charges all have at least 20 years of service with the OPP and served with either its Highway Safety Division or the Toronto detachment. Const. Simon Bridle and Const. Mohammed Ali Hussain were both arrested this past week, while a warrant is out for the arrest of Const. Bindo Showan who is believed to be out of the province. All three are charged with secret commissions and breach of trust, while Bridle faces an additional charge of obtaining sexual services for consideration. OPP says the four other officers remain under investigation, but are not currently facing any criminal charges. The Canadian Press
Moose Jaw Pride has opened a temporary warming space for anyone trying to get out of the cold in the southern Saskatchewan city's downtown, the non-profit organization says. "We know there are a lot of folks who spend their days outside with few options to warm up. With COVID, there are even less places and more rules to follow, so we decided to help out where we can," said Elliece Ramsey, a Moose Jaw Pride peer navigator, in a news release. The warming space, located at 345 Main St. N., will be open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday to Friday. The warming space shares a building with the Moose Jaw Pride offices and Rainbow Retro Thrift Shop, the release says. The warming centre is open to everyone and offers free hot coffee, snacks, free winter clothing, personal hygiene kits, books, and phone and internet access, the release says. People stopping by can also connect with a Pride peer navigator, who can provide companionship and help people access various community resources that offer services such as health care, shelter and food. Masks will be mandatory, and all visitors must adhere to physical distancing, per Saskatchewan's public health restrictions, the release said. Moose Jaw Pride already has a couple of partners who have offered food or financial support for the warming space. But the organization is looking for more groups to help, in order to extend the operational hours of the warming centre, the release says.