A CBC News investigation into the growing and largely unregulated private sector of COVID-19 tests and found a hodge-podge industry of inconsistent prices, and sometimes, test results.
A CBC News investigation into the growing and largely unregulated private sector of COVID-19 tests and found a hodge-podge industry of inconsistent prices, and sometimes, test results.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies gradually ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials began expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 22, opening community clinics for people aged 80 years and older. Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, has said the province's plan is to open another 10 clinics in March for 48,000 people who will be mailed a letter informing them how to book an appointment. Strang said the vaccination program will then expand to the next age group in descending order until everyone in the province is offered the chance to be immunized. The age groups will proceed in five-year blocks. Future community clinics are to be held March 8 in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro; March 15 in Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth; and March 22 in Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth. The province began its vaccination campaign with residents of long-term care homes, those who work directly with patients, those who are 80 and older, and those who are at risk for other reasons including First Nations and African Nova Scotian communities. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island The province says the first phase of its vaccination drive, currently slated to last until March, targets residents and staff of long-term and community care, as well as health-care workers with direct patient contact at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure. Those 80 and older, adults in Indigenous communities, and truck drivers and other rotational workers are also included. The next phase, which is scheduled to begin in April, will target those above 70 and essential workers. The province intends to make the vaccine available to everyone in late summer and fall. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec The province's proposed order of priority for vaccination according to its website is those in residential and long-term care centres, workers in the health and social services network, followed by those in isolated and remote communities, people 80 years or older, and then the general population in 10-year increments. Health officials launched an online and telephone system for vaccine registrations on Feb. 25 and will begin vaccinating people aged 85 years and older in Montreal on March 1. Officials said that while residents across the province aged 85 and older can register for a vaccine, priority will be given to people in the greater Montreal area, which has the highest active COVID-19 case count in Quebec. On Feb. 26, officials opened registration for Montrealers as young as 80 years old. It has not yet been announced when the next age group can begin to register for vaccines. The province says the vaccination of children and pregnant women will be determined based on future studies of vaccine safety and efficacy in those populations. --- Ontario The province has mapped out a three-phase approach to its rollout. Phase 1, which is still ongoing, reserves shots for those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers, and people who live in congregate care settings. All Indigenous adults, people aged 80 and older and adults receiving chronic home care will be next in line. The province says it will begin vaccinations among the 80 and older age cohort starting the third week of March. Vaccinations will begin for people 75 and older starting April 15. The province will then move to offer shots to those 70 and older starting May 1; 65 and older starting June 1; and 60 and older the first week of July. Indigenous adults and patient-facing health-care workers will receive vaccinations as the province works through those age groups. The government is still finalizing the list of essential workers who will receive vaccinations in May if supply is available. The province has not detailed when people younger than 60 can expect to be vaccinated. Appointment bookings can be made online and by phone starting March 15 for those in eligible age cohorts. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. They say most people over 80, and First Nations individuals over 60, could be eligible in early March. The province plans to have all personal care home residents vaccinated with two doses by the end of February, and has started sending team to other congregate living settings such as group homes and shelters. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, say inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if new vaccines are approved and supplies are steady. The plan does not include a separate category for essential workers — something that Reimer says will be considered as vaccine supplies increase. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. When bookings opened to this age group Wednesday, the website was temporarily overwhelmed when more than 150,000 people tried to get access. Within a day, 100,000 appointments were booked. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. Some 28,000 seniors in long-term care have already been vaccinated. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia The first phase of B.C.'s immunization campaign launched in December and focused on health-care workers in hospitals, paramedics, residents and staff at long-term care homes, and remote Indigenous communities. The second phase set to wrap up in March includes people aged 80 and above, Indigenous elders 65 and up, Indigenous communities that didn't receive vaccine in the first phase, as well as more health-care workers and vulnerable populations living and working in certain congregate settings. The third phase of B.C.'s immunization campaign is set to start in April and last until June, reaching people between the ages of 60 and 79, along with those who are highly clinically vulnerable, such as cancer patients. B.C.'s plan for the general population is based on age, with the oldest residents first in line. --- Nunavut Nunavut's vaccination rollout is underway, with vaccine clinics for the general population scheduled or completed in all 25 communities. In Iqaluit, Nunavut's capital, a general vaccination clinic is underway for priority populations, including staff and residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. Starting March 1, the vaccine clinic will be extended to all adults in Iqaluit ages 45 and up. Nunavut still expects enough vaccines to immunize 75 per cent of its residents over the age of 18 by the end of March. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories says it has vaccinated 42 per cent of its adult population since its vaccine rollout began in early January. Vaccine clinics are either completed or underway in all 33 of the territory's communities. In Yellowknife, residents and staff in long-term care homes are being prioritized for the vaccine. Vaccination of Yellowknife's general population will begin in late March. The N.W.T. still expects to receive enough vaccines to inoculate 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
HOUSTON — President Joe Biden heard firsthand from Texans clobbered by this month's brutal winter weather on Friday and pledged to stick with them “for the long haul” as he made his first trip to a major disaster area since he took office. Biden was briefed by emergency officials and thanked workers for doing “God's work.” He promised the federal government will be there for Texans as they try to recover, not just from the historic storm but also the public health and economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. “When a crisis hits our states, like the one that hit Texas, it’s not a Republican or Democrat that’s hurting," Biden said. “It's our fellow Americans that are hurting and it's out job to help everyone in need." With tens of thousands of Houston area residents without safe water, local officials told Biden that many are still struggling. While he was briefed, first lady Jill Biden joined an assembly line of volunteers packing boxes of quick oats, juice, and other food at the Houston Food Bank, where he arrived later. The president's first stop was the Harris County Emergency Operations Center for a briefing from acting FEMA Administrator Bob Fenton and state and local emergency management officials. Texas was hit particularly hard by the Valentine's weekend storm that battered multiple states. Unusually frigid conditions led to widespread power outages and frozen pipes that burst and flooded homes. Millions of residents lost heat and running water. At least 40 people in Texas died as a result of the storm and, although the weather has returned to more normal temperatures, more than 1 million residents are still under orders to boil water before drinking it. “The president has made very clear to us that in crises like this, it is our duty to organize prompt and competent federal support to American citizens, and we have to ensure that bureaucracy and politics do not stand in the way,” said Homeland Security Adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall, who accompanied Biden to Houston. Biden was joined for much of his visit by Gov. Greg Abbott and Sen. John Cornyn, both Republicans, four Democratic Houston-area members of Congress and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. The president also stopped by a mass coronavirus vaccination centre at NRG Stadium that is run by the federal government. Biden on Thursday commemorated the 50 millionth COVID-19 vaccination since he took office, halfway toward his goal of 100 million shots by his 100th day in office. That celebration followed a moment of silence to mark the passage earlier this week of 500,000 U.S. deaths blamed on the disease. Democrat Biden suggested that he and Republicans Abbott and Cornyn could find common cause in getting Americans vaccinated as quickly as possible. “We disagree on plenty of things,” Biden said. “There’s nothing wrong with that, but there are plenty of things we can work on together. And one of them is represented right here today, the effort to speed up vaccinations." Texas' other U.S. senator, Ted Cruz, an ally of former President Donald Trump and one of a handful of GOP lawmakers who had objected to Congress certifying Biden’s victory, was in Florida Friday addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference. Cruz, who has been criticized for taking his family to Cancun, Mexico, while millions of Texans shivered in unheated homes, later said the trip was a mistake, but he made light of the controversy on Friday. “Orlando is awesome,” he said to laughs and hoots. “It’s not as nice as Cancun. But’s nice.” At the peak of the storm, more than 1.4 million residents were without power and 3.5 million were under boil-water notices in the nation's third largest county. Post-storm debate in Texas has centred on the state maintaining its own electrical grid and its lack of better storm preparation, including weatherization of key infrastructure. Some state officials initially blamed the blackouts on renewable energy even though Texas relies heavily on oil and gas. In Washington, Biden's climate adviser said the deadly winter storm was a “wake-up call” for the United States to build energy systems that can withstand extreme weather linked to climate change. “We need systems of energy that are reliable and resilient,” Gina McCarthy said in an interview with The Associated Press. The White House said Biden's purpose in visiting was to support, not scold. Biden was bent on asking Texans "what do you need, how can I help you more," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “And what can we get more for you from the federal government.” Biden has declared a major disaster in Texas and asked federal agencies to identify additional resources to aid the recovery. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has sent emergency generators, bottled water, ready-to-eat meals and blankets. Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said in an interview that he didn't know what more the federal government could do to help because the failures were at the state level. But Henry, a Republican who is the highest county official in the suburban Houston county, said that if Biden “thinks it's important to visit, then come on down.” Biden wanted to make the trip last week, but said at the time that he held back because he didn’t want his presence and entourage to detract from the recovery effort. Houston also was the destination for Trump's first presidential visit to a disaster area in 2017 after Hurricane Harvey caused catastrophic flooding that August. Trump, who is not known for displays of empathy, did not meet with storm victims on the visit. He returned four days later and urged people who had relocated to a shelter to “have a good time.” —- Associated Press writers Juan Lozano in Houston, Aamer Madhani in Chicago, and Jill Colvin and Zeke Miller in Washington contributed reporting. Darlene Superville, The Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS — Prosecutors in New Orleans moved Friday to have convictions overturned for 22 people found guilty of felonies by non-unanimous juries, and to review hundreds of other such convictions obtained under a law with roots in the Jim Crow era. District Attorney Jason Williams, who took office last month after running on a reform platform, announced the move at a news conference outside the criminal courthouse in New Orleans. He was flanked by his staff, criminal justice advocates and Archbishop Gregory Aymond. Emily Maw, head of the civil rights division of Williams' office, said five cases being vacated are being reviewed to see whether charges ever should have been filed. Seventeen are being re-prosecuted. However, 16 of the defendants have agreed to plead guilty as charged or to lesser charges, seeking reduction of sentences that would likely have kept them behind bars for life. “This doesn't mean that 22 people walked out onto the streets today,” Williams stressed. Until January 2019, felony convictions in Louisiana could be obtained with a 10-2 or 11-1 jury vote under laws that opponents said were aimed at making sure Black jurors' votes could be negated in cases against Black defendants. Oregon was the only other state with a similar law. Voters approved a constitutional amendment that outlawed non-unanimous verdicts beginning in 2019, a vote that followed a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of stories in The Advocate analyzing the origins of the law and the racial disparities in verdicts. And, last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that non-unanimous verdicts were unconstitutional. But the Supreme Court’s decision in April affected only future cases and cases in which the defendants' appeals had not been exhausted. That left an estimated 1,600 cases in Louisiana unaffected. Advocates estimate more than 300 of them are in New Orleans. Pending before the high court now is the question of whether the decision should be made retroactive. Williams opted not to wait for that decision. Williams' dubbed his initiative “the DA's Jim Crow Jury Project" and said it is aimed at “repairing 120 plus years of injustice by methodically and efficiently reviewing all applications to the court of cases where persons were convicted by a non-unanimous jury.” Civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, praised the move. Jamila Johnson, of the Promise of Justice Initiative, said her organization represented many of the clients in Friday's court proceedings. “It was incredibly moving,” she said, describing the case of one man who agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter — he had been convicted of murder in a non-unanimous verdict in 1974 — in a deal that made him instantly eligible for release from the state prison. The Promise of Justice Initiative said in a news release that it will reach out to crime victims who might be affected by the revisiting of some convictions. “While it is absolutely necessary to dismantle this intentionally racist practice of non-unanimous juries, it will have a huge impact on those who assumed the legal process was over,” Katie Hunter-Lowery, of the PJI said in a news release. "We invite survivors and victims’ loved ones to contact us at and we invite city and state leaders to allocate more funding and resources directly to impacted communities.” Kevin McGill, The Associated Press
PARIS — The pressure increased on Rennes coach Julien Stephan after losing at home to Nice 2-1 in the French league on Friday made it three straight defeats and four in the past six. Rennes could have bounced up to fifth place with a win but is mired in eighth place after its eighth defeat. Having been among the frontrunners this season, it has not won since mid-January. The strain is showing on Rennes, with technical director Florian Maurice shouting at the referee in the tunnel during the interval after his side was not awarded a penalty late in the first half. After losing its past three games, Nice moved up to 12th place. Forward Amine Gouiri put Nice ahead from the penalty spot in the 18th minute but winger Martin Terrier equalized late in the first half. Gouri showed good skill to curl in a free kick from the right which Austrian defender Flavius Daniliuc met with a glancing header for 2-1 in the 57th. Rennes midfielder Benjamin Bourigeaud looked like equalizing late but his goal-bound shot hit the back of a teammate near the line. On Saturday, defending champion Paris Saint-Germain, which is in third place, travels to face last-placed Dijon. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
NEW YORK — It’s a promotion that could be straight out of the “Mad Men” Don Draper playbook. Brooklyn's famed Peter Luger Steak House has teamed with Madame Tussauds to have celebrity wax figures mingle with patrons, promoting the easing of coronavirus pandemic restrictions on indoor dining in New York City. A wax Jon Hamm — known for his portrayal of ad executive Draper in the hit TV series — could be found at the restaurant's bar Friday with a cocktail in hand. Other figures on loan from Madame Tussauds include Michael Strahan, Jimmy Fallon, Al Roker and Audrey Hepburn in Holly Golightly of “Breakfast at Tiffany's” mode. Peter Luger “thought this would be a fun, safe way to fill some of the seats that need to remain empty as we continue to fight the pandemic,” said restaurant vice-president Daniel Turtel. As of Friday, restaurants in the city were allowed to fill 35% of their indoor seats, up from 25% previously. Peter Luger, in business for more than 130 years, will keep the mannequins until Monday. After that, they'll return to the recently reopened Madame Tussauds in midtown Manhattan. The Associated Press
“The connection is me,” said Tsuut’ina Nation artist seth cardinal dodginghorse, linking his work for Contemporary Calgary and his protest at the opening of the southwest Calgary ring road last October. dodginghorse spoke virtually yesterday, the final speaker for Contemporary Calgary’s Water Event. His exhibit, entitled The Glenmore Rezerveoir, is a water jug with a label made from elk hide parfleche. Writing is painted on the inside of the label and can only be read if it’s “really bright out” and the jug is angled. The label reads: “You drink Tsuut’ina land.” dodginghorse said he was approached in August by the gallery to be one of six Indigenous artists to produce a water sculpture as part of political activist Yoko Ono’s exhibition, Growing Freedom. Two months later, he stood at the opening of Tsuut’ina Trail, unofficially called Calgary’s southwest ring road, and cut off his braids, offering them to the portion of the road that displaced his family six years earlier from their generations-held land. “The connection is story-wise and intent behind making the work. They weren’t directly related at all. But a lot of my intent … all my own personal experiences, traumas informed making this work and those were the same things that informed me speaking out at the opening … (and) resulted in me cutting my hair and everything. It’s more like the connection is that I made the artwork and the connection is that I ended up cutting my hair. The connection is me,” said dodginghorse. dodginghorse’s family was forced off their land in 2013 because of the ring road. That land had been in the family since his great-great grandmother. His mother and her siblings had grown up there. Many Tsuut’ina people beyond dodginghorse’s family members had connections to that land. When living there, dodginghorse said the water they drank was “some of the most beautiful, delicious water you could drink.” His family moved to another piece of land on the Tsuut’ina reserve. They were told not to drink the water from the tap because of numerous environmental concerns, including nearby fracking. His family had to drink water from jugs. “We didn’t grow up having to purchase water. We didn’t grow up having to be afraid of what was coming from our tap. We’ve been drinking from these water bottles for quite a bit now and I thought, ‘Why don’t I just use one of these and highlight the issue of drinking water and where does the water I’m purchasing come from?’” he said. In 1932, dodginghorse said Tsuut’ina Nation was “pressured” by Calgary and the government to sell 400 acres of reserve land to the city. That land became the Glenmore reservoir and provides safe drinking water for Calgary residents. “There’s just so much loaded history behind Glenmore reservoir and my family as well ... It’s very strange and very ironic that my family, once we moved, in order to drink water we had to drink water from land that was originally part of Tsuut’ina. That was like essentially purchasing water back from ancestral lands,” said dodginghorse. Having to be concerned about safe drinking water is not unique to Tsuut’ina, said Dodginghorse, noting that boil water advisories are common in many First Nations communities right across the country. While some artwork takes time to conceive and time to determine the medium, this piece was readily conceived, dodginghorse said. “It was very easy to make but then thinking about the history behind the objects, behind my family’s history, all of these connection, is one of those really nice pieces in a way where I made this and then afterwards I started thinking and analysing and really understanding what I had made,” he said. dodginghorse said he prefers his work to be “blunt and in your face.” He wants people to “get” what he is saying with his art and not have to ponder it for “three hours” before the message sinks in. dodginghorse has been showing his work in Calgary galleries for about six years. He said he understands that this venue only reaches “a certain crowd.” “A lot of the people that were involved in a lot of these decisions historically that are still here, aren’t really the type of people that go to galleries. With this type of work has like the focus on reaching out to the average white Calgarian that goes to galleries,” he said. Ryan Doherty, chief curator of Contemporary Calgary, who hosted the virtual talk, said dodginghorse’s piece was popular with gallery goers, many of whom came after dodginghorse cut his braids at the ring road opening. “That seemingly mundane container is in fact so loaded,” said Doherty. When Contemporary Calgary was tasked with asking a new group of artists to collaborate with Ono in this iteration of Water Event, Doherty said he knew it had to be a group with which water had an “enormous significance.” “When you consider the long history and impact of the Bow and Elbow rivers to the Indigenous population past and present it seemed the best thing would be to invite artists for whom that connection would resonate in the collaboration with Yoko,” said Doherty. The other Water Event collaborators are Adrian A. Stimson, Faye HeavyShield, Jessie Ray Short, Judy Anderson and Kablusiak. In 1971, Ono held her first museum exhibition, Water Event, in which she invited over 120 participants to produce a water sculpture. “As Yoko herself noted to us, (this) was one of the best iterations to date,” said Doherty. Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
WELLINGTON COUNTY – Wellington County council has endorsed a plan that will see climate change officially considered into county decisions. Karen Chisholme, the County of Wellington’s climate change coordinator, presented a lengthy climate change mitigation plan to council called Future Focused. “The vision for this plan is to integrate climate change into our decision making by developing actions and policies to lead the community in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,” Chisholme said. “This will ensure the County of Wellington continues to deliver superior public service resulting in healthy, safe communities with a resilient and sustainable ecosystem now and into the future.” She explained the most notable changes the county will see is in temperature and precipitation with an overall increase in annual temperature and more days above 30 C. Annual precipitation could increase along with shorter periods between extreme weather events and a increased freeze-thaw cycle which has implications for municipal infrastructure. “What we may see is road washout and erosion, increased insurance costs, power outages and service disruptions, road closures...and watermain breaks,” Chisholme said as examples. There are also implications to the environment and agriculture with possible lower crop yields, an expanded range of pests and increased erosion. Recreation could see impacts too with higher costs to operate ice rinks, less opportunities for outdoor winter activity and low water during summer droughts. Total greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 were estimated at 1.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide through the community and 8,300 tonnes from corporate. Recommendations are focused on areas with the best potential for reducing emissions. “Areas with the greatest opportunity for reductions are natural gas from heating, gas and diesel from transportation and biogenic gases in agriculture,” Chisholme said. Chisholme said some of the “big moves” in the report include a transition to electric vehicles because moving to public transit isn’t a viable option due to the geography of Wellington County. Another key recommendation is to retrofit existing buildings with things like natural gas heating and create green development standards for new builds. On agriculture, Chisholme said the county will continue to partner with Smart Cities to develop circular food economy principles. She noted solid waste services has already put in place some programs that reduce emissions such as the green bin organics recycling introduced last year. Chisholme said the community emissions target for Wellington County is six per cent between 2002 and 2030–about 73,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. “Six per cent may not seem ambitious but emissions will continue to increase, with an increase in population and business development, until we can put the recommendations from the plan in place,” she said. Councillor Don McKay was happy to see the county taking climate change seriously. “It’s really nice to see the priority the county and the member municipalities are putting on this climate change initiative,” McKay said. “It really makes me proud...I can see us being, as usual, Wellington County in the forefront across Ontario in implementing the climate strategies we need to do.” Councillor Campbell Cork was also impressed but said he didn’t want to get too far ahead without examining the costs. “It’s one of the most important documents probably ever to come before us, we’re talking about trying to save the planet,” Cork said. “Climate mitigation is going to be one of the most expensive projects to come before council.” After some minor tweaks to the motion, council endorsed the Future Focused plan, directed communications staff to prepare a final version for publication and prepare a five-year plan and cost estimate for council approval. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
A new report says the Manitoba government failed to provide proper oversight as costs spiralled on two mega projects at Crown-owned Manitoba Hydro. The review was done by former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall.
OTTAWA — A man who helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for WE Charity says he believes two different groups of donors were told they had raised the money for a school in Kenya. Reed Cowan testified before a parliamentary committee today where he said he discovered a plaque that had once borne his late son's name had been replaced with the name of another donor. Cowan says he then found a video online that showed an opening ceremony for the school building, almost identical to one he participated in, that took place with a different group of donors two weeks before the one held for his group. Cowan, who was a member of the advisory board to a WE-affiliated group in the United States, says he began raising money after his son Wesley died in an accident at age four and that helping children in Kenya helped him deal with the loss. In an email, WE Charity says there was only one opening ceremony for the school and Cowan misunderstood what was happening in the video. WE says it inadvertently failed to notify Cowan about the removal of the plaque and that it has now been returned. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
BARCELONA, Spain — Athletic Bilbao drew at Levante 1-1 in the Spanish league on Friday, five days before they meet again to decide which advances to the final of the Copa del Rey. Roger Martí scored his 10th goal of the season for Levante after the striker converted a 34-minute penalty following Unai Núñez's foul of Jorge de Frutos in the area. Raúl García equalized in the 56th from a penalty conceded by Nikola Vukcekic’s foul of Álex Berenguer. The stalemate left Levante in eight place and Bilbao in ninth. On Thursday, the two will meet for a third time in three weeks when Levante again hosts Bilbao in the return leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal. The first leg at San Mamés Stadium stadium ended 1-1. The other cup semifinal will be decided on Wednesday, when Sevilla takes a 2-0 advantage to Barcelona at Camp Nou. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Lady Gaga's two stolen bulldogs, snatched in a violent abduction that left the pets' caretaker shot in the chest this week in Hollywood, were turned over to police on Friday and have been reunited with the pop singer's representatives, police said. The safe return of Koji and Gustav came hours after Gaga, who was filming a movie in Rome when her pets were taken on Wednesday night, issued a plea on social media for "an act of kindness" to bring them home. A woman who authorities have not publicly identified brought the dogs to an LAPD station unharmed, and they were turned over to the musician's representatives, according to a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman, Officer Mike Lopez.
HALIFAX — Health officials in Nova Scotia are imposing new restrictions in the Halifax area due to concerns about a steady rise in COVID-19 infections and the spread of a more transmissible variant of virus. Premier Iain Rankin announced that starting Saturday, restaurants and bars in and around Halifax will be forced to stop serving food and beverages at 9 p.m. and close by 10 p.m. — one hour earlier than under the previous health order. The province is prohibiting sports, arts and cultural events and festivals in the affected area, which also includes parts of Hants and Lunenburg counties, and Rankin said residents in long-term care homes can only receive visits from designated caregivers. Nova Scotians are also being asked to avoid all non-essential travel within the province, especially to and from the Halifax area. Chief medical officer Dr. Robert Strang told reporters Friday concerns about the spread of a variant first detected in the United Kingdom informed the province's decision to impose what he called a "circuit breaker" in the Halifax region. It is the second time in three months such measures have been taken. "We had hoped we would not be back in this situation, but a return to these types of restrictions are necessary," he said. "I fully appreciate how disruptive they are to families, to individuals, to businesses, however COVID-19 is a social virus, so we need to focus our restrictions to limit social activities." He said the province is moving faster than it did in December, the last time restrictions were tightened, because of concern around the variant. Officials reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, nine of which were in the health region that includes Halifax. The province had 35 active known infections as of Friday. Health officials say the new restrictions should last at least a month and that more could be added if COVID-19 cases continue to rise. Strang said his main concern is cases with unknown sources and increased rates of socializing. "By acting now very quickly, it puts us in the best position possible in the coming weeks," he said. "It's short-term pain for long-term success." Rules will be changing for rotational workers as well. They will now be required to undergo three COVID-19 tests during their modified 14-day quarantine. Strang stressed the importance of COVID-19 testing, noting that influenza is not present this year. "So if somebody has even very mild cold-like symptoms, there's a strong possibility that you may have COVID-19," he said, urging those with even a single symptom to get tested. Irving Shipbuilding temporarily suspended production at the Halifax shipyard for the day Friday after a member of its workforce tested positive for COVID-19. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Danielle Edwards, The Canadian Press
The Town of Bredenbury council met at 4:30 P.M. with Mayor Jordan Hass calling the regularly scheduled council meeting to order with all council members present. The council began by adopting the agenda, then carried on with reviewing the minutes of the last meeting. After a short discussion with CAO Kim Varga reviewing what the council has done over the last month, Councillor Trowell made the motion to accept the minutes as reviewed; motion carried. Carrying on the council reviewed the financial statement before Councillor Reykjalin made the motion to accept the financials; motion carried. Bank Reconciliation was next to be reviewed before Councillor Trowell made a motion to accept the Bank Reconciliation as reviewed; motion carried. The council reviewed the town maintenance report as submitted by the town foreman, Councillor Chartier made the motion to accept; motion carried. Next, the council heard an update about the old school project the town has taken on, the electrical should be done soon, the EMS room is looking good, and the bathroom has been coming along well; there is hope to have the fire trucks stationed there by spring. The proposed town daycare was discussed next, the town is waiting to find out if they will be accredited or not at this time, after advertising on social media for half a day the town has interest for 12 children already. The town has been approached to have the arena open until the end of April or May. After a short discussion before Councillor Burman made the motion to rent it out for $160/hr;; motion carried. There was a request to annex an open lot to the RM of Saltcoats Councillor Reykjalin made the motion to accept the annex; motion carried. The council discussed a donation to STARS Air Ambulance, Councillor Chartier made the motion to donate $500 to STARS; motion carried. Gary Horseman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Four-Town Journal
Two Ontario regions struggling with COVID-19 outbreaks will be moving back into lockdown next week, while public health restrictions will be loosened elsewhere in the province. Local leaders in Thunder Bay - a hub for travel in northwestern Ontario - had been calling for assistance as COVID-19 outbreaks were declared at correctional facilities, among the homeless population and at number of local schools. Simcoe Muskoka, which has also been hit with several outbreaks driven by infectious virus variants, will also be placed on lockdown. Health Minister Christine Elliott said recent projections on the pandemic in Ontario "(show) us that we must be nimble and put in place additional measures" to stop the spread of the virus. "With COVID-19 variants continuing to spread in our communities, it is critically important that everyone continues strictly adhering to all public health and workplace safety measures to help contain the virus and maintain the progress we have made to date," Elliott said. Meanwhile, restrictions will loosen Monday in Niagara Region, Chatham-Kent; Middlesex-London; Southwestern; Haldimand-Norfolk; Huron Perth; and Grey Bruce. The government lifted a stay-at-home order for most of the province two weeks ago and moved the majority of health units back to its colour-coded restrictions system. Data has shown the stay-home order and strict public health measures imposed in January brought cases and hospitalizations down but they have since started to trend upwards again. In Thunder Bay, the local public health unit has recorded more COVID-19 cases in February than throughout all of 2020, the city's mayor said Friday before the lockdown was announced. "We're in a difficult spot right now," Bill Mauro said in a telephone interview. "Clearly there is a situation here that we don't see ending in the near term." The mayor has been calling on the provincial and federal governments to provide financial and human-resources assistance in health care. The only isolation centre in the city of over 121,000 people is on the "verge of failing," he said. Ontario's top doctor recommended Thursday that the city be moved to lockdown because the virus could spread to remote communities with scarce health-care resources. Dr. Janet DeMille, medical officer of health for Thunder Bay District Health Unit, welcomed the lockdown announcement. "These enhanced measures are needed to get COVID in our community under control," she said in a statement. A New Democrat legislator who represents the northern city in the provincial parliament said the government waited too long to help the city avoid a lockdown. “It’s been like watching a car crash in slow motion,” Judith Monteith-Farrell said Friday. Fort William First Nation Chief Peter Collins and Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler had also requested support from Ottawa and the province, saying the region was grappling to keep up with the growing case load. The chiefs pointed to inadequate resources for people released from correctional facilities who are being sent to isolate in hotels in Sioux Lookout, Thunder Bay and Timmins. “Thunder Bay is in a precarious situation, and there is growing concern as government ministries, health organizations and health units struggle to contain the spread of this virus," Fiddler said. "Moving back to lockdown across northwestern Ontario will be painful, but is necessary as COVID-19 cases continue to rise." One northwestern Ontario First Nation declared a state of emergency after several members living off-reserve in Thunder Bay tested positive for COVID-19. Neskantaga First Nation Chief Chris Moonias said at least 12 members had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Wednesday. There was also news Friday of more infectious COVID-19 variants detected for the first time in the northwestern part of the province. The local health unit that covers the Kenora, Ont., area, reported its first case of a COVID-19 variant. It said a person in the Dryden, Ont., area has tested positive for the B.1.1.7 variant first found in the U.K. Meanwhile, Premier Doug Ford welcomed the news that Health Canada had approved a third COVID-19 vaccine – from AstraZeneca – for use in Canada, saying it would speed up Ontario's vaccine rollout. "We're geared up, we're ready to go and just can't wait to get the third vaccine," he said. The province plans to offer shots to people aged 80 and older starting in the third week of March, though the timeline is subject to change. Some local health units will start inoculations in the broader community earlier based on their progress vaccinating the highest-priority groups first. Vaccinations for those 80 and older are to begin at Windsor-Essex County clinics on Monday. The City of Ottawa will deliver shots next Friday at a pop-up clinic open to those born in 1941 and earlier, adult recipients of chronic home care and residents of high-risk neighbourhoods. York Region will also allow residents aged 80 and older to book appointments Monday, with vaccinations to start possibly the same day. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — The Alberta government and its 11,000 physicians have taken a first step toward resolving an ugly, fractious year-long dispute over fees and working conditions. Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Dr. Paul Boucher, the head of the Alberta Medical Association, say they have reached a tentative deal on a new master agreement. Boucher declined to provide specifics, saying he first wants to let members discuss and ratify the deal and that it will work within the government's “budget imperatives." Alberta’s physicians collectively receive $5 billion a year, and the Alberta budget will see that figure rise slightly to $5.3 billion over the next three years. A year ago, Shandro unilaterally cancelled the master agreement with the AMA and began imposing new rules on fees and visits, saying physician costs were rising too high year over year and were not sustainable. That led some doctors to withdraw services, the AMA launched a lawsuit and Shandro was criticized for fighting with doctors in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC - image credit) Quebec families looking to hop into a hotel pool during March break won't be able to do so if they're staying in one of the province's red zone. A ministerial decree made public on Friday confirmed that only municipal swimming pools will be authorized to reopen as of Feb. 26. Now hotel owners expect a tidal wave of cancellations as many lodgers were planning their stay with hopes of at least swimming with so much closed and travelling abroad so strongly discouraged. Eve Paré, CEO of the Hotel Association of Greater Montreal, said the Legault government had yet to clarify the rules since the premier announced on Feb. 16 that pools would be allowed to open Friday. Regardless, members of the association launched launched promotional campaigns to attract families looking for something to do during March break, she said. "This was the main reason for the stay for many clients," said Paré. This news comes at a time when hotel occupancy rates are at an all-time low. According to the Altus Group, Montreal's hotel occupancy rate in November 2019 was 73 per cent. In November of 2020, it was just 12 per cent. The Ministry of Health released a statement at the end of the day Friday, outlining which public health measures are being scaled back during March break. First, sports activities taking place in public indoor swimming pools are permitted, but limited to individual practise, in pairs or in groups of people residing at the same address, the statement says. Individual lessons or lessons alongside members of the same residence are possible also, it says. However, the swimming pools of hotel establishments will have to remain closed in the red zone, the statement says. In an email to Radio-Canada, the ministry says hotels in orange zones can open their pools.
(Jacques Poitras/CBC - image credit) Officials from the Department of Social Development faced a barrage of questions from MLAs on Friday about recommendations not yet implemented and plans still not released. Green Party Leader David Coon was clearly frustrated and impatient as the department's deputy minister, Eric Beaulieu, tried to explain why a plan on group homes that was due almost a year ago still hasn't been delivered. He was also angry that recommendations completed in January 2020, on helping children in care who'd suffered sexual harm, haven't been released to all MLAs. Coon pointed out that members of the legislature met with children in care in November 2019, an event that was supposed to provide an impetus for faster action. Green party Leader David Coon asked tough questions of Beaulieu, such as why a plan on group homes due almost a year ago still hasn't been revealed. "They told us their stories at great emotional costs to themselves so that we would do something, so that we would act, because we're the adults in the room," Coon told Beaulieu. "We're the decision-makers. We're the frigging lawmakers, and yet every step of the way, we're boxed in. Reports don't show up. Recommendations never see the light of day." Coon's pointed comments came after Beaulieu said legislation that was being worked on in January 2020 would not be ready to be introduced until this coming fall or winter. Beaulieu promised the Green leader that he would check with the Department of Public Safety, the lead department on drafting the year-old recommendations, about releasing them publicly. It was just one of several exchanges in which Beaulieu had to defend his department's work in several of its myriad responsibilities, from support for affordable housing to oversight of nursing homes. Earlier this week, auditor general Kim Adair-MacPherson said the province has not been building nursing homes fast enough to keep up with demand from an aging population. She also criticized the department for claiming that three recommendations from her 2016 report on the same issue had been implemented when, in her view, they had not been. Beaulieu tried to explain that discrepancy Friday in responding to Liberal MLA Robert Gauvin. Robert Gauvin, Liberal MLA for Shediac Bay-Dieppe, was among the MLAs questioning Beaulieu on the goverment's response to the earlier auditor general recommendations. . The deputy minister said it was the department's position that the recommendations were moving ahead, with new homes "under development" and a comparison of privately run nursing homes and traditional publicly funded homes coming alone. "There's a lot of work being done," he said. Beaulieu said in December 2020 that there were 587 children in the temporary care of the province and another 476 in permanent care, meaning in foster homes, group homes or under kinship care with a relative. That's an increase over the numbers in the 2019-20 fiscal year. Coon noted that the auditor general concluded in December 2019 that the province needed to do more to manage group homes and improve standards. MLAs from all four parties unanimously approved a motion calling for the government to table a plan for that by March 31 of last year, but the plan never materialized, Coon said. "Where is the plan, the plan that you were supposed to table in the legislature at the end of March?" Coon asked. "COVID only started towards the end of March. The plan should have been tabled. Where is it?" Beaulieu said consultations were happening in February 2020 but the department didn't want to finish its work without meeting with MLAs, which hadn't been possible because of the pandemic. But he said the department has still been working on the issue, increasing payments to foster families by 25 per cent and getting a bill to legalize kinship care through the legislature. Coon pushed further, demanding the plan be submitted when the legislature returns March 16. "Children and youth who do not have parents who can speak for them, who are in the care of this province, depend on us, in the end, to speak for them," he said. "The buck stops here." Beaulieu finally told Coon that after a followup consultation session March 23, he would commit to submitting "a document for review" by the end of March.
As we come to the end of Black History Month, this is only the beginning of a larger, longer community conversation. That is the mission of Aurora Black Community, a Facebook group co-founded by resident Phiona Durrant last year to spur dialogue throughout Aurora and beyond. In the intervening months, the Aurora Black Community (ABC) group has grown from a simple forum for community members to share ideas into a community-building organization, one that has stepped up to work with various community partners, including the Town, to make Black History Month one to remember. Over the course of February, the team has rolled out new programming that has hit a sweet spot for so many, including virtual cooking demonstrations, film viewings and discussions co-facilitated by the Aurora Film Circuit, history and heritage discussions with the Aurora Museum & Archives, Aurora Public Library and the Aurora Cultural Centre, and a series of speakers on the Black experience. But, according to Ms. Durrant, February has been just the tip of the iceberg. “It is about the engagement of the people, it has always been about that,” says Ms. Durrant. “It is one thing to do something, but it is another thing if people are engaging, enjoying and participating. It has been moving fast and it has been really, really amazing. Between Rebekah Murdoch, Ron Kellman and I, we have managed to just keep having a conversation making it relaxing and inviting.” Perhaps the ABC came along at just the right time. As a community resource, they quickly set to work not only with their own Black History Month programming, but collaborating with the Town to create something wide-reaching. Playing pivotal roles in this, she says, have been Shawna White, Curator of the Aurora Museum & Archives, Nelia Pacheco of the Aurora Film Circuit, and Reccia Mandelcorn, Manager of Community Collaboration for the Aurora Public Library. “Shawna is an amazing voice, and just wanting to be part of that conversation and wanting to help us get it along has been tremendous,” says Ms. Durrant. “When I thought about Black history and the role of ABC, which is bridging culture, education, food, art and music – how could I even start without inviting the Library, which is the heart of our knowledge. That was foundational. I love the collaboration because we don’t have to reinvent everything because they are here. It is collaborating and that is a beautiful piece.” When you’re creating something new, constructive feedback is always important and the ABC group has received plenty of that, providing opportunities to build further collaboration along the way. “When you create a group, you don’t really know what you’re going to get, what you’re going to be exposed to, and it can be different than what you thought,” says Ms. Durrant. “What I have learned through this and what made it worthwhile for me was the energy from the people, the positivity, the love. I never had any negative experience and even if it did come you embrace it because that is how we learn. It is the energy, support and the interaction that I see there. I don’t feel alone. It is one thing to be there and posting, but everyone is chipping in and doing a part.” The ABC organization is now in the process of applying for not-for-profit status and as they look to the future, they are keeping their eyes squarely on the opportunities this month has helped facilitate. While the group is called Aurora Black Community, Ms. Durrant says that their goal is not just to be a place for the Black community but a place for advocacy and bridging cultural gaps – and she doesn’t rule out a name change to reflect this goal. “The key part of what I say to anybody who is reaching out is, ‘I don’t want to just talk about February. I want to talk forever.’ If this is a forever conversation then I would love to be at the table. Speaking to a school recently, it is the same thing: the teachers are looking for ongoing conversations, so what we have done, and the Town is amazing in collaboration on this, we have that Town webpage for Black History… and it will remain because it is an ongoing conversation for content and we are continually putting things together. The next plan is to have a survey to the group: what are you looking for? What can you bring to the community? Based on their interaction and what they are looking for, we can have a group who can brainstorm and facilitate that conversation to see how we can implement what people are asking for.” For more on the ABC Group, including revisiting past Black History Month programs, access Aurora Black Community on Facebook. For more on upcoming events through the end of the month, visit aurora.ca/blackhistorymonth. Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
Historically, Indigenous Peoples have been mistreated in Canada’s education system, in residential and day schools — experiences that are well-documented in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)’s final report. It is the government’s fiduciary duty to take measures to repair this broken relationship. In the TRC’s 94 calls to action, calls 6-12 have to do with education. It calls on the government to remove barriers to Indigenous students’ academic success. Through changes to curriculum, cultural supports, nutrition, tuition and transportation, here are five things that federal and provincial governments are doing to respond to these calls. The B.C. government created an Indigenous Education Resource Inventory to help incorporate Indigenous knowledge and perspectives into classrooms, in partnership with the B.C. Teachers Federation, Métis Nation British Columbia and the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC). FNESC is also working to develop Indigenous-led curriculum, including the creation of an Authentic First Peoples Resource Guide. In the 2019-20 school year, the B.C. government collaborated with Indigenous communities to create a formal process to incorporate community input into how educational services are delivered, writes a spokesperson for the Ministry of Education in an email to Indiginews. According to the ministry, funding to support Indigenous students in the Greater Victoria School District 61 serving Esquimalt, Oak Bay, Victoria, View Royal and a portion of Saanich and Highlands, has increased from $1.7 million in 2016-17 to an estimated $2.3 million for 2021-22. The B.C. Ministry of Education funds a CommunityLINK (Learning Includes Nutrition and Knowledge) program which provides over $53 million province-wide annually for 60 school districts to support “vulnerable students” with services that include meal programs for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. While it’s commonly believed that all First Nations people have access to free post-secondary education in Canada, this isn’t true. However, there are many programs that the federal government has set in place to assist First Nations, such as the University and College Entrance Preparation Program (UCEPP), the Post-Secondary Student Support Program administered through Indigenous Services Canada, First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy, and bursaries that can be found by using the Indigenous Bursaries Search Tool. In B.C., youth aged 19-26 who have been through the child welfare system may be eligible for free tuition, under the Provincial Tuition Waiver Program. A 2018 BC Tripartite Agreement (BCTEA) between the federal and provincial governments, and signatory First Nations, supports and benefits both on-reserve and off-reserve students, including transportation services. “As part of the tripartite agreement, there is a $3.8 million federally-funded First Nation Student Transportation Fund for First Nations Students who attend B.C. public schools, which began in the 2019/20 school year,” writes a spokesperson for B.C.’s Ministry of Education in an email to IndigiNews. “This fund is used to reduce or eliminate rider fees, while also ensuring service improvements and cutting down the time students spend getting to and from school.” The federal government has also provided $1.7 million in one-time funding for buses for First Nations schools with a commitment to providing $1 million for buses annually. It has also boosted the annual budget for transportation costs for on-reserve students attending public schools by $1.3 million, according to the B.C. government. There is still much work to be done to support Indigenous students in B.C. “The Indian Act makes no provision for supporting culturally and linguistically relevant education or ‘quality’ education and makes no guarantees for adequate and sustainable funding,” according to a fact sheet by the Chiefs Assembly on Education from 2012. But there are ongoing efforts to restructure the educational system and First Nation across B.C. continue to advocate for better services for students. For example Local Education Agreements aim to “promote and achieve effective working relationships between First Nations and local boards of education,” according to the First Nations Education Steering Committee It’s important that there are safe, positive, respectful learning spaces within the education system, so that Indigenous students and families can have a say in the future of their education. It’s hopeful that the government seems to be committed to co-creating an action plan and looking for ways to increase shared decision-making. Katłįà (Catherine) Lafferty, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
Bryan Adams publicly thanked staff at Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver for its care of the singer, photographer, philanthropist’s mom, Jane Adams Clark. One of Canada’s most famous rockers, Adams shared a selfie of himself and his mom at the hospital in a social media post thanking the “incredible staff” for being so kind. “Thank you for sharing your kind comments @bryanadams – we’re sending your mum our warmest wishes for a speedy recovery,” the @lghfoundation posted. Adams moved to North Vancouver in 1974 with his family, where he attended Argyle Secondary School just three years after he picked up his first guitar. Adams Clark is a poet and painter who lives in North Vancouver. Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Zoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette