Natalia Bryant, the eldest daughter of Kobe and Vanessa Bryant, is ready for the runway.
Natalia Bryant, the eldest daughter of Kobe and Vanessa Bryant, is ready for the runway.
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
A Kamloops man facing murder and attempted murder charges stemming from a violent altercation inside a North Shore apartment in March 2020 will undergo a psychiatric assessment. During a preliminary inquiry in Kamloops Law Courts this week, the court ordered that Michael Wayne Palmer undergo the examination to determine his mental fitness for trial. Preliminary inquiries are hearings at which a provincial court judge determines whether there is enough evidence for an accused person to stand trial in B.C. Supreme Court. Evidence presented at the hearing is protected by a court-ordered ban on publication. Palmer, 44, has been in custody since the early-morning hours of March 29, 2020, not long after Kevin White was stabbed to death inside a Carson Crescent apartment. Palmer is accused of killing White, 59, and stabbing three other men inside the suite — a pair of brothers, ages 62 and 58, and a 21-year-old man. Palmer has said he wishes to represent himself at trial and has elected trial by judge and jury in B.C. Supreme Court. White was a celebrated author who wrote of his tough times and he was working on his second book at the time of his death. He left behind a daughter and two grandsons who had only recently begun to know him. He is also charged with assaulting a corrections officer with a weapon at Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre while in custody — a file for which he will be in court on March 1 to confirm a trial date. Palmer will also be in court on that date for an update on his psychiatric assessment. Michael Potestio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kamloops This Week
NASHVILLE — Tennessee's top health officials revealed Friday that the state has requested federal law enforcement investigate alleged theft of coronavirus vaccine doses in the state's most populous county. They also announced that a volunteer in Shelby County improperly vaccinated two children despite the shot not being cleared for young minors. Later Friday, Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris announced that Dr. Alisa Haushalter, the director of the county health department, has resigned. The developments come after the state previously announced that roughly 2,400 COVID-19 vaccine doses had been wasted in Shelby County over the past month due to miscommunication and insufficient record-keeping inside the local health department. The county, which includes Memphis, had also built up nearly 30,000 excessive vaccine doses in its inventory. Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey declined to elaborate on the extent of the theft allegations, but said the Shelby County Health Department only alerted the state about the stolen doses after the state had asked the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to launch their own investigation. Piercey did say, however, that the stolen shots are believed to have been taken by a volunteer who ran off with the vaccine in syringes — not the actual vials the shots are kept in. In a statement, the county health department said a supervisor received information that a volunteer medical professional was acting suspicious at the vaccination site where the alleged theft took place. The volunteer was removed from the site and law enforcement was contacted, but the county health department claims no theft report was filed because there was not enough information. The FBI has been made aware of the situation, FBI spokesman Joel Siskovic said Friday. Siskovic did not confirm or deny if an investigation was underway. Meanwhile, Piercey said the state is still scrambling to learn more about how a volunteer immunized two children on Feb. 3. Piercey said a mother with two children arrived at a vaccination site and all three had appointments. It's unclear if the children will receive a second dose. On top of the nearly 2,400 shots reported wasted, the health department says more vaccines were wasted this week in Shelby County. Sixty-four unused doses went to waste while 12 more were unaccounted for after a Tuesday vaccination event. “At the end of the day there does seem to be a lack of accountability and in some sense, leadership. That has led to undoubtedly potential harm to some folks," Piercey told reporters. Piercey stressed that despite the past week's revelations, her focus remained on getting as many shots into arms as possible. Speaking with reporters at a vaccination site in Memphis, Gov. Bill Lee said he was disappointed with the developments in Shelby County. Lee said the state is working with the city of Memphis, which has taken over vaccine storage and distribution from the county health department. “That speaks to the great deal of concern that we have,” Lee said about Memphis replacing the county health department with vaccine management. Along with news of the alleged theft and vaccines given to children, the state's health department also provided email correspondences with Haushalter, director of the Shelby County Health Department in Memphis. Earlier this week, Haushalter said she called and left a message for Dr. Michelle Fiscus, the state health department’s immunization program director, to discuss the wasted vaccines on Feb. 13. Haushalter said she did not talk to the state until Feb. 19, when the investigation launched after her first public statements about the wasted vaccines. According to emails released by the state, Haushalter emailed Fiscus on Feb. 17 but made no mention of wasted doses. Instead, she asked Fiscus to contact her “when your time permits.” Fiscus said there was no sense of urgency in Haushalter’s attempt to contact her. Piercey said in an email to Fiscus that she also spoke with Haushalter for 15 minutes on Feb. 16, but there was “no mention was made of any expired product.” Haushalter also said Wednesday that she found out about additional wasted vaccines Feb. 13, but did not publicly disclose that information until six days later, on Feb. 19, when she said about 1,315 vaccine doses that had expired and were thrown out amid a series of winter storms that shut down vaccination sites. Harris, the county mayor, announced during a county commission meeting that Haushalter has tendered her resignation from her position and has made plans to retire. Harris said Haushalter has worked “ferociously” over the past year on the county's coronavirus response. Separately, later Friday, Rutherford County Schools — in middle Tennessee — announced 1,000 doses had to be tossed due to a storage error, school officials announced. The school says the doses were stored in an unapproved freezer and the temperature of the vaccines were not under constant monitoring. Meanwhile, earlier this month, officials in Knox County announced that 975 doses had been accidentally thrown away by someone who thought they were throwing out dry ice. The state has also launched an investigation into that incident. ___ Sainz reported from Memphis, Tennessee. ___ An earlier version of this report had an incorrect spelling of FBI spokesman Joel Siskovic's name. Kimberlee Kruesi And Adrian Sainz, 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
JUNEAU, Alaska — An Alaska Native corporation said it was unable to meet a deadline for aerial surveys of polar bear dens in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge because a federal agency did not issue the necessary authorization in a timely manner. The Kaktovik Inupiat Corp. also took issue with what it calls a “blatant mischaracterization” of what happened and says it is owed an apology. On Saturday, Melissa Schwartz, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Interior, said the corporation had confirmed to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials that den detection surveys had not been conducted by a Feb. 13 deadline. The corporation was told “their request is no longer actionable, and the Service does not intend to issue or deny the authorization,” she said. Her comments echoed those of Regional U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Gregory Siekaniec in a letter to corporation President Matthew Rexford a day earlier. The corporation had sought authorization from the agency for activities that could disturb polar bears as part of a broader proposal to conduct what are known as seismic surveys to search for oil and gas deposits within the refuge’s coastal plain. In December, the Fish and Wildlife Service released for comment a proposed authorization that would allow for “incidental harassment” of polar bears in the coastal plain during a set period for seismic work. More than 6 million comments were received, according to Siekaniec. In his letter, Siekaniec said the agency was unable to review and consider all the comments and “make appropriate refinements” to the proposed authorization and supporting documents before a "key milestone” in the corporation's request, noting the Feb. 13 deadline. Rexford, in a response to the regional director, said the corporation had gotten conflicting messages on the status of that review. He said that the agency had failed his corporation and community. Kaktovik is on the northern edge of the refuge, on the Beaufort Sea coast. He told The Associated Press the corporation is evaluating its next steps. Schwartz on Friday declined comment beyond her previous statement. President Joe Biden’s administration last month announced plans for a temporary moratorium on oil and gas leasing in the refuge after the Trump administration issued leases in a part of the region considered sacred by the Indigenous Gwich’in. The Interior Department says none of the lands proposed for seismic survey activity are within the area that has been leased. Pending lawsuits have challenged the adequacy of the environmental review process undertaken by the Trump administration. Becky Bohrer, The Associated Press
B.C. reported 589 new cases today and seven new deaths. There are currently 4,665 active confirmed cases and over 8,000 people are being monitored as identified close contacts of positive cases. Since last March, 73,188 people have recovered after testing positive for COVID-19. A total of 1,355 people have died as a result of the virus. In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix put the number of hospitalized patients at 232 people, 63 of whom are in intensive care. The breakdown of new cases per region has not yet been released due to delayed updates in the lab reporting system. This article will be updated when that information is available. There are no new outbreaks in health care facilities, but as of the last report there were 13 active outbreaks. The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine was approved for use today, and is causing excitement because it’s fridge stable, making distribution and storage a lot easier. As of Friday, 178,565 people have been vaccinated against COVID-19; 73,808 of them have received both doses. RELATED: Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine Zoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette
ST. LOUIS — Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh has been buried in a private cemetery in St. Louis, his family announced Friday. Limbaugh's widow, Kathryn, and his family said a private ceremony with close family and friends was held Wednesday, but they did not say where he was buried. The family said additional celebrations of Limbaugh's life are planned in the future, both virtually and in his hometown of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, The Southeast Missourian reported. Limbaugh died Feb. 17, a year after announcing he had lung cancer. The fiery Limbaugh was a leading voice of the Republican party and conservative movement for decades with a daily radio show that was broadcast on more than 600 U.S. stations for more than 30 years. The Associated Press
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
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.
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
Staff vaccination rates at the site of one of Hamilton’s worst outbreaks still have some ways to go to reach the provincial target, as the city resumed vaccinations for health-care workers on Friday. This week, the CEO of Shalom Village in Westdale released the number of the home’s staff who’ve received the COVID-19 vaccination. The numbers offer a glimpse into the rollout and uptake of vaccines in this high-priority group in long-term care. Shalom Village, a facility offering long-term care and assisted living, was home to the second-worst outbreak in the city, with 218 cases and 20 deaths from Dec. 9 to Feb. 5. In an email this week, CEO Ken Callaghan said 120 staff out of about 173 “active” staff have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Of those, he said “the vast majority” have received two doses, but didn’t provide numbers. Four additional staff received their first doses on Tuesday, when the city’s mobile clinic came to vaccinate more residents, Callaghan said. At 69 per cent, Shalom Village’s current vaccination numbers fall below a provincial goal of 75 per cent vaccination rate for the city, and a “per organization” target set by a Hamilton “vaccination strategy” group, of which Callaghan is a member. The province’s goal is a “planning target” which represents the proportion of Hamilton adults expected to volunteer to receive the vaccine. The number is based on previous annual vaccine uptake, but does not limit who can receive the vaccine. Shalom staff began receiving vaccines on Dec. 28, with 10 spots allocated per day to the home at the Hamilton Health Sciences clinic. However, the clinic shut down on Jan. 27 after the province ordered that vaccines should only be given to seniors’ home residents due to shortages. That clinic reopened on Friday. Shalom’s numbers are also less than vaccination rates at Grace Villa, the site of the city’s worst outbreak with 234 cases and 44 deaths from Nov. 25 to Jan. 19. In an email Friday, the CEO of APANS Health Services, which runs the east Mountain home, said 123 out of 139 staff have received both vaccine doses, about 88 per cent. Mary Raithby added that 105 out of 108 residents have received both vaccine doses. “We continue to have staff and residents vaccinated according to the public health guidelines and vaccine availability,” she said. Callaghan said by email on Thursday that he is “comfortable where Shalom is on staff vaccinations,” noting the current numbers are “not where we will end up with the vaccination site reopening.” He said there are additional staff on the list to receive their first doses as the city’s fixed-site clinic resumes. But Callaghan didn’t specify how many staff were on that list, only saying there are 34 staff and essential caregivers combined. Some have expressed concern over a reluctance among staff to receive the vaccine, or barriers preventing them from easily doing so. In mid-January, The Spectator reported concerns from SEIU Healthcare — a union representing health-care workers, including at Shalom Village — that workers faced barriers to accessing vaccines. The union advocated for paid sick leave for workers who experience side effects from the vaccine, as well as travelling costs and time for staff to consult with a doctor prior to receiving the vaccine. Language barriers and scheduling issues were also concerns. Staff vaccinations in long-term care are essential, as experts have pointed out that COVID-19 only enters a home from the outside. At the time, Hamilton’s medical officer of health was pleased that vaccine uptake in long-term-care and retirement home workers was more than 65 per cent. Callaghan declined an interview request about staff responses to vaccinations and whether Shalom Village took or is taking steps to address any concerns. As for residents, Callaghan said about 97 per cent have received both doses of the vaccine. It is not clear how many residents that represents. “The only residents not receiving both vaccinations were due to their refusals to be vaccinated,” he said, noting all residents who consented directly or through their attorneys have received both doses of the vaccine. Maria Iqbal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
(Submitted by Chris Daken - image credit) Horizon Health Network says it is reviewing the care a 16-year-old received at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton last week before she took her own life. "As with other matters of this nature, Horizon will be reviewing our internal processes to determine where improvements could have been made," Jean Daigle, vice-president community, said in an email sent on Friday. Shawna Betts said her 16-year-old daughter, who had previously attempted suicide, was taken to the emergency room on Feb. 18 by s school guidance counsellor who was concerned about her mental health. Lexi Daken, a Grade 10 student at Leo Hayes High School in Fredericton, waited for eight hours without receiving any mental health intervention. She left the hospital with a referral for followup. Betts said no one ever contacted the family. On Wednesday morning, Lexi died by suicide. Shawna Betts with her daughter, Lexi. "Horizon wishes to acknowledge that this situation is nothing short of a tragedy," said Daigle. "No family should ever have to endure the loss of a child. On behalf of everyone at Horizon, I'd like to offer our deepest condolences to the family as they cope with this unfathomable loss." He said Horizon provides on-call, emergency psychiatric services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So far, no one has commented on the specifics of why Lexi didn't receive any mental health counselling, or why no one followed up with her, but politicians expressed sympathy for the family and impatience with the system. "It is time to fix this broken system and truly address the needs of all New Brunswickers," Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said Friday. She said, "those who have experienced a similar tragedy in their lives are retraumatized by these events. Those who have had near-misses are retraumatized as well. Anyone who has taken a loved one to the hospital for help and left feeling hopeless can commiserate with the pain this family is experiencing." Lexi Daken, shown here in her player card from last season, loved softball. The day before Lexi died, Shephard released details of a five-year plan for increasing access to mental health services. But her department did not respond to questions on Friday about whether anything in her plan would prevent what happened to Lexi. On Friday morning, all four political party leaders responded to the story on CBC radio. "As a parent, it's hard to fathom," said Premier Blaine Higgs. "Waiting eight hours is unacceptable. It's heart-wrenching." Higgs said the problem lies with the system, and not the individuals who work in it. "We have to fix this," he said. "And it's about priorities. We can't do everything, but let's do what we must." Liberal Leader Roger Melanson said hospitals are not the right setting to help those in crisis. He said the province needs another setting for those experiencing mental health issues, "where that's the focus — and that's the only focus." Lexi, right, with her sisters, Brennah, left, and Piper. Green Party Leader David Coon agreed. He said traditional ERs weren't designed for mental health emergencies. "Mental health has been treated by government after government after government as the poor cousin in the health-care system," said Coon. "It's been neglected." He said the five-year plan unveiled this week contains "some improvements," but those need to be "implemented and fully resourced, fully funded." People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin said Lexi's death has shaken his community and the province. "The whole thing is an absolute disaster," said Austin. "And if this doesn't shine light on the seriousness of this issue and getting our heads around mental health in this province and allowing for some specialties … because this is heart-wrenching and this can't happen again." Lexi's story Lexi's parents decided to talk publicly about their daughter's story in hopes of changing the system. Her father, Chris Daken, said he first noticed changes in Lexi last summer — she was sleeping in, spending more time in her room, showing less enthusiasm for activities, even for her beloved softball. Daken chalked it up to regular teenager stuff — until she attempted suicide in November. She ended up at the hospital and was able to see a psychiatrist at that time. She was sent home with a referral for followup by mental health professionals. Daken said no one ever contacted the family, so they arranged for some counselling through his employee-benefits program. While Lexi always seemed happy when she was around people, her darkest moments came late at night when she was alone. Lexi Daken's family describe her as a perfectionist, an excellent student, outgoing and personable. Family members tried to keep her busy and reached out to her often. Her 19-year-old sister, Piper, said she would often send her messages in the middle of the night and would occasionally pick her up for a late-night McDonald's run. When Lexi left the Chalmers hospital without any help on Feb. 18, family members stepped up their efforts trying to keep her busy. The night before she died, Daken even took Lexi to Saint John to visit relatives. Daken and Betts want to see changes in the way mental health patients are treated in emergency rooms. And Daken hopes Lexi's story will help parents recognize the signs of children who are struggling with mental health issues. Recognizing depression Sometimes, said Daken, it's not easy to spot — especially in a person who seems so happy on the outside and has so much going for them, like Lexi did. Muriel Doucet, a Moncton-based suicide prevention co-ordinator for Horizon Health, said depression isn't always easy to recognize. "It would present very differently, depending on the person." She said parents should look for changes in a child's behaviour — anything that deviates from the norm. "So if they have a tendency to pull away more than usual, maybe something is going on. Or it could be also the person that has a lot of outbursts," she said. "It's anything beyond the baseline of how the person normally would act." Doucet said teenagers sometimes don't understand that things will eventually get better. "So whatever we can do to help the person not feel so isolated and alone with their pain." Sometimes it's as simple as distraction, said Doucet. "As soon as we start moving around from being in a zone of not feeling great, it can change the patterns in our brains," she said. And it's OK if parents don't have all the answers. "Just being there, listening, allowing them the space to share, to cry if they have to, to yell and scream if they have to. Whatever it is that will help reduce some of the negative types of feelings that they're experiencing is a help to anyone who's kind of struggling." Doucet said it's important to have conversations about suicide. "Best practice tells us, and the experts tell us, that the more we talk about it, the more we help people know where to reach out and how to reach out." Vigil planned Jessica Holly, from the Saint John-based Bridge of Hope group, has organized a candlelight vigil for Lexi on Sunday at 6 p.m. in front of the New Brunswick Legislature in Fredericton. Holly said she was "heartbroken but not shocked" after hearing Lexi's story. She explained that Sunday's event will be a drive-by vigil. Those taking part are asked to use their four-way flashers as they drive by. Holly and others will be standing in front of the legislature to take any flowers, letters, teddy bears, or other items that people want to leave for Lexi. She said it will be a silent vigil, not a protest. If you need help: CHIMO hotline: 1-800-667-5005 / http://www.chimohelpline.ca Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566.
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
(CBC - image credit) An N.W.T. MLA says that health and social services staff need cultural competency training because they do not understand First Nations family structures and the history of Canada's treatment of Indigenous peoples. Deh Cho MLA Ron Bonnetrouge said that, in a conversation about the cultural competency of health centre staff, the chief of Deh Gáh Got'îê First Nation in Fort Providence said he "has no faith in what they do ... that they do not understand us." Bonnetrouge wants regionally specific consultation with First Nations on the content of the cultural competency training, especially because health and social services conducts the removal of children from their families. "They are going strictly by the book. This is alarming," he said. "We have people within the community that are family members … that should have first rights to refusal for that child when they're being taken away." Bonnetrouge asked for cultural awareness training for all existing staff and new hires for health centres in the territory. "Many [territorial government] employees are being hired from out of the territory to deliver programs and services," he said. "They do not know the struggles of our people, how we operate as a family system and how we operate as a community." Deh Gáh Got'îê First Nation Chief Joachim Bonnetrouge said COVID-19 has exacerbated problems in the community and accessing services has been "difficult" for community members. "People that come here to work for and with our community ... they do need to have a good ground to get to know us," he said. "That can be done by having good cross-cultural training workshops or even some time out on the land with the community members here, so they can know us and where we're coming from," he said, "some of the cultural values and more positive stuff [rather] than only engaging when there's a crisis." Wellness councils have opportunity to comment: minister Health Minister Julie Green said the department settled on a model for its cultural competency training following the completion of 13 pilot programs. The department will show a framework to community wellness councils across the N.W.T., but there is no timeline for when the training will be made available, she said. A file photo of the Fort Providence health centre in June 2015. Bonnetrouge first raised issues with the care residents were receiving at the centre in June of last year. Bonnetrouge said that while employed at public works, he took cultural sensitivity training which left out valuable information such as the history of residential schools and attempts to assimilate Indigenous peoples in Canada like the 1969 White Paper. "Each community has a unique history and situation," he said. "It's very important that we get the insight of community leaders from every community." Complaints in Fort Providence not new In June, Bonnetrouge raised concerns about racism at the local health care centre in Fort Providence. There are several complaints filed to the Northwest Territories Registered Nurses Association, he said. "Northwest Territories residents, especially the Indigenous residents of my community, should not be treated like the treatment they receive at the local health centre," he said in the Legislative Assembly in June. "They should also not be treated with racist overtones just for being Indigenous." Bonnetrouge said at the time that comments made to patients — such as "you Indians are a bunch of drunks" and remarks about their treaty rights — are unacceptable. Diane Archie, who was health minister in June, told Bonnetrouge there was a complaint filed to the nurses association and she could not speak to specifics about the complaint. The CBC has reached out to the Registered Nurses Association of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut for comment, but has not received a reply.
TORONTO — Some of the most active companies traded Friday on the Toronto Stock Exchange: Toronto Stock Exchange (18,060.26, down 163.28 points.) Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU). Energy. Down 79 cents, or three per cent, to $25.27 on 24.6 million shares. ClearStream Energy Services Inc. (TSX:CSM). Energy. Down 2.5 cents, or 26.3 per cent, to seven cents on 21.1 million shares. CI Financial Corp. (TSX:CIX). Financials. Up 46 cents, or 2.7 per cent, to $17.82 on 18.1 million shares. Ballard Power Systems Inc. (TSX:BLDP). Industrials. Up 97 cents, or 2.8 per cent, at $35.60 on 14.6 million shares. Manulife Financial Corp. (TSX: MFC). Financials. Down 39 cents, or 1.5 per cent, at $25.37 on 10.4 million shares. Enbridge Inc. (TSX: ENB). Energy. Down $1.18, or 2.7 per cent, at $42.98 on 10.4 million shares. Companies in the news: Onex Corp. (TSX:ONEX) Up $1.72, or 2.5 per cent, to $71.24. Onex reported its fourth-quarter profit rose compared with a year ago, helped by gains in its private equity and credit investments. The Toronto-based private equity manager, which keeps its books in U.S. dollars, says it earned a net profit of US$597 million or $6.61 per diluted share for the quarter ended Dec. 31. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
Fort Qu’Appelle town council decided Thursday night to form a committee that will meet with a local non-profit arts group to reach an agreement over the group’s use and operation of a 110-year-old building in the town. The non-profit group, the Qu’Appelle Valley Centre for the Arts (QVCA), has renovated and maintained the town’s old Central School since 2011, calling the building by the same name as its group. In November 2014, the group and the town signed a six-year letter of agreement allowing the arts group to rent and operate the heritage site, paying $1 per year to the town. The QVCA provided an unsigned copy of the letter to the Leader-Post. Town chief administrative officer Victor Goodman said council decided to strike “a committee of three council members and the mayor to meet with a committee from the QVCA. The first meeting is scheduled for this week. “They are going to discuss the issue at hand and hopefully amicably work towards a solution that’s agreeable to everyone.” In a written submission to council, QVCA board chair Jim Harding accused Goodman of not holding up the town’s end of the 2014 letter. His submission claimed the CAO “basically threw away the collaborative Agreement (sic) that was in place from the start, and has tried to impose a Commercial Lease or some other sort of lease upon the QVCA. But, as he should know, we are not a commercial group; we are a non-profit group.” Three members of the arts group presented Harding’s concerns over the yet-to-be-renewed agreement to council. Harding could not attend because of a health issue. Goodman denied the accusations. He said, “the town has proposed a mutually-acceptable landlord-tenant agreement be formalized simply for the purpose of protecting the old town school as a town asset. “QVCA has done a great job operating the school to date and we hope this relationship will be maintained for many years to come.” Harding could not be reached for comment, but QVCA communications director Brian Baggett called council’s decision a “huge relief,” describing the municipal body as “extremely cordial and supportive” during Thursday’s delegation. When they finished speaking, he said, council responded, “‘We don't want to see the QVCA go away.’” A date for the meeting hasn’t been set. In making its case to council, the QVCA also pointed to a clause in the original letter that states the non-profit had first right to renew an agreement with the town upon expiration in 2020 and every six years after that. The non-profit also plans to host council members — who Baggett said he learned Thursday had never been to the QVCA facility — for a socially-distant tour of the building, to show renovations and work the group does there. Baggett also noted the group’s concern about possibly losing non-profit status, if a landlord-tenant agreement were to be signed with the town. A non-profit, he said, “keeps the integrity of art in general … I'm a musician and a wood-worker. When I work for a person ... I've got to do what that person wants … it's what I get paid for." "As an artist, you can create what you need in the moment, so nobody's breathing down my neck ... with a non-profit status it allows us to not be controlled by others," including for grant applications, he said. Baggett confirmed there’s also concern if a planned art exhibit were to “offend and represent the town poorly,” a landlord-tenant agreement could cede control to the town to cancel the exhibition. firstname.lastname@example.org Evan Radford, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Regina Leader-Post, The Leader-Post
WASHINGTON — Neither Canada's prime minister nor the U.S. secretary of state were showing their diplomatic cards Friday as the two countries discussed the plight of two Canadians languishing behind bars in China. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met virtually with Canadian officials including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau as part of the Biden administration's post-Trump charm offensive. The U.S. has a "significant role" to play in helping secure the release of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, said Trudeau, although he refused to elaborate on the details. "These are processes that are ongoing," the prime minister told a news conference earlier in the day. "The United States is taking their role in this very seriously and we look forward to working with them on bringing the two Michaels home as soon as possible.” Blinken, too, stayed in his diplomatic lane, expressing earnest American harmony with Canada and cheering a multilateral effort to denounce the practice of taking political prisoners. "We stand in absolute solidarity with Canada in insisting on their immediate and unconditional release," Blinken said before lavishing praise on the new Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention. The declaration, a project initiated by former foreign affairs minister François-Philippe Champagne, is from a coalition of more than 50 countries opposed to the state-sponsored political detention of foreign nationals. Its purpose "is to bring countries together to stand against the arbitrary detention of individuals for political purposes, a practice that we see in a number of countries, including China," Blinken said. "I think and I hope that this can grow into something that establishes a new international norm against arbitrary detentions." Spavor and Kovrig — the "two Michaels" — were swept up after the RCMP's arrest in December 2018 of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei. Blinken demurred on the question of whether the U.S. is considering a so-called deferred prosecution agreement — a form of plea deal that could allow Meng to return to China in return for an admission of wrongdoing. "There are legal questions that are appropriately the province of our Department of Justice," he said. "They follow the law, they follow the facts and I refer you to them for anything on the legal aspects of this." Earlier this week, a Justice Department spokesman confirmed that prosecutors were continuing to seek Meng's extradition to the U.S., where she is facing fraud charges. Friday's meetings, billed as a "virtual visit" — no jet lag, but no frequent-flyer miles either, Blinken joked — follow Trudeau's own virtual summit this week with President Joe Biden, which produced a "road map" for collaboration on issues like climate change, the economy and COVID-19. "It's hard to think of two countries whose destinies are more connected, more intertwined than ours," Blinken told Garneau as their meeting got underway. "We know that every single day, the work that we're doing, and more importantly the deep ties between our people — in virtually every aspect of our societies — are benefiting both countries." Garneau returned the compliment, adding that Canada can be more to the U.S. than just a friendly ally. "I want you to know that you can count on Canada to be by your side," he said. "And I think that you'll find that we can be surprisingly helpful to you, while advancing our own objectives." That could easily be seen as an oblique reference to Buy American, Biden's suite of protectionist measures aimed at ensuring that U.S. contractors, suppliers and workers are the primary beneficiaries of American infrastructure projects and federal contract work. Canadian businesses, employees and contractors depend on that work too, however, and the federal government is pressing hard to ensure that they don't get shut out of what will surely be a big-budget effort to resurrect the U.S. economy. On that score, Blinken seemed to suggest that Garneau's message got through — particularly on the issue of fortifying North American supply chains. "There's a lot of opportunity there between the United States and Canada that we intend to pursue," he said. "My sense, from the conversations between the two governments, is that there is ample opportunity for us to work together and find ways to benefit each other." Efforts to restore ties between the two countries after extensive fraying during the Trump era have been going on all week, albeit virtually. Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson spoke Wednesday with John Kerry, Biden's special envoy on climate, to shore up plans for more stringent emissions-reduction targets in advance of a climate summit in April. And Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra have committed to tougher vehicle pollution standards, and collaborating on new standards for aircraft and ships. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. James McCarten, The Canadian Press
(Émilie Vast/CBC - image credit) Alberta finance officials are pushing back against a proposal in a private members' bill that would add members representing public sector plans to the board of the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo). Shannon Phillips, the NDP MLA for Lethbridge-West, presented Bill 208, Alberta Investment Management Corporation Amendment Act, 2020, to the Standing Committee on Private Bills and Private Members' Public Bills on Friday. The bill proposes adding four members representing the Alberta Teachers Retirement Fund, Special Forces Pension Plan , Local Authorities Pension Plan and Public Sector Pension Plan to AIMCo's 11-person board. Since taking office nearly two years ago, the current United Conservative government has compelled the pension funds to use AIMCo as their investment manager. MLAs have been inundated with phone calls, emails and letters about this issue, Phillips said. Adding representation from the four largest public sector pensions to the AIMCo board would help ease those worries, she said. "Those funds then deserve a better window over governance at AIMCo and input into how they make investment decisions and ultimately how they serve their clients," she told the committee. AIMCo is an investment firm owned by the provincial government. Management came under fire last year after losing $2.1 billion from a bet on market volatility. Managers of the four pensions, which provide retirement income for teachers, provincial and local government workers, health care workers and municipal police officers have expressed concern that AIMCo would mishandle their funds. Lowell Epp, assistant deputy minister for Treasury Risk and Management for the Alberta government, rejected Phillips' proposal in his presentation to the committee. He says a 15-member board is unwieldy and would be less productive than a smaller board. He also suggested the proposed new members would represent the interests of their individual pension plans and not AIMCo as a whole. "Representative boards frequently take a combative approach to decision making rather than a much more productive, consensus-based approach," he said. Epp said each public sector pension retains control over their investment policies. UCP MLAs, who make up the majority on the committee, echoed some of Epp's concerns. Referendum question The Alberta government has the power to issue investment directives to AIMCo. Bill 208 would remove that provision from existing legislation. Concerns have been raised that the UCP government could order AIMCo to invest funds in oil and gas projects. Phillips said the power has never been used, so it shouldn't be a problem to remove it. "Removing that section of the act is a very simple solution to some of the concerns that have been raised by the public," she said. The government is currently studying the feasibility of leaving the Canada Pension Plan and creating an Alberta Pension Plan in its place, a measure recommended by the Fair Deal Panel last year. Bill 208 proposes asking Albertans in a referendum whether they want to switch to a provincial pension plan and if they want AIMCo to manage the fund. Epp, in his presentation, said early evidence suggests a provincial pension plan could be beneficial, but that no decisions have been made on who would manage the funds. MLAs on the committee agreed to hear stakeholder presentations on Phillips' bill before deciding whether to send it back to the legislative assembly for additional debate.
A man is dead after a stun gun and sedative were used to bring him under control during a physical altercation with police and staff at an Edmonton hospital on Wednesday, police said. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the province's police watchdog, has been directed to investigate. The incident began on Wednesday shortly after noon when Edmonton police conducted a mental health assessment on a 43-year-old man at a residential address in Parkdale, near 87th Street and 112th Avenue. The man's psychiatrist had requested the assessment after an incident the previous day, Edmonton Police Service said in a news release Friday. Police were told the man had tried to breach a family member's door earlier in the week. The man was cooperative with officers and was transported to hospital on a Form 10 arrest under the Alberta Mental Health Act, police said. At the hospital, he was placed in a secure holding room in the emergency ward, police said. At around 2:15 p.m., hospital staff asked for police help to move the man to the mental health ward. As the man was being moved, a physical altercation broke out between the man, police, security guards and hospital staff, the release said. Police say the man was about six-feet-four inches tall and weighed 250 pounds. "A physical struggle ensued that included the use of a CEW [conducted electrical weapon] in an attempt to bring the male under control," the police news release said. A police spokesperson confirmed to CBC News an EPS officer fired the stun gun. Medical staff then administered a sedative to the man, according to police. Police said, shortly thereafter the man went into medical distress and was not breathing. He was immediately taken to the hospital's trauma room where staff performed CPR. "Despite the life-saving attempts the male was later pronounced deceased," police said. An officer was treated by hospital staff for minor injuries, including bite marks and scratches to his face sustained during the altercation. With ASIRT directed to investigate, EPS said it would not provide further comment.
VICTORIA — British Columbia Premier John Horgan says completing the Site C dam is in the best interests of residents, despite the project's price tag ballooning to $16 billion and completion date stretching to 2025. The premier told a news conference Friday that Site C has faced "significant challenges," and the $5.3-billion cost increase and one-year construction delay are due to geotechnical issues, COVID-19 and other pressures. However, Horgan said the hydroelectric dam in northeastern B.C. is half done and cancelling it now would mean laying off 4,500 workers and a sunk cost of $10 billion. The average ratepayer would pay 26 per cent more, or about $216 a year, to cover the debt, he said. "I believe today we've made the right decision. Completing Site C will help power our province well into the future with clean energy as we electrify our economy. It will keep our rates among the lowest in North America," he said. "We will not put the jobs at risk. We will not shock people's hydro bills. We want to make sure that the financial implications of this project will be felt not immediately, but over the life of the project." The province said the expenses will be recovered through rates over the 70-year lifespan of the dam. After the project is operational, the average ratepayer will face about a three per cent increase above previous forecasts based on the $10.7-billion price tag in 2018. It said COVID-19 and the geotechnical issues represent about half of the additional costs, but it did not elaborate on the other factors or provide a detailed breakdown, citing commercial interests. Horgan's announcement comes months after a former deputy finance minister submitted a report on the dam for cabinet consideration in December. The province ordered the review last July after Crown-owned BC Hydro reported concerns about risks, delays and costs. The province released a summary version of Peter Milburn's report on Friday and said it had accepted all 17 of his recommendations, including enhancing the expertise of the project assurance board and strengthening BC Hydro's risk reporting and management. The government also asked two experts to examine solutions proposed by BC Hydro to the geotechnical issues that came to light in early 2020. The report, also released Friday, found that changes to the foundation on the right bank will ensure Site C meets safety standards. Horgan also announced new leadership at BC Hydro. He said Doug Allen, who has held top positions at the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia and TransLink, will replace Ken Peterson as chairman of the board. The premier said the Site C project was beset with challenges when it was first greenlit in 2014 by the previous B.C. Liberal government, which wanted to get it "past the point of no return." After the NDP took power in 2017, Horgan said he would reluctantly support completion of the dam across the Peace River just west of Fort St. John, but he would never have started it. At that time, the sunk cost would have been $4 billion. Horgan said he understands there are a significant number of B.C. residents who have never supported the project and they were not going to be any happier Friday than they were in 2017. "I don't have the luxury of fretting over the past. I have an obligation to focus on the future," he said. "The costs going forward are going to be less than the costs behind us." Asked whether the $16-billion price tag was final, he noted he could not have foreseen a global pandemic, so other unexpected events could occur and push the cost higher. Opposition Liberal critic Tom Shypitka said proceeding with the dam is the right decision, but the NDP needs to take responsibility for the cost overruns since 2017. "This project has doubled under their watch. It's gone from $8.8 billion to $16 billion all within their mandate. The NDP's got to be accountable for this. It's their show," he said. The report by Milburn suggests that concerns around geotechnical issues were raised in 2018 and it took two years for the government to notice, Shypitka said. B.C. Green Leader Sonia Furstenau said she was disappointed, but not surprised, with the government’s decision. She said the business case for the dam was "astonishingly terrible." "Considering that we lose the agricultural land, the biodiversity, the traditional territory of the Treaty 8 First Nations, this is catastrophic," Furstenau added. The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said the province's support of the project violated its commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. "The Site C dam has never had the free, prior and informed consent of all impacted First Nations, and proceeding with the project is a clear infringement of the treaty rights of the West Moberly (First Nations)," said Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, the union's secretary-treasurer. The West Moberly First Nations, which hold traditional territories in the area of the dam, said the government's decision was made without any attempt at consultation. "We are not at all convinced that this project is safe. The premier's decision has grave consequences for West Moberly and other First Nations," said Chief Roland Willson. Environmental groups also spoke out against the decision, with Wilderness Committee campaigner Joe Foy calling the project "irresponsible" and not based on common sense. "Premier Horgan should put this dam out of its misery now. It's time to walk away from Site C." — By Laura Dhillon Kane in Vancouver This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the cost overrun was $6 billion.