VANCOUVER — A mineral exploration company with provincial permits to work in Tahltan territory in northwestern British Columbia is treading on sacred grounds, an elected leader in the nation's government says. Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. There's "no way" the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, he said. "The Sheslay area was a major village site in pre-contact times and even nowadays we have many elders who were born in the Sheslay area. Many of our ancestors are buried out there," Day said in an interview. "British Columbia, Doubleview, we should all just save ourselves a lot of time, energy and conflict and get Doubleview out of there," he said. Doubleview has 10 mineral tenures covering about 63 square kilometres where "an aggressive 2021 exploration program is being planned," the company said in an update posted online in February. It said it expected to give shareholders a more complete assessment of the deposit's value after verifying the results of metallurgical sample analysis. The Tahltan Central Government accuses Doubleview of failing to act in a manner consistent with both Tahltan protocols for the mining sector and with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Tahltan made "many reasonable attempts to work with Doubleview in a respectful manner," the central government said in a statement in March. But the company has a "track record of being disrespectful ... including unsuccessfully taking legal action against Tahltan leaders and elders in 2015," it said. Doubleview "regrets the poor relationship that we have established" with the Tahltan, lead director Andrew Rees said in an email when asked about the conflict, and the company offered an apology letter after the nation's public statement. "Doubleview strives to be a responsible steward of the areas in which we live and operate, and continues to seek a positive, collaborative, productive, and mutually beneficial relationship with the Tahltan Central Government." The Mines Ministry said Doubleview was first granted a multi-year permit in 2012 in a process that included consultation with the Tahltan Nation. Laws and legal precedents concerning Indigenous rights and title have changed since then, said Day. The B.C. government is now in the early stages of aligning its laws with the UN declaration after adopting it through legislation. It requires governments to obtain free, prior and informed consent before taking actions that affect Indigenous Peoples and territories — which would include decisions on proposed mines and future exploration work permits. The statutory adoption of the UN declaration means industry and the B.C. government must start building "processes that seek a genuine consent from Indigenous governments, communities and people," Day said. "And there's a huge difference between having a conversation and calling it consultation versus having a robust consultation process that is aiming to get consent from Indigenous people." The Tahltan Nation has "excellent relationships" with the majority of mining and mineral exploration companies operating in its territory, Day noted. There are three active mines — Red Chris, Silvertip and Brucejack — and the nation has impact benefit agreements with each of the companies. "When you have Tahltan title and rights over 11 per cent of the province and you have jurisdiction over an area the size of Portugal, you don't need to be supportive of projects that are in really culturally sensitive areas," Day said. The Tahltan has communication agreements with more than two dozen mining and mineral exploration companies allowing it to check in on their work as necessary, he said. Day said Doubleview had refused to sign, though Rees said the company is now waiting to hear back from the nation after sending a written response about a communications and engagement agreement. "We acknowledge that it has taken us much longer to do so than we would have liked and attribute the delay to internal miscommunication and lack of expert resources," the Doubleview statement said. "Our utmost priority right now remains getting back to the table ... and doing so in a respectful and collaborative manner so that we can continue understanding Tahltan Nation's ongoing concerns, which will allow us to collaboratively develop appropriate mitigation measures." Day, however, said the company has "chosen a path of conflict" with the Tahltan and he would oppose any further permits. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 17, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press
A Peel police officer has been suspended and an internal investigation has been launched after a Global News reporter recorded him hugging unmasked people who were protesting against the closure of a Mississauga gym. Peel Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah said he became aware of the incident, which took place outside the gym, Friday afternoon after he saw various social media posts. "Upon learning of the incident, I immediately directed that the sergeant be suspended and commenced an Internal Affairs investigation," he wrote in a statement. "Peel Regional Police are committed to ensuring the safety of our members and the public. Our officers will enforce municipal and provincial regulations as required." According to reporting by Global News, one of its reporters was at Huf Gym near Cawthra Road and Dundas Street East on Friday to report on continuing protests against the Ford government's COVID-19 restrictions, which have temporarily shuttered gyms. There, the reporter, identified as Sean O'Shea, recorded himself as an unmasked protester aggressively approached him wearing a sweater with the words, "hugs over masks." O'Shea, still recording, approached a Peel police officer at the scene and asked if he condoned that behaviour. The officer in the video can be heard telling the journalist that he was agitating the crowd. The same officer, not wearing a mask or any COVID-19 protective gear, can later be seen hugging some of the protesters and posing for pictures. None of the demonstrators can be seen physically distancing or wearing any protective equipment. Duraiappah's statement says members of the force continue to follow advice issued by local public health officials "while using the appropriate safety precautions, including all available Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)." Under current COVID-19 restrictions, all gatherings and protests must follow provincial laws. Tickets may be issued to individuals or organizers who do not comply with this order, the statement reads.
Nitasha Likhani and Michael Wick grew up not knowing much about their dad, or his life in Yukon. Gary Wick moved to Whitehorse from Edmonton in 1975. A talented butcher and musician, he quickly made a name for himself on the local music scene. Whitehorse was a rowdy town back then, and his wife found it easier to raise their children down south. Wick was killed in January, 1979, murdered in his cabin by a man who had escaped from the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. Nitasha was just two-and-a-half years old, Michael was about a year old. They didn't have much contact with their father's parents after his death, and the memory seemed too painful for their mom. "My Dad has always been of interest to me, always, my whole life," said Likhani. "I've always wanted to just know — there had to be more to him than his death." Likhani recently posted on a popular Facebook page called Yukon History & Abandoned Places, asking if there was anyone in Whitehorse who remembered her dad. The post blew up. Dozens of people shared stories about her dad, photos, and even music of his band Bootjack. A cassette of music by the band Bootjack, featuring the late Gary Wick. The cassette is one of the few mementos Wick's family has of his time in Yukon.(Nitasha Likhani) Likhani said she was shocked by how many people remembered her father and wanted to share their stories. "The amount of love, and the amount of people that were willing to share, I'm overwhelmed. I'm humbled...for the first time in my life I feel like I belong to my dad and I feel like people want to share his life with us. Not his death, but his life." "For me, it's definitely been an eye-opener," said Michael Wick. "When you only know that your dad passed away somewhere and you never really knew him, and [you learn] he was a public figure — it's a real eye-opener." Leader of Bootjack A lot of the memories people in Whitehorse have of Gary Wick are centred on his time in the band Bootjack. The band started by playing together at Sunday jams at the Kopper King Tavern, and eventually became the well-known night spot's house band. Rob Bergman played bass in Bootjack, and said Wick was the leader of the group. A multi-instrumentalist, Wick would sometimes pull out a ukulele and lead them through a set of Hawaiian music, then don a fur jacket and pick up an accordion to play a few polka tunes. "I only knew him for maybe two years, but he's still with me in spirit," said Bergman. "He was quite passionate about his ideas in the band and where he wanted to go with it." One of the few mementos the family has of Wick's time in Yukon is a cassette of Bootjack songs. "We were only aware of one song being from my dad," said Likhani. "So we would always fast-forward through to that one song not knowing there was this whole two sides [of music] that was my dad." 'He was quite passionate about his ideas in the band,' said one former bandmate of Wick's.(Submitted by Nitasha Likhani) Since the initial Facebook post, Likhani and Michael Wick have communicated with other members of Bootjack and people who were in Whitehorse in the '70s and remember their dad. "I feel so much closer to my dad, it's crazy," Likhani said. "I feel like I'm finding pieces of me that have been missing my whole entire life. I finally listened to the Bootjack cassette the whole way through, and to hear the words 'I love you' said by my dad, I can't even put it into words ... it was amazing." Bergman said Wick's sudden and senseless death is still painful for people who knew him. Rob's brother, the late Bruce Bergman, once wrote a heartfelt tribute to Gary Wick called Away and Gone. "It was pretty surreal being young and not having experienced any kind of death in my family or close friends," said Rob. "It took years to sort it out ... Bruce said it best in his song: 'you took away a man and all his plans' — and he had plans. He was quiet, he was private. He didn't talk about his kids. A lot of people that knew him didn't even know he had kids. This has stirred up a lot of stuff." Bergman still has one of Wick's guitars and his old toolbox. He's offered to ship the items to Likhani, but she said she may wait until she and Michael are able to travel to Yukon and see them. "I get my dad's death was a huge tragedy and a huge loss to everybody out there," Likhani said. "But I really want them to know Mike and I are past the tragedy. We just want to love, and we want to feel the love, and I know that's something that was very important to my dad. So Whitehorse, here comes some more of Gary ... we can't wait to meet all of our new family."
Members of Ontario's COVID-19 science advisory table say the provincial government only included about 70 per cent of neighbourhoods it recommended be designated hot spots. Director Dr. Peter Juni told CBC's Ontario Today that the table was asked by the province to provide a list of postal codes it felt was at greatest risk. The list it created included about 20 per cent of Ontario's population, mostly in the Greater Toronto Area. But Juni said when the government revealed the final designations, there were some neighbourhoods that the science table couldn't "replicate how they came on there." In a statement, Rob Steiner, another member of the table, said they did not "determine the actual [postal codes] that the government would ultimately prioritize in its vaccine strategy." K2V with second-lowest hot spot population Earlier this month, the province released a list of 114 postal code zones designated as hot spots and announced the start of targeted vaccinations in those areas for people aged 50 and up. It later announced that all adults in those hot spots would be eligible to get vaccinated immediately. Included in that list are the K1T, K1V and the K2V postal codes in Ottawa. In a memo from Ottawa Public Health, the first two postal codes contain what it's identified as high-priority neighbourhoods, but K2V has none. The postal code, which includes Stittsville and Kanata, has the second lowest population of all the province's designated hot spots with just 2,435 people, according to the most recent Statistics Canada census in 2016. The only other postal code with a lower population is L9E, the Milton-Halton region, with 723 people. The populations of K1V and K1T are between 35,000 and 54,000. Province defends decision Both the NDP and Liberals questioned the province's list of hot spots earlier this week. For its part, the province said in a statement that hot spots were "identified based on Public Health Ontario data and criteria including hospitalizations, outbreak data, low testing rates and deaths during the second wave of the pandemic." It said regions in the highest 20 per cent were identified as hot spot communities, and regions in the top 30 per cent that had significant low-income populations or faced other challenges were also included. The undertaking also applied "an anti-racism lens to ensure Ontario protects vulnerable communities," the province said. The province defended including the K2V postal code, saying it had "44 per cent more COVID ICU cases per 10,000 than the provincial average." But given that the population of the K2V area is so low, CBC asked how much weight the province's calculations bears on its decision to label it as a "hot spot." As of Friday evening, the province had not sent a response.
A Vancouver couple is calling Saint Andrews home without ever experiencing the town first-hand. Zainub and Ben Faulkner-Malik have been self-isolating at home in Charlotte County, since arriving two weeks ago. "It's a bizarre feeling because we feel like we've been here already," said Faulkner-Malik, from her new home in Saint Andrews. People have been dropping things off and sending messages — and they haven't even met their neighbours yet. Now that we're here, we made the best decision - Zainub Faulkner-Malik "The way the community has made us feel has got us really excited about when we can step outside our property lines and meet people and walk around the town itself." They're the new owners of the Montague Rose Bed and Breakfast. It's a historic building from the 1850s and can be found in the heart of downtown. "It's just magnificent," said the interior designer. "It's just way grander than I ever could have imagined." Deer problem a new experience And everyday, they're learning something new about the property or the area — such as the town's growing deer population. Last year, deputy mayor Brad Henderson told CBC News, a typical community of its size would have between three and five deer per square kilometre. In Saint Andrews, there are more than 20 deer per square kilometre. "People have hit multiple deer coming in and out of town," he previously said. "There's been situations where motorcyclists have hit them … there's been deer that have actually run into people." But Faulkner-Malik is looking forward to the wildlife. "I'll take the deer over the car and busy streets any day," she said. A home away from home They are hoping to make the business a place where residents and visitors can come and feel at home this summer. The couple will be taking bookings come May and by June, they're also hoping to add a tearoom, that will feature High Tea and traditional English treats. They're also want to bring a fresher look to the historic home for visitors, including new furnishings, modern technology "and also give them a really friendly visit as well." The couple started to think about moving when the first lockdown happened about a year ago. They felt like they were stuck inside their 500-square foot apartment. "We were really going stir-crazy," she said. Zainub Faulkner-Malik is hopeful guests will be able to visit in June.(The Montague Rose B&B Instagram) That's when they decided to look at real-estate across the country. "Fast forward a year and we just kind of pulled the plug," she said. Then they discovered Saint Andrews after seeing it was voted by USA Today in 2017 as the top destination in Canada for travellers. "We found a property. We put an offer in. And now we're here." Despite their fears, the couple said the move made sense. Faulkner-Malik had previously run a bed and breakfast in Australia. She had always dreamt of starting another one. Then along came COVID. "It was really risky and it was pretty scary," she said. "There were moments we were very unsure when we were putting our offer in." The couple plan to document their new Maritime adventure on YouTube and social media, to inspire others looking to move. "Now that we're here, we made the best decision."
SANTA FE, N.M. — The 300-million-year-old shark’s teeth were the first sign that it might be a distinct species. The ancient chompers looked less like the spear-like rows of teeth of related species. They were squatter and shorter, less than an inch long, around 2 centimetres. “Great for grasping and crushing prey rather than piercing prey,” said discoverer John-Paul Hodnett, who was a graduate student when he unearthed the first fossils of the shark at a dig east of Albuquerque in 2013. This week, Hodnett and a slew of other researchers published their findings in a bulletin of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science identifying the shark as a separate species. He named the 6.7-foot (2 metre) monster Dracopristis hoffmanorum, or Hoffman’s Dragon Shark, in honour of the New Mexico family that owns the land in the Manzano Mountains where the fossils were found. Hodnett says the area is rife with fossils and easy to access because of a quarry and other commercial digging operations. The name also harkens to the dragon-like jawline and 2.5-foot (0.75-meter) fin spines that inspired the discovery’s initial nickname, “Godzilla Shark.” The formal naming announcement followed seven years of excavation, preservation and study. The 12 rows of teeth on the shark's lower jaw, for example, were still obscured by layers of sediment after excavation. Hodnett only saw them by using an angled light technique that illuminates objects below. Hodnett is now the paleontologist and program co-ordinator for the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission’s Dinosaur Park in Laurel, Maryland. His fellow researchers come from the New Mexico museum, as well as St. Joseph’s University in Pennsylvania, Northern Arizona University, and Idaho State University. The recovered fossil skeleton is considered the most complete of its evolutionary branch —ctenacanth — that split from modern sharks and rays around 390 million years ago and went extinct around 60 million years later. Back then, eastern New Mexico was covered by a seaway that extended deep into North America. Hodnett and his colleagues believe that Hoffman’s dragon shark most likely lived in the shallows along the coast, stalking prey like crustaceans, fish and other sharks. New Mexico's high desert plateaus have also yielded many dinosaur fossils, including various species of tyrannosaurus that roamed the land millions of years ago when it was a tropical rain forest. ___ Attanasio is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for Americ a is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues. Follow Attanasio on Twitter. Cedar Attanasio, The Associated Press
A dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases due to more harmful and transmissible variants of concern are creating challenges in Regina hospitals, according to the Saskatchewan Health Authority. Intensive care units in the city have far exceeded their initial 27-bed capacity, and staff are "stretched to the max," said Lori Garbinski, executive director of provincial programs for tertiary care. As of Friday, there are 81 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Regina, 30 of whom are in the ICU. In order to make more room for those sick with the virus, the SHA has brought in 18 additional beds, and other wards have been expanded into ICU units. Additionally, the health authority has started housing two COVID-19 patients per room in the ICU, as well as in cardiac care units. "This action is unprecedented," Garchinski said. Regina ICU doctor Jeffrey Betcher said they are doubling occupancy to keep patients as close as possible in order to expand manpower, which he said was tight. Surge capacity The SHA will continue to double beds as needed, as all 45 of its Regina ICU beds are taken by both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. They are also considering expanding into the medical-surgical units if necessary. People who do not require critical care are being moved to hospitals in the rural south and also in the north in order to free up space. Other patients are bypassing Regina hospitals. Utilizing the field hospitals is not an option for the SHA. Garchinski said they were not built for critical care patients, but rather for those who are on the tail end of their journey and require oxygen or additional IVs. "The infrastructure is very different for critical care patients than a ward patient, and the field hospitals wouldn't have that sort of infrastructure in place," Betcher said. Beds at the Regina field hospital for COVID-19 patients. The SHA says the field hospital is not equipped to deal with critical care patients. (Saskatchewan Health Authority) With variants of concerns continuing to fuel a new surge of cases, health officials expect a rise in hospitalizations due to members of the public breaking public health orders over Easter. "What's happening now is really the result of what happened two weeks ago. As we're coming into the second week after Easter, we're seeing the results of large gatherings that may have not been in compliance with the health orders," Betcher said. Garchinski said the SHA continues to make plans with other ICUs in the province in order to expand levels of bed capacity and manpower. The SHA provided details of its ICU capacity by holding a rare press conference on Friday. "We're doing our part and it's really up to the public to do their part," Betcher said, as he pleaded with the public to follow all public health orders and get vaccinated. "If we tax our healthcare workers and healthcare system to the point of breaking, when this is over ... there's going to be a lot of people that are very tired. And I'm not sure the public would be confident and feel they got fresh healthcare workers looking after them after this is over." Dr. Jeffrey Betcher, right, was the very first person in Saskatchewan to be vaccinated against COVID-19. He is encouraging others in the province to help preserve the healthcare system and its workers, by getting the COVID-19 vaccine. (CBC) Health Minister says hospitalizations stabilized The SHA's message was different than the one provided by Health Minister Paul Merriman hours earlier. During a scrum at the Saskatchewan legislature Friday, Merriman said he heard double bedding "might be happening," adding it was "very temporary." Health Minister Paul Merriman. (CBC) He said while it's concerning Regina hospitals are on bypass, "we have seen the numbers stabilize as far as hospitalizations." "We're hoping that trend continues," Merriman said, encouraging the public, especially those in Regina, to get the COVID-19 vaccine. He said vaccines will continue to help drive down hospitalizations and deaths. However, Opposition Leader Ryan Meili called for the government to do more in order to reduce surge capacity at Regina hospitals. "We hope it's temporary, but it's avoidable. We didn't need to be in this situation, and it's much worse than the minister is willing to confess," Meili said.
Some trappers and elders from Little Red River Cree Nation in northern Alberta are urging the province to protect a dwindling Wabasca wood buffalo herd. In a letter to Environment Minister Jason Nixon, they ask for immediate action to end unregulated hunting by legally protecting the herd. "Our Woodland Cree Trappers and Elders have seen the Wabasca wood buffalo herd plummet without suitable recovery management actions," says the March 26 letter, which was signed by trappers Johnson Alook, Sylvester Auger and Lorne Tallcree. "We have not seen more than nine animals at a time of this herd this past season." A spokesman for Nixon said in a statement Friday that the province recognizes the importance of the Wabasca herd to Indigenous people and other Albertans. "The Wabasca bison population plays an important role in the conservation and recovery of wood bison in northern Alberta," said the emailed statement from press secretary Paul Hamnett. "Currently the Wabasca bison population is at low levels and at risk of local extinction. At this time, the Wabasca bison population cannot sustain any level of harvesting." The statement said the province is looking at all potential measures and actions that could be taken to conserve and recover the population. The trappers said they have yet to receive a response from the province, but hope officials will take steps to protect the herd before it disappears completely. "When I started trapping, I used to see 40, 30 buffalo," Alook said in an interview. "For a few years now, I haven't seen any buffalo. "There's some buffalo out there, but I haven't seen them. I used to see them every time we'd go out there." Other trappers and elders noticed the same thing, added Auger, so they decided to form a group to express their concerns. "We want to get them protected," he said. 'At this point it's dire' Kecia Kerr, executive director for the northern chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, said it has worked with the group and shares its concerns. "There isn't a very good estimate of population size for this herd. But when you are talking about 20 individuals, at this point it's dire," she said. Kerr said the society would like to see the herd get subject animal status, which is a category that allows for legal protection. It would also like to see hunting become regulated, she said. "Ultimately, in Alberta, there needs to be a change to how bison are provided status across the province." The letter says the herd is culturally and ecologically important as one of the few disease-free, free-ranging wood buffalo herds in Canada. There are only two other healthy herds in Alberta — in Ronald Lake and Hay Zama — and both have protections that prohibit unregulated hunting. "The persistence of this genetically unique, disease-free herd is critical to the recovery of the species," says the letter. "It has been our observation that unregulated harvesting targets the largest members of the herd and that when this herd is faced with the threats originating from predators, the largest members of the herd protect the young by forming a protective shield around them. "Thus, we believe the unregulated harvesting weakens the protective capacity of the herd and has a compounding effect towards herd extinction." Urgent action must be taken so that future generations of the Little Red River Cree Nation can exercise ceremonial use and have food security from the herd, it says. "The current situation, as it trends now towards herd extinction, does not uphold the honour and integrity of the Crown in protecting our treaty right."
A B.C. man who deliberately crashed his car into the Fraser River with his then-girlfriend in the passenger seat has been given a two-month conditional sentence for dangerous driving. Hua Feng, 37, sent his car plunging into the river at the foot of Fraser Street in Vancouver on Sept. 17, 2019, during an argument with the woman he was dating at the time, according to a provincial court sentencing decision. The couple began arguing after they spent an unsuccessful day driving around the city trying to borrow money from friends, Judge Reginald Harris said in his reasons for sentence, handed down Tuesday. According to Harris, the girlfriend told Feng "she did not want to live this way and she told Mr. Feng that he was 'garbage' and said, 'Why don't you die?' Mr. Feng responded by saying, 'Then let's die together.' " He then began swerving across the roadway, accelerating and braking suddenly, while the girlfriend tried taking control of the steering wheel and pleaded with him to stop. According to the decision, video from the scene shows Feng speeding into the 8600 block of Fraser Street, driving between two concrete barriers, and then careening over an embankment and into the river. A forensic examination of the vehicle showed Feng was driving 71 kilometres per hour — 21 kilometres over the speed limit — just 2.5 seconds before they hit the water. He didn't hit the brakes until about one second before impact. When they landed in the water, the girlfriend tried to open the passenger door to escape, but it was stuck, according to the decision. Thankfully, Feng managed to open his door and they were both able to get to safety. 'Deliberately and recklessly' put woman in danger Feng pleaded guilty to one count of dangerous driving, and his defence team asked for a conditional discharge, arguing that he was "he was exhausted, distracted and driving in an unfamiliar area" at the time of the crash, the judge wrote. But Harris rejected those claims. "Mr. Feng conducted himself in a manner whereby he deliberately and recklessly put [his then-girlfriend] in danger. She was a passenger in his car and he had a duty to drive safely and exercise all caution. Instead … Mr. Feng acted without consideration for her safety and he drove into the river," the judge said. Because of what happened, the victim told the court she will not ride in cars with other people and gets nervous near flowing water. She said she was unable to sleep after the crash, and lost her job because of poor performance. Harris said Feng's crime warranted a sentence that will "send a message to Mr. Feng and others that driving with the intention of causing fear will result in harsh consequences, particularly when the conduct impacts a passenger who has no mechanism of escape." However, the judge rejected the Crown's suggested six-month conditional sentence, saying it was "disproportionate" to the crime. He said two months served in the community would send enough of a message. Harris also declined to make an order for probation once Feng's sentence is over, and said he would not impose a 12-month driving prohibition. Feng served six days in jail after his arrest for the crash.
NEW DELHI (Reuters) -India's capital New Delhi recorded 24,000 coronavirus cases in a 24-hour period and is facing an acute shortage of hospital beds, its chief minister said on Saturday, as the country overall recorded more than 200,000 cases for a third day. "Beds equipped with oxygen supplies, and for critical care, are filling fast," he added. New Delhi, which has imposed a weekend curfew, is among the worst hit cities in India, where a second major wave of coronavirus infections is straining health infrastructure.
TORONTO — Ontario reversed course on sweeping new police powers Saturday, just one day after Premier Doug Ford announced the measures that triggered a swift and furious backlash. Officers will no longer have the right to stop any pedestrian or driver to ask why they're out or request their home address, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said in a written statement on Saturday evening. Instead, she said, police will only be able to stop people who they have reason to believe are participating in an "organized public event or social gathering." As the number of people infected with COVID-19 in hospital reached record levels, Ford tweeted that another of the measures would also be reversed. "Ontario’s enhanced restrictions were always intended to stop large gatherings where spread can happen," Ford said. "Our regulations will be amended to allow playgrounds, but gatherings outside will still be enforced." Civil libertarians and pundits attacked new anti-pandemic restrictions announced Friday by Ford as misguided, saying the added police powers aimed at enforcing stay-at-home orders were overkill. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association welcomed Saturday's reversal. "The new order rationalizes and narrows the unconstitutional Friday standard. The new standard is also tied to a public health objective, and avoids arbitrary detention," said Michael Bryant, executive director of the CCLA. Ahead of the reversal, large and small police forces across the province said they had no intention of exercising their newfound powers. Andrew Fletcher, chief of the South Simcoe Police Service, said officers would only act on complaints. Police forces from Thunder Bay to Ottawa to Toronto and Woodstock expressed similar positions. "We are all going through a horrific year of COVID-19 and all associated with it together. The HRPS will NOT be randomly stopping vehicles for no reason during the pandemic or afterwards (RIDE being an exception)," Halton Police Chief Steve Tanner tweeted before the province walked back the regulations. The closing of outdoor spaces, meanwhile, puzzled many public health experts who said the measures didn't make sense. "Outdoor activities are vital for mental and physical health, especially with stay-at-home orders," Dr. Isaac Bogoch, who sits on the province’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force, said in a tweet. "Science is clear: Outdoor COVID transmission is extremely rare." The pandemic, meanwhile, continued unabated on Saturday. The number of patients in hospital due to the novel coronavirus rose above 2,000 for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, with 726 in intensive care and 501 needing a ventilator, authorities reported. To help manage the record number of hospitalizations, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair announced Saturday that two federal mobile health units would remain in the province until at least the end of June. Health officials also recorded 34 more deaths related to the virus -- the highest single-day count in almost two months, when 47 people were reported as dying from coronavirus disease. The province logged 4,362 new cases on Saturday, down from Friday's record-setting number of 4,812. Globally, the pandemic has now killed more than three million people. The new restrictions, including a two-week extension to the province's stay-at-home order until May 20, were announced amid dire warnings from government scientific advisers that the pandemic was only set to worsen. Other measures include further restrictions on outdoor gatherings and indoor religious services, while recreational facilities such as golf courses are now closed. Ontario intends to shut its borders with Quebec and Manitoba to non-essential travel effective Monday. Ford said Friday the province was "on its heels" and the measures were urgently needed to bring the province's raging COVID-19 situation under control. But experts said Ford had missed the mark on key drivers of the pandemic, including a lack of paid sick leave for essential workers and a dearth of evidence playgrounds have been a transmission source. “Doug Ford’s handling of this pandemic has been an abject failure and absolute disaster," said Patty Coates, president of the Ontario Federation of Labour. Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, a father of two young children, welcomed the change of heart on playgrounds, saying "common sense wins." "Now let’s have a discussion on other outdoor amenities as well," Brown said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 17, 2021. The Canadian Press
A surge in patients with COVID-19 means Vancouver General Hospital's intensive care unit is under intense strain with patients arriving "back to back," according to a critical care physician who works there. Dr. Hussein Kanji, the hospital's medical director of the high acuity unit, said everyone working in the ICU is stretched to the limit. "Our hospital system is incredibly, incredibly stressed right now. Our ICUs are more stressed than they've ever been," Kanji told reporters Friday. "We're all exhausted." Friday saw a record 425 patients in hospital with COVID-19 across B.C., including 127 in intensive care — more than ever before. Between 50 and 70 patients a week are now entering critical care with the disease. On the ground, that's translating into hectic days at VGH. "They seem to be coming back to back or even at the same time needing admission into the ICU. Just right now we've had two simultaneous admissions into the emergency department needing our care," Kanji said. 'Way, way, way beyond the call of duty' He said patients are coming in more quickly after their initial diagnosis, they're much sicker and they're younger than what was seen previously in the pandemic. Younger patients are now needing ventilators and other lifesaving interventions more frequently as well. Data presented by health officials on Thursday shows a significant spike over the last month in the number of patients between the ages of 40 and 59 who are ending up in hospital with COVID-19. In Ontario, doctors have begun discussing "triage" measures in the event hospitals are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. In these scenarios, because of insufficient staff and resources, doctors would have to decide which critically ill patients will receive lifesaving care. Dr. Hussein Kanji is the medical director of the high acuity unit at Vancouver General Hospital.(CBC News) Kanji said B.C.'s medical system is not in immediate danger of being overwhelmed and "I very much hope we'll never be in that position." But he added that the availability of health care professionals will be the limiting factor in B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix told reporters Friday that B.C. has enough beds and equipment to handle a significant surge in hospitalizations, but the province cannot spare any workers. There are reports that Ontario Premier Doug Ford has asked other provinces to send health-care workers to support the crunch in his province, but Dix said it's not possible for B.C. to help out. Despite the pressures at VGH, Kanji said he's never seen staff working with such a high level of devotion to patient care. "There isn't a single staff member who hasn't gone way, way, way beyond the call of duty, and it's heartwarming," he said.
A video of a Saskatoon security guard making an arrest has sparked questions online over civilian arrests and use of force this week. An investigative consultant said while an arrest may be legal, it's up to police and courts to determine if the use of force was "reasonable." The incident in question happened at the FreshCo on 33rd Street West in Saskatoon's Mayfair neighbourhood. What led to the incident is not entirely clear. The nine-minute video was recorded by a witness and shows a man who identifies himself as the grocery store's security guard trying to force handcuffs on a woman. The guard can be heard accusing her of stealing as bystanders plead with him to let her go and let police handle it. "The issue will be, did this person have reasonable grounds to believe that this person had committed an offence? And then the second question is, did he use reasonable force in attempting to arrest this person?" said Jay Watson, a lawyer with Cuelenaere LLP in Saskatoon. Watson said it's a complicated situation as there's a security guard present, with a job to prevent theft, who believes he has witnessed theft by a civilian. He then goes to make a citizen's arrest. Anyone can make a civilian's arrest if there are reasonable grounds and a reasonable use of force, he said. GRAPHIC WARNING | Federation of Soveirgn Indigenous Nations calls for guard to be fired: The main difference between a security guard making a civilian arrest and a police officer putting someone under arrest is that police officers have legislation protecting them if they are wrong, said Watson. "If just the security guard doesn't have reasonable probable grounds, was found by a court or uses unreasonable force, he can be sued and he may be committing an offence," he said. Watson said everyone has opinions, but it's going to be up to police and the courts to have the final say. Jay Watson is a civil and criminal lawyer with Cuelenaere LLP in Saskatoon. (Submitted by Jay Watson) "It's definitely not black and white. It's grey. As lawyers and judges, we're used to that," he said. "From the public's point of view, I can see there's no easy solution to this issue." Bruce Pitt-Payne, a former RCMP officer and investigation consultant, said it's section 94 of the Criminal Code of Canada that allows citizens to arrest people if they have grounds to. But Saskatoon police will be looking closely at all aspects of this situation. "The security guard would have to prove to them that he had the actual lawful grounds to make the arrest. If that happens and it's shown to be valid, then the police would still have to look at the reasonableness and the proportionality of the use of force," Pitt-Payne said. "Meaning, what would a reasonable person believe? That's the test, the simplistic version." This specific situation is complicated as the security guard was allegedly injured as well, Pitt-Payne said. At this time, police would treat both people involved as suspects and victims and interview witnesses, look at medical records and video evidence. That may take time. We have to always be fair enough to remember that de-escalation only works if all parties involved want it to work. - Bruce Pitt-Payne Pitt-Payne said de-escalation training should be increased tenfold for police and security guards alike. He said there can never be enough training, but more so for security guards who typically have drastically less training than police officers. "We have to always be fair enough to remember that de-escalation only works if all parties involved want it to work. So it isn't always just a training issue. It's unfortunately very much dependent ... the result ... on what each of the people involved in that situation want to do." Security guard and use of force training instructor says video hard to watch Joel Pedersen said it's hard to see the video. The former Saskatoon Police Officer now runs 2J2 Fitness and 2J2 Security, training security guards across Saskatchewan. Pedersen said he doesn't want to be a sideline quarterback and say what should have happened, but it's sad to see situations get out of control. "Often we think about having balance, especially when emotions are high and trying to bring that level minded behaviour in line," Pedersen said. "It's really challenging to say what could have been done." Joel Pedersen is the owner of J2J Fitness and J2J Security. (Submitted by Joel Pedersen) Pedersen said through his experience as a police officer for over 25 years, he knows it's a challenge for police to be everywhere all the time. He said security workers — such as the community support workers or security guards — step up and bridge that gap, but need proper training. "I think that's a huge support to the police service and the overall safety of the city," Pedersen said. "But the training that we want to provide is humane. So that when the security officer or security guard, if he or she does have to defend themselves … they do it in a humane fashion." On Friday when speaking to CBC Saskatchewan, Pedersen was conducting a training session with the Downtown Community Support Officers that work in Saskatoon's downtown. The session was scheduled before the incident took place and was teaching communication and techniques for de-escalation. Pedersen said de-escalation is a key element of security training and work and starts with responses and being proactive before things get out of control. "I don't believe the security guard's role is to take the place of the police by any stretch of the imagination," Pedersen said. "A lot of the work should be gathering out information and reporting that information." When incidents like this do occur, it's important they are recorded, reported on and looked at, Pedersen said. He said it's about focusing on how to correct it and have professionals do better in the future. "It is unfortunate to see that kind of incident take place in Saskatoon, because sometimes we think in our own bubble of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, that these kinds of things don't happen here. But they do." The head of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) said on Thursday the FreshCo incident was one instance of violence Indigenous women face. He called for the guard to be fired. Pedersen said that it can help the community to have Indigenous people trained in these guard roles.
Drivers in British Columbia are keener than ever to buy electric vehicles, but the lack of charging stations in condo buildings is a major impediment. That's one of the findings of a report that was discussed at the Metro Vancouver Climate Action Committee on Friday. The report found that, although adoption of electric vehicles is key for the region to reduce its carbon emissions, there currently isn't enough infrastructure in multi-residential buildings to support drivers wanting to charge them at home. In Vancouver alone, 62 per cent of homes surveyed in the 2016 census were apartments. University of British Columbia business professor Werner Antweiler is familiar with the struggles of installing charging stations from scratch. Antweiler, who researches environmental economics, including electric vehicle adoption, helped to retrofit his 61-unit building to include charging stations for about a third of the units. He says the process took three years from start to finish. "I was officially professionally interested and nerdy enough to actually have enjoyed the process," he said. "But it took a lot of effort from a couple of really dedicated people to make it happen." UBC professor Werner Antweiler says public charging stations for electric vehicles are still sparse, driving a need for more drivers to charge their cars at home. (Ben Nelms/CBC) First, the changes had to be approved by a 75 per cent majority of the building's owners at a special meeting of the strata — the committee of volunteer owners that govern most privately-owned apartments in B.C. The strata's bylaws had to be changed to allow those who needed the extra power to pay for it themselves directly. Then, they had to hire a contractor to figure out if their 15-year-old building could even handle the extra power needs. Along the way were myriad other technical challenges and decisions that had to be figured out. While the strata paid a nominal amount for a feasibility study, the 25 condo owners who got a charging station in their parking spot each paid between $3,000 and $6,000. Antweiler says they're hoping to recoup 50 per cent of those costs through the province's EV charger rebate program, which closed Feb. 28 but is likely to be renewed. "We need to have charging essentially close to home to make it an interesting proposition for car owners," Antweiler said. "And we're still far away from getting us to that point, because the infrastructure we currently have for public charging ... is still pretty sparse." B.C. Hydro says there are 2,500 public charging stations throughout the province and more on their way this year. As for the rebate program, it says, by the end of 2020, 377 EV charging stations had been installed in condo and apartments buildings since 2018. All EVs in B.C. by 2040 British Columbia is aiming to have all personal vehicles on the road be electric by 2040. Electric vehicles are selling in record numbers in the province, and a recent survey from KPMG suggests that 68 per cent of Canadians who plan to buy a new vehicle in the next five years are likely to buy electric. And car manufacturers are increasingly onboard with building more electric models. In 2019, Volkswagen pledged to make all of its vehicles electric by 2026. Tony Gioventu, executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association of B.C., says most stratas are willing to install charging stations but face multiple challenges. Gioventu says even some newer buildings on the market aren't equipped to accommodate charging stations — either because of the way their power is distributed or because their bylaws assign specific parking stalls to units. "It isn't just that there's a reluctance or resistance," he said. "It's just really daunting." A survey from KPMG suggests that nearly 70 per cent of Canadians interested in buying a new car in the next five years would like an electric vehicle. (Ben Nelms/CBC) Government support and regulations Some municipalities have mandated that all new buildings have the capacity to accommodate charging stations, and Gioventu says he would like to see more of those types of regulations. But that still leaves a lot of buildings that don't have the right infrastructure in place, and a volunteer committee to figure out how to navigate the regulations in place to upgrade it. Luckily, Gioventu says, there are companies that can help move the process along. But it still takes six months to two years for charging stations to be installed. What Gioventu would like to see is a rebate program that helps entire buildings restructure their electrical systems rather than a piecemeal approach that funds individual drivers. "In the long term it would be substantially less expensive rather than individual stations being modified," he said. BC Hydro says if the rebate program is approved again in this year's budget, it would include a separate program for condo and apartment buildings to fund assessment, infrastructure development and installation of electric vehicle charges.
Two Russian warships transited the Bosphorus en route to the Black Sea on Saturday and 15 smaller vessels completed a transfer to the sea as Moscow beefs up its naval presence at a time of tense relations with the West and Ukraine. The reinforcement coincides with a huge build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine, something Moscow calls a temporary defensive exercise, and follows an escalation in fighting in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces.
LIHUE, Hawaii — The police commission on the Hawaii island of Kauai has suspended the police chief without pay for five days for making discriminatory comments after an investigation found he mocked people of Asian descent. The Kauai Police Department said in a statement Friday that Chief Todd Raybuck will be suspended from April 26-30 for violating county policy. He will also be required to complete Equal Employment Opportunity anti-discrimination training and cultural sensitivity training. The police department said a Kauai Department of Human Resources investigation concluded there was no evidence to support the allegation that Raybuck failed to promote an employee based upon the person's ancestry, race or national origin. Raybuck said in a statement that he values and appreciates diversity in the workplace and community. "I accept responsibility for my comments and will continue to use this experience to expand my cultural awareness and increase my knowledge and understanding of different cultures,” he said. The police department's statement didn’t provide details on Raybuck’s violations, only that they occurred on Nov. 13, 2019 and July 29, 2020. The Garden Island newspaper last month reported an investigation by the Kauai Police Commission found Raybuck on Nov. 13, 2019 relayed a story of meeting someone of Asian descent in a restaurant in which he parodied the person’s speech and mannerisms. Raybuck used “facial gestures and accent, and commented on an employee’s haircut as something out of a Kung Fu movie,” according to a letter by commission Chairperson Catherine Adams. A complaint filed against the chief said he laughed and thought his demonstration was funny. In a July 29, 2020, incident, Raybuck explained why an employee of Japanese descent wasn’t chosen for a promotion, according to audio recordings submitted as evidence for the complaint and obtained by Lihue newspaper. “So, somebody in the Japanese culture, if they think your idea is absolutely stupid and the dumbest thing they’ve ever heard, what’s their typical response to you?” Raybuck said, according to the newspaper. “‘Yes, yes, yes.’” A complaint filed against Raybuck alleged he squinted and bowed his head when making the comments. The Associated Press
As COVID-19 cases skyrocket in Ontario, the government is imposing the most drastic measures yet. Aaron McArthur has the details, and the reaction here in B.C.
Myanmar has been in upheaval since Min Aung Hlaing ousted an elected government led by democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi. Security forces have killed 728 people, according to an activist group, in an attempt to crush protests. In the latest violence, security forces shot and killed two protesters in the ruby-mining town of Mogok, a resident told Reuters, while several small bombs went off in the main city of Yangon, wounding several people, media outlets reported.
Prosecutors overseeing a grand jury investigation into the death of Daniel Prude last year in Rochester, New York, undercut the case for criminal charges with testimony from a medical expert who said three police officers who held Prude to the ground until he stopped breathing didn’t do anything wrong. Dr. Gary Vilke told the grand jury that Prude, a 41-year-old Black man, died of a heart attack caused by the medical phenomenon known as excited delirium. He said the officers' actions, which included placing a mesh hood over Prude's head, had no impact on his breathing, according to transcripts made public Friday. A medical examiner ruled Prude’s death a homicide due to asphyxiation from a physical restraint, with use of the drug PCP as a factor. Vilke, a University of California, San Diego professor who routinely testifies on behalf of police, said restraining Prude during the encounter in the early hours of March 23, 2020 may have been best for his safety given his condition. Asked by a grand juror if anything could have been done better, Vilke responded: “I wouldn’t do anything differently.” The grand jury ultimately rejected criminally negligent homicide charges against the three officers by a 15-5 vote, the transcripts show. Prosecutors from the state attorney general’s office sought no other charges. They told grand jurors that they could choose not to indict if they believed the use of force was justified. Five jurors indicated they would have voted to indict at least one of the officers. The grand jury’s decision not to indict was announced at the time it was made in February, but the transcripts of nine days of testimony from witnesses — including Prude’s brother, police officers and experts — offer a rare window into a process normally kept under wraps. Prude family lawyer Elliot Shields said he believed prosecutors had undermined their own case by calling Vilke, whom he likened to a defence witness. “It’s obvious that they didn’t even try,” Shields told The Associated Press. “They hired him so that he would come in and they could have cover and say, ‘Well, we tried.’ Well no you didn’t,” Shields said. “You tried to make sure these officers got off scot-free.” New York Attorney General Letitia James had said, in announcing the grand jury’s decision, that the state had put on the best case it could. Her office defended its use of Vilke as an expert Friday, saying it promised an independent investigation without a predetermined outcome. The release of grand jury materials comes at a sensitive time for the issue of race in policing. Testimony is ending in the trial of former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd. And on Thursday, body camera video was released that showed a Chicago police officer fatally shoot 13-year-old Adam Toledo last month after he appeared to drop a handgun and begin raising his hands. Prude encountered police hours after he was released from a hospital following a mental health arrest. He ran naked from his brother’s home and was seen bashing store windows. Prude’s brother, Joe, testified that he warned an officer responding to his home, “Don't kill my brother.” Prude’s death went largely unnoticed until September, when his family released body camera video of the encounter obtained through a public records request. Emails later made public by the city showed police commanders urged city officials to hold off on releasing the footage. The video showed Prude handcuffed and naked with a spit hood over his head as one officer pushed his face against the ground and another officer pressed a knee to his back. The officers held Prude down for about two minutes until he stopped breathing. He was taken off life support a week later. Vilke told the grand jury that drug use and mental illness contribute to excited delirium, which can make people vulnerable to cardiac arrest. There is no universally accepted definition of excited delirium and researchers have said it’s not well understood. Vilke said he didn't think the spit hood was a factor or that the officers obstructed Prude's breathing. “So, all those things allow me to be able to be comfortable saying my opinion is that none of the officers, their impact, individually or collectively, would have caused or contributed to that cardiac arrest," Vilke said. "And, to go even one step further, if he had been allowed to get up and run around ... that would actually be more detrimental than being held down.” Shields, the lawyer for the Prude family, called Vilke’s assertion that restraining Prude was safer “outrageous.” An officer testified that police used the hood because Prude was spitting and they were wary of being sickened in the early days of the pandemic. “I don’t know if you guys remember exactly about the coronavirus, how we felt, but it was almost hysteria in the country," the unidentified officer said The state also offered the grand jury testimony from Geoffrey Alpert, a criminology professor at the University of South Carolina who previously worked as a federal monitor for the police department in New Orleans. Alpert also testified that spit hoods don't restrict breathing. He said it was reasonable for officers to pin Prude to the ground, calling it a generally safe method of restraint. But he said officers probably held Prude on his stomach for an unreasonable amount of time, though he added he was not a medical doctor and couldn’t say if that contributed to his death. The footage of Prude's arrest and restraint sparked nightly protests in Rochester, a rust-belt city on the shore of Lake Ontario which was roiled recently by body camera footage of white officers using pepper spray on a 9-year-old Black girl. James, whose office investigates police shootings, secured a judge’s permission to make the usually secret grand jury material public, citing a desire for transparency in Prude's case. The transcripts were released with the names of witnesses blacked out. Seven officers, including the three involved in Prude’s restraint, remain suspended pending the outcome of an internal investigation. Matthew Rich, a lawyer for four officers who responded but weren’t involved in Prude’s restraint, questioned the closed-door process that paved the way for the transcripts being released. Despite that, he wrote in a letter to the judge last month that he and his clients “have nothing to hide.” One Prude grand juror praised the prosecution team's “amazing work.” “If it wasn’t for everything that you presented to us, I don’t think anybody would have come up with a decision. You worked very hard and I’m sure nobody took it lightly," the juror said. "It was a very serious case. It’s horrible what happened to him.” ___ Associated Press reporters Larry Neumeister, Thalia Beaty, Jennifer Peltz, Jim Mustian and David B. Caruso in New York; Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo and Michael Hill in Albany contributed to this report. ___ Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak Michael R. Sisak, The Associated Press
This opinion piece is by Dr. Anne Huang, who is a Canadian and U.K.-trained physician. She was a former deputy medical health officer for the Saskatchewan Health Authority and Indigenous Services Canada's First Nations and Inuit Health Branch in Saskatchewan. For more information about CBC's Opinion section, please see the FAQ. As COVID-19's third wave in Canada continues to mount, we're beginning to learn what cannot be readily conveyed by tracing the daily number of new infections: Who are the people behind the numbers shaping the vertical walls of the third wave? And where are the fuelling stations turbo-charging the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus? The truth is they are largely immigrants and racialized people working in jobs most susceptible to exposure to COVID-19. To not act in the best interest of everyone, including those least able to advocate for themselves, is a silent admission that some Canadians are more valuable than others. My journey as a Canadian began in the English-as-second-language classes of a public high school alongside other teenage immigrants from around the world. I have enjoyed many privileges that have allowed me to be trained as a physician in Canada, but not all immigrants or individuals of visible minorities are as fortunate as I am. Sharing my knowledge in this piece is a testament to what Canada means to prospective immigrants. COVID-19 disproportionately affects visible minorities In October 2020, Statistics Canada reported "immigrants are disproportionately represented in jobs with greater exposure to COVID-19," and that "34 per cent of frontline/essential service workers identify as visible minorities (compared with 21 per cent in other sectors)." Further, visible minorities are overrepresented in industries worst affected by the pandemic, such as food and accommodation services, which has led to relatively higher unemployment rates. WATCH | Dr. Anne Huang on why vaccination alone isn't enough: In its one-year update on COVID-19, Statistics Canada reported that areas with the highest proportion of visible minorities (25 per cent or more) experienced COVID-19 deaths at a rate double that of areas with the lowest proportion of visible minorities (less than one per cent). This contrast was even more pronounced in Quebec, Ontario and B.C. After many weeks of leading the country in per-capita active case rate, Saskatchewan seemed genuinely surprised by the revelation that "coronavirus classic" and its upgraded versions, the variants of concern, have successfully breached the province's pandemic response. While social interactions remained subdued by public health orders, invisible crowns of the enveloped RNA virus — clad in its new B117-spiked armour — gained a foothold. They now reign in workplaces and households of public-facing and essential-service workers in the Queen City. Ethnic origin or race-based COVID-19 data is not publicly available for Saskatchewan. However, based on national analysis conducted by Statistics Canada, it would be reasonable to assume that the pandemic has also disproportionately impacted the health, social and economic status of Saskatchewan's racialized communities. Or just pay attention next time to who staffs the windows at your favourite fast food drive-thru. Many essential services cannot be performed at home Yet the latest round of public health measures announced by the Saskatchewan government on April 13 was devoid of details on how essential service or frontline workers will be protected from the rapidly spreading B117 variant. This follows weeks of public acknowledgement by officials that measures which were adequate to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the past are no longer sufficient to stem the current surge of workplace transmissions, and that if infected, the essential-service workers often spread the variant virus to the rest of the family or household members. Providing workers with sick leave is one way to help curb the spread of the pandemic, according to Huang.(Saskatchewan Health Authority) Many of these essential services cannot be performed from home, such as meat or produce processing. They provide life-sustaining essentials in our modern world. Workers in these industries put their health and lives on the line so the rest of us can work from home and order groceries, meals and goods online for home deliveries. There are effective interventions to stop COVID-19 in its tracks: Upgrade personal protective equipment — better masks — and improve work-site ventilation. This reduces inhalation of virus-contaminated air in shared indoor spaces. Guarantee access to paid sick/pandemic leave. Current wage subsidy programs don't meet the needs of workers who do not have employer-sponsored benefits and who cannot afford to miss work due to mild symptoms if they will lose income. Quarantine and isolation accommodation for infected workers. This protects the household and family members from in-home transmissions if there is inadequate space to properly isolate at home. Household or family members of an infected essential-service worker may also work in public-facing jobs themselves. The lack of such programs one year into a global pandemic in a resource-rich province invites a simple question: Why? The pandemic is not only testing the intensive-care unit capacity or the economic reserve in Saskatchewan. It is also testing the grand vision of Canada – a democracy built on a mosaic of diversities bounded by egalitarian values. COVID-19 is testing our notion of what it means to be Canadian — and we must stand on guard for that dream. Interested in writing for us? We accept pitches for opinion and point-of-view pieces from Saskatchewan residents who want to share their thoughts on the news of the day, issues affecting their community or who have a compelling personal story to share. No need to be a professional writer! Read more about what we're looking for here, then email firstname.lastname@example.org with your idea.