Leslie Jordan talks to Yahoo Entertainment about his new show Call Me Kat, what it's like working with Mayim Bialik, and his viral social media fame.
Leslie Jordan talks to Yahoo Entertainment about his new show Call Me Kat, what it's like working with Mayim Bialik, and his viral social media fame.
In the opening moments of a Golden Globes night even more chaotic and confounding than usual, co-host Tina Fey raised a theoretical question: “Could this whole night have been an email?” Only the next three hours would tell. Well, sure, it could have been an email. But then you wouldn't have had Chadwick Boseman’s eloquent widow, bringing many to tears as she explained how she could never be as eloquent as her late husband. Or Jane Fonda, sharply calling out Hollywood for its lack of diversity on a night when her very hosts were under fire for exactly that. Or Chloé Zhao, making history as the first woman of Asian descent to win best director (and the first woman since 1984.) Or 98-year-old Norman Lear, giving the simplest explanation for his longevity: never living or laughing alone. Or Jodie Foster kissing her wife joyfully, eight years after very tentatively coming out on the same telecast. Of course, there were the usual confounding results and baffling snubs, compounded here by some epic Zoom fails. But then we had the kids and the dogs. And they were adorable. Next year, can we still have the kids and the dogs, please? Some key moments of the first and hopefully last virtual Globes night: AN OVERDUE RECKONING The evening began under a cloud of embarrassing revelations about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and its lack of inclusion, including the damaging fact that there are no Black members in the 87-person body. Fey and co-host Amy Poehler addressed it early: “Even with stupid things, inclusivity is important." Winners like Daniel Levy of “Schitt's Creek” and presenters like Sterling K. Brown referred to it. Jane Fonda made it a theme of her powerful speech accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award. And the HFPA made a hasty onstage pledge to change. “We recognize we have our own work to do,” said vice-president Helen Hoehne. “We must have Black journalists in our organization.” “I DON'T HAVE HIS WORDS” The best-actor award to Chadwick Boseman for “Ma Rainey's Black Bottom” had been expected. That did not dull the emotional impact of his victory. His widow, Taylor Simone Ledward, tearfully accepted in his honour, telling viewers that her husband, who died of colon cancer at 43 before the film was released, “would say something beautiful, something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice inside of all of us that tells you you can. That tells you to keep going, that calls you back to what you are meant to be doing at this moment in history.” But, she said poignantly, “I don't have his words." Co-star Viola Davis could be seen weeping as Ledward spoke. She was not alone. PREDICTABLE ZOOM FAILS It was obvious there were going to be awkward Zoom fails. It started early, when the very first winner, Daniel Kaluuya for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” was on mute as he accepted his award, leaving presenter Laura Dern to apologize for technical difficulties. Thankfully, the problem was resolved in time for the actor to speak. Jason Sudeikis, whose charmingly rambling speech ("This is nuts!") and rumpled hoodie signalled he hadn't expected to win, finally realized he needed to “wrap this puppy up.” And winner Catherine O'Hara ("Schitt's Creek") had some perhaps unwelcome help from her husband, whose efforts to provide applause sounds and play-off music on his phone while she spoke lost something in translation, causing confusion on social media. Oh yes, and there were those conversations between nominees before commercials — did they know we heard them? KIDS AND PETS, STILL BRINGING JOY Still, the virtual acceptances from winners stuck at home had a huge silver lining: happy kids and cute pets. When Mark Ruffalo won for “I Know This Much is True,” two of his teens could not control their joy enough to stay out of the camera shot. Not to be outdone, the adorable young daughter of Lee Isaac Chung, writer-director of the Korean-American family drama “Minari,” sat in his lap and hugged him throughout his acceptance for best foreign language film. “She’s the reason I made this film,” said Chung. Winner Jodie Foster ("The Mauritanian") also had a family member in her lap: her dog. Also seen: Sarah Paulson's dog, and Emma Corrin's cat. LOVE FOR BORAT, SNUB FOR BAKALOVA ... AND EXPOSURE FOR GIULIANI Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova, breakout star of Amazon’s “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” had been widely expected to win, but lost out to Rosamund Pike ("I Care a Lot") who saluted Bakalova's bravery. In her movie, Pike said, “I had to swim up from a sinking car. I think I still would rather do that than have been in a room with Rudy Giuliani.” The former New York mayor's infamous cameo was also the butt of jokes from “Borat” star Sacha Baron Cohen, who called Giuliani “a fresh new talent who came from nowhere and turned out to be a comedy genius ... I mean, who could get more laughs from one unzipping?” Baron Cohen, who won for best actor in a comedy, also joked that Donald Trump was “contesting the result” of his win. A FIERY FONDA Did you expect anything less from Fonda? In her memorable DeMille award speech, the multiple Globe winner extolled the virtues of cinematic storytelling — “stories can change our hearts and our minds” — then pivoted to admonishing Hollywood. “There's a story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves,” she said, “a story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out: a story about who’s offered a seat at the table and who’s kept out of the rooms where decisions are made.” She said the arts should not merely keep step with society, but lead the way. “Let's be leaders,” she said. ZHAO MAKES HISTORY When Zhao won best director for her haunting and elegant “Nomadland,” she was the first Asian American woman ever to win that award. But that wasn't the only way she made history: it was the first directing Globe for a woman in nearly 40 years, since Barbra Streisand won for “Yentl." Her film, a look at itinerant Americans, “at its core for me is a pilgrimage through grief and healing,” Zhao said. “For everyone who has gone through this difficult and beautiful journey at some point in their lives, we don’t say goodbye, we say: See you down the road.” With Zhao's win, the road widens for other female directors. ___ This story has been corrected to show that Norman Lear is 98, not 99. Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
Emma Corrin just won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Princess Diana.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies 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 in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. 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 Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- 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 Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- 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. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- 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. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- 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. 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. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. 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 British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- 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 March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
It was so important for psychologist Sarah Carr to have a better work-life balance for her and her two daughters, she left a secure, well-paid position as a psychologist in Alberta to open her own office in her hometown of Charlottetown. Not only were her daughters, now aged nine and 10, excited to see their grandparents more often, it meant Carr could make a flexible schedule. “It felt like everywhere I worked, we worked incredibly hard without much flexibility (and) feeling a lot of guilt when we did take some opportunities available to us,” said Carr. “I’m a single mom, so my life – in order to have that work-life balance, in order to go to my kids’ concerts – I wanted to have a job with flexibility.” Opening on P.E.I. in 2017, Carr started with a tiny suite of two rooms, one for her office manager and one to see her clients. Since then, the business has expanded twice and now has three full-time therapists, including Carr, and the office manager at work each day. Counsellor Megan Muckler started with Carr as a student on practicum in May 2020. She graduated in January and has remained working full-time at the office. “It’s really good to be in a psychologically healthy workplace, where mental health is very respected,” said Muckler. “It’s also – I’d say, unfortunately – unusual for the average workplace to have this much built-in – necessary – restorative time. So yes, obviously, it’s wonderful. I love it very much. (Carr) does definitely respect us taking time for ourselves.” In Alberta, Carr was expected to see up to eight clients per day with no flexibility around working hours. “Before I had children, I probably would have just stuck out that kind of job because that’s the kind of employee I am – I’d work hard. But with children, you’re often having to choose, it feels, between work and having a family. I wanted to create an environment where it would not be a choice, where you could do both.” That’s why she planned her business model to allow her and her staff to see four to five clients a day. “You’re carrying a lot of emotional weight for people; it’s very demanding work that way,” said Carr. She is one of the fortunate women working in a career with wages set by a professional association. Even so, being a parent has cost her financially at work. In one job, she was docked a day’s pay for staying home with her sick child. Even though she had paid sick days, she learned afterward that she wasn’t allowed to use them to care for her sick kids. Women-dominant fields suffer the gender and care penalty, said Jillian Kilfoil, executive director of the Women’s Network P.E.I. “Usually, they’re engaged in care work – which is devalued – and they’re usually a women-workforce, which is more devalued, and as a result, the work may be more draining, may be more difficult, but doesn’t have same wages as the other industries,” said Kilfoil. Carr said she gets 25 women applying for work for every man. “Psychologists used to be male-dominated; now it’s female, and our wages aren’t going up every year as they should,” said Carr. “P.E.I. just reached where the rest of Canada was five years ago. … The other provinces are already higher.” Alison Jenkins, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Journal-Pioneer
BARRIE, Ont. — Highway 400 has reopened in both directions after bring closed for hours due to whiteout conditions and a series of collisions.Ontario Provincial Police announced the lanes had reopened around 9 p.m. Monday.Police shut down the major artery Monday afternoon from Highway 88 outside of Bradford, Ont., to Mapleview Drive in Barrie, Ont.They said at the time that snow squalls caused whiteout conditions on the highway north of Toronto, leading to limited visibility and dangerous driving conditions.Police later said more than 11 vehicles were involved in a crash.They said "numerous" people were injured but did not provide details of their condition.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern): 11:15 a.m. Quebec is reporting 588 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. Health officials say hospitalizations rose for a third consecutive day, up by 16 today, for a total of 628. The number of people in intensive care dropped by one, to 121. The province says it administered 16,458 doses of vaccine Monday, the first day of Quebec’s mass vaccination campaign for the general public. Quebec has reported a total of 288,941 COVID-19 infections and 10,407 deaths linked to the virus. --- 10:30 a.m. Ontario is reporting 966 new COVID-19 cases and 11 more deaths from the virus. The new data is based on 30,737 tests. There are 284 hospitalized people in intensive care and 189 people on ventilators. The province says it administered 22,326 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine since the last daily report. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) took another major step in improving high-speed broadband internet access in Eastern Ontario on Monday. Quinte West Mayor Jim Harrison, Belleville Mayor Mitch Panciuk and Prince Edward County Mayor Steve Ferguson joined with EORN Chair J. Murray Jones, Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus Chairwoman Debbie Robinson, Eastern Ontario Mayors’ Caucus Chair Dianne Therrien and wardens and mayors of surrounding regions to send a letter to Laurie Scott, Ontario Minister of Infrastructure and Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, in regards to EORN’s Gig Project proposal. Representing 1.2 million people and thousands of local businesses across the region, the letter explains how COVID-19 has exacerbated the already present frustrations from constituents about the poor or limited access to high-speed broadband services. As the pandemic continues, many citizens of Ontario are experiencing difficulty working from home or accessing online learning platforms reliably due to this issue. “Residents and businesses need to be assured that they will have access to the kinds of technologies that many in large cities already enjoy,” wrote the 21 mayors and wardens. “They also tell us that they want solutions that will last for years to come because they know demand is growing exponentially every year for more and more bandwidth at higher speeds.” The letter acknowledged that there are many ways to tackle the problem and bring broadband infrastructure to homes and businesses across the region and that undertaking this project would be a major commitment for any government. The wardens and mayors collectively expressed their support and the need for all levels of government, along with the private sector, to come together to connect residents and businesses to the right high-speed services that they require and deserve. Expectations among residents and businesses in eastern Ontario continue to rise with the announcement of the provincial ICON program and the federal UBF broadband funding programs. While a regional strategy with a coordinated approach may not be readily available in many areas of Ontario, the letter explains the strong belief that a coordinated, comprehensive regional project for the 113 municipalities of eastern Ontario is the best way to address the challenge of getting the region from 65 per cent coverage with access to even 50/10 speeds to 95 per cent coverage. “We stand ready to push forward with the Gig Project,” stated the letter. “Let EORN be your vehicle to connect the more than 550,000 premises across eastern Ontario that deserve the same fibre optic technology that is available in most large cities today.” Quick, efficient and effective, Eastern Regional Ontario Network is a non-profit organization that addresses the digital divide by improving rural connectivity and supporting economic growth. The organizations represented in the letter understand the critical importance of access to world-class broadband technologies to local economies. The letter closed by asking the addressed ministers Scott and Monsef to partner with and help fund the EORN Gig Project set in motion. Virginia Clinton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Intelligencer
A recent controversy over the consistency of butter reflects the need for evidence rather than anecdotal data.
San Diego Comic-Con will remain virtual for the July event, but organizers are planning for a smaller-scale gathering later this year. Comic-Con announced Monday that the annual confab will return to virtual for a second-straight year between July 23-25. The in-person experience was cancelled again due to coronavirus-related cautions around large gatherings. Organizers said postponements and other challenges caused by the pandemic left them with “limited financial resources.” As a result, the virtual convention in July was reduced from four to three days. However, organizers said they are planning a smaller in-person November event in San Diego. The details have not yet been released. Comic-Con attracts more than 135,000 people — often elaborately costumed — to the Gaslamp District every year for the comic book convention. It is not uncommon for thousands of people to gather in a single room for a panel discussion, and the exhibit hall is usually jam-packed with people perusing merchandise. Last year, Comic-Con organizers postponed its smaller Anaheim, California-based event WonderCon, which had been set to take place in mid-April. A version of the event took place online instead. Comic-Con organizers were slow to make any official decisions regarding their largest event, a huge money-maker for the restaurants and hotels of San Diego, and an important promotional stop for Hollywood television and films. The event is estimated to generate over $147 million for the local economy each year. The Associated Press
After the pandemic cancelled her ultramarathon plans, Fort McMurray woman is testing her physical limits with a 200-kilometre run in an effort to showcase the Wood Buffalo region. Jessica Leska, 36, is starting the run south of Fort McMurray on Friday. Leska initially wanted to run in the 2020 Iditarod in Alaska, a 350-mile (563 km) winter race, but the event was cancelled due to COVID-19. So, Leska started planning her own ultramarathon. In April, she started preparing for an ultra-marathon to Fort Smith, N.W.T., but her plans were thwarted as the winter road between Fort Chipewyan, Alta., and Fort Smith wasn't built this winter because of COVID-19. Leska, unperturbed, shortened her run, instead opting to run to Fort Chipewyan. But the winter to road to Fort Chipewyan had several construction problems, and is experiencing a shorter than average season. Leska didn't want to risk interfering with supply trucks bringing goods into the community and decided to change her route. Now she has a new plan: run from her home in Fort McMurray and loop through skidoo trails in the Boreal forest for 200 kilometres, camping in between days. "One of my main goals is just to be able to show people our own backyard is just as stunning as any other adventure you could go on," said Leska. "I didn't really appreciate it until I started trail running. And now that I know what we have, I want other people to see it too." During the run she'll be be followed by Shaw Spotlight and Thomas Hopkins Photography to capture the trip and make a short documentary. Leska has been training for an ultramarathon for month but said she doesn't run as much as people might think. She said the most she ran in her training was about 80 kilometres in a week. "I know that when I get out there I'm just going to be able to grind it out because I just have that in me." While running the 200-kilometre route, she'll also be pulling a sled carrying all her food, supplies and equipment for the four-day trek. She'll be running from Fort McMurray to Anzac, then heading to Maqua Provincial Park and then home. She's marked out an 200-kilometre path through the forest. Leska said she'll need to eat about 4,000 calories a day and she'll be using snow as her water source. She has some concerns about bears, but said her bigger concern is the mild weather — something she hasn't been training for. "I've been training for the coldest weather, and now suddenly it's going to be extremely mild," said Leska. "It's actually worse." Jessica Leska has been training for the run for months. Leska hasn't been preparing alone. Months ago she reached out to the Fort McMurray Search and Rescue Society to find out how she can do the run during the winter safely. Ron Lamoureux, president of the search and rescue society, said Leska has been able to go out with the society to see the routes, and get some help with gear. Lamoureux said he was a bit surprised by Leska's plan when he first heard about it. "It was sort of like, 'You do know it's still winter right?'" said Lamouruex. He said at least three members have helped her prepare for the trip, including showing her what to wear and how to prepare a shelter. Leska said she would love to make the run an annual event and have other runners participate, though she'll have to see how this year's run goes first.
Regina–SaskEnergy is warning of a potential telemarketing scam targeting its residential customers. The warning comes a week after its sister Crown corporation, put out a warning of a scam targeting its customers. SaskEnergy said in a release on March 2 it has received reports that individuals claiming to be associated with either SaskEnergy, or the federal government, are contacting customers regarding their eligibility for various rebates, including: carbon tax, furnace replacement and equipment maintenance. These callers are not associated with SaskEnergy, and are not offering rebates on behalf of SaskEnergy, the Crown corporation emphasized. SaskEnergy rebates are not offered through solicitation or door-to-door sales. All SaskEnergy rebates are offered through participating SaskEnergy Network Members only. For more information about SaskEnergy current rebates and programs, and a list of qualified Network Member companies, visit www.saskenergy.com. Anyone who has received calls of this nature should make a report to the Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority (FCAA) of the Government of Saskatchewan at 1-306-787-5645 or 1-877-880-5550 (menu option #1), SaskEnergy said, adding, “If you have provided personal financial information, including bank account or credit card information over the phone, you should report the matter to local police, as well as immediately contact your financial institution.” Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
C’est par souci de réduire leur empreinte écologique et pour encourager les autres à suivre leur exemple que huit élèves de l’école Le Tremplin, à Chambly, confectionnent et vendent leurs propres produits zéro déchet. C’est grâce à leur enseignante et à leur éducatrice, Mylène Duchesne et Nathalie Gauthier, qui les ont initiés au tri des déchets et sensibilisés à leurs répercussions sur les fonds marins et les animaux, que les huit garçons de niveau primaire ont commencé à nourrir un intérêt particulier pour la réduction de leur empreinte écologique. Une école pas comme les autres L’école Le Tremplin, située à l’intérieur du Centre jeunesse de la Montérégie sur la rue Salaberry, accueille des jeunes âgés de 10 à 21 ans, placés tantôt sous la Protection de la jeunesse, tantôt sous la Loi des jeunes contrevenants. « En partant, ce sont des élèves qui ont vécu des choses difficiles, apporte Nathalie, et pour qui le papier et le crayon fonctionnent très peu. De là l’intérêt d’enseigner au travers de projets », complète Mylène. « Nous avons un groupe de huit élèves de niveau primaire et ce sont tous des garçons. Ils habitent ici, de trente jours à un certain nombre d’années. Certains peuvent voir leur famille la fin de semaine, contrairement à d’autres. Ils ont vécu toutes sortes d’épreuves, mais ça leur apporte une profondeur et une maturité. » Une idée qui a germé Déjà avant de leur inculquer ses valeurs, Nathalie ne jurait que par les produits zéro déchet, faisant ses propres shampoing, savon à linge, produits de beauté et ménagers artisanaux à la maison. « Avec la COVID, les enfants se désinfectent régulièrement les mains avec des produits chimiques qui les rendent sèches. J’ai donc amené à l’école l’une de mes crèmes et j’ai vu que ça a piqué la curiosité des élèves », raconte l’éducatrice. « On s’est mis à parler beaucoup d’environnement avec eux. Puis un jour, une autre classe de l’école a lancé son propre service de café. Les élèves de cette classe recevaient des commandes des professeurs de l’école le matin et leur apportaient leurs cafés avant la première période », entame Mylène. « En voyant cela, les élèves de notre classe ont réclamé d’avoir leur propre compagnie. Nathalie et moi leur avons demandé quel genre de projet on pourrait faire. À l’unisson, ils ont répondu qu’ils voulaient réaliser ‘’des projets pour sauver la planète’’! » Il a fallu se trouver un nom, des logos, choisir des produits que l’on pouvait fabriquer, calculer combien ça nous coûterait à produire et comment faire du profit. Ils ont même appris à faire des recettes, on a pu leur faire confiance pour se mettre aux fourneaux et ils se sont bien appliqués à la tâche. Lorsqu’ils utilisaient les huiles essentielles, les gens passaient dans le corridor en commentant leur appréciation des effluves et c’était gratifiant pour eux. » C’est ainsi qu’ils ont créé toute une gamme de sept produits distincts. La Maison du zéro déchet Nathalie étant une habituée de la Maison zéro déchet de Chambly, elle et Mylène leur en ont expliqué le concept. « On a dû obtenir la permission des parents, ce qui n’est pas chose facile, pour les amener avec nous afin qu’ils visitent la maison. Là-bas, on leur a expliqué comment ça fonctionnait, la pesée des pots des clients pour éviter d’utiliser des sacs en plastique, etc. Les propriétaires ont été très gentils, nous ont super bien accueillis, ont pris le temps de parler aux garçons et même de leur donner des bonbons végétaliens. Éventuellement, sans que l’on s’y attende, ils nous ont dit que si l’on en venait à créer notre marque ainsi qu’un produit vraiment fini, ils seraient ‘‘honorés’’ de vendre nos produits sans même toucher de commission. Les garçons, Nathalie et moi n’en revenions pas. » Les jeunes artisans et entrepreneurs verts vendent présentement plusieurs de leurs produits à la Maison du zéro déchet, sous la bannière Tannants mais... écolos, une marque qu’ils ont créée à leur image. Leurs cakes à vaisselle, baumes corporels et pains nourrissants, disposés sur un présentoir, ont commencé à se vendre comme des petits pains il y a deux semaines. Les deux pédagogues s’avouent fières de l’accomplissement de leur classe, qu’elles voient comme la génération des citoyens écoresponsables de demain. Chloé-Anne Touma, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Journal de Chambly
WASHINGTON — Emergency loans made to small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic have been added to a list of government programs considered at high risk of waste, fraud or mismanagement. The most common of those emergency loans, PPP loans, are provided at a low interest rate and are fully forgivable under conditions that include spending a certain percentage on payroll costs. The loans were created by Congress and have proven exceedingly popular as shops, restaurants and other small businesses try to survive the pandemic. The Government Accountability Office said Tuesday that millions of small businesses benefitted from the emergency loans, but the speed with which the relief programs were set up limited safeguards necessary to identify risks, “including susceptibility to improper payments and potential fraud.” The Small Business Administration made or guaranteed more than 14.7 million loans and grants totalling about $744 billion between March and December. Congress approved an additional $304 billion in emergency loans in December. The GAO said in the report that, as of January, it continues to experience delays in obtaining key information about the loans, including detailed oversight plans and documentation for estimating improper payments. “There's no doubt they’ve had a positive impact. However, the management of these programs needs to be dramatically improved," U.S. Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro told reporters in previewing the report. Government auditors release a high-risk list near the beginning of every new Congress. The list is designed to increase attention on the shortfalls cited by the GAO, and to prompt action that can often save taxpayer dollars and improve government operations. Auditors also added the government’s efforts to prevent drug misuse to the high-risk list. The GAO had warned as the pandemic began that it would be doing so. At the time, it noted that the pandemic could fuel the conditions that contribute to drug misuse, such as unemployment. In December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the largest ever increase of drug overdose deaths during a 12-month period that ended the previous May. The CDC noted a particular acceleration in drug overdose deaths as widespread mitigation measures kicked in. “This is heartbreaking," said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. Portman said that the country and his home state had finally seen a drop in overdose deaths in 2018 for the first time in decades. “Substantial progress. And yet now, with the pandemic, under this horrible pandemic, we have this horrible addiction crisis that has grown," Portman said. Auditors said that maintaining sustained attention to the problem of drug abuse will be challenging in the coming months with agencies focused on addressing the pandemic. “This makes developing and implementing a co-ordinated, strategic approach even more important as agencies’ resources are also being diverted, in part, to pandemic priorities,” the report said. On a positive note, the GAO said the Department of Defence had made concerted progress in how it aligns its support infrastructure with the needs of the country’s military forces, It dropped the support program from it's high-risk list. For example, in citing, progress, auditors said the Army reduced its leased footprint in the Washington D.C. region from a peak of 3.9 million square feet in 2011 to roughly 1 million square feet as of September 2019. Kevin Freking, The Associated Press
Canada's economy shrank by 5.4 per cent last year, official data from Statistics Canada showed Monday, making 2020 the worst year for the country's economic output since record keeping began. The data agency said Tuesday that Canada's gross domestic product — the total value of all goods and services it produced — grew by 2.3 per cent during the last three months of the year, but that was nowhere near enough to offset the record-setting plunge it experienced during the the middle half of 2020. The drop for the year was due to the shutdown of large parts of the economy in March and April during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. But since the summer, economic activity has slowly and steadily grown. For comparison purposes, Canada's economy contracted almost twice as much as the U.S. did during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the U.S. seeing far more cases per capita. Preliminary data suggests the U.S. economy shrank by 3.5 per cent last year. Growth slows to close out 2020 Statistics Canada says the economy grew at an annualized rate of 9.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year, down from an annualized growth rate of 40.6 per cent in the third quarter but still higher than what economists were expecting. Financial data firm Refinitiv tabulates that on average, economists were expecting 7.5 per cent growth. Despite the better-than-expected result for the quarter as a whole, GDP eked out a 0.1 per cent increase in December. December's tiny gain was a slowdown from November's 0.8 per cent uptick. All in all, Statistics Canada says Canada's economic output in December was still three per cent lower than what it was in February, before COVID-19 started. Better forecasts for 2021 Looking ahead to January, Statistics Canada said its early estimate was for growth in the economy of 0.5 per cent. "[T]hat solid advance landed right in the heart of the second wave restrictions and is in spite of a heavy drop in retail sales in the month," wrote Douglas Porter, an economist at the Bank of Montreal, in a note to clients. He credits a big rebound in resource sector activity, a raging housing market, and strength in manufacturing, wholesale trade and even perhaps milder weather as reasons why the economy did so well in January. After a general lockdown in March, the economy bounced back in part due to strong manufacturing growth. Pictured here, two operators working on the underbody of a Dodge Grand Caravan at a Windsor Assembly Plant in Windsor, Ont., in May 2020. Many Canadian economists are forecasting overall growth. "Provinces are gradually relaxing restrictions, the vaccine rollout has quickened, and case counts have trended lower. This should support growth in February and March," wrote Sri Thanabalasingam, an economist at TD Bank, in reacting to the news. "Looking ahead, the near-term picture is brightening."
SAINT-WENCESLAS. Les Loisirs de Saint-Wenceslas invitent les amateurs de raquette et de randonnée pédestre à tester un circuit de 1,4 km. Un essai, s’il est concluant, qui mènerait, possiblement au développement de nouveaux sentiers dans la forêt située au bout de la rue Saint-Arnaud. «On est en campagne et il faut aller en ville pour marcher dans le bois», s’étonnait Éric Thériault. L’entrepreneur, avec l’aide de Mathieu Lessard, l’initiateur de la Course de la conquête du bois, va s’attaquer au problème. «Déjà, le circuit est tracé pour la course à obstacles. On a discuté au comité des loisirs de le rendre accessible cet hiver et, après autorisation de la municipalité, le site était fonctionnel après quelques jours», explique Éric Thériault qui s’assure de l’entretien avec sa motoneige. Accessible à pied ou en raquette, le circuit est pensé tant pour les débutants et les familles que pour ceux qui sont à la recherche d’une expérience plus intense. «On a la rivière Blanche et les arbres sont magnifiques, encore plus avec la neige qui tombe en ce moment, c’est féerique», ajoute Mathieu Lessard. «C’est un site avec beaucoup de potentiel pour les amateurs de plein air qui pourrait être exploité à l’année. C’est un joyau à découvrir», conclut Éric Thériault. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
A coalition of Indigenous and environmental organizations is calling on the Canadian and Ontario governments to impose an “immediate moratorium” on all mineral exploration or impact assessment work related to the Ring of Fire region. A dozen organizations, including the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) and the Omushkegowuk Women's Water Council (OWWC), have penned an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and provincial leaders asking for the pause. Ontario’s Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines believes the Ring of Fire region in the province’s north has valuable deposits of several minerals, including chromite, which can be used to make stainless steel. Ontario Premier Doug Ford has labelled it a “multibillion-dollar opportunity.” Yet there have been persistent questions over its true potential and concerns over the risk that a rush into a mining boom will end up trampling Indigenous rights and damaging the sensitive local environment. Ancient peatlands, or muskeg, in the region cover over 325,000 square kilometres, representing roughly 26 gigatons of carbon. Environment and Climate Change Canada has said the wetlands in the region “include extensive, globally significant peatlands.” The department has acknowledged that activities linked to construction “could have negative effects on wetlands.” “The muskeg itself currently is a carbon sink,” explained Kerrie Blaise, northern services legal counsel with CELA, in an interview Monday. “But once it’s disturbed, its storage capabilities are removed and so then it becomes a carbon emitter. So it’s a very sensitive type of ecosystem.” The groups also said assessments of mining activity should not proceed until “access to clean water, housing, and health services have been secured for all upstream and downstream communities from the proposed Ring of Fire.” “Mining interests cannot continue to be prioritized over the health, lands, and natural laws of Indigenous communities,” reads the letter, dated Feb. 24. “Living up to the promise of reconciliation means action is required now to prevent further violations of Indigenous rights.” Wilkinson has received the letter and is currently reviewing the request, press secretary Moira Kelly told Canada’s National Observer on Monday. Two federal impact assessments on access roads to Ring of Fire mining sites are currently ongoing: one on a 107-kilometre all-season supply road linking with Webequie First Nation and another on a 190- to 230-kilometre multi-use road connecting with Marten Falls. Canada’s federal Impact Assessment Act does not explicitly allow Wilkinson to declare a "moratorium" on assessments, and it offers a relatively narrow range of options for assessments to be ended. Essentially, either the proponent has to tell the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada or the minister in writing that the project won’t be carried out or otherwise fail to provide information within certain time limits. Last year, however, Wilkinson also ordered a regional assessment in the Ring of Fire area, based on the potential for mining development to “cause adverse effects within federal jurisdiction,” as he put it in letters to the requesters — including those that contribute to climate change, or impact fish and fish habitat, migratory birds under the Migratory Bird Convention Act and wildlife under the Species at Risk Act. That regional assessment is still in the planning stages. The assessment agency also said in January it would continue to accept public input on how it should go about planning the assessment. Blaise said Wilkinson should take the opportunity and put the brakes on all activity. “Hypothetically, the federal government could say, ‘Great, we’re going to pause the (regional) impact assessment. We’re going to make sure communities know that this is going on — we’re going to make sure communities have awareness — we’re going to make sure communities have information in front of them,” she said. In addition to OWWC and CELA, the letter was written by East Coast Environmental Law, Friends of the Attawapiskat River, Mining Injustice Solidarity Network, MiningWatch Canada, Northwatch, Ontarians for a Just Accountable Mineral Strategy, Sierra Club Canada Foundation, West Coast Environmental Law, Wildlands League and World Wildlife Fund Canada. Blaise said the letter was meant to amplify another call made in January by the Mushkegowuk Council Chiefs, representing seven Cree First Nations including Attawapiskat, for a moratorium on development until a “proper protection plan” is implemented. The chiefs said it was “irresponsible” to continue planning for industrial development during the COVID-19 pandemic and “while we are still fighting to secure clean water for our community.” Carl Meyer / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Carl Meyer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Canada's chief public officer of health Dr. Theresa Tam said on Tuesday that more “real-world data” is still needed after the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations recommended that the newly-approved COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca not be given to those 65 or older. However, she said "don't read their recommendations as sort-of static, they will update as needed.”
Private equity firms are proving there’s still plenty of profit in the U.S. coal industry despite a decade of falling demand for the fossil fuel. Since the end of 2014, at least five U.S. private equity firms have bought coal plants in markets where regulators pay them to be on standby to provide emergency power when demand surges with extreme hot or cold weather, according to a Reuters review of U.S. regulatory disclosures and credit-rating agency reports. The lucrative investments illustrate how fossil fuels will remain an important part of the energy mix - and continue spinning off cash for investors - even years after demand for them peaks as the world transitions toward cleaner energy sources.
KYIV, Ukraine — A court in Belarus on Tuesday handed a half-year prison sentence to a journalist on charges of revealing personal data in her report on the death of a protester, part of authorities’ crackdown on demonstrations against authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko. Katsiaryna Barysevich of the independent Tut.by online news portal has been in custody since November, following the publication of an article in which she cited medical documents indicating that protester Raman Bandarenka died of severe injuries and wasn’t drunk — contrary to official claims. Bandarenka died in a hospital on Nov. 12 of brain and other injuries. The opposition alleged that he was brutally beaten by police who dispersed a protest in the Belarusian capital, Minsk. Bandarenka’s death caused public outrage and fueled more demonstrations. On Tuesday, the Moskovsky District Court in Minsk sentenced Barysevich to six months in prison and a fine equivalent to $1,100. It also handed a two-year suspended sentence to Artsyom Sarokin, a doctor who treated Bandarenka and shared his medical records with Barysevich, and fined him the equivalent of $550. Belarus has been shaken by protests ever since official results from the Aug. 9 presidential election gave Lukashenko a sixth term in office by a landslide. The opposition and some poll workers have said the election was rigged. Lukashenko’s government has unleashed a sweeping crackdown on post-election protests, the biggest of which attracted up to 200,000 people. Human rights activists say more than 30,000 people have been detained since the demonstrations began, with thousands beaten. The United States and the European Union have responded to the election and the crackdown by introducing sanctions against Belarusian officials. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the main opposition challenger in the vote who was forced to leave the country under pressure from authorities, said that Tuesday’s sentence demonstrated that “the truth has become a crime for the regime.” “Lukashenko's resignation and new elections are needed to end the horrible political and legal crisis,” Tsikhanouskaya said. “We are confident that after he steps down all those who were convicted on political grounds will be rehabilitated.” The Associated Press
“I came this close to being dead,” said Sean Pauley, of Riverview, a recovering addict who this week marks his fourth year of no longer using opiates. Pauley says he was prescribed Percocet, a brand name painkiller than combines oxycodone and acetaminophen, following a foot injury in his thirties. What followed, he said, was 14 years of dependency. At one point, he was taking 60 pills in a day, Pauley said, noting his addiction cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars and damaged relationships. New public opinion data suggests most Canadians see the nation's opioid use epidemic as a serious problem or crisis, but don't recognize the scope of the problem. “It’s an every class problem,” said Pauley, who now facilitates a recovery group through the Moncton chapter of LifeRing, and an every age problem. While some people associate the problem as one faced by people living on the streets, he has a house, is married, has a family and a job, Pauley said. He was in detox with a doctor, a farmer and a pilot. He said he knows of people as young as 15 who were prescribed opioids to treat injuries, and seniors who became dependent following surgery. Some move from prescription pills, to drugs acquired on the street that can take different forms, he said. Pauley said he didn’t drink or smoke pot prior to becoming addicted to opioids, but it wasn’t long before he became dependent on them. Despite everything he had, when he was on withdrawal all he thought about was the pills, he said. In New Brunswick, 74 per cent of respondents to a recent Angus Reid survey said addiction, overdose and death related to opioid use is a serious problem or crisis in Canada. When asked the same question, but as it applies only to their own province, 57 per cent of New Brunswickers thought it was a serious problem or crisis. When the question was applied to individual communities, that number dropped to 39 per cent. Debby Warren, executive director of social agency Ensemble, says it's a phenomenon where people are aware of the problem but don’t believe it’s happening right in their own backyard. But it is, Warren said. Moncton-based Ensemble serves people from Metro Moncton, Cap-Pelé, Albert Mines, Salisbury and other communities. Warren can still recall a day someone brought garbage bags of needles from the Salisbury-Petitcodiac area. They recognized a need in the Sackville area that led to the Sackville United Church installing a vending machine to supply users with clean needles and supplies. Among survey respondents, 14 per cent of New Brunswickers said they have a close friend or family member who has “become dependent or addicted to opiates,” a statistic which puts the province in a three-way tie for the highest rate in the country. Ten per cent of New Brunswick respondents said they have had a close friend or family member who has died as a result of using opiates, the second highest rate in the country. New Brunswick has the second highest rate in Canada of people who inject substances, said Warren, noting while the issue may not always be visible, it is happening. “Changing the mindset of the public is one of hardest things [about tackling the problem],” she said. The survey also showed 89 per cent of New Brunswick respondents believe there should be compulsory drug treatment programs, while 45 per cent believe we should “get tougher on people who use drugs,” ideas Warren and Pauley both believe won’t work. And New Brunswick, at 49 per cent, is one of only two provinces (the other being Saskatchewan) where a majority do not believe illegal drugs should be decriminalized. The national average is 59 per cent and in Nova Scotia, the rate is as high as 60 per cent in favour of decriminalization. Warren said the issue won’t go away by arresting people. Decriminalization helps everyone from the individual who now does not have to resort to stealing or selling their bodies to buy drugs, to the health-care system which will not be burdened with treating costly complications from non-pharmaceutical grade drug use, she said. Giving Warren some hope that tides could be shifting is that 62 per cent of New Brunswickers said they now favour supervised safe-injection sites, a figure she thought might be lower. “This is a very complex disease,” said Warren of drug addiction, but noted it's clear from this polling research that more education is needed to tackle the issue. Shifting public opinion also gives politicians the will to tackle issues, she said. The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from Nov. 12 to 16 among a representative randomized sample of 5,003 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum, and a second online survey from Jan. 7 to 11, among a sample of 1,601. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of 5,003 would carry a margin of error of +/- 1.4 percentage points, and +/- 2.5 for a sample of 1,601, 19 times out of 20. Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal