Intense lightning flashed across the night sky over Ottawa and surrounding areas on July 30.
Intense lightning flashed across the night sky over Ottawa and surrounding areas on July 30.
WASHINGTON — Hours from inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden paused on what might have been his triumphal entrance to Washington Tuesday evening to mark instead the national tragedy of the coronavirus pandemic with a moment of collective grief for Americans lost. His arrival coincided with the awful news that the U.S. death toll had surpassed 400,000 in the worst public health crisis in more than a century — a crisis Biden will now be charged with controlling. “To heal we must remember," the incoming president told the nation at a sunset ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. Four hundred lights representing the pandemic's victims were illuminated behind him around the monument’s Reflecting Pool. “Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights into the darkness ... and remember all who we lost,” Biden said. The sober moment on the eve of Biden's inauguration — typically a celebratory time in Washington when the nation marks the democratic tradition of a peaceful transfer of power — was a measure of the enormity of loss for the nation. During his brief remarks, Biden faced the larger-than life statue of Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War president who served as more than 600,000 Americans died. As he turned to walk away at the conclusion of the vigil, he faced the black granite wall listing the 58,000-plus Americans who perished in Vietnam. Biden was joined by Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, who spoke of the collective anguish of the nation, a not-so-subtle admonishment of outgoing President Donald Trump, who has spoken sparingly about the pandemic in recent months. “For many months we have grieved by ourselves,” said Harris, who will make history as the first woman to serve as vice-president when she's sworn in. “Tonight, we grieve and begin healing together.” Beyond the pandemic, Biden faces no shortage of problems when he takes the reins at the White House. The nation is also on its economic heels because of soaring unemployment, there is deep political division and immediate concern about more violence following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Biden, an avid fan of Amtrak who took the train thousands of times between his home in Delaware and Washington during his decades in the Senate, had planned to take a train into Washington ahead of Wednesday's Inauguration Day but scratched that plan in the aftermath of the Capitol riot. He instead flew into Joint Base Andrews just outside the capital and then motorcaded into fortress D.C. — a city that's been flooded by some 25,000 National Guard troops guarding a Capitol, White House and National Mall that are wrapped in a maze of barricades and tall fencing. “These are dark times," Biden told supporters in an emotional sendoff in Delaware. "But there’s always light.” Biden, who ran for the presidency as a cool head who could get things done, plans to issue a series of executive orders on Day One — including reversing Trump's effort to leave the Paris climate accord, cancelling Trump's travel ban on visitors from several predominantly Muslim countries, and extending pandemic-era limits on evictions and student loan payments. Trump won’t be on hand as Biden is sworn in, the first outgoing president to entirely skip inaugural festivities since Andrew Johnson more than a century and a half ago. The White House released a farewell video from Trump just as Biden landed at Joint Base Andrews. Trump, who has repeatedly and falsely claimed widespread fraud led to his election loss, extended “best wishes” to the incoming administration in his nearly 20-minute address but did not utter Biden's name. Trump also spent some of his last time in the White House huddled with advisers weighing final-hour pardons and grants of clemency. He planned to depart from Washington Wednesday morning in a grand airbase ceremony that he helped plan himself. Biden at his Delaware farewell, held at the National Guard/Reserve Center named after his late son Beau Biden, paid tribute to his home state. After his remarks, he stopped and chatted with friends and well-wishers in the crowd, much as he had at Iowa rope lines at the start of his long campaign journey. “I’ll always be a proud son of the state of Delaware,” said Biden, who struggled to hold back tears as he delivered brief remarks. Inaugural organizers this week finished installing some 200,000 U.S., state and territorial flags on the National Mall, a display representing the American people who couldn’t come to the inauguration, which is tightly limited under security and Covid restrictions. The display was also a reminder of all the president-elect faces as he looks to steer the nation through the pandemic with infections and deaths soaring. Out of the starting gate, Biden and his team are intent on moving quickly to speed distribution of vaccinations to anxious Americans and pass his $1.9 trillion virus relief package, which includes quick payments to many people and an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Biden also plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill on the first day of his administration, hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status. That would be a major reversal from the Trump administration’s tight immigration policies. Some leading Republican have already balked at Biden's immigration plan. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is often a central player in Senate immigration battles. Many of Biden's legislative ambitions could be tempered by the hard numbers he faces on Capitol Hill, where Democrats hold narrow majorities in both the Senate and House. His hopes to press forward with an avalanche of legislation in his first 100 days could also be slowed by an impeachment trial of Trump. As Biden made his way to Washington, five of his Cabinet picks were appearing Tuesday before Senate committees to begin confirmation hearings. Treasury nominee Janet Yellen, Defence nominee Lloyd Austin, Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken and Director of National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines were being questioned. Yellen urged lawmakers to embrace Biden’s virus relief package, arguing that “the smartest thing we can do is act big.” Aides say Biden will use Wednesday's inaugural address — one that will be delivered in front of an unusually small in-person group because of virus protocols and security concerns and is expected to run 20 to 30 minutes — to call for American unity and offer an optimistic message that Americans can get past the dark moment by working together. To that end, he extended invitations to Congress' top four Republican and Democratic leaders to attend Mass with him at St. Matthew's Cathedral ahead of the inauguration ceremony. ___ Madhani reported from Chicago. Associated Press writers Darlene Superville, Alan Fram and Alexandra Jaffe contributed reporting. ___ This story has been corrected to show that flags on the National Mall represent people who couldn't come, not COVID deaths. Bill Barrow And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
Brandon Sun readers request specific questions be asked about COVID-19. QUESTION: if a person from Rapid City, for example, were to test positive at the Brandon site, would they not be added to Brandon district numbers? PROVINCIAL SPOKESPERSON: Numbers are tracked by home address — i.e., the address on the Manitoba Health Card is where that case will be attributed to in our numbers, not the testing location. As to your example, if that person’s home address were to show as Rapid City on their health card, that’s where we would consider the case to be from, not the testing location (Brandon). QUESTION: I understand Moderna’s vaccine efficacy in participants 65 years of age and older appears to be lower than in younger adults 18 to 65 years — 86.4 per cent compared to 95.6 per cent. Considering First Nation elders are top of list for vaccination — is this on your radar at all as an issue? The question would apply, as well, regarding any personal care homes using Moderna. DR. JOSS REIMER: We are constantly looking at the data that’s provided by the companies, as well as by other jurisdictions. We will be sure to analyze it on an ongoing basis. What we have right now shows it as a very effective vaccine and we are confident that it will be beneficial to those who are receiving it. QUESTION: People who work at a COVID testing site are eligible to receive the vaccine. Why aren’t people who work directly with COVID-positive clients at alternative isolation accommodation sites included in the eligibility criteria? REIMER: We have looked at a number of different issues when it comes to determining the eligibility criteria. We looked at issues like whether or not the people would potentially be exposed to the virus in the workplace. We’re also looking at how vulnerable the patients or clients in that setting might be. So for example, for personal care homes, it’s essential that the staff be immunized so that they’re not a source of infection or the individual living in that setting because they’re more likely to experience severe harm. We’re also looking at where we’ve seen evidence of outbreaks and disease transmission, particularly between staff and residents or patients. We’re looking at where we have a specialized workforce with specialized skills or those where any work disruption would be quite critical to the system. All of those factors have to be considered at the same time. So one of the reasons that the COVID immunization clinics became a priority was around that workforce issue. It is critical that these clinics be up and running with as many people as we need in order to give every vaccine as fast as we can. So it was important that not only that we have the eligibility in there to help recruit some of the workers to that batch location, but also to prevent that from ever becoming a source of infection. The last thing we would want for Manitobans is to have one of our vaccine clinics become the site of an outbreak, and so we wanted to ensure that we were protecting everyone who was working there, as well as protecting everyone who is coming through to get their vaccine. Do you have a question? Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: Readers Ask. Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
The Township of McMurrich/Monteith is still apprehensive about the one-fifth funding model used to calculate the financial contribution towards a regional fire training program. At its Jan. 12 council meeting, the discussion got heated once again, with councillors raising concerns about Burk’s Falls, Ryerson and Armour’s funding. Here is the discussion encompassed in quotes by council: “I have some grave concerns about what I’m reading in the newspaper regarding the (funding formula) and I believe I have voiced that,” said Coun. Alfred Bielke. “I have some further concerns about what has transpired — the number is quoted as $95,000 in this document here — the cost of the RTO agreement was $95,000 when in fact the numbers in that agreement come down to 92,900. Divided by five, it isn’t the number we were quoted in December.” “The tri-county has always had a cost-sharing model of 50-25-25 (per cent) but in the last couple of years, Armour wanted it one-third, one-third, one-third. It’s the very same discussion we are having right now,” said Coun. Lynn Zemnicky. “(This current agreement) buys us three more years to come up with a solid argument on paper saying, ‘look, this is what it’s costing everyone — we don’t care that you have your own cost-sharing agreement. If you’re going to have seven votes, seven municipalities then that’s how it should be split,” said McMurrich/Monteith Reeve, Angela Friesen. “I’m not saying I agree with this process, but I just don’t want our fire department and our residents to suffer because we make a decision here tonight that doesn’t give our people the protection they need,” said Coun. Dan O’Halloran. “I totally agree that that this thing needs to be looked at in the next three years and hammered out … I think we need to get this on the table, get this thing passed and then sit into negotiations to get this straightened out so we don’t have these discussions anymore.” “… I think you also have a responsibility financially and I resent subsidizing someone larger than ourselves,” said Zemnicky. “It’s always been a couple of townships pushing for the one-fifth and if you look at the numbers it relieves them quite a bit.” McMurrich/Monteith decided to defer its decision on the regional fire training program until its next meeting. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
The COVID-19 pandemic could be the catalyst for much-needed reform of the World Health Organization just as the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 forced urgent changes at the U.N. nuclear agency, an independent review panel said on Tuesday. The panel, set up to investigate the global response to the coronavirus, said the WHO is underpowered, underfunded and required fundamental reform to give it the resources it needs to respond more effectively to deadly disease outbreaks. "We are not here to assign blame, but to make concrete recommendations to help the world respond faster and better in future," the panel's co-chair, former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, told a news briefing.
In a moment of nation-splintering turmoil, an incoming American president, Abraham Lincoln, travelled by train to his inauguration in Washington, D.C., in a nerve-racking ride cloaked in disguise as he faced threats to his life. Now, 160 years later, an incoming president has cancelled plans for a train ride to Washington. It was supposed to be a symbolic journey highlighting Joe Biden's decades-long habit of riding the rails to D.C. each day from his family home in Delaware. Instead, it has taken on a sad new symbolism, of an American capital clenched shut in fear of political violence at Wednesday's inauguration. The question nagging at residents here, and at security analysts, is whether the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the worst of a passing storm, a one-off, or the start of a dark era of political violence. What's already clear is this will be no normal inauguration. The American capital has transformed into a heavily armed and tightly barricaded fortress. "Clearly, we are in uncharted waters," Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser told a news conference last week, urging tourists to stay away from her city during the inauguration. Fences are now up around Washington's downtown. Thousands of soldiers are patrolling the streets, bridges are blocked, parking garages are shut, bicycle-sharing services are suspended, Airbnb reservations are cancelled, and residents are being urged on neighbourhood chat groups against renting rooms to tourists. Suspicion strikes Capitol Hill neighbourhood Security concerns are most acute in the neighbourhood near the Capitol. Lawyer Matt Scarlato already has an overnight bag packed in case unrest spills into his neighbourhood and he's forced to flee the city with his family. He lives near one of the new security barriers near Capitol Hill, where police are forcing residents on some streets to show ID if they want to access their home. Scarlato was working from home the day of the riot in the Capitol building, when unexploded bombs were found near political party offices. He received a message from his son's daycare urging parents to immediately come pick up their children. Scarlato grabbed a baseball bat and tossed it in the car for the ride to the daycare. "It was a minute-by-minute escalation," Scarlato said. "We were all just sitting in the house saying, 'What the hell is going on?'" A longtime resident of the area, he compared the recent panic to a smaller-scale version of what he witnessed during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. On the day of the Capitol riot, he was concerned by the sight of an unfamiliar RV on his street given the reports of bombs in Washington and the recent explosion in Nashville. For her part, Monica Ingram, a retired health-care administrator, was rattled yesterday morning by the sound of helicopters hovering over the same Capitol Hill neighbourhood. Around that same time, the congressional precinct was ordered evacuated. The panic was the result of an explosion and fire nearby, caused by a propane tank in a homeless encampment. Ingram said people now look at each other differently, warily. Ingram saw a man taking pictures of streets near the Capitol the other day and she worried whether he was up to something nefarious. "We're suspicious of each other now. It's sad," she said. "It's very disheartening, upsetting. It's like I don't even know this country anymore." WATCH | Staff and media scramble as a blast goes off during inauguration rehearsal: Some call for indoor inauguration She's among the many people with mixed feelings about whether this inauguration should even be happening in public. Ultimately, she prefers it going forward, as opposed to moving to a makeshift indoor location, in order to deliver a message: that this country won't buckle in fear. There is, however, a part of her that hopes Biden might throw another inaugural party, a year from now, a real festive party, after this pandemic, and this panic. Biden should have a "redo" inauguration, she said. "It's so sad that president-elect Biden has to be sworn in like this. It should be a day of joy for this country." There's no guarantee this place will feel safer in a year. Mark Hertling, a retired lieutenant-general who led U.S. soldiers in Europe, said he worries about whether the United States is now entering an era of political insurgency. And he's not alone. One-time riot or preview of insurgency? Some analysts who study domestic political violence have warned for years (in thesis papers and books and government reports) that the conditions existed for an American insurgency on the right. Those conditions include a proliferation of guns, a surge in ex-military joining militia groups, two increasingly hostile political parties, and a split along racial and cultural lines in a rapidly diversifying country. A 2018 book, Alt-America, charts how membership in armed militia groups skyrocketed after the election of a first Black president, Barack Obama, in 2008, and these fringe groups began showing up at political protests. Alleged members of such militias are now accused of participating in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, where numerous people were dressed in paramilitary-themed clothing and several could be heard in the crowd warning they'd be back with weapons. "Welcome to the reality of other countries," said Greg Ehrie, who led FBI domestic terrorism units and is now vice-president of law enforcement and analysis at the Anti-Defamation League. "There is sort of an underlying belief that if we can get through Wednesday, this stops and then it moves on. And that's just not true.… This is going to be something we're going to be living with for several years — this heightened sense of security." Details released since the siege of the Capitol suggest things could have been worse. Jan. 6 could have been worse One man arrested that day allegedly had two guns and enough materials to make 11 Molotov cocktails, and another allegedly had a loaded gun, spare bullets and a gas mask. A federal prosecutor said one air force veteran who carried plastic handcuffs intended to take hostages. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City said in a YouTube video she believed she was going to die during the riot in the Capitol and that she experienced a traumatic event she declined to discuss: "Many, many, many members of Congress were almost murdered," she said in the video. "We were very lucky [to escape]." One police officer died as a result of injuries sustained during the riot. Another said he narrowly survived the angry mob and described how he was Tasered while some wanted to take his gun and kill him with it. Joseph Young, a professor at American University in D.C. who studies the factors that drive political violence, usually in other countries, said he is bothered by the trends he sees. "More and more, my work has been applicable to the United States," he said in an interview. "[And that's] troubling." A word of historical caution He said it's wrong, however, to conclude this is a more violent political era than the 1960s and 1970s. The U.S. experienced hundreds of terrorist attacks back then, from white-supremacist church bombings to political assassinations to the activities of the left-wing group Weather Underground, which bombed the Capitol, the State Department and other government buildings. But he's still worried about the current U.S. situation. As are the authorities preparing for inauguration day. The Pentagon has authorized the Washington, D.C., National Guard to carry weapons on domestic soil amid ongoing worries about the possible use of explosives. About 25,000 National Guard troops from D.C. and several states were expected to be part of the security operation. National Guard members are being screened themselves for any extremist affiliations. On Tuesday, Pentagon officials said 12 National Guard members were removed from securing Biden's inauguration after vetting by the FBI, including two who posted and texted extremist views about Wednesday's event. A Secret Service member was reportedly under investigation over political comments related to the Capitol riot posted on Facebook. Jared Holt, an expert who monitors extremist chatter online, said it has gotten quieter lately. He said he was extremely worried before Jan. 6 about the heated and violent rhetoric he saw in online platforms. People were posting tips for smuggling guns into Washington and maps of the underground tunnels connecting the Capitol to lawmakers' offices. Those same forums erupted in joy after the attack. "It was initially jubilation," said Holt, of the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Washington-based Atlantic Council think-tank. "They were thrilled. They felt incredibly accomplished. [Now], the cohesion between groups has eroded." It became clear within hours of the riot that it might backfire — against those involved and against Donald Trump. It failed to stop the vote to certify Biden's election win. Then it led to Trump's swift impeachment in the House. WATCH | Preparations underway to fortify U.S. capital ahead of inauguration day: Has the threat already receded? Some rioters in the Capitol who posted triumphant images of themselves on social media have been arrested or fired from their jobs, with their posts used as evidence against them. Social media platforms are either limiting extremist rhetoric and shutting out Trump, are offline altogether (Parler), or are unusually slow (Gab). Holt now worries that violent rhetoric is moving to tighter channels that are harder to monitor publicly, such as Telegram and other private messaging apps. So residents of Washington, D.C., and the country as a whole, enter this historic transition week in a fog of uncertainty, about whether they've just witnessed a dark passing moment in the life of the American republic or a sombre omen. "It looks like a police state down here. We've never seen it like this," Emilie Frank, a communications professional, said in an interview a few days ago, referring to the imposing concrete-and-metal labyrinth being erected downtown. "It would normally be bustling, everybody's excited [for the inauguration]. But it's silent, blocked off, police cars everywhere." She doesn't know if any of this will be necessary. But she'd rather have this than the under-preparation by authorities that the city witnessed on Jan. 6, she said. "So, even if it's just [for] show, it's better than nothing, I guess," she said. "If some people will be convinced they should stay away after seeing all this stuff in place, then that's good." WATCH | Ex-FBI agent on the new domestic terrorism:
The Kremlin said on Tuesday it would not heed calls by some Western countries for sanctions over Russia's detention of poisoned opposition politician Alexei Navalny because his case was a purely domestic matter. Navalny was detained on Sunday after flying back to Russia for the first time since he was attacked with a military-grade nerve agent last summer while travelling in Russia's east, and has urged Russians to take to the streets in protest.
P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison confirmed two new cases of COVID-19 on the Island at her regular briefing Tuesday morning. Some Prince Edward Islanders are not self-isolating as they are legally required to and are putting others at risk, Morrison also said at the briefing. The organizers of The Spud hockey tournament in Charlottetown say they had no choice but to cancel the event this year because of COVID-19 restrictions. Twenty-one senators from the Maritimes are urging the federal government to provide financial assistance to an inter-city bus service that they say is in financial peril because of the pandemic. A P.E.I. judge is wrestling with how to sentence a P.E.I. man who failed to self-isolate after testing positive for COVID-19. A variety of circumstances including the pandemic have kept the Charlottetown Bluefins out of the Bell Aliant pool, and they say it's good to be home. P.E.I. reported four new unrelated cases of COVID-19 on Monday. Island dentists are offering their expertise as the province ramps up and rolls out COVID-19 vaccinations. As the number of people vaccinated against COVID-19 on P.E.I. continues to climb, some Islanders who are living with underlying health conditions say they've been left wondering when their shots will come. Two P.E.I. charities, Family Violence Prevention Services and Big Brothers Big Sisters are finding novel ways around the challenges of fundraising during the pandemic. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases reported on P.E.I. is 108, with 10 still active. There have been no deaths or hospitalizations. New Brunswick announced 26 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. There are now 304 active cases in the province. Nova Scotia reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, marking the second day this month that zero new cases were announced. Also in the news Further resources Reminder about symptoms The symptoms of COVID-19 can include: Fever. Cough or worsening of a previous cough. Possible loss of taste and/or smell. Sore throat. New or worsening fatigue. Headache. Shortness of breath. Runny nose. More from CBC P.E.I.
New Brunswickers living near the Nova Scotia border are calling for changes to travel restrictions they say are leading to missed medical appointments and confusion over custody arrangements. The province rolled out tighter rules on Jan. 8, including new isolation and testing requirements. Now residents of border communities are required to isolate after crossing for medical care in Amherst, N.S. Megan Mitton, the MLA for Memramcook-Tantramar, said the changes are making life difficult for people in the area. Her office is getting constant calls and emails from people seeking help navigating the rules. "Everyone involved is frustrated that the rules continue to be unclear, continue to be inconsistently enforced, and don't take into account the reality of what people are experiencing here," Mitton said. The communities of Sackville and Amherst — about 20 minutes apart — have long been intertwined. Residents typically go back and forth for work, school, to see family, or visit the hospital. But the pandemic has made those frequent trips much more challenging, confusing and sometimes impossible. Cancelling medical appointments Angela Forrester lives near the Nova Scotia border in Port Elgin, N.B. and normally goes to Amherst for banking and buying groceries. Before the tighter rules, she was able to get a medical pass to travel for physiotherapy, massage therapy, doctors visits and tests at the hospital. Forrester applied for approval to attend an appointment when the changes were rolled out, but was forced to cancel because she didn't get a response in time. She finally heard back from the New Brunswick government telling her she could go — but only with self-isolation upon her return. "I'm probably going to start to be in pain because my job is very physically demanding and I need these appointments," she said. "Living along this border has been an extra level of frustration." Mitton said she's hearing from others who are also cancelling appointments, going to the emergency room or scrambling to try to transfer care to Moncton. "Sometimes people have waited a year and a half for an important medical test, and now they don't know what to do and how the rules are going to impact them," she said. Some people hadn't heard the new rules had gone into effect and received isolation orders after attending a regular appointment in Amherst. "Living along this border has an extra level of frustration." - Angela Forrester, resident of Port Elgin, N.B. A spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety, which enforces travel restrictions, said people travelling to Nova Scotia can follow "work isolation" when returning to New Brunswick. That means isolation can be shortened by a few days with two negative tests on day seven and day 10-12. Forrester owns a pet grooming business and estimates she's losing about 30% each month without Nova Scotia customers. Daily cross-border commuters are permitted to enter New Brunswick without isolation, but they need to go directly to work and can't make any stops. With the border closed, Forrester applied for a work pass to be able to work as a pet groomer in Amherst and was approved on Sunday after several unsuccessful tries. Confusion over testing rules Under the new restrictions, weekly testing is required for children in custody agreements or entering New Brunswick to attend school. But Sackville doesn't seem to have a testing site, requiring travel to Moncton at a location with limited hours. That's a problem for Amanda Furlong. Her 6-year-old son visits his father in Oxford, N.S. She doesn't have a car to bring her son to Moncton and isn't sure how she could get him there each week. "With kids they don't understand at all, they don't know what's going on," she said. "So it's not fair to them." Furlong said she called Public Health to try to figure out the new rules for her son crossing the border last week, and didn't hear back. He's returning Tuesday. It is unclear if parents of children crossing the border also need to get tested. A Public Safety spokesperson did not respond to a question asking for clarification. Mitton, the area MLA, said the rules designed for Quebec and Maine don't meet the circumstances of people living near Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. She wants all residents with essential reasons to be exempt from isolation and mandatory testing. "The burden that's being put on families to have the weekly testing when there's not even a testing site in our community, that's really difficult," she said. Nova Scotia has only 25 active cases of COVID-19 and Prince Edward Island has 10, as of Monday. 'A world away' Nicole Burke lives in Sackville, just minutes away from her parents in Fort Lawrence, N.S., the first community on the other side of the provincial border. "It's one highway exit away and it feels like it's a world away when these regulations are in place," she said. The change has been noticeable for the esthetician, who has seen a big drop in clients since the Nova Scotia border closed. As a single mother, Burke said her parents are her support system for taking care of her eight-year-old daughter. She said the new rules are confusing and she's not sure if her daughter would be allowed to cross. Even if the province approves cross border travel, weekly testing is required for childcare. "It's causing her anxiety to think when she's going to be able to see her grandparents again," she said. "Tears come to her eyes and it's heartbreaking."
Despite a glitch in text messaging for the Brandon vaccination site, COVID -19 vaccinations took place as planned Monday morning. Joanna Robb, who works at Shared Health’s Westman Regional Laboratory, was the first to be vaccinated yesterday morning. Kirsten Boyce, Robb’s co-worker, was the second. They booked their appointments without issue early last week. Both say no one in their workplace had any issues with booking their appointments. The two, along with others in their workplace, work with body-fluid samples, primarily screening for cancer and pre-cancerous changes. “We’ve already started to see body fluids coming through where it says COVID-positive,” Robb said. As to how they felt about being vaccinated, they both said they were happy to receive the vaccine. Robb said she’s the one in the lab following all the daily numbers. She has a co-worker with family in Saskatchewan who hasn’t seen her parents since the summer. Robb has three children, including a daughter in Grade 12, who is experiencing a tumultuous final year in school. “Everything is just upside-down and to just have this hope that the vaccine is actually happening here in Brandon, now, it’s hopeful. It’s definitely moving the right way. If we could just give everyone a vaccine, like the Amazon dropoff, that would be great,” Robb said. “If there was just a way for everyone that wanted a vaccine, if they could get one … But, we have to be patient and wait.” However, Robb acknowledges how amazing it is that one year after COVID-19 began its spread, vaccines are being deployed. “It’s happening,” she said. “We’ve discussed it amongst ourselves, co-workers, and we talked to our clinical microbiologist — I always say he’s my panic button. If he panics, I panic. So, as long as he’s keeping his calm demeanour, I’m always good. Everyone was working for the same goal. I have confidence in it.” Boyce said her experience was also “easy peasy.” “Seeing how we just heard that they’re paring things back for now, I’m just so, so grateful to have the opportunity to be one of the people that actually gets it so soon. I’m super excited to get this done. I was talking with my family last night … My brother is like, ‘I have major vaccine envy,’” Boyce said. The province is not taking new appointment bookings, due to Pfizer announcing a slowdown in vaccine production, but all appointments currently booked will be honoured. Dr. Joss Reimer said Monday afternoon at the province’s daily COVID-19 update they are recalibrating the coming weeks as a result of that announcement. Robb said the flow through the various stations at the Keystone vaccination site went smoothly. Neither Robb nor Boyce felt the effects of the text issue, which sent the address of the Winnipeg vaccination site for their Brandon appointments. They both knew where they were booked. PetalMD, the company being paid $436,400 to manage COVID-19 screening services for the province, made that text mistake, and were lambasted in emails between provincial employees. “Per Adam’s note — we are now creating a process where we are checking PedalMD’s work. This is the same organization used by over 37,000 doctors across Canada. They are the largest, most reputable player in the space. They have now done this to us — twice. We are going to put them on training heels,” wrote Paul Beauregard to a list of several government employees. In the email thread, contractual penalties are discussed. NDP leadership has an issue with the government and PedalMD. They say this is one more glaring example of mistakes being made during the pandemic. “I think that this is another mistake in the vaccine rollout from the government. I think the average Manitoban probably understands that everyone makes mistakes sometimes, but it does seem pretty odd that the government seems to be making so many mistakes so many times when it comes to the vaccine rollout, whether it was wasting doses or long waits on the phone, trouble booking appointments, and then, now, messing up the messaging of the addresses a few times,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew. “In the emails, you see the government admitting themselves that they’ve made some mistakes, more than once. They’ve done it again. It causes concern, because at the end of the day it was health-care workers and other people at the front of the vaccine line in Brandon, who are caused unnecessary stress and confusion.” The province, via a spokesperson, admitted appointment reminder texts were sent with an incorrect address to 558 people with vaccination Monday appointments at the Keystone Centre. “The human error was quickly addressed by a followup text. Government is conducting a review to ensure the service provider is held accountable and that the mistake does not occur again. People with appointments are asked to keep them as scheduled,” the spokesperson stated. The Brandon site is set to deliver its vaccines as planned, two trays with 1,170 vaccines per tray. Both Robb and Boyce have appointments for their second mandated dose. As for possible reopening plans after current critical code red public health orders expire Friday night, Dr. Brent Roussin said more information would be forthcoming later in the week. MONDAY’S COVID-19 UPDATE The COVID-19 update from the province on Monday saw four additional deaths listed, none from the Prairie Mountain Health region. The province reported 118 new cases, as follows: • 11 cases in the Interlake–Eastern health region; • 46 cases in the Northern health region; • seven in the Prairie Mountain Health region; • nine cases in the Southern Health–Santé Sud health region; and • 45 cases in the Winnipeg health region. The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate was 10.6 per cent in the province, and 7.3 per cent in Winnipeg. Lab-confirmed cases in Manitoba total 27,629, with 773 deaths or 2.8 per cent. The province reports 3,108 active cases, with 23,748 individuals who have recovered from COVID-19. The province has advised the active case count is less, and that number will better reflect the correct number soon. The province also reported 135 people are in hospital with active COVID-19, as well as 154 people in hospital with COVID-19 who are no longer infectious but continue to require care, for a total of 289 hospitalizations. Twenty-three people are in intensive care units with active COVID-19, as well as 12 people with COVID-19 who are no longer infectious but continue to require critical care, for a total of 35 ICU patients. In the Prairie Mountain Health region, there are 203 active cases, with 1,567 recovered. There are 13 people hospitalized, with one patient in ICU, and a total of 43 deaths. Brandon’s active case count is 66, with 821 recovered and 19 deaths. On Thursday, 1,322 tests were completed, for a total of 453, 481 since February, 2020. » Source: Province of Manitoba PRAIRIE MOUNTAIN HEALTH OUTBREAK NUMBERS As of Jan. 18, the status of COVID-19 outbreaks in Prairie Mountain Health were as follows: • Brandon Correctional Centre: 108 total cases, 18 staff infected, 90 non-staff infected, one active case, 107 recovered, zero death. • McCreary/Alonsa Health Centre: 43 total cases, 14 staff infected, 29 non-staff infected, 30 active cases, nine recovered, four deaths. • Fairview Personal Care Home: 109 total cases, 41 staff infected, 68 non-staff infected, 0 active cases, 92 recovered, 17 deaths. • Grandview Personal Care Home: 37 total cases, 12 staff infected, 25 residents infected, 0 active cases, 32 recovered, five deaths. • St. Paul’s Personal Care Home: one total cases, one staff infected, 0 residents infected, one active case, 0 recovered, 0 deaths. • Dauphin Regional Health Centre medicine unit: No information Note: An outbreak is considered over one incubation period (14 days) after the final active case. » Source: Province of Manitoba VACCINATION UPDATE To date, 17,751 doses of vaccine have been administered, including 15,607 first doses and 2,144 second doses. Manitoba’s focused immunization teams continue to immunize residents at personal care homes across the province. First doses of the vaccine will now be given to all eligible residents by the end of January, more than a week ahead of initial projections. Last week, teams visited 10 personal care homes, and all consenting and eligible personal care home residents were immunized with their first dose. This week, residents at 51 personal care homes will be immunized throughout the province. All new appointments were paused on Jan. 15 due to the uncertainty caused by the Pfizer vaccine supply disruption. However, Manitoba has revised its updated projections based on new forecasts received from the federal government detailing the revised vaccine delivery schedules. Manitoba will release additional details on the next steps of its immunization campaign later this week. » Source: Province of Manitoba Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
This column is an opinion from Max Fawcett, a freelance writer and the former editor of Alberta Oil magazine. Death and taxes may be the only certainties in life, but over the last few years conservatives in Canada have done their best to add misrepresenting the federal carbon tax to that list. Their latest attempt to confuse Canadians came in the form of a Jan. 5 story in Blacklock's Reporter, an Ottawa-based subscription news service, which suggested that "Canadians paid millions more in #CarbonTax than they received in rebates." The source for that claim was the first annual report produced on the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act by Environment and Climate Change Canada, one that (among other things) described the total revenues raised by the tax and the ways in which it was paid back to Canadians. The report contained a chart depicting the balance of proceeds and payments. Blacklock'sadded a helpful red box around the rebates to households to emphasize that those figures were less than the total amount Canadians paid. That image was immediately blasted out by Conservative pundits and members of parliament on Twitter, who seized on the story as another example of the federal government's apparent dishonesty around the tax. "This week, the Trudeau government released its annual report on the carbon tax, which clearly shows the federal government collected far more in carbon taxes last year than it actually rebated to households in those provinces," Canadian Taxpayers Federation federal director Aaron Wudrick wrote in the Toronto Sun. "It's not a small sum: of the $2.6 billion taken from Canadians' pockets, just under $2 billion was rebated," Wudrick added. Chicanery at work Some Conservative MPs went even further than that. Jeremy Patzer, the 34-year-old member for Cypress-Grasslands in Saskatchewan, tweeted his take at Jonathan Wilkinson, the federal minister of environment. "It's right there in print," he wrote. "You can't lie your way out of this one. Where did the rest of the money go?" Funny he should ask, because the answer to that question was contained in the very same chart that Conservatives were treating like a smoking gun — the part that had been selectively cropped out. The chart showed hundreds of millions of dollars in payments to small and medium-sized enterprises as well municipalities, universities and colleges, schools and hospitals. The selective cropping also excluded a line indicating that any difference between proceeds and payments would be added to the next year's Climate Action Incentive payments. That wasn't the only bit of chicanery at work here, either. Equally dishonest was the implication that the federal government had promised that the rebates would be larger than the total tax paid by all Canadians. That was never the case: instead, we were told that the vast majority of households would get more back in rebates than they paid in carbon taxes. On this matter, the Parliamentary Budget Office has been very clear: the vast majority of Canadian households will receive more in rebates than they pay in carbon taxes, and that includes indirect impacts on things like food costs. The PBO has been equally clear about the fact that the households who will benefit the most from the carbon tax and rebate are the ones in the lowest income quartile. Conservatives will continue to pretend that the burden of the carbon tax falls most heavily on working class Canadians, but the facts simply don't bear this out. But no matter: for an already confused public, the cropped chart and accompanying conservative outrage will almost certainly overwhelm any attempts to rationally explain the policy. And while said Conservatives are certainly to blame for this — Philip Lawrence, the CPC shadow minister for national revenue, even sent out a press release trading in the latest deceit — the federal government deserves its share of the blame as well. That's because while the policies that underpin its climate plan are well designed, they've done a far worse job of communicating with Canadians about them. In fairness, even climate policy wonks can struggle at times to explain the nature of the federal backstop, especially how it applies to large industrial emitters. But when it comes to helping Canadians understand what they pay and whether they're coming out ahead financially, the federal government has done a predictably lousy job. Confusion reigns According to a September 2020 Leger poll that was conducted for Clean Prosperity, fewer than one-in-three Canadians living in the 905 region knew that carbon tax revenues were rebated to households. That's partially a function of the way it's distributed, which is in the form of a tax credit called the "Climate Action Incentive rebate." That name might have pleased the public servant who came up with it, but it invites confusion in a public that is accustomed to hearing it described in very different language. And because millions of Canadians don't actually do their own taxes, its very existence may have escaped their notice — especially if their tax preparer wasn't particularly anxious to tell them about it. The federal government has signaled its intention to move to quarterly deposits rather than annual tax credits by 2022, but this could be too little, too late. Even then, they'd be repeating a lesser mistake that Alberta's NDP made in their own rebate program, where the funds were deposited automatically in people's bank accounts — and therefore often overlooked. If the federal government wants to fix this error, they'll need to take a page out of their opponent's playbook. In Ontario, Doug Ford forced gas stations to put stickers purporting to show the cost of the carbon tax on their pumps. And while the stickers were poorly made and politically crass (and eventually ruled unconstitutional), they still effectively communicated his government's side of the story in simple and straight-forward terms. That's why, rather than allowing people to claim a tax credit or depositing money into their bank accounts, the federal government should send Canadians actual, physical cheques — and make it clear who's sending it to them. Would they be accused by the opposition of bribing people with their own money? Probably. But that's a cost they should be willing to pay, especially when the price of failure here is so high. In an environment where misinformation thrives, and where one side has repeatedly shown its willingness to spread it about the carbon tax, the Trudeau Liberals may have to fight fire with something other than wood. This isn't just a political consideration, either. As Canada tries to repair its balance sheet and grow the economy in the wake of COVID-19, it will need all the investment it can get. And according to Michael Berends, a managing director with ClearBlue Markets, a firm that helps companies understand and manage their carbon costs, the continued uncertainty around carbon pricing's future in Canada is getting in the way of that investment. "If you look at the cap and trade program that Ontario had in place in 2017, which was removed by the conservative government, it had over $2 billion in proceeds from auction — money that was going to be rolled out to clean initiatives, including a significant portion to large emitters," Berends told me. Certainty more important than price For those large emitters, he adds, policy certainty might be more important than price. "I'm not here to say that all emitters are happy with the $170 per tonne price, but they first want to know if it's really going to be there or not." And that lack of certainty — in Ontario, for example, large emitters have had to learn about and understand three different programs in five years — could drive capital into more stable markets. "For emitters that have plants in other locations outside of Ontario or the rest of Canada, if there's more certainty in those places, then the money might be moving there instead — because you know what you're facing," says Berends. That's something that all Canadian politicians should be eager to avoid. But that may require one of two things to happen: either Conservatives stop misrepresenting the nature and impact of carbon pricing, or Liberals start fighting for it more effectively. For both sides of the political spectrum, that is almost certainly an unpleasant idea. But losing out on billions of dollars in potential investment in low-carbon projects should be even less attractive. "The acceptance of carbon pricing is here now in Canada, at least on the emitter side," Berends says. "Now it's up to the politicians to deliver that certainty and give a clear path forward." This column is an opinion. For more information about our commentary section, please readour FAQ.
Indian hyperlocal courier startup Dunzo has raised $40 million from existing investor Google and others, it said on Tuesday, after seeing a surge in usage during the COVID-19 pandemic. As many Indians stayed indoors for much of 2020 because of the health crisis, Dunzo and food-delivery apps Zomato and Swiggy recorded a fresh surge in popularity. Naspers-backed Swiggy also runs a hyperlocal courier service.
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa's trailblazing Black food writer Dorah Sitole's latest cookbook was widely hailed in December as a moving chronicle of her journey from humble township cook to famous, well-travelled author. The country's new Black celebrity chefs lined up to praise her as a mentor who encouraged them to succeed by highlighting what they knew best: tasty African food. Now they are mourning Sitole's death this month from COVID-19. She was 65. In “40 Years of Iconic Food,” Sitole engagingly described how she quietly battled South Africa's racist apartheid system to find appreciation, and a market, for African cuisine. Her book became a holiday bestseller, purchased by Blacks and whites alike. Sitole's career started in 1980 at the height of apartheid when she was hired by a canned foods company to promote sales of their products by giving cooking classes in Black townships. She found that she loved the work. In 1987, Sitole became the country's first Black food writer when she was appointed food editor for True Love, one of the few publications for the country's Black majority. The magazine, and its competitor Drum, were known for giving Black writers, photographers and editors the freedom to write about the Black condition and experience. With stories that were about much more than food, Sitole described how traditional African dishes brought pleasure to families and communities in troubled times. She was known for her distinctive takes on well-known recipes and tips on how to make them on a budget. She won an avid readership and became a household name, even as South Africa's townships were roiled by anti-apartheid violence. When apartheid ended and Nelson Mandela became president in 1994, Sitole found new opportunities. She trained as a Cordon Bleu chef and got a diploma in marketing. She travelled across Africa to learn about the continent's cuisine, producing the book “Cooking from Cape to Cairo.” In interviews, she pointed out her East African fish dish with basmati rice that she developed while travelling through that region, and the seafood samp recipe, which is basically a paella using chopped corn kernels instead of the traditional rice. In 2008, Sitole's success was acknowledged when she was appointed True Love's editor-in-chief. Sitole's warmth and generosity is credited with opening doors for many Black chefs, food writers and influencers who are thriving in South Africa today. “Mam (mother) Dorah’s approach to food was a mixture of things. First, it was something that was driven by her background, she was very true to who she was," said Siba Mtongana, one of South Africa's brightest new chefs, who started out as food editor for Drum magazine and now has a television series and cookbooks. “She would take what we grew up eating and add a twist to them, and add flavours that we would not ordinarily have thought of putting together,” said Mtongana who has opened a restaurant in Cape Town, featuring food from all over Africa. She said Sitole imbued her with a passion for exposing the world to Africa's many cuisines saying she loved describing to her readers what others enjoy eating across Africa, and around the world. Another chef who credits Sitole for assisting her is Khanya Mzongwana, a contributing editor for food retailer Woolworths’ Taste magazine. “Mam Dorah wore so many hats — she was a writer, a creator, a mother, a friend, a real artist. I remember just how awesome it was to see a Black woman blazing trails in food media. Nobody was doing that," said Mzongwana. “What made Mam Dorah the best was definitely how she could fill a space with pleasantness," said Mzongwana. “She was so generous with her resources and wanted to see all of us — her daughters — win. Paying it forward in meaningful ways is something I saw Mam Dorah do first," she said. “She loved and respected everybody and made what seemed like such a wild dream appear so reachable and normal. She was one of the most impactful Black women in the food world.” Sitole received numerous awards for her contribution to South African culture. In one of her last interviews, Sitole said the highlight of her four-decade career was her trip across the continent. “I had always wanted to travel through Africa and I had no clue what to expect," she said on Radio 702. "It was almost like you don’t know what you are going into, and then you find it. I loved every moment and every country that I went to, I loved the food and the experience." Sitole is survived by her children Nonhlanhla, Phumzile and Ayanda. Mogomotsi Magome, The Associated Press
Reports that U.S. president-elect Joe Biden plans to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion are reverberating in Saskatchewan.
A busy thief smashed out the glass doors to two businesses in downtown Halifax early Tuesday morning making off with two cash registers, according to Halifax Regional Police. The first break in happened around 2:55 a.m., an alarm went off at Boston Pizza on Granville Street drawing police to the scene. When police arrived they found part of the restaurants' glass door had been smashed. A cash register and other items had been stolen from inside, according to a news release from the Halifax police. Then around 3:05 a.m. another business' alarm went off this time at Creamy Rainbow, a bakery and cafe on Dresden Row. Once again the thief had smashed the business' glass door to get inside, and taken the cash register. So far no one has been arrested. The suspect in both break ins is a white man about 30 years old, with short brown hair and glasses. The man was wearing a black jacket with a white hoodie underneath, black pants and black sneakers with white soles. Police say anyone with information about the incident or suspect should contact them or send an anonymous tip through Crime Stoppers. MORE TOP STORIES
THE LATEST: As of Tuesday afternoon, there were 465 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 more deaths. There are currently 4,331 active cases of the coronavirus in B.C. 329 people are in hospital, with 70 in the ICU. 92,369 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C. There are no new health-care facility outbreaks. B.C. health officials confirmed 465 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and said 12 more people had died of the disease. In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix put the number of hospitalized patients at 329 people, 70 of whom are in intensive care. A total of 1,090 people in B.C. have lost their lives due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. B.C. recorded no new outbreaks in health-care facilities. The outbreak at The Emerald at Elim Village, a long-term care facility in Surrey, has been declared over. For the first time since a second round of restrictions was implemented in November, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry offered a glimmer of hope that B.C.'s COVID-19 case count could be tipping in the right direction. Henry said in a Monday afternoon news conference that outbreaks are slowing in B.C. and the province is at a "tipping point" she feels positive about. "Clearly the things we are doing in our community are working," Henry said Monday, while acknowledging that outbreaks continue in essential workplaces and long-term care homes. She said that if B.C.'s case count continues to trend downwards, there is a possibility some restrictions could be lifted by the Family Day weekend in mid-February. B.C.'s current health restrictions are in effect until at least Feb. 5 at midnight. The current orders include a ban on gatherings with people outside of one's immediate household. But Henry said that while B.C.'s numbers continue to decrease, the risk of transmission remains high in all areas of the province, and that outbreaks in Interior Health and Northern Health are of concern. B.C. 'prepared' for vaccine delays Henry said the province will soon finish vaccinating all residents of long-term care homes in the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions, and is on track to complete vaccinations in all long-term care homes by end of next week depending on when doses arrive. She said visits to long-term care homes could possibly resume by late March, or once two incubation periods have passed since a long-term care home outbreak has ended. The federal government on Friday announced Pfizer is temporarily reducing shipments of its vaccine in order to expand manufacturing capacity at a facility in Belgium. The move means there will be fewer shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech coming to Canada until at least March. Henry said on Monday that the delay is a "setback" and will temporarily slow the province's delivery of the vaccine to at-risk people. But she said the province is working to ensure the highest number of people are immunized. Henry added that the province will be providing more first doses of the vaccine in March than originally planned, with second doses being pushed to later in March when supply increases. READ MORE: What's happening elsewhere in Canada As of 9 p.m. PT on Monday, Canada had reported 712,816 cases of COVID-19, and 18,120 total deaths. A total of 73,919 cases are considered active. What are the symptoms of COVID-19? Common symptoms include: Fever. Cough. Tiredness. Shortness of breath. Loss of taste or smell. Headache. But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia. What should I do if I feel sick? Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they're mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or other extreme symptoms should call 911. What can I do to protect myself? Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean. Keep your distance from people who are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Wear a mask in indoor public spaces. More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.
After months out of the spotlight, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has returned centre stage with diplomatic and economic moves which diplomats say are aimed at showing the new U.S. president he is a valuable partner who can get things done. Within the span of a few weeks, the kingdom announced an Arab deal to reconcile with Qatar, voluntary cuts to Saudi crude output to help stabilise markets and new momentum on an economic diversification plan that stumbled due to political controversy, low oil prices and COVID-19. Whether behind the scenes or front and centre chairing a Gulf summit for the first time, the young prince, known as MbS, is moving to present an image as a reliable statesman and set a pragmatic tone with a less accommodating Biden administration, especially on foe Iran, three foreign diplomats said.
Police officers in Saskatchewan have been on the front line of enforcement when it comes to the province's public health orders, responding to everything from the violation of an isolation, to ticketing those at large anti-mask rallies. But despite the fact they're dealing with the public and facing volatile situations involving the virus, front-line police officers are nowhere near the front of the line when it comes to priority for the COVID-19 vaccine. Rick Bourassa, chief of the Moose Jaw Police Service and president of the Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police (SACP), says police agencies don't want to muscle their way into priority spots, but says it's important officers are prepared as they take on more duties around public health orders. "The front-line people are not only involved in public safety, and ensuring that moving forward, but we are the front-line responders to non-compliance and monitoring during this pandemic," he said. "So police officers across the province are quite knowingly putting themselves at risk." Bourassa says police services understand the imperative of enforcing those orders — as it helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 — but that enforcement can sometimes involve officers being in "close and prolonged contact" with infected people. "And in our environment, we don't have time to stop, slow everything down, put on the full personal protective equipment; it's very much moving quickly to keep other people safe." Vaccine keeps both officers, public they serve, safe: SACP Bourassa says there has been good dialogue between police services and local health authority officials. But he says he'd like to see more opportunities for discussions directly with provincial officials in charge, as most of that communication has been done through intermediaries and various government agencies. "In order to keep spread of the virus from increasing, as we work toward compliance of people who aren't complying, and in order to just maintain public safety, our members need to have the tools," he said. "And one of those tools is to have been vaccinated." He said officers are doing everything they can to keep safe while on the job, but notes policing can be unpredictable and there have already been instances where resources were "severely limited" due to close contacts and exposure. "In some situations, other police agencies, other officers, have had to come in because there just wasn't the police capability to respond. We're very concerned about that," he said. If further, larger exposures take place, it could leave services shorthanded. Some law enforcement agencies have already seen the virus enter their ranks, with outbreaks ongoing at a unit of the Saskatoon Police Service and the Prince Albert Police Service. Those who represent front-line officers say while members are not complaining about new duties, there is some frustration with the fact they've been left out of priority, especially when those new duties involve dealing with people already disregarding health guidelines. "If they're disobeying that health order, they really probably don't want to obey police either," said Casey Ward, president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Police Officers. He says officers take no issue with the fact those on the front line of the health care sector have been prioritized for vaccines, as they're at highest risk, but he wants more consideration given to the hundreds of officers on provincial streets everyday. Ward, who is also president of the Regina Police Association, says he's seen entire shifts "decimated" as a result of the virus, noting its police who are called when hospital staff and security are met with hostility, rather than adherence. "I don't think a lot of people understand how much we are dealing with people that are affected with COVID-19," he said. He said he'd like for those making the decisions around vaccination at the provincial level to see first-hand what police are dealing with. "I'd love for the minister to come out and actually see how exposed our members are," he said. "I'm sure the elected officials probably wouldn't even feel comfortable coming out, seeing how exposed they would be on a night shift, what our members are putting up with." Ward said he's willing to meet with stakeholders from the province to discuss how the role of a police officer has changed during the pandemic and why law enforcement services should be offered priority vaccination. "We want to be considered in this and have a voice at the table when it does come out to be able to lobby and to put us in where we deserve to be," he said. "We're not saying we need to be right at the front, we totally understand that, but I think if we all sat down, I think people would understand right away." Ministry following national recommendations CBC Saskatoon reached out to the Ministry of Health about the concerns raised by Ward and Bourassa on Monday, but a response was not received by deadline. An earlier statement from the Ministry of Health indicated it's following direction from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization when it comes to its vaccine rollout. "Each province, including Saskatchewan, is using these recommendations to determine prioritization," the statement said. The province's delivery plan details how the first phase is set to focus on immunization of those at higher risk of exposure or serious illness. This includes health care workers and elderly residents in care homes, as well as seniors over 80 across the province and seniors over 50 in the north. Phase 2 of the province's vaccination is set to begin in April when additional priority groups will be identified for vaccination alongside the general population. "The Ministry of Health will provide updates on the availability of vaccines as the situation evolves, noting that vaccine approval and availability is established by the federal government," the statement explained. As for the province's police services, Bourassa says they've been able to continue with their regular duties patrolling city streets, even with the added weight of the COVID-19 pandemic, noting the "vast majority" of Saskatchewan residents continue to do their part. "People have been very, very good with doing all the right things," he said. "We have to get through this period — it will be a short period — and the more we follow the rules, the shorter that period will be." "We'll get through this together," he added.
Setting money goals in 2020 was likely an exercise in futility. Maybe you’d been saving for a trip abroad, but the pandemic kept you at home. Or you wanted to save up for a down payment on a house, then the recession left you out of a job. The pandemic made achieving yearlong goals a challenge for many last year. In fact, 29% of Americans with financial goals for 2020 said COVID-19 forced them to put some of those aspirations on hold until 2021, according to a NerdWallet survey conducted online in late fall by The Harris Poll among over 1,700 U.S. adults with 2020 financial goals. Although the pandemic is still part of our daily lives, the new year offers an opportunity to craft fresh money goals — and perhaps the trials of last year can help you clarify your financial ambitions. KNOW YOURSELF AND YOUR PRIORITIES Before you set your goals, think about your current financial situation and your priorities for the new year. “Take an inventory of where you are and more importantly who you are,” says Jordan Awoye, an equitable advisor based in Long Island, New York. First, dig into the state of your finances, including your income, monthly expenses and emergency fund. Understand where you are right now to get an idea of where you could be in a year’s time. Then think about your personal priorities and values — and how they may have shifted as a result of the pandemic — to pinpoint what you want from your finances. Maybe you want to get back to a baseline of where you were in early 2020, before a year of financial challenges. Or maybe you want to use the money you saved while staying at home to put a down payment on a house. “Start with an understanding of the why behind your goal,” says Kristen Holt, CEO of the non-profit credit counselling agency GreenPath Financial Wellness. “A great goal is ‘I want to get out of debt,’ but go deeper and ask why. Will you be able to sleep better? Will you be able to enjoy life more? Get clear on your why, because that can be motivation to stick to your goal.” CRAFT SMART(R) GOALS With the foundation of your priorities and motivation settled, it’s time to establish the framework to build your financial future. That means crafting your goals in a way that makes them easier to achieve. The SMART template for goal-setting can help: — SPECIFIC: Make your goals as specific as possible. If you want to curb your spending, for example, pin down how much you spend on unnecessary items each month. Then set an exact dollar limit for such spending. — MEASURABLE: Choose a way to track your progress. If you’re paying down debt, think about using a debt tracker. Or if you want to save a certain dollar amount, consider visualizing your goal in a savings progress chart that you’ll colour in as you go. — ATTAINABLE: Your goals need to be something you can accomplish within a year. If you’re paying off $10,000 in credit card debt, for example, find what you can realistically pay monthly, multiply that by 12 and use that amount as your goal. — RELEVANT: Choose goals that are meaningful to your personal values. Similar to finding your “why,” choosing relevant goals helps ensure that your 2021 financial plan is connected to your life goals. If you want to retire early, think about upping contributions to a retirement account so you’re on track to accomplish that multi-year goal. — TIME-LIMITED: Setting a deadline can keep the pressure on. And think about breaking up your overarching goal into smaller pieces that you’ll achieve on a monthly basis. Hitting monthly goals can provide a steady feed of accomplishments, which can keep you motivated. Take the SMART acronym a step further by tacking on an “R” for “reward.” Plan rewards for yourself as you make progress. The more enjoyment you get out of the process, the more likely you are to keep working at it. Say you want to reduce debt. For each $100 you pay off, find a way to treat yourself, maybe by making a nice dinner or having a DIY spa day at home. TACTICS TO BOOST YOUR PROGRESS Finally, here are a few simple tips to build momentum: — AUTOMATE: Taking a “set it and forget it” approach can make accomplishing your ambitions easier. For savings goals, try direct depositing a portion of your income into a high-yield savings account. And for debt payoff, set up automatic payments for an amount above the minimum due to ensure you’re making progress. — CUT YOUR INTEREST RATE: If less of your payment goes to interest, more of it goes to debt payoff. You may be able to reduce your rate by refinancing your mortgage, student loan or car loan. If you have credit card debt, see whether you can qualify for a debt consolidation loan or a balance transfer credit card with a 0% APR promotional period. _______________________________ This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Sean Pyles is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @SeanPyles. RELATED LINK: NerdWallet: Money goals in flux under pressure of pandemic http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-pandemic-money-goals Sean Pyles Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
A Thai court on Tuesday sentenced a 65-year-old woman to more than 43 years in jail for sharing online posts criticizing the royal family, her lawyer said, the country's harshest ever sentence for insulting the monarchy. Her sentence comes at a time of unprecedented youth-led demonstrations in which protest leaders have openly criticised the monarchy, risking prosecution under Thailand's strict law known as lese majeste, which carries a 15-year penalty for each violation. Anchan Preelert pled guilty to 29 separate violations of sharing and posting clips on YouTube and Facebook between 2014 and 2015, her lawyer, Pawinee Chumsri, told Reuters.