Ever wanted to know what it was like to lay down in the forest and look up at the stars? Check your resolutions settings, sit back and enjoy. Thanks for watching!
Ever wanted to know what it was like to lay down in the forest and look up at the stars? Check your resolutions settings, sit back and enjoy. Thanks for watching!
NANAIMO, B.C. — Police say they issued tickets totalling over $900 to two BC Ferries passengers for refusing to follow COVID-19 safety protocols while on board. Nanaimo RCMP say in a news release they were called to the Departure Bay ferry terminal to meet the Queen of Cowichan, which was arriving from Horseshoe Bay just after midnight Sunday, to escort two women off the vessel. They say the women, aged 19 and 43, ignored the mask requirement on board and were heard yelling and screaming at staff. RCMP arrested them for being intoxicated in a public place but later decided not to lay criminal charges. They say the women were taken to the Nanaimo detachment, where they spent the rest of the evening and, once sober, received tickets for failure to wear a face covering and abusive or belligerent behaviour under the Emergency Program Act. Const. Gary O'Brien says the two had reusable non-medical masks but simply chose not to wear them. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — International Development Minister Karina Gould says the first injection of a COVID-19 vaccine in Ghana is a significant milestone for a new global vaccine-sharing program created to bring doses to low-income countries. But the NDP wants the House of Commons to censure the Canadian government for being the only G7 country to accept doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the program, known as COVAX, later this year. Some 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in the West African country of Ghana on Wednesday, months after the rollout of vaccines in Canada and the rest of the developed world, which has underscored the inequity COVAX was seeking to avoid. COVAX was founded last year with the backing of the World Health Organization to bring vaccines to countries that can't afford them, and rich countries that have invested heavily in the program, such as Canada, are entitled to doses for their own domestic use. NDP development critic Heather McPherson says Canada's decision to exercise its legal right to the COVAX doses highlights the fact the Liberal government has failed to guarantee enough of a domestic supply of vaccines. She says she will be pushing the Commons committee on foreign affairs and international development to allow her party's motion to be debated and voted on in the full Parliament. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
CHARLOTTETOWN — Health officials in Prince Edward Island are reporting two new cases of COVID-19 today. Officials say the cases involve two women — one in her 20s and one in her 30s — and are related to travel within Atlantic Canada. The two cases are linked to a previously reported infection in the Atlantic region. Officials are advising anyone who was at the Toys "R" Us store on Buchanan Drive in Charlottetown between 10 a.m. and noon on Tuesday to isolate and to get tested for COVID-19. Prince Edward Island has three active reported infections. The province has reported a total of 117 COVID-19 cases and no deaths linked to the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
A school board in Thunder Bay, Ont., has asked public health authorities to order a suspension of in-person learning after several COVID-19 outbreaks have forced hundreds of students to self-isolate. The Lakehead District School Board urged the health unit to mandate virtual learning for at least two weeks starting March 1. Schools have had to dismiss classes repeatedly because of COVID-19 cases, which is affecting students' learning, said board chairwoman Ellen Chambers. “What we don’t want to have is (students) coming back to school and there’s another outbreak, so we have a back-and-forth and a back-and-forth," she said in an interview Wednesday. Currently, 576 students and 55 staff with the board are self-isolating, and that has created a shortage in teachers and support staff, including bus drivers, said Chambers. "We've run out of supply teachers to cover the elementary classes," she said. "It's just unsustainable." The school board, which has 26 elementary schools and four secondary schools, currently has four schools that are already teaching all classes virtually because of COVID-19 cases. The Thunder Bay District Health Unit did not immediately respond to request for comment. Health Minister Christine Elliott said this week that the province is closely watching the situation in Thunder Bay. She said the province’s chief medical officer will review data and cabinet will decide later in the week whether the region should be locked down or move to another category of the pandemic restrictions framework. In another northern Ontario region, public health officials dismissed students and staff from two Sudbury, Ont., schools on Wednesday following five confirmed cases of COVID-19. All five cases have been identified by Public Health Sudbury and Districts as variants of concern. Schools across Ontario were moved entirely online at the beginning of January as part of a provincial lockdown. The government then gradually reopened schools for in-person learning, starting first with those in northern Ontario and rural areas. The last schools to return to in-person learning -- in Toronto, Peel Region and York Region -- did so last week. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Denise Paglinawan, The Canadian Press
Notre-Dame-du-Mont-Carmel – Un jeune homme de 16 ans de Notre-Dame-du-Mont-Carmel a été victime d'une fraude alors qu'un individu a créé un compte à son nom dans une banque de l'arrondissement Westmount à Montréal pour encaisser 6 000$ de prestation canadienne d'urgence (PCU). Comme la période des rapports d'impôts approche, Jérémy Désilets a reçu un formulaire T4 de l'Agence du revenu du Canada, lui indiquant qu'il avait reçu trois versements de 2 000$ en PCU. Or, le jeune homme qui n'a accumulé que de petits boulots au courant de la dernière année, n'était pas inscrit à la mesure d'aide mise en place dans le cadre de la pandémie. «Nous avons reçu le T4 il y a environ deux semaines et j'ai rapidement compris que nous n'étions pas seuls en discutant avec d'autres parents», confie Halen Désilets, le papa de Jérémy, qui s'est d'abord entretenu avec le 106,9 FM mercredi matin. Selon lui, des noms de plusieurs adolescents auraient été utilisés pour le même stratagème. Après plus de six heures passées au téléphone pour tenter de régler la situation, M. Désilets a fini par convaincre les intervenants qu'il ne s'agissait pas de son fils. «Ils ont gelé tout ce qu'ils pouvaient et devraient me donner des nouvelles d'ici la fin de la semaine. J'espère que ça ne fera pas de tache au crédit de mon garçon», soupire-t-il. Rien n'est moins sûr, malheureusement. Selon l'expert en cybersécurité Steve Waterhouse, les institutions bancaires ne voient trop souvent que les sommes d'argent qui se déplacent d'un compte à l'autre, sans égard à la faute ou pas. «Les finances, ce sont des chiffres qui ne parlent pas. Dans un tel dossier, le client doit être en mesure de prouver qu'effectivement, il s'agissait de quelqu'un d'autre lors du moment de la transaction. Ça devient le jeu du chat et de la souris», explique M. Waterhouse qui soutient que cette tendance s'étend à l'international actuellement. «Parce qu'elles voulaient éviter les risques de contamination, plusieurs institutions ont permis à des individus d'ouvrir des comptes à distance sans pouvoir vérifier l'identité de la personne. Bien sûr, sans vouloir les critiquer, ces institutions ont beaucoup d'intérêt pour les nouveaux clients parce que l'économie est au ralenti», indique-t-il. Il y a de l'espoir, toutefois, assure Me Danielle Ferron, associée du secteur litige chez au cabinet Langlois Avocats, qui se spécialise en litiges bancaires, fraude et cybercriminalité. «On recommande aux gens de signaler le plus rapidement possible dans de pareils cas, puisque la situation nécessite beaucoup de vérifications du côté gouvernemental. Communiquer rapidement avec la police locale, aussi, parce que l'enquête peut être très longue. La bonne nouvelle pour le crédit, c'est que le fait de se déclarer victime de fraude va être indiqué dans le dossier et théoriquement, ça ne devrait pas nuire», décrit-elle. De plus, des recours légaux peuvent être envisageables pour exiger réparation. «Si on est capable d'identifier la personne qui a commis le vol d'identité, à ce moment, il est possible de réclamer des dommages au civil.» Les fuites de données observées chez l'Agence du revenu du Canada ou encore Desjardins peuvent fournir des informations personnelles précieuses aux individus mal intentionnés. «C'est possible qu'il y ait une corrélation entre la fraude chez Desjardins et la situation vécue par le jeune homme. Les institutions vont toujours tenter de se défendre en argumentant qu'elles ne sont peut-être pas responsables des dommages, parce que les gens ont une historique de consultation sur les réseaux sociaux, par exemple. Reste que ces institutions doivent être capables d'appuyer les consommateurs», souligne Steve Waterhouse. Que faire? «Après avoir contacté son institution et les policiers, prenez un pas de recul. Regardez et identifiez tous les documents ou toutes les informations qui pourraient qui pourraient être impactées», suggère Danielle Ferron. «Demander une traçabilité à l'institution bancaire où s'est produite la fraude. Ensuite, c'est une question de vigilance, de s'informer : vérifier son état de compte fréquemment. C'est un réflexe à développer pour prendre connaissance de ce qui se passe dans notre compte. Il ne faut pas rester trois mois sans regarder», avance pour sa part Steve Waterhouse. Bien qu'il espère que la situation se règle pour le mieux, rapidement, Halen Désilets ne sera jamais convaincu que le compteur a été remis à zéro. «Je reste avec un doute», avoue-t-il. Marc-André Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nouvelliste
DALLAS — An art collection worth an estimated $150 million that belonged to the late Texas oil and ranching heiress Anne Marion is going up for auction this spring in New York. Sotheby's said Wednesday that Marion's private collection includes works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Franz Kline. Marion, who founded the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, died last year at the age of 81. Marion and her husband, John Marion, a former Sotheby’s chairman and auctioneer, established the museum in 1997. Sotheby's said three masterworks at the heart of the collection are expected to each sell for over $20 million. They are: Warhol's “Elvis 2 Times,” Richard Diebenkorn's “Ocean Park No. 40,” and Clyfford Still's “PH-125 (1948-No. 1).” Marion, the great-granddaughter of Capt. Samuel Burk Burnett, was the heiress to the historic Four Sixes Ranch in King County in West Texas. Sotheby's said the masterworks that formed her art collection were featured in her Fort Worth home, which was designed by architect I.M. Pei. Sotheby's said that a number of other works from her collection will be gifted to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth. The Associated Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan is reporting 56 new cases of COVID-19 — one of its lowest daily counts in months. Data collected by the Ministry of Health shows the last time the province dipped below 60 new daily infections was in November. Health officials say the seven-day average for new daily cases is 146. The province has also reported that another three residents who were 60 and older have died from the virus. There are 165 people in hospital, with 17 patients receiving intensive care. To date, the province says it has given about 63,000 vaccinations. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021 The Canadian Press
PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. — An inquiry investigating why a former soldier killed his family and himself in 2017 heard Wednesday from a psychologist who said she didn't detect warning signs about domestic violence when he began treatment in 2011. Wendy Rogers, a psychologist contracted by the military, said she would have picked up on indications Cpl. Lionel Desmond was prone to violence or abusive behaviour while he was being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. "He never spoke about his wife in a derogatory manner," she told the provincial fatality inquiry, adding that he did not have any suicidal or homicidal tendencies. "There was nothing that raised red flags for me." Desmond, a corporal who served with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, had been diagnosed with PTSD in 2011 after a particularly intense seven-month tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2007. Rogers said she was shocked when she heard about the triple murder and Desmond's suicide on Jan. 3, 2017. "I could not have predicted it, especially his daughter," she said. "He loved that little girl." The psychologist said that in 2012, Desmond felt "distressed" about the fact his wife, Shanna, had texted him to ask for a divorce. Rogers, however, insisted he showed no anger toward his wife. "It was like an indifference," she told the inquiry, adding that this attitude was common among former combat soldiers with PTSD. Earlier in her testimony Wednesday, Rogers said Desmond was very depressed, spoke slowly and didn't show much emotion when they first met in December 2011 while he was posted to Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in New Brunswick. She said she encouraged him to become more active, and she used prolonged exposure therapy, which teaches patients to make audio recordings about traumatic memories and then replay those recordings to help diminish their anxiety. The psychologist said Desmond talked about the revulsion he felt when he saw the partial remains of an enemy fighter in Afghanistan. "It was a very horrific sight," she testified. "It was one of the things that haunted him ... (But) his distress levels about the event decreased over time." Desmond responded well to therapy in 2011 and 2012, Rogers said, adding that he appeared ready to return to active duty by February 2013. She later learned, however, that her former patient had suffered a significant relapse in May 2013 when he was subjected to racist comments about his African Nova Scotian heritage while working at the base. Four months later, Desmond told Rogers he could not stop thinking about the incident. "It was causing him a lot of distress," she told the inquiry, adding that Desmond said he was so angry that he was worried he might hurt someone. Rogers also recalled that Desmond told her about how he was the target of racist comments as a boy growing up in Guysborough County in eastern Nova Scotia. He also talked about how Black youths from his neighbourhood would sometimes fight with white kids on Friday nights. "He would have been exposed to racial comments throughout his life," she said, adding that Desmond never said anything about experiencing racism while serving in Afghanistan. It was clear that the stress from the incident at the base had led to a relapse of symptoms, but Rogers said the setback appeared to have little to do with combat-related PTSD. The relapse prompted the military to reconsider Desmond's return to regular duty, and the process to have him medically released was set in motion, Rogers added. On May 13, 2015, a military medical official submitted a form stating Desmond's PTSD was "still active" and that he had "never achieved remission." The document said the soldier was facing several stressors, including his pending medical release, "marital strain with potential for divorce" and separation from his daughter. "Status not stable, continues to deteriorate, wants to improve, but struggles with same," the document said. Despite these pressures, Desmond displayed no indications of wanting to kill anyone or himself, the medical official concluded. Desmond was released from the military on June 26, 2015. As a veteran, he was recommended for continued treatment at the operational stress injury clinic in Fredericton and he was later told to take part in a six-month residential treatment program at Ste. Anne's Hospital in Montreal. The inquiry has heard that he left the program three months early and returned home to Upper Big Tracadie, N.S., in August 2016. Evidence presented to the inquiry has shown that Desmond received no therapeutic treatment during the four months before he bought a semi-automatic rifle on Jan. 3, 2017, and later that day fatally shot his 31-year-old wife, their 10-year-daughter, Aaliyah, and his 52-year-old mother, Brenda, before killing himself in the family's home. — By Michael MacDonald in Halifax. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
Newtonbrook Secondary School received hate mail over its new course tackling anti-Black racism, but administration says it’s just “strengthening their resolve.” Last week, the principal of Newtonbrook Secondary School received a manila envelope with no return address. Inside, was a copy of the Star’s newspaper article about the school’s new course on deconstructing anti-Black racism, which was scrawled over with racist remarks. “N------ have taken over the school system!” the anonymous sender wrote, along with a note about not wanting their children to attend school with Black boys. Toronto police were called to the school and an investigation is underway. D. Tyler Robinson, co-author and project lead of the course, said that the tone of the letter, coming from an adult or parent, doesn’t surprise him. “Kids aren’t the issue. The student interest is not the issue,” Robinson said. “Parents with fixed notions of how things are, and other community members at large with fixed notions of how things are, this is where the problem lies.” Robinson has taught for 11 years at seven different schools across the TDSB — from affluent areas to economically and socially depressed areas — and he said he’s always found that students want to discuss race and racism. News of the course was first covered last month by the Star, and as it gained more media attention, a TDSB parent’s event where Robinson was speaking was “Zoom bombed.” Anonymous attendees hijacked the virtual event playing Guns N’ Roses music videos when Robinson attempted to speak about the course. The Grade 12 university prep course “Deconstructing anti-Black Racism in the Canadian and North American Context” covers language, the history of Black people in North America, media stereotypes and how oppression connects to other groups. It was written by four past and present Newtonbrook teachers over the summer of 2020, and the team has been working to bring it to other schools around the province. At least six will be teaching it next year so far. Instances like the hate mail and the Zoom bombing are overt forms of racism, which Robinson says he can find some “empathy” and understanding with the fact that they have yet to unlearn hate. “But how do we deal with the covert racism?” he wonders. “How do we engage principals who don’t want to run this course?” TDSB spokesperson Shari Schwartz-Maltz said that principals and superintendents met with TDSB equity representatives right after the hate mail was received and while they “were appalled, and incredibly upset,” it also reaffirmed the work. “(It was) beautiful to see such a strengthening of the resolve ... to continue the work.” Schwartz-Maltz told the Star. “It opened a lot of eyes and said, ‘This is why we need the course.’” This incident comes just weeks after the TDSB’s released its first human rights report, which revealed the degree of racism and oppression it has to reckon with within its schools. Racist incidents — particularly anti-Black ones — made up the majority of hate incidents that had been investigated between 2018 and 2020. Education Minister Stephen Lecce condemned the hate mail in a statement to the Star, saying: “We condemn this vile form of anti-black racism — it has no place in our province or country … We are committed to combating racism in our communities and systemically in Ontario institutions.” Schwartz-Maltz echoed that the role schools play is more than teaching math, but these lessons of addressing racism as well. “Schools are places where we help kids become the people that they should be: compassionate, tolerant, open their eyes to the world, and understanding and loving of people,” Schwartz-Maltz said. Angelyn Francis is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering equity and inequality. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: email@example.com Angelyn Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
A real-world test of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in more than half a million people confirms that it’s very effective at preventing serious illness or death, even after one dose. Wednesday’s published results, from a mass vaccination campaign in Israel, give strong reassurance that the benefits seen in smaller, limited testing persisted when the vaccine was used much more widely in a general population with various ages and health conditions. The vaccine was 92% effective at preventing severe disease after two shots and 62% after one. Its estimated effectiveness for preventing death was 72% two to three weeks after the first shot, a rate that may improve as immunity builds over time. It seemed as effective in folks over 70 as in younger people. “This is immensely reassuring ... better than I would have guessed,” said the Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Gregory Poland. Vanderbilt University’s Dr. Buddy Creech agreed: “Even after one dose we can see very high effectiveness in prevention of death,” he said. Neither doctor had a role in the Israel study but both are involved in other coronavirus vaccine work. Both doctors also said the new results may boost consideration of delaying the second shot, as the United Kingdom is trying, or giving one dose instead of two to people who have already had COVID-19, as France is doing, to stretch limited supplies. “I would rather see 100 million people have one dose than to see 50 million people have two doses,” Creech said. “I see a lot of encouragement on one dose” in the results from Israel, which were published by the New England Journal of Medicine. The vaccine, made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, is given as two shots, three weeks apart, in most countries. The study was led by researchers from the Clalit Research Institute and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, with Harvard University in the U.S. It did not report on safety of the vaccine, just effectiveness, but no unexpected problems arose in previous testing. Researchers compared nearly 600,000 people 16 and older in Israel’s largest health care organization who were given shots in December or January to an equal number of people of similar age, sex and health who did not receive vaccine. None of the participants had previously tested positive for the virus. The vaccine was estimated to be 57% effective at preventing any symptoms of COVID-19 two to three weeks after the first dose, and 94% a week or more after the second dose. Effectiveness was 74% after one shot and 87% after two for preventing hospitalization, and 46% and 92% for preventing confirmed infection. Reducing infections gives hope that the vaccine may curb spread of the virus, but this type of study can’t determine if that’s the case. There were 41 COVID-19-related deaths, 32 of them in people who did not get vaccine. Overall, the numbers compare well to the 95% effectiveness after two doses that was seen in the limited testing that led U.S. regulators to authorize the vaccine’s emergency use, Poland said. How much benefit there would be from one dose has been a big question, “and now there’s some data” to help inform the debate, he added. “Maybe the right thing to do here to protect the most number of people ... is to give everybody one dose as soon as you can. I think that’s a very acceptable strategy to consider,” Poland said. Israel now has vaccinated nearly half of its population. A newer variant of the virus that was first identified in the United Kingdom became the dominant strain in Israel during the study, so the results also give some insight into how well the vaccine performs against it. Earlier this week, two U.K. studies suggested benefits even after one dose of the Pfizer vaccine or a different one from AstraZeneca. The U.K. is delaying the second shot for up to 12 weeks after the first one to try to give more people some level of protection. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press
Residents of Simon Place and Ryan’s Road were likely glad to hear the Town of Spaniard’s Bay will be putting money towards addressing flooding concerns in their area. “Because of the complexity of the issue, we needed engineers to help us come up with a resolution,” said Mayor Paul Brazil during the February 9 meeting of council. The engineering firm in question is Progressive Engineering, which sent the town a proposal with a staged estimate totalling up to $20,950 concerning the flooding concerns on Simon Place and Ryan’s Road. Councillor Eric Jewer moved to approve Progressive Engineering to proceed in accordance with the proposal. Council voted unanimously to approve the motion. Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
(Friends of the Foundry - image credit) A coalition of professionals and community members is releasing its vision for a historic Toronto property the Ontario government is seeking to demolish. The century-old buildings at the Dominion Wheel and Foundries site sit on a provincially-owned parcel of land that is being sold and redeveloped as a mixed-use housing development. Demolition began in January but was halted after residents won a temporary court injunction. A hearing on the matter set for this Friday has now been postponed to allow consultations between the province, the City of Toronto and the local community. CBC Toronto revealed this week that the Doug Ford government approved a private sale of the land, located on Eastern Avenue in the West Don Lands, but will not release the identity of the purchaser. The community group Friends of the Foundry, together with several architects, urban designers, and affordable housing experts, released a proposal on Wednesday that they say would create hundreds of residential units, community space, retail, all while preserving the site's two most important historic buildings. "This concept has been guided by development principles that are anchored in the historical context of the Foundry and builds on what has become a well-loved neighbourhood with a distinctive sense of place," Shirley Blumberg of KPMB Architects said in a statement from community group Friends of the Foundry. The group seeks to retain the site's most important historical building's, known as the Foundry and the Machine Shop. The above rendering shows the proposed 'Foundry Lane' public area. The exploratory concept for the site was developed by Blumberg and Bruno Weber, also of KPMB, urban designer Ken Greenberg, DTAH architect Joe Lobko, George Brown College's Luigi Ferrara, and housing experts Sean Gadon and Mark Guslits. The plan would deliver approximately 688,400 square feet of gross floor area and create 870 residential units. A minimum 30 per cent would be affordable housing. The plan also includes approximately 120,000 square feet of community and retail space. In line with the province's plan for the site, the group's proposal includes three new residential towers. But it also retains the historic Foundry and Machine Shop buildings, described by Greenberg in a virtual presentation on Wednesday as "handsome and robust historic industrial structures" that contribute "to our cultural memory" and enhance "the unique identity of the city and the neighbourhood." Demolition required for site cleanup, province says The Ford government has maintained that the land is contaminated and the buildings must be demolished in order for environmental remediation to begin. The Dominion Foundry site hit the headlines in January when the province began demolishing one of the buildings over the objections of local community groups. In its presentation Wednesday, the group pushed back, citing other examples of Toronto heritage buildings that have been maintained during environmental cleanup, including residential sites such as the Wychwood Barns. Architect Joe Lobko said the two buildings are too special to let go. "Just throwing it away on some blithe assumption that you need to [demolish it for] environmental remediation, that really needs to be challenged," he said during the presentation. As for the sale of the land, responding to CBC Toronto's story on Monday, Premier Doug Ford said the identity of the purchaser can't be released until its finalized. "The deal has not been signed yet. It's not done," Ford told reporters Monday. "Once that deal is signed, we'd be more than happy to be transparent."
OTTAWA — Parliament’s budget watchdog is predicting another multibillion-dollar increase in the cost of a new fleet of warships for the Royal Canadian Navy, pegging the price for what was already the largest military procurement in Canada’s history at more than $77 billion.Parliamentary budget officer Yves Giroux’s latest estimate is $17 billion more than the government’s stated price for the 15 warships, which are to be built in Halifax over the next two decades and form the navy’s backbone for most of the century.Giroux’s estimate is in a highly anticipated report released Wednesday that is likely to set the stage for some tough discussions — and heavy industry lobbying — on whether Canada should push ahead on the project or change tack.To that end, the budget officer’s report includes a number of potential scenarios designed to provide a clearer picture of what options are available to the government should it decide to go in a different direction — and how much each would cost.That includes scrapping the existing plan to base the 15 warships on the British-designed model called the Type-26, which Canadian defence officials have repeatedly described as the right ship for Canada, and choosing a different design for the fleet.Giroux and his team also looked at the idea of a hybrid fleet, in which Canada builds three Type-26 ships and supplements them with 12 other vessels. That would mimic how the navy was previously built, with three Iroquois-class destroyers and 12 Halifax-class frigates.The Type-26 frigate is also being built by the United Kingdom and Australia, but Canadian officials have been making numerous changes to the design to meet Canada’s unique military and industrial requirements.Those changes have been made more complicated by the government’s attempts to pack all the capabilities from the navy’s now-retired destroyers and existing frigates into one type of ship.The destroyers provided air defence while the frigates specialize in hunting submarines.The PBO found that the government could save $40 billion if it built only three Type-26 frigates and supplemented them with 12 smaller, less capable Type-31s, which is similar to what Britain has decided to do.Canada could also save $50 billion if it scrapped plans to build any Type-26s and went with an entire fleet of Type-31s, according to the report, though the PBO notes that the Type-31 was “designed to operate alongside the ‘higher-end’ Type-26.” Restarting the entire project could result in a four-year delay to the start of construction.Giroux acknowledged during a media briefing that building a “hybrid fleet” would incur added costs over the long term due to the need for more training and spare parts for different types of ships, among other things, which were not figured into his calculations.“It also means that you don't put all your eggs in the same basket,” he added. “So if you find a major defect in one class of ship, you have a fallback option. You're not bound by 15 ships.”The PBO also looked at the potential cost to switch to a type of warship called the FREMM that is currently being built for the United States and which Giroux described as on par with the Type-26 in its capabilities.The budget officer found a revised project would cost around $71 billion whether the government decided to build an entire fleet of FREMMs or three Type-26s and 12 FREMMs.The Defence Department stood by its $60-billion cost estimate on Wednesday, arguing Giroux put too much emphasis on the ship's weight in his calculations, and noting his figure included tax. It also called the Type-26 "the right ship" for the navy, suggesting the other designs would not meet Canada' needs.While it said selecting a new design "is not an option we will be pursuing," the department did not specifically address the idea of a hybrid fleet.“As a taxpayer, I really hope they're right on the $60 billion — and even lower if they can,” Giroux said. “But we're confident that our cost estimate is the most likely scenario: $77 billion. I'm confident we have an accurate cost estimate.”The warship project was launched in earnest nearly a decade ago when Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax was selected in October 2011 to build the fleet, with the total cost estimated at around $26 billion and the first ship to be delivered in the mid-2020s.That vague schedule remained largely unchanged, at least on paper, even as the estimated price tag ballooned to $60 billion and Ottawa ordered several smaller ships so Irving would have work until the surface combatants were ready for construction.But defence officials revealed to The Canadian Press earlier this month while that construction on the first Type-26 is set to begin in 2023-24, the ship won't be delivered until 2030-31. Officials nonetheless insisted that the $60 billion budget would be sufficient despite the new delays.Giroux said his team’s analysis found a one-year delay in the project would add $2.3 billion to the overall cost, while a two-year delay would result in the fleet costing $4.8 billion more.Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and chief of the defence staff Admiral Art McDonald also appeared in a promotional video this month for a new design facility for the Type-26 that was organized by BAE Systems, which designed the warship, suggesting the government is doubling down on the warship.Wednesday’s report is the result of a request from a parliamentary committee for the PBO to look into the warship project, and had been highly anticipated given the amount of money involved and the relative lack of information about the project from the government.It also comes as the federal auditor general prepares to release her own report Thursday on the federal government’s entire shipbuilding strategy, which includes not only the 15 new warships but dozens of other vessels for the Navy and Canadian Coast Guard.The Naval Association of Canada, which represents current and retired naval officers, sent a commentary to members of Parliament last month warning them to exercise caution when it came to Wednesday’s PBO report.Giroux acknowledged that naval officials are in a better position to determine what the navy needs in its new fleet, and that each of the different designs provide pros and cons. However, he said MPs asked his office to look at the costs, “and that’s what we did.”“Ultimately, it's up to decision-makers to make these trade-offs as to what the navy needs and what Canada can afford,” he said. “And by providing them with these cost estimates, we're allowing them to have better information to make these important decisions.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
By Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Town Treasurer Andre Morin spoke to the Strategic Priorities Committee, made up mostly of St. Marys Town Councillors, regarding a possible second round of business grants last Tuesday. Morin's first question was whether or not the Town should indeed pursue another round of business grants. In 2020, the Town ran a business grant program to help local businesses struggling amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The idea of possibly running another round of the program has been mentioned before but now, Morin came to the Committee to see if they wanted Town staff to begin seriously investigating. Morin stated that he believes there is a need for additional support. He noted that businesses got a boost over the holidays, but into January and February, compounded with the Provincial lockdown, local businesses are once again feeling a big strain. Conversely, he also noted that there have been Federal and Provincial grants available for local businesses, and a case could be made that municipal governments should take a different approach to support their businesses rather than monetary grants. All of this leads to the question; should a second business grant program be run by the municipality, and if so, what would that look like? There are three key categories to consider in terms of running another such grant program; timing, budget, and eligibility. Beginning with timing, Morin said that if the Town does run another business grant program, it should be done soon. With more businesses reopening, those businesses may need extra funding to assist with the added costs. Morin said that Town staff would aim for March or April to run the program. Next, the potential budget for the program. Morin pointed out that last time, the total budget was $50,000, but requests came in for around $100,000. He expects that would be roughly the same amount requested in a second round, meaning the budget should be between $50,000 to $100,000 Finally, the eligibility criteria. Last time, the criteria for applicants was fairly wide-open. The view was that businesses know what they need and if the municipality puts in more rigid criteria, they may leave someone out who may have a legitimate need. Morin said that they would keep that wide net of eligibility, but did talk about possible areas that may be prioritized. Would businesses that received funding in the first round be secondary to businesses that didn't? Would certain industries be prioritized over others depending on how hard they've been hit? Should the size of the business carry more weight in the selection process, or should there be a minimum or maximum number of employees? Morin stated that they don't need a final decision on these as of last week's meeting, but that they wanted to know if the Committee and the Council wanted Town staff to move forward in drafting a second business grant program and if there are any general ideas, such as the ones he mentioned, that the Town would like to focus on. Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Marys Independent
RICHMOND, Va. — During a visit to a cancer centre Wednesday, first lady Jill Biden said health disparities have hurt communities of colour “for far too long” and “it’s about time” the country got serious about ending those inequities. Jill Biden's visit to Virginia Commonwealth University's Massey Cancer Center in Richmond was her first public trip outside Washington since her husband's inauguration last month. She has been a longtime advocate for cancer patients and their families. Her and President Joe Biden's son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015 at age 46. Her parents also died of cancer. During her visit, Jill Biden recounted how four of her friends were diagnosed with breast cancer within a one-year period in the 1990s. “Cancer touches everyone,” she said. Biden praised the work of doctors and researchers at the Massey centre, which has been nationally recognized for its work to study the socioeconomic and cultural factors that contribute to disparities in cancer outcomes. The centre focuses on community engagement as part of a strategy to better reach underserved communities and to address health disparities, particularly in the Black community. It also works to expand minority participation in cancer research. Biden cited “Facts and Faith Fridays,” a weekly conference call started at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic by Dr. Robert Winn, director of the Massey centre, and Black clergy, to provide pastors and their congregations with key updates on pandemic-related issues, including personal protective equipment, social distancing, and rent and mortgage relief. Recently, the calls have included information about COVID-19 vaccinations, with a focus on addressing vaccine hesitancy. Guest have included Dr. Anthony Fauci, as well as state and local health officials. Biden said the initiative has helped build trust between communities and the Massey centre, which she said has made strides to reduce health disparities. “It's about time that we started getting really serious about this,” she said, adding that the pandemic has put a spotlight on the problem. She said churches have been key players in bringing everything from food to vaccinations to people of colour during the pandemic. ”I think that the communities of colour, they trust you, and now, I think it's important that they learn to trust the federal government again," she said. The Massey centre, founded in 1974, is one of two centres in Virginia designated by the National Cancer Institute to help lead the country’s cancer research efforts. Biden toured the centre’s research laboratory with Winn and Dr. Ned Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute. She also received briefings from several doctors on their research. Denise Lavoie, The Associated Press
The Town of Paradise has approved it’s 2021 Street Rehab list. “Roads were evaluated based on the severity of defects, the density of defects, and the overall ride comfort rating of the road,” explained Deborah Quilty during the February 16 public meeting of council. Quilty said road assessments were carried out in the fall of 2020, and that streets were graded based on a scale of zero to 100. Roads which scored less than 50 and were not included in the Water and Sewer Priority List, were considered for the 2021 Street Rehab list. Streets on the list are Irving Drive, Newcastle Place, Janal’s Road, Harcourt Road (Topsail Road to Gosse’s Road), Vanellen Place, Woodville Road, Husseys Road. Quilty said the Infrastructure and Engineering department has been in close collaboration with Public Works to ensure there is no duplication of work, and to identify roads which fall under Public Works’ budget line and are better suited for a contractor to complete. The total budget, excluding additional items from Public Works and the Water and Sewer list is $900,000. Councillor Patrick Martin asked how many more streets might need to be done, acknowledging that staff might not have the information on hand. CAO Lisa Niblock said that, as Martin had indicated, she did not have the exact number on hand, but that information is readily available. She added if there is money left over following the approved work, the town would simply continue on, starting with the next street on the list. Deputy Mayor Elizabeth Laurie asked if the list, as presented, was in the order in which work would be completed. Niblock said that she believed it was, but would confirm it at a later time. Mayor Dan Bobbett pointed out that funds for street rehabilitation have doubled since last year, when council had only budgeted a little over $400,000. Bobbett said the decision to increase funding had been unanimous among councillors. Councillor Kimberly Street applauded the increase in funds, given the high demand for work. “There’s many roads in need of repair, and this increase, I believe, will be well received by residents,” said Street. Councillor Alan English echoed those sentiments. Meanwhile, Deputy Mayor Laurie addressed folks who live on streets in need of repair that were not on the list. “There is also a budget within our Public Works department that we are able to do some repairs in house,” said Laurie. “So, even though you don’t see your street’s name on this list for big contractors to go out and do major repairs, there will be some repairs over the season that are done in-house, so there will be some other streets addressed as well, besides these.” Councillor English, however, cautioned against depending too much on the Public Works budget. “I just wanted to make a comment on the budget in Public Works; I wouldn’t get our hopes up too high on that because there’s a relatively modest amount of money invovled,” he said. “I think it’s around $100,000, and as Deputy Mayor Laurie said that would be used to address issues as they arise, and some have already been brought to the forefront. But, it’s not a big amount of money.” Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
(CBC - image credit) The CEO of the St. John's International Airport says the loss of WestJet's St. John's-to-Halifax route is "depressing" and won't help Newfoundland and Labrador's tourism industry rebound this year. The route cut, which comes into effect March 21, will suspend the three weekly flights between the cities until at least June 24 — and with them, says Peter Avery, will go a sizable chunk of a provincial industry that has been battered since last March. "A lot of airline staff have been let go, airport authority staff have also been laid off," said Avery. "So for those that are still hanging on it's pretty grim." Since early 2020 and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, air travel has been one of the hardest-hit sectors of the provincial economy, and Avery said the downward trend is set to continue. "Our numbers in January were down 83 per cent over January of 2019," said Avery. "We're only about 20 per cent of the traffic levels where we normally are at." Though the airport authority has cut its operating costs by over 20 per cent, he said, there are some expenses and services them remain necessary, forcing the airport to be creative in saving where they can. "You still have to snow-clear runways and keep the lights on and keep functioning for basic essential services for the province, like medevac and essential cargo," said Avery. "We've closed areas of the terminal building, we changed our snow-clearing regimen, and closed non-essential areas for snow clearing, and even closed runways to try to cut down on our costs." Hotels already feeling the pinch Greg Ivany, general manager of the Holiday Inn Express & Suites near the St. John's airport, expects to see a drop-off in hotel stays with the suspension of the WestJet flights. "It's hard to say right now exactly what impact it will have on us as an individual business, but with the tourism industry and travel industry as a whole, for the province it's a huge blow to have a supplier completely pull out for air access." It's another blow for hotel operations, said Ivany, adding the cancellation could have wide-reaching effects across the province by limiting the options for essential travel. "We're mostly seeing essential [travellers], so essential people coming in for medical appointments or, essential corporate for offshore or within Newfoundland itself," said Ivany. "But we have a lot of clients coming from Labrador for medical appointments." Tourism industry set for another difficult year While the airport authority has been able to buoy itself through operational cuts, Avery said they need to begin looking for alternative measures to bolster both the air travel and tourism industries. They'd like to see public health officials lower barriers but increase precautions. "For countries and regions like ours that rely so much on the tourist season, you're seeing a big move towards point-of-entry testing." Avery said that extra layer of precaution could salvage the coming tourism season, but the tentative date of June 24 for the return of the WestJet routes is later than he'd like. Avery says the airport would like to see lowered barriers but increased precautions to bolster the industry. "A lot of our tourism industry won't survive with a year like last year," said Avery. "What's going to make things turn around and make airlines change their decisions … is going to be the relaxation of our quarantine on our travel restriction measures." As things are going now, said Avery, 2021 will not be a good year for the airport authority, or tourism in general. "In December when we did our operating budget, we had projected that 2021 would be even worse than 2020. Our revenues were down 60 per cent in 2020, our traffic was down 75 per cent. We predicted our revenues would be down 65 per cent in 2021, and traffic would be down 80 per cent." And, Avery noted, those predictions assumed a still-functioning Atlantic bubble, which hasn't been in effect for months. While he acknowledged the province's comparatively rigid containment measures has successfully kept outbreaks at bay, Avery sees the arrival of a new COVID variant as evidence that the status quo may no longer be enough. "What we really need now is to see measures change through point of entry testing, and even point-of-departure testing, to complement quarantine and hopefully reduce it over time, because that will stimulate demand." I fear that you will see some of the smaller businesses end up having to close down, because there's a lack of vision for how long this is going to last. - Greg Ivany Between the lack of business and the heightened regulations needed to maintain the industry through the pandemic, Ivany said, many business owners are wondering how much longer they can sustain the added pressure. "That's the question of the hour," he said. "Right now we're struggling as an industry, and as an individual business, we're struggling." While subsidies from the federal government have helped businesses like the Holiday Inn stay afloat through the worst of the pandemic, Ivany worries that there's no long-term plan. "Should this go on much longer, I fear that you will see some of the smaller businesses end up having to close down, because there's a lack of vision for how long this is going to last," Ivany said. "And right now there are no long-term relief efforts." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Monday, March 15 -- that's when the head of Ontario's vaccine distribution task force says the province will launch an online appointment portal. It’s also the day seniors 80 and older become eligible to book their first shot. As Travis Dhanraj reports, the delay in activating the online portal has triggered criticism from the opposition.
A protest march is set to be held on Magnetawan First Nation north of Parry Sound Thursday morning by residents who are upset that the election for chief and council has been delayed for six months due to COVID-19. In a letter, protest spokesperson Lloyd Noganosh stated that the protest is being staged against the chief and council for passing a Band Council Resolution that postpones the territory’s regular leadership elections on April 26, 2021 to at least Oct. 23, 2021. “The chief and council are using a blanket provision provided by Indigenous Services Canada which should only be utilized ‘if the extension is necessary to prevent, mitigate or control the spread of diseases on the reserve,’ which in this case they are referring to COVID-19,” Noganosh said in his letter. “However, the members of Magnetawan First Nation adamantly state that it is not necessary to postpone our elections as there are no active cases of COVID-19 nor is there a pandemic existing on our First Nation.” Magnetawan First Nation was voluntarily locked down last December after nine residents on the territory contracted the coronavirus — a stunning number for a community of only about 110 residents. Those nine people all self-isolated and have since recovered. In an interview last week, Chief William Diabo said he and the two councillors were in agreement that the safest course of action was to delay the election. He insisted it was not a power grab and that he was doing it with the health, safety and best interests of his members in mind. The chief said the high rate of infection on the territory less than two months ago and concerns over future COVID spread were the motivating factors in pushing the election. But Noganosh made it clear in his letter, he’s simply not buying that explanation. “The members know that this leadership is only utilizing this provision to further extend their tenure in office for at least another six months and possibly longer,” he stated. “All of our staff that work out of our administration and health centre are back working using safety protocols, our Tim Hortons and Esso Station is open to the public … therefore, it is not necessary to postpone our leadership elections and voting process.” Another Magnetawan First Nation resident and Lloyd's brother, Willard Noganosh, said that there are two other issues at play in this dispute. “One is that the chief claims he has approval to delay the election from Indigenous Services Canada. We’d like to see a letter from Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller confirming that,” Noganosh said. The other problem, according to Noganosh, is that the chief and one of the two band councillors do not live on the territory full time. He said the chief maintains a residence in Toronto while Coun. Rose Cardinal lives at least part time in Barrie. “We would be better served if our chief and our councillors lived on our territory regularly,” he said. The protest march is scheduled for this Thursday morning, Feb. 25, beginning at 10:30 a.m. at the end of the First Nation’s main road and will end at the administration building where the chief and council work. Demonstrators are expected to wear masks and stay at least two metres away from other protesters. John McFadden is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering Indigenous issues for MuskokaRegion.com, ParrySound.com and Simcoe.com. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. John McFadden, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orillia Today
Depuis le début de la pandémie, de nombreux travailleurs de la santé ont été délestés de leur branche habituelle pour être assignés à de nouvelles tâches. Les psychoéducateurs du Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) de Laval y font exception et ont continué d’œuvrer dans l’ombre. Le travail de ceux-ci est d’évaluer le comportement des usagers qui présentent un trouble neurocognitif majeur, tel que la maladie de l’Alzheimer, et tenter de leur créer un «filet de sécurité» pour leur bien-être. Ils aident également les proches aidants de ces personnes qui peuvent trouver la situation encore plus difficile dans le contexte actuel de pandémie de la COVID-19. «Du jour au lendemain, les usagers n’ont plus accès à certains services de répit, mentionne Natacha Aubé, psychoéducatrice au Programme régional ambulatoire de gériatrie du CISSS de Laval. Ils se retrouvent à la maison 24 heures sur 24 avec leur conjoint. Ça ne parait pas gros, mais ce moment leur permettait de se vider la tête et de penser à autre chose.» L’équipe de psychoéducateurs du CISSS de Laval a ainsi mis en place différentes initiatives pour permettre aux usagers et proches aidants de s’en sortir malgré les nouvelles réalités de la pandémie. «On a beaucoup travailler sur l’enseignement par rapport à la maladie et l’évolution de celle-ci en compagnie des proches aidants, poursuit Mme Aubé. On avait déjà commencé à travailler sur une collection de dépliants qui présentait différents comportements.» Celle-ci permet de mieux comprendre les causes possibles d’un comportement, tout en suggérant des pistes d’intervention et stratégies de base à essayer avec l’usager. Ces dépliants sont disponibles, que ce soit en version électronique ou papier. Les psychoéducateurs lavallois ont aussi travaillé sur la création d’une banque d’activités occupationnelles pour les usagers. «Les routines peuvent être sécurisantes dans une période où tout est insécure en raison de la COVID-19, précise Natacha Aubé. On a envoyé la banque aux familles pour qu’elles puissent les divertir et les stimuler. Par exemple, si quelqu’un aime les activités physiques, une liste d’exercices en capsules sur YouTube est proposée.» En plus de ses nouvelles initiatives, l’équipe de psychoéducateurs du CISSS de Laval continue de faire des suivis réguliers auprès des familles pour s’assurer d’être informée des derniers développements. Un programme de formation pour les proches-aidants a aussi été mis en place pour les usagers qui reçoivent un diagnostic de trouble neurocognitif. À l’inverse des groupes de soutiens déjà existants, celui-ci porte davantage sur ce qu’est la maladie et les outils à la disposition des proches-aidants. «Certains vont recevoir un diagnostic sans nécessairement vivre déjà les comportements, donc les famille préfèrent attendre avant de suivre la formation offerte par le CISSS de Laval, note la psychoéducatrice. Nous proposons donc plutôt quatre rencontres de deux heures dans lesquelles on repasse les dépliants offerts et on les oriente vers différentes ressources.» Celles-ci se déroulent désormais via une plateforme virtuelle en raison de la pandémie. Par ailleurs, elle profite des Journées de la psychoéducation, qui se déroulent les 24 et 25 février, pour rappeler de ne pas hésiter à demander de l’aide aux ressources appropriées. «Il y a souvent une petite résistance à demander de l’aide à cause de la peur d’être relocalisé, mais nous travaillons plutôt pour assurer le maintien à domicile le plus longtemps possible, conclut Mme Aubé. Certains sont tellement résistants qu’ils atteignent un point de fatigue par la suite. Avant d’être rendu là, il faut accepter de l’aide.» Nicholas Pereira, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval