This loon was caught on camera eating a crustacean in Shelburne, Nova Scotia.
This loon was caught on camera eating a crustacean in Shelburne, Nova Scotia.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies gradually ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials began expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 22, opening community clinics for people aged 80 years and older. Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, has said the province's plan is to open another 10 clinics in March for 48,000 people who will be mailed a letter informing them how to book an appointment. Strang said the vaccination program will then expand to the next age group in descending order until everyone in the province is offered the chance to be immunized. The age groups will proceed in five-year blocks. Future community clinics are to be held March 8 in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro; March 15 in Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth; and March 22 in Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth. The province began its vaccination campaign with residents of long-term care homes, those who work directly with patients, those who are 80 and older, and those who are at risk for other reasons including First Nations and African Nova Scotian communities. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island The province says the first phase of its vaccination drive, currently slated to last until March, targets residents and staff of long-term and community care, as well as health-care workers with direct patient contact at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure. Those 80 and older, adults in Indigenous communities, and truck drivers and other rotational workers are also included. The next phase, which is scheduled to begin in April, will target those above 70 and essential workers. The province intends to make the vaccine available to everyone in late summer and fall. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec The province's proposed order of priority for vaccination according to its website is those in residential and long-term care centres, workers in the health and social services network, followed by those in isolated and remote communities, people 80 years or older, and then the general population in 10-year increments. Health officials launched an online and telephone system for vaccine registrations on Feb. 25 and will begin vaccinating people aged 85 years and older in Montreal on March 1. Officials said that while residents across the province aged 85 and older can register for a vaccine, priority will be given to people in the greater Montreal area, which has the highest active COVID-19 case count in Quebec. On Feb. 26, officials opened registration for Montrealers as young as 80 years old. It has not yet been announced when the next age group can begin to register for vaccines. The province says the vaccination of children and pregnant women will be determined based on future studies of vaccine safety and efficacy in those populations. --- Ontario The province has mapped out a three-phase approach to its rollout. Phase 1, which is still ongoing, reserves shots for those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers, and people who live in congregate care settings. All Indigenous adults, people aged 80 and older and adults receiving chronic home care will be next in line. The province says it will begin vaccinations among the 80 and older age cohort starting the third week of March. Vaccinations will begin for people 75 and older starting April 15. The province will then move to offer shots to those 70 and older starting May 1; 65 and older starting June 1; and 60 and older the first week of July. Indigenous adults and patient-facing health-care workers will receive vaccinations as the province works through those age groups. The government is still finalizing the list of essential workers who will receive vaccinations in May if supply is available. The province has not detailed when people younger than 60 can expect to be vaccinated. Appointment bookings can be made online and by phone starting March 15 for those in eligible age cohorts. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. They say most people over 80, and First Nations individuals over 60, could be eligible in early March. The province plans to have all personal care home residents vaccinated with two doses by the end of February, and has started sending team to other congregate living settings such as group homes and shelters. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, say inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if new vaccines are approved and supplies are steady. The plan does not include a separate category for essential workers — something that Reimer says will be considered as vaccine supplies increase. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. When bookings opened to this age group Wednesday, the website was temporarily overwhelmed when more than 150,000 people tried to get access. Within a day, 100,000 appointments were booked. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. Some 28,000 seniors in long-term care have already been vaccinated. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia The first phase of B.C.'s immunization campaign launched in December and focused on health-care workers in hospitals, paramedics, residents and staff at long-term care homes, and remote Indigenous communities. The second phase set to wrap up in March includes people aged 80 and above, Indigenous elders 65 and up, Indigenous communities that didn't receive vaccine in the first phase, as well as more health-care workers and vulnerable populations living and working in certain congregate settings. The third phase of B.C.'s immunization campaign is set to start in April and last until June, reaching people between the ages of 60 and 79, along with those who are highly clinically vulnerable, such as cancer patients. B.C.'s plan for the general population is based on age, with the oldest residents first in line. --- Nunavut Nunavut's vaccination rollout is underway, with vaccine clinics for the general population scheduled or completed in all 25 communities. In Iqaluit, Nunavut's capital, a general vaccination clinic is underway for priority populations, including staff and residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. Starting March 1, the vaccine clinic will be extended to all adults in Iqaluit ages 45 and up. Nunavut still expects enough vaccines to immunize 75 per cent of its residents over the age of 18 by the end of March. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories says it has vaccinated 42 per cent of its adult population since its vaccine rollout began in early January. Vaccine clinics are either completed or underway in all 33 of the territory's communities. In Yellowknife, residents and staff in long-term care homes are being prioritized for the vaccine. Vaccination of Yellowknife's general population will begin in late March. The N.W.T. still expects to receive enough vaccines to inoculate 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
“The connection is me,” said Tsuut’ina Nation artist seth cardinal dodginghorse, linking his work for Contemporary Calgary and his protest at the opening of the southwest Calgary ring road last October. dodginghorse spoke virtually yesterday, the final speaker for Contemporary Calgary’s Water Event. His exhibit, entitled The Glenmore Rezerveoir, is a water jug with a label made from elk hide parfleche. Writing is painted on the inside of the label and can only be read if it’s “really bright out” and the jug is angled. The label reads: “You drink Tsuut’ina land.” dodginghorse said he was approached in August by the gallery to be one of six Indigenous artists to produce a water sculpture as part of political activist Yoko Ono’s exhibition, Growing Freedom. Two months later, he stood at the opening of Tsuut’ina Trail, unofficially called Calgary’s southwest ring road, and cut off his braids, offering them to the portion of the road that displaced his family six years earlier from their generations-held land. “The connection is story-wise and intent behind making the work. They weren’t directly related at all. But a lot of my intent … all my own personal experiences, traumas informed making this work and those were the same things that informed me speaking out at the opening … (and) resulted in me cutting my hair and everything. It’s more like the connection is that I made the artwork and the connection is that I ended up cutting my hair. The connection is me,” said dodginghorse. dodginghorse’s family was forced off their land in 2013 because of the ring road. That land had been in the family since his great-great grandmother. His mother and her siblings had grown up there. Many Tsuut’ina people beyond dodginghorse’s family members had connections to that land. When living there, dodginghorse said the water they drank was “some of the most beautiful, delicious water you could drink.” His family moved to another piece of land on the Tsuut’ina reserve. They were told not to drink the water from the tap because of numerous environmental concerns, including nearby fracking. His family had to drink water from jugs. “We didn’t grow up having to purchase water. We didn’t grow up having to be afraid of what was coming from our tap. We’ve been drinking from these water bottles for quite a bit now and I thought, ‘Why don’t I just use one of these and highlight the issue of drinking water and where does the water I’m purchasing come from?’” he said. In 1932, dodginghorse said Tsuut’ina Nation was “pressured” by Calgary and the government to sell 400 acres of reserve land to the city. That land became the Glenmore reservoir and provides safe drinking water for Calgary residents. “There’s just so much loaded history behind Glenmore reservoir and my family as well ... It’s very strange and very ironic that my family, once we moved, in order to drink water we had to drink water from land that was originally part of Tsuut’ina. That was like essentially purchasing water back from ancestral lands,” said dodginghorse. Having to be concerned about safe drinking water is not unique to Tsuut’ina, said Dodginghorse, noting that boil water advisories are common in many First Nations communities right across the country. While some artwork takes time to conceive and time to determine the medium, this piece was readily conceived, dodginghorse said. “It was very easy to make but then thinking about the history behind the objects, behind my family’s history, all of these connection, is one of those really nice pieces in a way where I made this and then afterwards I started thinking and analysing and really understanding what I had made,” he said. dodginghorse said he prefers his work to be “blunt and in your face.” He wants people to “get” what he is saying with his art and not have to ponder it for “three hours” before the message sinks in. dodginghorse has been showing his work in Calgary galleries for about six years. He said he understands that this venue only reaches “a certain crowd.” “A lot of the people that were involved in a lot of these decisions historically that are still here, aren’t really the type of people that go to galleries. With this type of work has like the focus on reaching out to the average white Calgarian that goes to galleries,” he said. Ryan Doherty, chief curator of Contemporary Calgary, who hosted the virtual talk, said dodginghorse’s piece was popular with gallery goers, many of whom came after dodginghorse cut his braids at the ring road opening. “That seemingly mundane container is in fact so loaded,” said Doherty. When Contemporary Calgary was tasked with asking a new group of artists to collaborate with Ono in this iteration of Water Event, Doherty said he knew it had to be a group with which water had an “enormous significance.” “When you consider the long history and impact of the Bow and Elbow rivers to the Indigenous population past and present it seemed the best thing would be to invite artists for whom that connection would resonate in the collaboration with Yoko,” said Doherty. The other Water Event collaborators are Adrian A. Stimson, Faye HeavyShield, Jessie Ray Short, Judy Anderson and Kablusiak. In 1971, Ono held her first museum exhibition, Water Event, in which she invited over 120 participants to produce a water sculpture. “As Yoko herself noted to us, (this) was one of the best iterations to date,” said Doherty. Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
NASHVILLE — Tennessee's top health officials revealed Friday that the state has requested federal law enforcement investigate alleged theft of coronavirus vaccine doses in the state's most populous county. They also announced that a volunteer in Shelby County improperly vaccinated two children despite the shot not being cleared for young minors. Later Friday, Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris announced that Dr. Alisa Haushalter, the director of the county health department, has resigned. The developments come after the state previously announced that roughly 2,400 COVID-19 vaccine doses had been wasted in Shelby County over the past month due to miscommunication and insufficient record-keeping inside the local health department. The county, which includes Memphis, had also built up nearly 30,000 excessive vaccine doses in its inventory. Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey declined to elaborate on the extent of the theft allegations, but said the Shelby County Health Department only alerted the state about the stolen doses after the state had asked the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to launch their own investigation. Piercey did say, however, that the stolen shots are believed to have been taken by a volunteer who ran off with the vaccine in syringes — not the actual vials the shots are kept in. In a statement, the county health department said a supervisor received information that a volunteer medical professional was acting suspicious at the vaccination site where the alleged theft took place. The volunteer was removed from the site and law enforcement was contacted, but the county health department claims no theft report was filed because there was not enough information. The FBI has been made aware of the situation, FBI spokesman Joel Siskovic said Friday. Siskovic did not confirm or deny if an investigation was underway. Meanwhile, Piercey said the state is still scrambling to learn more about how a volunteer immunized two children on Feb. 3. Piercey said a mother with two children arrived at a vaccination site and all three had appointments. It's unclear if the children will receive a second dose. On top of the nearly 2,400 shots reported wasted, the health department says more vaccines were wasted this week in Shelby County. Sixty-four unused doses went to waste while 12 more were unaccounted for after a Tuesday vaccination event. “At the end of the day there does seem to be a lack of accountability and in some sense, leadership. That has led to undoubtedly potential harm to some folks," Piercey told reporters. Piercey stressed that despite the past week's revelations, her focus remained on getting as many shots into arms as possible. Speaking with reporters at a vaccination site in Memphis, Gov. Bill Lee said he was disappointed with the developments in Shelby County. Lee said the state is working with the city of Memphis, which has taken over vaccine storage and distribution from the county health department. “That speaks to the great deal of concern that we have,” Lee said about Memphis replacing the county health department with vaccine management. Along with news of the alleged theft and vaccines given to children, the state's health department also provided email correspondences with Haushalter, director of the Shelby County Health Department in Memphis. Earlier this week, Haushalter said she called and left a message for Dr. Michelle Fiscus, the state health department’s immunization program director, to discuss the wasted vaccines on Feb. 13. Haushalter said she did not talk to the state until Feb. 19, when the investigation launched after her first public statements about the wasted vaccines. According to emails released by the state, Haushalter emailed Fiscus on Feb. 17 but made no mention of wasted doses. Instead, she asked Fiscus to contact her “when your time permits.” Fiscus said there was no sense of urgency in Haushalter’s attempt to contact her. Piercey said in an email to Fiscus that she also spoke with Haushalter for 15 minutes on Feb. 16, but there was “no mention was made of any expired product.” Haushalter also said Wednesday that she found out about additional wasted vaccines Feb. 13, but did not publicly disclose that information until six days later, on Feb. 19, when she said about 1,315 vaccine doses that had expired and were thrown out amid a series of winter storms that shut down vaccination sites. Harris, the county mayor, announced during a county commission meeting that Haushalter has tendered her resignation from her position and has made plans to retire. Harris said Haushalter has worked “ferociously” over the past year on the county's coronavirus response. Separately, later Friday, Rutherford County Schools — in middle Tennessee — announced 1,000 doses had to be tossed due to a storage error, school officials announced. The school says the doses were stored in an unapproved freezer and the temperature of the vaccines were not under constant monitoring. Meanwhile, earlier this month, officials in Knox County announced that 975 doses had been accidentally thrown away by someone who thought they were throwing out dry ice. The state has also launched an investigation into that incident. ___ Sainz reported from Memphis, Tennessee. ___ An earlier version of this report had an incorrect spelling of FBI spokesman Joel Siskovic's name. Kimberlee Kruesi And Adrian Sainz, The Associated Press
EDMONTON — The Alberta government and its 11,000 physicians have taken a first step toward resolving an ugly, fractious yearlong dispute over fees and working conditions. Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Dr. Paul Boucher, head of the Alberta Medical Association, announced Friday they have reached a tentative deal on a new master agreement. Boucher declined to provide specifics on the new deal, saying he first wants to let members discuss and ratify them in the weeks to come. But he said the deal will work within the fiscal parameters set by the government. “This is a difficult economic time for the province and while this tentative agreement represents a commitment to staying within the budget imperatives of government, it is much more than that,” Boucher told a news conference. “This agreement brings doctors and government back together to work through the challenges of delivering the quality care that the patients of Alberta deserve.” Alberta’s physicians collectively receive $5 billion a year. The 2021-22 budget released this week projects that figure will stay relatively static, rising slightly to $5.3 billion by 2024. A year ago, Shandro, using legislation passed months earlier by the United Conservative government, unilaterally cancelled the master agreement with the AMA. He then began imposing new rules on fees and visits, arguing physician costs were rising too high year over year and were not sustainable. It became a messy, public fight in the following months, worsened by the fact that it was taking place as the COVID-19 pandemic escalated. Some doctors withdrew services from hospitals, including obstetrics, prompting concern from rural leaders. Others posted signs announcing they were only allowing shorter patient visits, blaming the province. The AMA also launched a lawsuit against the government, accusing it of breaching collective bargaining rights. The province said Alberta’s doctors were the best paid in Canada and that a new payment regime with built-in cost stability could still work for everyone. The AMA and Shandro staffers exchanged snarky attacks on Twitter, each accusing the other of cherry-picking statistics and gaslighting the issues. At a news conference last April, Shandro alleged AMA leadership was providing false information to its members on government contributions to medical liability insurance. Shandro and the UCP government were criticized for fighting with doctors during a pandemic. He eventually rolled back on a number of fee changes while reiterating he was willing to work with physicians on a new master agreement that worked for both sides. “Both parties came to the table with an understanding of what was important to each other, what was expected of each other,” Shandro said Friday. “We understood the importance of collaboration.” Opposition NDP health critic David Shepherd said it’s difficult to assess the deal until the details are known. But he said none of it matters unless Premier Jason Kenney’s government repeals a bill it passed in late 2019 allowing it to tear up the original master agreement with doctors in the first place. “Whatever this deal is, however good it might be, if they don’t repeal Bill 21, it exists at the whim of Tyler Shandro, who can just tear it up again just like he did the last one,” said Shepherd. When the original master agreement was cancelled, a rule within it granting third-party arbitration to resolve disputes was dissolved as well. Boucher declined to say if such a mechanism is part of the new proposed agreement. Asked about the future of the AMA lawsuit, he said, “The intention would be that if the agreement obviously addresses the issues within our lawsuit, then we would let that go.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. There are 861,472 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 861,472 confirmed cases (30,516 active, 809,041 resolved, 21,915 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 3,252 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 80.29 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20,886 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,984. There were 50 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 339 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 48. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 57.66 per 100,000 people. There have been 24,205,347 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 977 confirmed cases (290 active, 682 resolved, five deaths). There were four new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 55.54 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 114 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 16. There were zero new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.03 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 0.96 per 100,000 people. There have been 194,501 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 121 confirmed cases (seven active, 114 resolved, zero deaths). There was one new case Friday. The rate of active cases is 4.39 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been six new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 100,524 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,634 confirmed cases (35 active, 1,534 resolved, 65 deaths). There were 10 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 3.57 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 30 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.64 per 100,000 people. There have been 323,312 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,428 confirmed cases (42 active, 1,360 resolved, 26 deaths). There was one new case Friday. The rate of active cases is 5.37 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 11 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There were zero new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.04 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 3.33 per 100,000 people. There have been 234,746 tests completed. _ Quebec: 286,145 confirmed cases (7,888 active, 267,885 resolved, 10,372 deaths). There were 815 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 91.99 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,458 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 780. There were 11 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 94 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 13. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.16 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 120.96 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,220,844 tests completed. _ Ontario: 298,569 confirmed cases (10,294 active, 281,331 resolved, 6,944 deaths). There were 1,258 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 69.87 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 7,798 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,114. There were 28 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 124 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 18. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.13 per 100,000 people. There have been 10,726,049 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 31,721 confirmed cases (1,197 active, 29,635 resolved, 889 deaths). There were 64 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 86.79 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 486 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 69. There was one new reported death Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 10 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is one. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.1 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 64.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 526,985 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 28,344 confirmed cases (1,510 active, 26,454 resolved, 380 deaths). There were 153 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 128.11 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,099 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 157. There were zero new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 15 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.18 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 32.24 per 100,000 people. There have been 567,399 tests completed. _ Alberta: 132,788 confirmed cases (4,505 active, 126,406 resolved, 1,877 deaths). There were 356 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 101.88 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,433 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 348. There were three new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 65 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 42.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,378,626 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 79,262 confirmed cases (4,719 active, 73,188 resolved, 1,355 deaths). There were 589 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 91.67 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,427 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 490. There were seven new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 28 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.08 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.32 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,901,202 tests completed. _ Yukon: 72 confirmed cases (zero active, 71 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Friday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.38 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,126 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 42 confirmed cases (three active, 39 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 6.64 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 14,388 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 356 confirmed cases (26 active, 329 resolved, one deaths). There was one new case Friday. The rate of active cases is 66.07 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 24 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,569 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Feb. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
Historically, Indigenous Peoples have been mistreated in Canada’s education system, in residential and day schools — experiences that are well-documented in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)’s final report. It is the government’s fiduciary duty to take measures to repair this broken relationship. In the TRC’s 94 calls to action, calls 6-12 have to do with education. It calls on the government to remove barriers to Indigenous students’ academic success. Through changes to curriculum, cultural supports, nutrition, tuition and transportation, here are five things that federal and provincial governments are doing to respond to these calls. The B.C. government created an Indigenous Education Resource Inventory to help incorporate Indigenous knowledge and perspectives into classrooms, in partnership with the B.C. Teachers Federation, Métis Nation British Columbia and the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC). FNESC is also working to develop Indigenous-led curriculum, including the creation of an Authentic First Peoples Resource Guide. In the 2019-20 school year, the B.C. government collaborated with Indigenous communities to create a formal process to incorporate community input into how educational services are delivered, writes a spokesperson for the Ministry of Education in an email to Indiginews. According to the ministry, funding to support Indigenous students in the Greater Victoria School District 61 serving Esquimalt, Oak Bay, Victoria, View Royal and a portion of Saanich and Highlands, has increased from $1.7 million in 2016-17 to an estimated $2.3 million for 2021-22. The B.C. Ministry of Education funds a CommunityLINK (Learning Includes Nutrition and Knowledge) program which provides over $53 million province-wide annually for 60 school districts to support “vulnerable students” with services that include meal programs for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. While it’s commonly believed that all First Nations people have access to free post-secondary education in Canada, this isn’t true. However, there are many programs that the federal government has set in place to assist First Nations, such as the University and College Entrance Preparation Program (UCEPP), the Post-Secondary Student Support Program administered through Indigenous Services Canada, First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy, and bursaries that can be found by using the Indigenous Bursaries Search Tool. In B.C., youth aged 19-26 who have been through the child welfare system may be eligible for free tuition, under the Provincial Tuition Waiver Program. A 2018 BC Tripartite Agreement (BCTEA) between the federal and provincial governments, and signatory First Nations, supports and benefits both on-reserve and off-reserve students, including transportation services. “As part of the tripartite agreement, there is a $3.8 million federally-funded First Nation Student Transportation Fund for First Nations Students who attend B.C. public schools, which began in the 2019/20 school year,” writes a spokesperson for B.C.’s Ministry of Education in an email to IndigiNews. “This fund is used to reduce or eliminate rider fees, while also ensuring service improvements and cutting down the time students spend getting to and from school.” The federal government has also provided $1.7 million in one-time funding for buses for First Nations schools with a commitment to providing $1 million for buses annually. It has also boosted the annual budget for transportation costs for on-reserve students attending public schools by $1.3 million, according to the B.C. government. There is still much work to be done to support Indigenous students in B.C. “The Indian Act makes no provision for supporting culturally and linguistically relevant education or ‘quality’ education and makes no guarantees for adequate and sustainable funding,” according to a fact sheet by the Chiefs Assembly on Education from 2012. But there are ongoing efforts to restructure the educational system and First Nation across B.C. continue to advocate for better services for students. For example Local Education Agreements aim to “promote and achieve effective working relationships between First Nations and local boards of education,” according to the First Nations Education Steering Committee It’s important that there are safe, positive, respectful learning spaces within the education system, so that Indigenous students and families can have a say in the future of their education. It’s hopeful that the government seems to be committed to co-creating an action plan and looking for ways to increase shared decision-making. Katłįà (Catherine) Lafferty, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
(ANNews) – In the wake of Alberta’s public health orders – which have prohibited the hosting of large indoor concerts – Grey Eagle Resort and Casino on the Tsuut’ina Nation has announced the creation of a drive-in theatre. This will be Alberta’s newest and largest drive-in event venue. “Performances are now possible,” said a Grey Eagle Facebook post. This 32-foot covered stage will be able to be viewed from the confines of a vehicle or through a west facing window of a Grey Eagle hotel room. The audience area – technically the vehicle parking – will be able to hold 206 vehicles. With plans to open May 1, the drive-in theatre is set to host a plethora of special events including graduations, dance recitals, comedy shows, weddings and theatrical performances. The resort plans to unveil its live concert lineup in the near future. “The Grey Eagle Drive In will feature a cutting-edge semi-trailer covered stage, with surround sound which is also available through the car FM radio transmitters,” explained Lisa McCann of The Event Group. “Three large LED screens will project the action on stage under the stars and with the Rockies Mountains as the backdrop.” The drive-in is also allowing people to rent out the facility and encourages using ticket sales, live streaming, or an onsite 50/50 draw to cover the expenses of the booking costs. The COVID-friendly venue is available now to book for special events from May 1 to July 31. Rental rates vary from $5,000 to $7,000. The Grey Eagle Drive In event space is operated and managed exclusively by The Event Group and Supervision Ltd. “We are super excited to carry on the reputation rolling into this spring with our new ‘Grey Eagle Drive In’ showcasing an incredible outdoor live event experience,” says Kevin Yates, General Manager of the Hotel & Event Centre at Grey Eagle Resort and Casino. “Guests have an opportunity to eat, play, stay and enjoy a variety of entertainment, in support of charities on the beautiful Tsuut’ina Nation. We will be following all health and safety guidelines.” Sometimes, you have to take a step back in order to take another step forward, and that is what is happening. The resurgence of drive-in theatres is also taking place in Ontario as there are a few drive-ins that were announced recently as well. Jacob Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Alberta Native News
SAN DIEGO — California is freeing up as much as $28 million to help immigrants arriving from Mexico and being released in the U.S. until their court dates, a sharp contrast from other border states that have emerged as foes of President Joe Biden's immigration policies. The funding, expected to last through June, comes as Biden unwinds former President Donald Trump's policy to make asylum-seekers wait in Mexico until their court hearings. It will pay for hotel rooms for immigrants to quarantine during the coronavirus pandemic before going to their final destinations throughout the U.S. Money also will go to Jewish Family Service of San Diego to provide food, transportation and help with travel logistics. The state will fund health services for the short stays, including COVID-19 testing. Last week, the Biden administration began allowing people into the United States who had been forced to wait south of the border under Trump's “Remain in Mexico" policy. On his first day, Biden suspended the program for new arrivals. An estimated 26,000 people with active cases will be allowed into the U.S., with about 25 people released a day in San Diego. “This is what happens when California and Washington are talking with each other instead of at each other,” said H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the California Department of Finance. The first asylum-seekers waiting in the Mexican border city of Matamoros, home to a migrant camp with squalid conditions, were processed for entry Thursday in Brownsville, Texas. Processing began Friday in El Paso, Texas. At the same time, the U.S. is releasing more asylum-seekers who are not enrolled in “Remain in Mexico” into the country, as it did for hundreds of thousands of people before Trump foisted the responsibility of hosting asylum-seekers on Mexico in 2019. While most people are quickly expelled without an opportunity to seek asylum under pandemic powers that Trump instituted and Biden kept in place, limited releases in the U.S. have raised financial and humanitarian concerns in some border cities. “There’s no plan of action once Border Patrol releases migrants in city centres from being detained,” Bruno Lozano, mayor of the South Texas city of Del Rio, said in an interview. Lozano posted a YouTube video last week calling on the Biden administration to stop releasing migrants during a winter storm that ravaged Texas, knocking out power and water for several days in many cities. The Border Patrol resumed releasing migrants in Del Rio on Feb. 20 after the cold passed. Lozano said Friday that border agents have resumed releasing people in Del Rio and nearby cities. He noted that non-profit groups provide cellphones, food and clothing to people leaving border custody and called on federal authorities to ramp up vaccinations in border communities or provide hotel rooms where migrants who test positive can quarantine. In Yuma, Arizona, Mayor Douglas Nicholls estimated that by the end of Thursday, some 230 migrants, including many families with children, had been released since Feb. 15. Many are dropped at a Greyhound bus stop outside a discount store in a rural area. Nicholls wants state and federal officials to transport migrants to larger cities with more infrastructure and resources, as the federal government did during Trump's presidency. Texas has sent 10,000 rapid COVID-19 tests to Brownsville for arriving migrants. City spokesman Felipe Romero says the tests are administered at the local bus station and anyone who tests positive is told to isolate. In El Paso, the Annunciation House shelter is receiving 25 immigrants daily from the Remain in Mexico program. The shelter expects releases to double in the coming weeks and perhaps reach 75 a day by the end of March, director Ruben Garcia said. California has so far been the most generous with aid. Besides the new funding, it's already spent nearly $12 million to help about 30,000 asylum-seekers at the border since Trump’s presidency. With Biden in the White House, Arizona and Texas have emerged as chief critics of immigration policy, a position that California proudly took during the Trump years. Texas successfully sued to block Biden's 100-day moratorium on deportations. Texas and Arizona signed agreements with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Trump's final days that could delay any changes to immigration policy. The Biden administration has rejected them. ___ Associated Press writers Nomaan Merchant in Houston and Anita Snow in Phoenix contributed to this report. Elliot Spagat, The Associated Press
ST. LOUIS — Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh has been buried in a private cemetery in St. Louis, his family announced Friday. Limbaugh's widow, Kathryn, and his family said a private ceremony with close family and friends was held Wednesday, but they did not say where he was buried. The family said additional celebrations of Limbaugh's life are planned in the future, both virtually and in his hometown of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, The Southeast Missourian reported. Limbaugh died Feb. 17, a year after announcing he had lung cancer. The fiery Limbaugh was a leading voice of the Republican party and conservative movement for decades with a daily radio show that was broadcast on more than 600 U.S. stations for more than 30 years. The Associated Press
A new report says the Manitoba government failed to provide proper oversight as costs spiralled on two mega projects at Crown-owned Manitoba Hydro. The review was done by former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall.
NEW ORLEANS — Prosecutors in New Orleans moved Friday to have convictions overturned for 22 people found guilty of felonies by non-unanimous juries, and to review hundreds of other such convictions obtained under a law with roots in the Jim Crow era. District Attorney Jason Williams, who took office last month after running on a reform platform, announced the move at a news conference outside the criminal courthouse in New Orleans. He was flanked by his staff, criminal justice advocates and Archbishop Gregory Aymond. Emily Maw, head of the civil rights division of Williams' office, said five cases being vacated are being reviewed to see whether charges ever should have been filed. Seventeen are being re-prosecuted. However, 16 of the defendants have agreed to plead guilty as charged or to lesser charges, seeking reduction of sentences that would likely have kept them behind bars for life. “This doesn't mean that 22 people walked out onto the streets today,” Williams stressed. Until January 2019, felony convictions in Louisiana could be obtained with a 10-2 or 11-1 jury vote under laws that opponents said were aimed at making sure Black jurors' votes could be negated in cases against Black defendants. Oregon was the only other state with a similar law. Voters approved a constitutional amendment that outlawed non-unanimous verdicts beginning in 2019, a vote that followed a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of stories in The Advocate analyzing the origins of the law and the racial disparities in verdicts. And, last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that non-unanimous verdicts were unconstitutional. But the Supreme Court’s decision in April affected only future cases and cases in which the defendants' appeals had not been exhausted. That left an estimated 1,600 cases in Louisiana unaffected. Advocates estimate more than 300 of them are in New Orleans. Pending before the high court now is the question of whether the decision should be made retroactive. Williams opted not to wait for that decision. Williams' dubbed his initiative “the DA's Jim Crow Jury Project" and said it is aimed at “repairing 120 plus years of injustice by methodically and efficiently reviewing all applications to the court of cases where persons were convicted by a non-unanimous jury.” Civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, praised the move. Jamila Johnson, of the Promise of Justice Initiative, said her organization represented many of the clients in Friday's court proceedings. “It was incredibly moving,” she said, describing the case of one man who agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter — he had been convicted of murder in a non-unanimous verdict in 1974 — in a deal that made him instantly eligible for release from the state prison. The Promise of Justice Initiative said in a news release that it will reach out to crime victims who might be affected by the revisiting of some convictions. “While it is absolutely necessary to dismantle this intentionally racist practice of non-unanimous juries, it will have a huge impact on those who assumed the legal process was over,” Katie Hunter-Lowery, of the PJI said in a news release. "We invite survivors and victims’ loved ones to contact us at and we invite city and state leaders to allocate more funding and resources directly to impacted communities.” Kevin McGill, The Associated Press
Two Ontario regions struggling with COVID-19 outbreaks will be moving back into lockdown next week, while public health restrictions will be loosened elsewhere in the province. Local leaders in Thunder Bay - a hub for travel in northwestern Ontario - had been calling for assistance as COVID-19 outbreaks were declared at correctional facilities, among the homeless population and at number of local schools. Simcoe Muskoka, which has also been hit with several outbreaks driven by infectious virus variants, will also be placed on lockdown. Health Minister Christine Elliott said recent projections on the pandemic in Ontario "(show) us that we must be nimble and put in place additional measures" to stop the spread of the virus. "With COVID-19 variants continuing to spread in our communities, it is critically important that everyone continues strictly adhering to all public health and workplace safety measures to help contain the virus and maintain the progress we have made to date," Elliott said. Meanwhile, restrictions will loosen Monday in Niagara Region, Chatham-Kent; Middlesex-London; Southwestern; Haldimand-Norfolk; Huron Perth; and Grey Bruce. The government lifted a stay-at-home order for most of the province two weeks ago and moved the majority of health units back to its colour-coded restrictions system. Data has shown the stay-home order and strict public health measures imposed in January brought cases and hospitalizations down but they have since started to trend upwards again. In Thunder Bay, the local public health unit has recorded more COVID-19 cases in February than throughout all of 2020, the city's mayor said Friday before the lockdown was announced. "We're in a difficult spot right now," Bill Mauro said in a telephone interview. "Clearly there is a situation here that we don't see ending in the near term." The mayor has been calling on the provincial and federal governments to provide financial and human-resources assistance in health care. The only isolation centre in the city of over 121,000 people is on the "verge of failing," he said. Ontario's top doctor recommended Thursday that the city be moved to lockdown because the virus could spread to remote communities with scarce health-care resources. Dr. Janet DeMille, medical officer of health for Thunder Bay District Health Unit, welcomed the lockdown announcement. "These enhanced measures are needed to get COVID in our community under control," she said in a statement. A New Democrat legislator who represents the northern city in the provincial parliament said the government waited too long to help the city avoid a lockdown. “It’s been like watching a car crash in slow motion,” Judith Monteith-Farrell said Friday. Fort William First Nation Chief Peter Collins and Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler had also requested support from Ottawa and the province, saying the region was grappling to keep up with the growing case load. The chiefs pointed to inadequate resources for people released from correctional facilities who are being sent to isolate in hotels in Sioux Lookout, Thunder Bay and Timmins. “Thunder Bay is in a precarious situation, and there is growing concern as government ministries, health organizations and health units struggle to contain the spread of this virus," Fiddler said. "Moving back to lockdown across northwestern Ontario will be painful, but is necessary as COVID-19 cases continue to rise." One northwestern Ontario First Nation declared a state of emergency after several members living off-reserve in Thunder Bay tested positive for COVID-19. Neskantaga First Nation Chief Chris Moonias said at least 12 members had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Wednesday. There was also news Friday of more infectious COVID-19 variants detected for the first time in the northwestern part of the province. The local health unit that covers the Kenora, Ont., area, reported its first case of a COVID-19 variant. It said a person in the Dryden, Ont., area has tested positive for the B.1.1.7 variant first found in the U.K. Meanwhile, Premier Doug Ford welcomed the news that Health Canada had approved a third COVID-19 vaccine – from AstraZeneca – for use in Canada, saying it would speed up Ontario's vaccine rollout. "We're geared up, we're ready to go and just can't wait to get the third vaccine," he said. The province plans to offer shots to people aged 80 and older starting in the third week of March, though the timeline is subject to change. Some local health units will start inoculations in the broader community earlier based on their progress vaccinating the highest-priority groups first. Vaccinations for those 80 and older are to begin at Windsor-Essex County clinics on Monday. The City of Ottawa will deliver shots next Friday at a pop-up clinic open to those born in 1941 and earlier, adult recipients of chronic home care and residents of high-risk neighbourhoods. York Region will also allow residents aged 80 and older to book appointments Monday, with vaccinations to start possibly the same day. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press
Regina–When everyone is told to stay home and limit travel as much as possible for a year, you would think that’s bound to have an impact on vehicle insurance claims. It turns out, it did, but perhaps not as much as you might think. Rather, strong performance in its Saskatchewan Auto Fund Rate Stabilization Reserve resulted in SGI announcing on Dec. 26 it would pass on roughly $350 million in earnings. This will be going to the people of Saskatchewan by issuing one-time rebates to all registered vehicle owners, and also improving injury benefits for its most seriously injured customers, the Government of Saskatchewan said in a release on Feb. 26. Of that, $285 million will be to going to registered vehicle owners. But that’s not because there $285 million less in claims. According to SGI spokesperson Tyler McMurchy, claims in 2020 were down about $100 million compared to what was budgeted for. Instead, fund was $1.35 billion at the end of 2020, and this $350 million will draw from that. Putting it into context, he said a bad hailstorm can result in $20 million to $50 million in claims in an afternoon. “The Saskatchewan Auto Fund Rate Stabilization Reserve is in a very strong financial position due to very strong investment returns and – to a smaller degree – fewer collision claims due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Minister Responsible for SGI Don Morgan said. “As a result, SGI will pass on these earnings to the people of Saskatchewan by issuing rebates to all registered vehicle owners and by improving injury benefits.” Rebates to be Issued this spring The provincial government has approved the one-time rebate of $285 million. The amount each customer receives will vary, and it will be calculated based on a proportion of vehicle premiums paid in the previous three years. Details are still being finalized, but it’s expected the average rebate will work out to approximately $285 per vehicle or approximately 26 per cent of an average annual premium in Saskatchewan. The Auto Fund, which all Saskatchewan vehicle owners pay into via their insurance premiums, maintains the Rate Stabilization Reserve (RSR). Maintaining a healthy balance in the RSR protects customers against sudden rate fluctuations due to unexpected cost pressures. SGI said the RSR is one of the reasons that SGI customers enjoy, on average, the lowest rates for basic auto insurance in Canada and have not experienced significant rate increases, despite the rapidly rising cost of repairing today’s modern vehicles. The amount in the RSR is heavily impacted by the performance of its well-diversified investment portfolio, SGI said. After losses last March, in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the RSR experienced strong investment earnings over the past fiscal year, especially in the last quarter. This allows SGI to absorb the one-time cost associated with issuing rebates, while remaining in a position to protect customers from significant rate hikes going forward. Even with issuing the rebate, the RSR will meet industry standards to protect against unexpected cost fluctuations, SGI said. Rebate cheques will be issued in May and sent through the mail to customers who have paid Auto Fund premiums in the past three years and are residents of Saskatchewan. Customers are encouraged to verify that their mailing address is up to date by visiting www.MySGI.ca to confirm or by contacting their local motor licence issuer. Benefits for most seriously injured SGI said it is also implementing two significant enhancements for customers who receive long-term injury benefits as a result of being injured in vehicle collisions. First, customers who require assistance with daily tasks (i.e., dressing, bathing, cooking, cleaning and yard care) will see the maximum payments for those services increase to better reflect current market rates. This is expected to benefit more than 1,100 SGI customers. Secondly, SGI customers who receive income replacement benefits from SGI and Canada Pension Plan (CPP) will no longer have income benefits from SGI reduced by their CPP payment. It is standard industry practice to reduce insurance benefits by the CPP payment. SGI said it is leading the industry by eliminating this practice, to the added benefit of its most seriously injured customers. It is estimated that this will benefit approximately 200 people. NPD response New Democratic Party Critic for SGI Aleana Young said in an emailed statement, “With so many families and businesses stretched and struggling to make ends meet, the news of an SGI rebate is welcome news. “But it is hard to give the Sask. Party government any credit for their cynical U-turn on this issue just months after referring to the Saskatchewan New Democrats campaign pledge as a “vote-buying scheme”. Young continued, “In the lead up to the last election campaign, the then Minister Responsible for SGI Joe Hargrave responded to Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan’s Meili’s SGI rebate pledge by saying that it would drive up the provincial debt. Hargrave said at the time: ‘It’s unfortunate that the NDP plan to use SGI as sort of a slush fund.’ “While it’s positive for Saskatchewan families that the government has reversed course and will be issuing rebate cheques, we are calling on the government to work with SGI to reduce rates in a sustainable manner to make insurance more accessible in the long-term for Saskatchewan families and businesses. “The Saskatchewan NDP Caucus team is hard at work proposing good ideas to protect Saskatchewan jobs, families and businesses. We hope this reversal shows that the Sask. Party government is willing to work with our caucus on solutions to ease the strain on people’s pocketbooks.” In a Facebook post, NDP Leader Ryan Meili said, “Today’s reversal on SGI rebates is good for families and businesses. If it takes a U-turn for the Sask. Party government to head in the right direction, we welcome it!” Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
WASHINGTON — Neither Canada's prime minister nor the U.S. secretary of state were showing their diplomatic cards Friday as the two countries discussed the plight of two Canadians languishing behind bars in China. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met virtually with Canadian officials including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau as part of the Biden administration's post-Trump charm offensive. The U.S. has a "significant role" to play in helping secure the release of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, said Trudeau, although he refused to elaborate on the details. "These are processes that are ongoing," the prime minister told a news conference earlier in the day. "The United States is taking their role in this very seriously and we look forward to working with them on bringing the two Michaels home as soon as possible.” Blinken, too, stayed in his diplomatic lane, expressing earnest American harmony with Canada and cheering a multilateral effort to denounce the practice of taking political prisoners. "We stand in absolute solidarity with Canada in insisting on their immediate and unconditional release," Blinken said before lavishing praise on the new Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention. The declaration, a project initiated by former foreign affairs minister François-Philippe Champagne, is from a coalition of more than 50 countries opposed to the state-sponsored political detention of foreign nationals. Its purpose "is to bring countries together to stand against the arbitrary detention of individuals for political purposes, a practice that we see in a number of countries, including China," Blinken said. "I think and I hope that this can grow into something that establishes a new international norm against arbitrary detentions." Spavor and Kovrig — the "two Michaels" — were swept up after the RCMP's arrest in December 2018 of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei. Blinken demurred on the question of whether the U.S. is considering a so-called deferred prosecution agreement — a form of plea deal that could allow Meng to return to China in return for an admission of wrongdoing. "There are legal questions that are appropriately the province of our Department of Justice," he said. "They follow the law, they follow the facts and I refer you to them for anything on the legal aspects of this." Earlier this week, a Justice Department spokesman confirmed that prosecutors were continuing to seek Meng's extradition to the U.S., where she is facing fraud charges. Friday's meetings, billed as a "virtual visit" — no jet lag, but no frequent-flyer miles either, Blinken joked — follow Trudeau's own virtual summit this week with President Joe Biden, which produced a "road map" for collaboration on issues like climate change, the economy and COVID-19. "It's hard to think of two countries whose destinies are more connected, more intertwined than ours," Blinken told Garneau as their meeting got underway. "We know that every single day, the work that we're doing, and more importantly the deep ties between our people — in virtually every aspect of our societies — are benefiting both countries." Garneau returned the compliment, adding that Canada can be more to the U.S. than just a friendly ally. "I want you to know that you can count on Canada to be by your side," he said. "And I think that you'll find that we can be surprisingly helpful to you, while advancing our own objectives." That could easily be seen as an oblique reference to Buy American, Biden's suite of protectionist measures aimed at ensuring that U.S. contractors, suppliers and workers are the primary beneficiaries of American infrastructure projects and federal contract work. Canadian businesses, employees and contractors depend on that work too, however, and the federal government is pressing hard to ensure that they don't get shut out of what will surely be a big-budget effort to resurrect the U.S. economy. On that score, Blinken seemed to suggest that Garneau's message got through — particularly on the issue of fortifying North American supply chains. "There's a lot of opportunity there between the United States and Canada that we intend to pursue," he said. "My sense, from the conversations between the two governments, is that there is ample opportunity for us to work together and find ways to benefit each other." Efforts to restore ties between the two countries after extensive fraying during the Trump era have been going on all week, albeit virtually. Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson spoke Wednesday with John Kerry, Biden's special envoy on climate, to shore up plans for more stringent emissions-reduction targets in advance of a climate summit in April. And Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra have committed to tougher vehicle pollution standards, and collaborating on new standards for aircraft and ships. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. James McCarten, The Canadian Press
Ten new cases are being announced in Nova Scotia on Friday, bringing the total number of cases announced this week to 25. Nine cases are in the central health zone: three are under investigation, five are close contacts of previously reported cases, and one is related to travel outside Atlantic Canada. One case is in the eastern zone and is also related to travel outside Atlantic Canada. The travellers are self-isolating, according to a news release from the Department of Health and Wellness. There are 35 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. One person is currently in a hospital's intensive care unit. At a live briefing Friday, Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, said cases with an unknown source have been identified in Dartmouth, Bedford, Spryfield, Peninsula Halifax, Sackville, and Beaver Bank. "In many of our cases the broad list of contacts tells us that people are continuing to socialize and act as if we're not in a pandemic," he said. "We all need to take all the public health measures seriously even if we don't feel personally at risk." Strang said the cluster that public health had been monitoring in the western part of Annapolis Valley seems to be contained. There has also been great uptake for testing in the area. In response to the rise in case numbers, Premier Iain Rankin and Dr. Strang announced tighter restrictions in areas of Halifax Regional Municipality and neighbouring municipalities. "We have done this before and it worked," said Strang. "We are now moving even more quickly than we did in December to resolve this outbreak. What we're working to avoid is ... situations such as Newfoundland has faced recently." Newfoundland and Labrador has been grappling with a sharp increase in cases since mid-February. The variant first identified in the U.K., also known as B.1.1.7, is responsible for the outbreak in the provine. As of 8 a.m. on Saturday, the areas of HRM up to and including Porters Lake, as well as the communities of Enfield, Elmsdale, Mount Uniacke and Hubbards, will undergo the following restrictions until at least March 27. In a news release sent Friday evening, the province added Lantz to the communities where restrictions apply. Nova Scotians are also being asked to avoid non-essential travel within the province, especially to and from restricted areas of HRM, Hants and Lunenburg counties. "We had hoped we would not be back in the situation where these restrictions are necessary. We understand that they are disruptive but they are absolutely critical to contain the spread of COVID-19,” Strang said in a news release. “Everyone needs to behave with the same caution as they did last spring when the virus first arrived in Nova Scotia.” Restrictions previously put in place across the province still remain. For example, gatherings will contniue to be limited to 10 people. "We'll continue to watch the epidemiology and if it continues to climb the next week, we will certainly be looking at whether further restrictions or expanding to other geographic parts of Nova Scotia will be necessary," said Strang. Nova Scotia Health Authority's labs completed 2,797 Nova Scotia tests on Feb. 25. There were 1,870 tests administered between Feb. 19 and 25 at the rapid-testing pop-up sites in Halifax, St. Peter's, New Minas, Port Hawkesbury and Eastern Passage. Effective Monday, domestic rotational workers will be required to get three tests through out their modified quarantine. Parents ans children whose child custody arrangements require travel outside of Nova Scotia and P.E.I., will also have to get tested. More information about the province's new child custody protocols will be available on novascotia.ca/coronavirus. Strang said he's seeing people go to work with cold and flu symptoms, but it's very likely that they're symptoms of COVID-19. "I've been working for 20 years and this is the first year we have zero lab-confirmed cases of influenza. Very low numbers of other cold viruses around," he said. "So even if you have a single mild symptom, like a sore throat, or maybe a sore throat and a stuffy nose, that could be COVID." He added that people with even one symptoms should stay home and book a test. Since Oct. 1, Nova Scotia has completed 202,939 tests. There have been 545 positive COVID-19 cases and no deaths. Nebal Snan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle Herald
OTTAWA — A man who helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for WE Charity says he believes two different groups of donors were told they had raised the money for a school in Kenya. Reed Cowan testified before a parliamentary committee today where he said he discovered a plaque that had once borne his late son's name had been replaced with the name of another donor. Cowan says he then found a video online that showed an opening ceremony for the school building, almost identical to one he participated in, that took place with a different group of donors two weeks before the one held for his group. Cowan, who was a member of the advisory board to a WE-affiliated group in the United States, says he began raising money after his son Wesley died in an accident at age four and that helping children in Kenya helped him deal with the loss. In an email, WE Charity says there was only one opening ceremony for the school and Cowan misunderstood what was happening in the video. WE says it inadvertently failed to notify Cowan about the removal of the plaque and that it has now been returned. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
VIDALIA, La. — The onetime lead singer for the now defunct rock and country band Bishop Gunn has been arrested in Louisiana on drug and traffic charges, authorities said. Travis McCready was arrested Thursday in Concordia Parish in the east-central part of the state. McCready, 33, of Natchez, Mississippi, was taken to the Concordia Parish Jail on charges of failure to dim the lights on his vehicle, expired vehicle tag and no proof of insurance as well as charges alleging possession of Schedule I, Schedule II and Schedule III drugs, authorities said. McCready, a resident of Natchez, Mississippi, where the band also had been based, was released on a $25,000 bond, The Natchez Democrat reported. It was unknown if McCready has an attorney who could speak on his behalf. The Bishop Gunn band broke up in February 2020, citing “internal issues." It suspended all future activity including tour dates and new music releases. With McCready as the group's lead singer, Bishop Gunn made it to the top of the Billboard Blues Album chart in 2018 with their debut album “Natchez.” At the height of its run, Bishop Gunn toured in Europe with Slash after playing two cruises with Kid Rock and received multiple accolades from Rolling Stone Magazine’s top country charts. Although the band has called it quits, McCready has performed solo in Natchez and elsewhere. The Associated Press
WELLINGTON COUNTY – Wellington County council has endorsed a plan that will see climate change officially considered into county decisions. Karen Chisholme, the County of Wellington’s climate change coordinator, presented a lengthy climate change mitigation plan to council called Future Focused. “The vision for this plan is to integrate climate change into our decision making by developing actions and policies to lead the community in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,” Chisholme said. “This will ensure the County of Wellington continues to deliver superior public service resulting in healthy, safe communities with a resilient and sustainable ecosystem now and into the future.” She explained the most notable changes the county will see is in temperature and precipitation with an overall increase in annual temperature and more days above 30 C. Annual precipitation could increase along with shorter periods between extreme weather events and a increased freeze-thaw cycle which has implications for municipal infrastructure. “What we may see is road washout and erosion, increased insurance costs, power outages and service disruptions, road closures...and watermain breaks,” Chisholme said as examples. There are also implications to the environment and agriculture with possible lower crop yields, an expanded range of pests and increased erosion. Recreation could see impacts too with higher costs to operate ice rinks, less opportunities for outdoor winter activity and low water during summer droughts. Total greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 were estimated at 1.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide through the community and 8,300 tonnes from corporate. Recommendations are focused on areas with the best potential for reducing emissions. “Areas with the greatest opportunity for reductions are natural gas from heating, gas and diesel from transportation and biogenic gases in agriculture,” Chisholme said. Chisholme said some of the “big moves” in the report include a transition to electric vehicles because moving to public transit isn’t a viable option due to the geography of Wellington County. Another key recommendation is to retrofit existing buildings with things like natural gas heating and create green development standards for new builds. On agriculture, Chisholme said the county will continue to partner with Smart Cities to develop circular food economy principles. She noted solid waste services has already put in place some programs that reduce emissions such as the green bin organics recycling introduced last year. Chisholme said the community emissions target for Wellington County is six per cent between 2002 and 2030–about 73,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. “Six per cent may not seem ambitious but emissions will continue to increase, with an increase in population and business development, until we can put the recommendations from the plan in place,” she said. Councillor Don McKay was happy to see the county taking climate change seriously. “It’s really nice to see the priority the county and the member municipalities are putting on this climate change initiative,” McKay said. “It really makes me proud...I can see us being, as usual, Wellington County in the forefront across Ontario in implementing the climate strategies we need to do.” Councillor Campbell Cork was also impressed but said he didn’t want to get too far ahead without examining the costs. “It’s one of the most important documents probably ever to come before us, we’re talking about trying to save the planet,” Cork said. “Climate mitigation is going to be one of the most expensive projects to come before council.” After some minor tweaks to the motion, council endorsed the Future Focused plan, directed communications staff to prepare a final version for publication and prepare a five-year plan and cost estimate for council approval. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
WASHINGTON — U.S. Attorney John Durham said Friday that he will resign from his position as the top federal prosecutor in Connecticut but is remaining as a special counsel to oversee the Justice Department's investigation into the origins of the Russia probe that shadowed Donald Trump’s presidency, Durham will resign from his post as U.S. attorney for Connecticut on Monday. But Durham, who was appointed in October by then-Attorney General William Barr as a special counsel to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe, will remain in that capacity. Like Durham, nearly every other U.S. attorney who served in the Trump administration was asked earlier this month to submit their resignations as the Biden administration moves to transition to its own nominees. The FBI in July 2016 began investigating whether the Trump campaign was co-ordinating with Russia to sway the outcome of the presidential election. That probe was inherited nearly a year later by special counsel Mueller, who ultimately did not find enough evidence to charge Trump or any of his associates with conspiring with Russia. The early months of the investigation, when agents obtained secret surveillance warrants targeting a former Trump campaign aide, have long been scrutinized by Trump and other critics of the probe who say the FBI made significant errors. A Justice Department inspector general report backed up that criticism but did not find evidence that mistakes in the surveillance applications and other problems with the probe were driven by partisan bias. Durham’s investigation, which the Justice Department has described as a criminal probe, had begun very broadly but Barr said in December that it had “narrowed considerably” and that it was “really is focused on the activities of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation within the FBI.” Durham’s investigation has so far resulted in one prosecution so far. A former FBI lawyer was sentenced to probation last month for altering an email the Justice Department relied on in its surveillance of an aide to President Donald Trump during the Russia investigation. The U.S. attorneys transition process, which happens routinely between administrations, applies to a few dozen U.S. attorneys who were appointed by Trump and confirmed by the Senate and many of the federal prosecutors who were nominated by Trump already left their positions. A senior Justice Department official told the AP earlier this month that David Weiss, the U.S. attorney in Delaware, overseeing the federal tax probe involving Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, will remain in place. The 93 U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president and are responsible for overseeing offices of federal prosecutors and charged with prosecuting federal crimes in their jurisdictions. Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is getting hit with tough questions about investigations into sexual misconduct within the Canadian Armed Forces. David Akin explains what kind of investigation Opposition leader Erin O'Toole, an Air Force veteran, is calling for.