A sports talk radio host and flight attendant talk about what it’s like to lose work during the pandemic and dealing with stress and uncertainty.
A sports talk radio host and flight attendant talk about what it’s like to lose work during the pandemic and dealing with stress and uncertainty.
(NASA/JPL-Caltech - image credit) When the Perseverance rover successfully landed on Mars last month, it arrived with a B.C.-made tool in its figurative tool belt. The six-wheeled, plutonium-powered U.S. rover landed on the red planet on Feb. 18, with a mandate to drill down and collect tiny geological specimens that will be returned to NASA in about 2031. That drilling will be done using a drill bit tip designed and manufactured by a company based in Langford, B.C. "It has great wear and fraction resistance so it is perfect for a Mars application," said Ron Sivorat, business director for Kennametal Inc., during an interview on CBC's All Points West. The drill bit tip is made from K92-grade tungsten carbide blanks, which Sivorat said are one of the toughest grades used for drilling here on earth and he is confident it will be good enough for Mars. According to Sivorat, the company has had a relationship with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 2014, when the space agency first began ordering and testing Kennametal Inc. drill bit tips. In 2018, the company learned NASA wanted to work with it to build a bit for Perseverance. Sivorat said staff built the drill bit to NASA's specifications and then sent it to the agency who finessed it somewhat for its Mars mission. When Perseverance landed safely on the fourth planet from the sun, it was an exciting moment for Kennametal Inc. employees, many of whom watched the landing online and are continuing to check on Perservance's daily progress updates. "We know that we are going to be part of, in one way or another, an historical event that will be remembered for many years to come," said Sivorat. Sivorat said he expects the drill bit built in B.C. to start penetrating the surface of Mars in the next couple of weeks. And B.C. is not the only Canadian province with a connection to Perseverance. Canadian Photonic Labs, based in Minnedosa, Man., manufactured a high-speed and highly-durable camera that played an instrumental role in landing the rover. The Manitoba company's relationship with NASA dates back roughly 15 years, he said — but much of the work that's happened in that time has been cloaked in secrecy.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials 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 the end of 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 Quebec started vaccinating older seniors on Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. 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 began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry also says first responders and essential workers may be eligible to get vaccinated starting in April as the province also decides on a strategy for the newly authorized AstraZeneca vaccine. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
Another type of COVID-19 vaccine was authorized by Health Canada on Friday. The new vaccines are manufactured by AstraZeneca, and developed in partnership with Oxford University. Canada also approved the Serum Institute of India’s version of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Afterwards, Anita Anand, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement announced that Canada has secured two million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine through an agreement with Verity Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc./Serum Institute of India. AstraZeneca has licensed the manufacture of its ChAdOx1 vaccine to the Serum Institute. The first 500,000 doses will be delivered to Canada in the coming weeks. The remaining 1.5 million doses are expected to arrive by mid-May. “The Government of Canada continues to do everything possible to protect Canadians from COVID-19. This includes securing a highly diverse and extensive portfolio of vaccines and taking all necessary measures to ready the country to receive them,” Anand said in a release. “We remain fully on track to ensure that there will be a sufficient supply so that every eligible Canadian who wants a vaccine will have access to one by the end of September. I am grateful for the collaboration of our partners in India to finalize this agreement, and I look forward to continuing to work closely together in the weeks ahead.” The two million doses secured through this agreement are in addition to the 20 million doses already secured through an earlier agreement with AstraZeneca. Health Canada’s authorization of the AstraZeneca vaccine allows the Government of Canada to advance its work with AstraZeneca to finalize delivery schedules for the 20 million doses. The application for authorization from AstraZeneca was received on Oct. 1, 2020 and from from Verity Pharmaceuticals Inc./Serum Institute of India (in partnership with AstraZeneca Canada Inc.) on January 23, 2021. After thorough, independent reviews of the evidence, the Department has determined that these vaccines meet Canada’s stringent safety, efficacy and quality requirements. These are the first viral vector-based vaccines authorized in Canada. These are also two-dose regiments and can be kept refrigerated for at least six months. Health Canada’s authorization of the Verity Pharmaceuticals Inc./Serum Institute of India product relies on the assessment of its comparability to the AstraZeneca-produced version of the vaccine.. These vaccines were authorized with terms and conditions under Health Canada’s Interim Order on the importation of drugs for COVID-19 The process allowed Health Canada to assess information submitted by the manufacturer as it became available during the product development process, while maintaining Canadian standards. Health Canada has placed terms and conditions on the authorizations requiring the manufacturers to continue providing information to Health Canada on the safety, efficacy and quality of the vaccines to ensure their benefits continue to be demonstrated through market use. Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada will closely monitor the safety. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
Asymptomatic testing is set to begin in local schools in early March. The Directors of Education at the local public and Catholic school boards said the testing is voluntary, and where it will take place is still being determined. Following consultation with the Public Health Units in Chatham-Kent and Sarnia-Lambton, Education Director of the St. Clair Catholic District School Board, Deb Crawford, said GVT Lab and Imaging Services would be doing the testing. While Chatham and Sarnia’s sites are yet to be determined, March 5, 2021, will be the first day of testing. Crawford said the private company has dedicated two teams to test students and staff for seven weeks from March 5, 2021, to April 16, 2021, including conducting targeted testing on Friday evenings and Saturdays. According to the Education Director of the Lambton Kent District School Board, John Howitt, school communities will get all of the information about where the testing sites are and how to register for appointments once the asymptomatic testing plan is complete. “We’re facilitating the testing within our facilities, but we are at an arm’s length from it,” said Howitt. “There will be communication as well to public health on the results so that public health can follow up on any confirmed cases that do come out of the testing.” Public School Board Director John Howitt previously said the plan is to have tests complete on staff and students at three public schools each week. This could include testing on weekends and evenings, but Howitt stressed the testing is not mandatory. “The weekly target is for approximately two percent of the population who are attending face-to-face learning,” said Howitt. Parental consent forms must be signed before the student testing is done. “This is not a School Board initiative, although it’s happening with our students,” said Howitt. “It might happen outside of the school day, including on weekends or in the evening.” According to Dr. David Colby, the local schools have done a great job keeping students and staff safe. “At the beginning of the pandemic, everybody thought the driver for community infection would be school children, and that has turned out absolutely not to be the case,” said Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health. “That’s not been the experience anywhere. Colby said there has been great success with the planning that has been done with School Boards to avoid transmission within schools. He added the schools are very organized to isolate cohorts if there are any school environment cases. “In almost all cases that have been positive in schools, it has been family contacts that have resulted in students being positive, not transmission in the school environment,” said Colby. The Province of Ontario announced expanded asymptomatic testing in early February to keep schools and child care settings safe. According to the Provincial Government, the tests will offer an additional layer of protection and help keep schools and child care centres safe by identifying cases that might otherwise have gone undetected; reducing transmission of COVID-19 from the community into schools and within schools, and reducing barriers and making it easier to get a test in your community. Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News
OTTAWA — COVID-19 has all but stalled a promised shift in how Canadians appeal rulings on their requests for federal income supports. The department overseeing the work, Employment and Social Development Canada, says the change won't happen as originally scheduled next month because of pandemic-related risks. In 2019, the Liberals promised to partially restore the system that existed before the previous Conservative government created the Social Security Tribunal in 2013. The Liberals planned to bring back board hearings for the first layer of appeals inside the Social Security Tribunal, and retain a single arbitrator for the second, final, layer. Three sources with knowledge of the government's plans tell The Canadian Press the required legislative changes were to be in last year's budget, which was shelved due to the pandemic. The legislative change are expected to be in this year's budget bill, say the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity to detail private conservations, or because they were not authorized to speak publicly about matters not yet public. The eight-year-old tribunal replaced four separate bodies that heard appeals from Canadians who disagreed with the government's decisions on their applications for employment insurance, Canada Pension Plan, or old age security benefits. Key changes included cutting the number of people hearing most cases from three to one, and replacing part-time hearing officials in many places with full-time staff in fewer locations. Shortly after the revamped tribunal launched, it ran into problems, with months- and even years-long delays for hearings and decisions that were traced back to being understaffed and missing a transition plan. Processing times have improved since. The latest figures from the tribunal show the first layer of EI appeals took on average 36 days, and 74 for CPP or disability benefits so far this fiscal year. The figures for the second, and final, appeal were 21 days and 89 days respectively. "What’s more, we’ve had no backlog of appeals during the COVID-19 pandemic," said tribunal spokeswoman Stephanie black. She also noted that 94 per cent of appellants who responded to a user survey said they were happy with the speed of appeals, and 93 per cent were satisfied with the appeal process overall. A spokeswoman for ESDC said changes to the recourse process and the Social Security Tribunal, or SST for short, will run in parallel with the government's promise to update the employment insurance system. "The department recognizes that during a pandemic, there are significant additional risks associated with implementing these changes, which could negatively affect the existing process," Marie-Eve Sigouin-Campeau said in an email. "The SST can continue deliver very valuable work and service to Canadians in these uncertain times, but stability is important because (case) inventories may increase as a result of COVID-19 and the significant number of EI claims due to the pandemic." When the Liberals set aside $253.8 million over five years, beginning in April, to make the system easier to navigate and shorten decision times by bringing back the three-panel hearings that included a representative each from labour and employers, plus a government chairperson. Department officials were hinting last year that the new structure wouldn’t be as big as the old one. Instead of hiring about 900 panel members, spread through communities across the country, sources said the department planned to hire one-third the amount because it expected to have one-third of the amount of appeals the previous system handled. Panel members only get paid for each hearing, meaning costs would be based on the number of appeals, not the number of referees. Sources also said the government is interested in having the new appeal body overseen by a cabinet appointee who would report to the deputy minister at ESDC, who also acts as chair of the federal EI commission. That kind of governance structure could lead stakeholders involved in the EI system, for instance, to complain about accountability issues similar to ones lodged originally when the Social Security Tribunal launched. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — The verdict in Toronto's van attack trial will be broadcast on YouTube on Wednesday. Alek Minassian has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 of second-degree murder. He argues he should be found not criminally responsible due to his autism spectrum disorder. Minassian's trial was conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The broadcast was limited to a small number of people that included victims, their families, and select journalists. Minassian has admitted to planning and carrying out the attack, leaving his state of mind at the time the only issue at trial. On the Web: https://youtu.be/oEWxUDpX4TU This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — A lawyer for the Huawei executive facing extradition to the United States says there's evidence showing the case against her is "manifestly unreliable" and he wants that evidence admitted to the record. Meng Wanzhou's lawyer Frank Addario says emails between staff at the telecom giant and international bank HSBC show the bank was well aware that Huawei controlled another company called Skycom, therefore Meng wasn't responsible for any violation of U.S. sanctions again Iran by the bank. He told the B.C. Supreme Court hearing that staff at HSBC knew that Skycom was sold to Canicula, that Canicula was Skycom's parent company and that Huawei controlled the Canicula account. Addario is asking the judge to admit affidavits including emails and bank account information into evidence to support the defence team's case at Meng's committal hearing, to be heard in May. Meng was arrested at Vancouver's airport in 2018 on a request by U.S. officials who allege she misrepresented the relationship between Huawei and Skycom, causing HSBC to violate U.S. sanctions against Iran. Both she and Huawei deny the allegations. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
As B.C. cities start to take a closer look at the energy consumption and carbon footprint of their buildings, the heated swimming pool is attracting some unusual attention. Building Benchmark BC, a pilot project that pulls energy and emissions data on the buildings sector from a dozen cities across the province, found that heated pools had the highest energy use intensity in its category. Indoor swimming pools and convention centres are two types of buildings that have large, cavernous spaces to heat or cool, so they would be expected to have a high energy use intensity, a measure of energy consumption per square metre of floor space. But in B.C., there is a key difference between these two energy guzzlers, according to the annual report released Feb. 24. “Convention centres can be — and often are — heated with electricity, which in British Columbia is 94-plus per cent non-emitting. Meanwhile, pools are heated with natural gas, a leading source of climate pollution,” the report said. “While both use a lot of energy, only one also produces a lot of carbon.” Donovan Woollard, managing director of the OPEN Green Building Society, the host of the project, said it was not a large enough dataset to start drawing any conclusions about policy. Woollard is hoping to more than double the program for its second year. But already, he said, there were some clear trends emerging. Buildings represent 13 per cent of Canada’s emissions by economic sector, and natural gas is a fossil fuel that emits heat-trapping carbon pollution into the atmosphere when burned. In a carbon-constrained world, electric heat pumps may start to play a bigger role in space heating in buildings. Heat pumps are like two-way air conditioners: electrified devices that can be used to both heat and cool a room. Energy experts like Adam Rysanek, assistant professor of environmental systems and director of the Energy, Technology, and Architecture Lab at the University of British Columbia, say technology has improved in the last decade that has made electric heat pumps much more commercially viable. “I would not be surprised if we see in the next 20 years the kind of transition away from natural gas in the building heating market that is already underway in parts of the U.S. and even also here in parts of Canada,” said Rysanek. “I don't think it's impossible that we'll see a major phase out of natural gas use in the buildings sector within a generation.” The natural gas delivery industry says its environmental performance should not be counted out just yet. Aysha Raad, communications director for the Canadian Gas Association, said the industry is continually improving on that front, and has welcomed the introduction of renewable natural gas, which is produced from organic waste from places like landfills or farms instead of obtained through drilling. Renewable natural gas, and natural gas blended with hydrogen, are key components of FortisBC’s objective of cutting its customers greenhouse gas emissions 30 per cent by 2030, for example. Other utilities across the country are introducing renewable natural gas into their networks or launching hydrogen-blending pilot projects to cut down on their carbon. The industry also champions its “reliability,” noting gas supply was available 99.99 per cent of the time in 2019. Utilities continue to add between 70,000 and 100,000 new customer locations per year, said Raad. “If one were to try and move gas customers to a different energy system, the costs — and the logistical challenge — would be staggering,” Raad argued. Rysanek said the current state of heat pump technology means that, in B.C., after accounting for the price of electricity and energy efficiency, operating costs are now on par with natural gas. For building maintenance officials, heat pumps also offer a single piece of equipment to maintain instead of a configuration that uses both a furnace and an air conditioner. “Until recently, heat pump technology was not sufficiently developed or ready for the coldest weather we get in Canadian cities,” Rysanek said. “This has now changed. Today, you can buy cold weather heat pumps for all sizes of buildings, but 10 years ago it was a different story.” Rysanek is leading a building retrofits project that is part of UBC research in collaboration with the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, looking at how cities and urban planners can cut emissions to meet climate targets. In a simulation involving Victoria’s Hillside Quadra neighbourhood, published in October, the researchers found that switching away from natural gas for heating and cooling to electricity would reduce emissions by roughly 80 per cent across three different scenarios. Carl Meyer / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Carl Meyer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
On Friday the Prince Albert Catholic School Division announced that it is nearing completion of a project to improve air quality in all schools in the division. In recognition of the impact of COVID-19 and the importance of air quality for students and staff, the school division embarked on a process to lessen the spread of airborne viruses and bacteria last year. In the Spring of 2020, facilities manager Dan Gareau and other school division personnel began meeting with Public Health officials to plan a safe return to school for staff and students. The planning discussions resulted in engaging with Mechanical Engineering Consultants (HDA Engineering) to assess options based on mechanical systems of all of the Prince Albert Catholic School Division buildings and rooms. The project involved months of planning by the division. “The Board of Education proactively knew air quality was extremely important and rallied to proceed to approve the project,” Catholic Division board chair Suzanne Stubbs said in a release. She credits the Board of Education, school division personnel and the associated contractors for their commitment to completing the project while improving conditions for students and staff. The air quality project would be considered an additional layer to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Aligned with the recommendations of mechanical engineers, Bipolar Ionization air purifier units were acquired. Historically, air purifiers have not been incorporated in most HVAC systems. This technology safely cleans the air inside industrial, commercial and residential buildings. As of Friday, Feb. 26 the project is nearing completion in all of Prince Albert Catholic School Division’s elementary schools, including École St. Anne, St Michael, St. John, St. Catherine, St Francis and École Holy Cross. École St. Mary High School, the final school to be completed, is anticipated to be near completion by the end of next week. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia's COVID-19 vaccination-booking web page is experiencing technical issues the first day it opened to people aged 80 and over.The Health Department said today on Twitter its web page has been temporarily disabled as a precaution after booking service CANImmunize reported a slowdown because of high traffic volume.The department says CANImmunize is investigating and in the meantime, people who want to book an appointment can do so by telephone — although it says call volumes are also high.About 48,000 people in Nova Scotia are at least 80 years old and are eligible to get shots at a series of community clinics scheduled to open this month across the province.Health officials are reporting one new case of COVID-19 today and a total of 35 active known infections.They say that as of Sunday, the province had administered 32,856 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, with 12,845 people having received a booster shot.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
The first day of mass vaccinations began smoothly at the Montreal convention centre, where 2,000 people were scheduled to get their shot. It was the first day all Quebecers over 70 were eligible to be vaccinated.
(Michael Wilson/CBC - image credit) Toronto's speed enforcement cameras issued 22,180 tickets last December, the city says, marking the first month the cameras are operating in their second round of locations. According to a city news release, the area with the most tickets issued was on Stanley Avenue near Elizabeth Street in Etobicoke, where 2,888 tickets were issued. That same area also recorded a repeat offender with the most tickets, with 15 in total. Overall, there were 2,057 repeat offenders, according to the city. Meanwhile, the most expensive ticket was issued to the owner of a vehicle travelling at 99 km/h in a 50 km/h zone on McCowan Road north of Kenhatch Boulevard in Scarborough. A ticket for over $700 was issued for that incident. The average fine handed out in December was $376, the city says. Toronto's speed enforcement cameras were moved to new spots in stages. Before they were moved, data showed a decrease in repeat offenders and a smaller number of total tickets issued, the city says. "I am certain we will see this positive impact repeat itself wherever the speed cameras are placed," said Mayor John Tory in a statement.
B.C. is moving into the second phase of its immunization plan, vaccinating seniors in the community aged 80 and up over the course of this month. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also said the second dose of the three approved vaccines—Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca—will be delayed to four months or 16 weeks, to provide more protection to more people sooner. Henry said the initial dose provides “a very high level of real-world protection.” In Phase 2, more than 400,000 people in B.C. will receive their first vaccine dose from March to early April, including: • seniors and high-risk people residing in independent living and seniors' supportive housing (including staff); • home-care support clients and staff; • Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, Inuit) peoples born in or before 1956 (65 years and older); and • seniors born in or before 1941 (80 years and older). Today, first-dose immunizations begin for those living and working in independent living centres and seniors' supportive housing, as well as home-care support clients and staff. Health authorities will directly contact those in this priority group to book appointments—there is no need to call. Beginning Monday (March 8), seniors aged 80+ and Indigenous peoples aged 65+ who are not living in independent living or seniors' supportive housing can make one call to book their appointment through their local health authority call centre according to a staggered schedule. This is to avoid long waits and system overload. Immunization clinic locations will be confirmed at time of booking, with vaccinations starting as early as March 15: • March 8: Seniors born in or before 1931 (90 years+) and Indigenous people born in or before 1956 (65 years+) may call to book their vaccine appointment; • March 15: Seniors born in or before 1936 (85 years+) may call to book their vaccine appointment; and • March 22: Seniors born in or before 1941 (80 years+) may call to book their vaccine appointment. Health authority contact information, complete call-in schedules, hours of operations and step-by-step instructions on how to call to book an appointment for yourself, for a family member, for a friend or neighbour will be available on March 8, here: www.gov.bc.ca/bcseniorsfirst "We can now see the light at the end of what has been a difficult and challenging time for us all. To get us through, we need to continue to work together and support each other," said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer. "We are working hard each and every day to make sure that everyone who wants a vaccine gets one, and my new provincial health officer order significantly expands the range of health professions and occupations who can support our immunization clinics, including dentists, midwives, pharmacy technicians, paramedics, firefighters and retired nurses." For health professionals who want to sign up to support B.C.'s immunization efforts as immunizers, visit: https://forms.hlth.gov.bc.ca/registry-covid-19 Immunizing other priority groups identified in Phase 2, many of whom have already received their first dose, is also underway, including: • Indigenous communities, Indigenous Elders, hospital staff, community general practitioners and medical specialists not immunized in Phase 1; • vulnerable populations living and working in select congregate settings; and • staff in community home support and nursing services for seniors. In mid-April, Phase 3 will begin mass vaccination of people aged 79 to 60 years, and people aged 16+ who are extremely clinically vulnerable, at community immunization clinics throughout B.C. Mobile clinics will be available in some rural communities and for people who are homebound due to mobility issues. In Phase 3, British Columbians will register and book their appointments to receive their first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine through an online registration tool. People born between 1942 and 1946 (ages 79-75), and Indigenous peoples born between the years of 1956 and 1960 (ages 64-60), will be able to register for an appointment online or by phone by March 31. As of last week, 252,373 people in B.C. have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, including 73,808 who have received their second dose. “Although there is light at the end of the tunnel, we are far from out of this,” said Premier John Horgan. “We have a long way to go.” Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
EDMONTON — An Edmonton chiropractor has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting six female patients between 1981 and 1990. Ronald Harry Latch, who is 67, was facing multiple counts of sexual assault, sexual interference and gross indecency against eight girls and women. He was charged in March 2019 after one of his victims reported to police that she had been sexually assaulted as a child in the 1980s when she attended his clinic for appointments. Seven other women came forward to police and reported they had also been sexually assaulted. Latch pleaded guilty today to six counts in the Court of Queen's Bench. Latch admitted in an agreed statement of facts to massaging some of the patients' breasts and using a vibrating tool between others' legs. The case is to return to court for a pre-sentence report on June 2. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021 The Canadian Press
YEREVAN, Armenia — Political tensions in Armenia heightened Monday, with supporters of the embattled prime minister and the opposition each holding massive rallies at separate sites in the capital. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has faced opposition demands to resign since he signed a peace deal in November that ended six weeks of intense fighting with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The Russia-brokered agreement saw Azerbaijan reclaim control over large parts of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas that had been held by Armenian forces for more than a quarter-century. Opposition protests seeking Pashinyan's ouster abated during the winter but intensified last week amid a rift between him and the country's military leaders. The spat was sparked by Pashinyan firing a deputy chief of the military's General Staff who had laughed off the prime minister's claim that only 10% of Russia-supplied Iskander missiles that Armenia used in the conflict exploded on impact. The General Staff then demanded Pashinyan’s resignation, and he responded by dismissing the General Staff chief, Col. Gen. Onik Gasparyan. The dismissal has yet to be approved by Armenia's largely ceremonial president, Armen Sarkissian, who sent it back to Pashinyan, saying the move was unconstitutional. Pashinyan quickly resubmitted the demand for the general's ouster, and the prime minister's allies warned that the president could be impeached if he fails to endorse the move. Sarkissian's office responded with a strongly worded statement condemning “inadmissible speculation” about his move and emphasizing that his decision was “unbiased and driven exclusively by national interests.” Addressing a rally of thousands of his supporters, Pashinyan voiced hope the president would endorse the dismissal of the General Staff’s chief for meddling in politics. He blamed the country's former leader who lost power in the 2018 “velvet revolution” for influencing the military brass and trying to “set the army against the legitimately elected authorities and the people.” The prime minister also suggested calling a constitutional referendum in October to ask voters about expanding presidential powers to avoid future crises, although he didn't spell out specific changes. After an hour-long speech, Pashinyan led his supporters on a march across Yerevan under the heavy escort of police and security officers. Thousands of opposition supporters rallied at a separate location, demanding that the prime minister resign, and some later marched to the president's residence to support him in the rift with Pashinyan. The two marches proceeded along separate routes amid tight police cordons. At one point, scuffles broke out between some from the rival camps, but police quickly pulled them apart. Amid the escalating tensions earlier in the day, a group of protesters broke into a government building in central Yerevan to press for Pashinyan's resignation, but they left shortly afterward without violence. Ishkhan Saghatelyan, a leading member of the opposition Dashnaktsutyun party, promised that the protests will continue Tuesday. He also called for another rally Wednesday, when Pashinyan is expected to appear in parliament. Saghatelyan urged opposition supporters to gather in front of parliament that day “to clearly convey our voice.” Pashinyan, a 45-year-old former journalist who came to power after leading large street protests in 2018 that ousted his predecessor, still enjoys broad support despite the country's humiliating defeat in Nagorno-Karabakh and the opposition calls for his resignation. The prime minister has defended the peace deal as a painful but necessary move to prevent Azerbaijan from overrunning the entire Nagorno-Karabakh region, which lies within Azerbaijan but was under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994. The fighting with Azerbaijan that erupted in late September and lasted 44 days has left more than 6,000 people dead. Russia has deployed about 2,000 peacekeepers to monitor the Nov. 10 peace deal. Armenia has relied on Moscow’s financial and military support and hosts a Russian military base — ties that will keep the two nations closely allied regardless of the outcome of the political infighting. Last week, the Russian Defence Ministry rebuked the Armenian leader for criticism of the Iskander missile, a state-of-the-art weapon touted by the military for its accuracy. The Russian military said it was “bewildered” to hear Pashinyan’s claim because Armenia hadn’t used an Iskander missile in the conflict. In a bid to repair the damage to Armenia's ties with Moscow, Pashinyan rescinded his claim Monday, acknowledging that he made the statement after being misled. —- Associated Press writer Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed. Avet Demourian, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — U.S. manufacturing expanded in February at the fastest pace three years with the arrival of a surge in new orders. The Institute for Supply Management reported Monday that its gauge of manufacturing activity rose to a reading of 60.8% last month, 2.1 percentage-points above the January level of 58.7%. It was the strongest performance since February 2018. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion in the manufacturing sector. The 60.8% reading last month matched a similar reading in February 2018 and the level in those months was the highest since a reading of 61.4% in May 2004. The survey found optimism increasing with five positive comments for every cautious comment, up from a 3-to-1 ratio in the January survey. Timothy Fiore, chair of the ISM manufacturing survey panel, said the survey shows that a recovery is ongoing as manufacturers find ways to deal with supply-chain shortages and lingering pandemic issues such as short-term shutdowns at some plants to sanitize facilities. Manufacturers are also benefiting from a shift in spending, with Americans spending money on homes and other projects rather than going out to restaurants or risking shopping indoors, Fiore said. “They are buying all kinds of items that the manufacturing economy builds,” he said. “As long as parts of the services sector are shut down, Americans are spending on hard goods. The index for new orders rose to 64.8%, up from 61.1% in January, while the employment index stood at 54.4%, up from 52.6% in January, the report found. However, manufacturers are having to wrestle with lengthening delivery times for components at many factories. Michael Pearce, a senior economist at Capital Economics, said that reflected in part “increasing global shortages of electronics and in particular semiconductors.” He said these shortages could hold back the recovery in manufacturing output in coming months. Last week, President Joe Biden signed an executive order intended to boost manufacturing jobs by strengthening U.S. supply chains for advanced batteries, pharmaceuticals, critical minerals and semiconductors. A widening global shortage of semiconductors for auto parts is forcing major auto companies to halt or slow vehicle production just as they were recovering from pandemic-related factory shutdowns. “The comments in the report also make it crystal clear that these shortages go well beyond just semiconductors with firms in every sector reporting shortages and problems with suppliers keeping up with demand,” Pearce said. Other analysts said they believed manufacturing would be able to overcome the supply chain issues. “Strong consumer demand for goods, increasing business investment, a roaring housing market and global economic growth are all supporting U.S. manufacturing,” said PNC Chief Economist Gus Faucher. Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
The North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, reported five new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. This was among 153 new cases reported in Saskatchewan. There were no deaths reported Friday and the number of deaths related to COVID-19 in the province remains 380. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 26 active cases. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 43 active cases and North Central 3 has 17 active cases. There are currently 155 people in hospital overall in the province. Of the 139 reported as receiving in patient care there are 13 in North Central. Of the 16 people reported as being in intensive care there is one in North Central. The current seven-day average 156, or 12.8 cases per 100,000 population. Of the 28,344reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 1,510are considered active. The recovered number now sits at 26,454after 136 more recoveries were reported. The total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic is 28,344of those 7,308 cases are from the North area (2,955 North West, 3,218 North Central and 1,135 North East). There were 3,545doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered yesterday in Saskatchewan bringing the total number of vaccines administered in the province to 69,451. There were 205 doses administered in the North Central zone yesterday. Other zones where vaccines were administered included the North West, Central East, Central West, Regina and Saskatoon zones. On Feb. 24 n additional 91 doses were administered in the South East zone, an additional 515 doses were administered in the South West zone, an additional 81 doses were administered in the Central West zone and an additional 10 doses were administered in the Far North West zone. A data correction saw 93 doses removed from the Regina zone and 134 doses removed from the South Central zone. There were 3,079COVID-19 tests processed in Saskatchewan on Feb. 25. As of today there have been 571,393 COVID-19 tests performed in Saskatchewan. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
FREDERICTON — New Brunswick is reporting one new case of COVID-19 today. Health officials say the new case involves a person in their 30s in the Miramichi region, about 175 kilometres northeast of Fredericton. There are 36 active reported cases in the province and two people are hospitalized with the disease, both in intensive care. New Brunswick has reported a total of 1,431 COVID-19 infections and 27 deaths linked to the virus. Vaccination clinics for more than 2,400 residents of 121 licensed long-term care facilities are scheduled to take place this week. Residents of licensed long-term care facilities are expected to have received a first dose of vaccine by the week of March 14. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
A preliminary inquiry is underway in Fort St John provincial court with lawyers examining the facts in the criminal case against John Wendell Keyler for the murder of Sarah Foord. Witnesses are expected to give expert testimony on the matter by video over four days scheduled next week, starting March 9. The case will likely revolve around two confessions given by Keyler, one taken in custody and one before custody. Keyler was arrested and charged at the end of July 2020 following a two-week investigation into Foord's disappearance. Her remains were found July 24 in a remote location 75 kilometres north of Fort St. John. He is charged with second-degree murder and indignity to human remains, and has not yet been formally arraigned on the charges to enter a plea. He remains in custody. Keyler last appeared in court by video in November, where his lawyer Kelly Merrigan requested an adjournment for the inquiry and a second set of disclosure from the Crown, including an RCMP lab report. Merrigan was given a hard drive containing a first round of evidence last year. A preliminary inquiry is held for the court to decide if there is enough evidence to convict the accused. firstname.lastname@example.org Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News
GENEVA — A senior World Health Organization official said Monday it was “premature” and “unrealistic” to think the pandemic might be stopped by the end of the year, but that the recent arrival of effective vaccines could at least help dramatically reduce hospitalizations and death. The world’s singular focus right now should be to keep transmission of COVID-19 as low as possible, said Dr. Michael Ryan, director of WHO's emergencies program. “If we’re smart, we can finish with the hospitalizations and the deaths and the tragedy associated with this pandemic” by the end of the year, he said at media briefing. Ryan said WHO was reassured by emerging data that many of the licensed vaccines appear to be helping curb the virus' explosive spread. “If the vaccines begin to impact not only on death and not only on hospitalization, but have a significant impact on transmission dynamics and transmission risk, then I believe we will accelerate toward controlling this pandemic.” But Ryan warned against complacency, saying that nothing was guaranteed in an evolving epidemic. “Right now the virus is very much in control," he said. WHO's director-general, meanwhile, said it was “regrettable” that younger and healthier adults in some rich countries are being vaccinated against the coronavirus before at-risk health workers in developing countries. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said immunizations provided by the U.N.-backed effort COVAX began this week in Ghana and the Ivory Coast, but lamented that this was happening only three months after countries such as Britain, the U.S. and Canada began vaccinating their own populations. “Countries are not in a race with each other,” he said. “This is a common race against the virus. We are not asking countries to put their own people at risk. We are asking all countries to be part of a global effort to suppress the virus everywhere.” But WHO stopped short of criticizing countries who are moving to vaccinate younger and healthier populations instead of donating their doses to countries that haven't yet been able to protect their most vulnerable people. “We can't tell individual countries what to do,” said Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior WHO adviser. Tedros also noted that for the first time in seven weeks, the number of COVID-19 cases increased last week, after six consecutive weeks of declining numbers. He described the increase as “disappointing,” but said it wasn't surprising. Tedros said WHO was working to better understand why cases increased, but that part of that spike appeared to be due to the “relaxing of public health measures.” ___ AP Medical Writer Maria Cheng reported from London. ___ Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Maria Cheng And Jamey Keaten, The Associated Press