When you have your own personal rink it's easy to stay safe in Moncton, NB.
When you have your own personal rink it's easy to stay safe in Moncton, NB.
In the opening moments of a Golden Globes night even more chaotic and confounding than usual, co-host Tina Fey raised a theoretical question: “Could this whole night have been an email?” Only the next three hours would tell. Well, sure, it could have been an email. But then you wouldn't have had Chadwick Boseman’s eloquent widow, bringing many to tears as she explained how she could never be as eloquent as her late husband. Or Jane Fonda, sharply calling out Hollywood for its lack of diversity on a night when her very hosts were under fire for exactly that. Or Chloé Zhao, making history as the first woman of Asian descent to win best director (and the first woman since 1984.) Or 98-year-old Norman Lear, giving the simplest explanation for his longevity: never living or laughing alone. Or Jodie Foster kissing her wife joyfully, eight years after very tentatively coming out on the same telecast. Of course, there were the usual confounding results and baffling snubs, compounded here by some epic Zoom fails. But then we had the kids and the dogs. And they were adorable. Next year, can we still have the kids and the dogs, please? Some key moments of the first and hopefully last virtual Globes night: AN OVERDUE RECKONING The evening began under a cloud of embarrassing revelations about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and its lack of inclusion, including the damaging fact that there are no Black members in the 87-person body. Fey and co-host Amy Poehler addressed it early: “Even with stupid things, inclusivity is important." Winners like Daniel Levy of “Schitt's Creek” and presenters like Sterling K. Brown referred to it. Jane Fonda made it a theme of her powerful speech accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award. And the HFPA made a hasty onstage pledge to change. “We recognize we have our own work to do,” said vice-president Helen Hoehne. “We must have Black journalists in our organization.” “I DON'T HAVE HIS WORDS” The best-actor award to Chadwick Boseman for “Ma Rainey's Black Bottom” had been expected. That did not dull the emotional impact of his victory. His widow, Taylor Simone Ledward, tearfully accepted in his honour, telling viewers that her husband, who died of colon cancer at 43 before the film was released, “would say something beautiful, something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice inside of all of us that tells you you can. That tells you to keep going, that calls you back to what you are meant to be doing at this moment in history.” But, she said poignantly, “I don't have his words." Co-star Viola Davis could be seen weeping as Ledward spoke. She was not alone. PREDICTABLE ZOOM FAILS It was obvious there were going to be awkward Zoom fails. It started early, when the very first winner, Daniel Kaluuya for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” was on mute as he accepted his award, leaving presenter Laura Dern to apologize for technical difficulties. Thankfully, the problem was resolved in time for the actor to speak. Jason Sudeikis, whose charmingly rambling speech ("This is nuts!") and rumpled hoodie signalled he hadn't expected to win, finally realized he needed to “wrap this puppy up.” And winner Catherine O'Hara ("Schitt's Creek") had some perhaps unwelcome help from her husband, whose efforts to provide applause sounds and play-off music on his phone while she spoke lost something in translation, causing confusion on social media. Oh yes, and there were those conversations between nominees before commercials — did they know we heard them? KIDS AND PETS, STILL BRINGING JOY Still, the virtual acceptances from winners stuck at home had a huge silver lining: happy kids and cute pets. When Mark Ruffalo won for “I Know This Much is True,” two of his teens could not control their joy enough to stay out of the camera shot. Not to be outdone, the adorable young daughter of Lee Isaac Chung, writer-director of the Korean-American family drama “Minari,” sat in his lap and hugged him throughout his acceptance for best foreign language film. “She’s the reason I made this film,” said Chung. Winner Jodie Foster ("The Mauritanian") also had a family member in her lap: her dog. Also seen: Sarah Paulson's dog, and Emma Corrin's cat. LOVE FOR BORAT, SNUB FOR BAKALOVA ... AND EXPOSURE FOR GIULIANI Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova, breakout star of Amazon’s “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” had been widely expected to win, but lost out to Rosamund Pike ("I Care a Lot") who saluted Bakalova's bravery. In her movie, Pike said, “I had to swim up from a sinking car. I think I still would rather do that than have been in a room with Rudy Giuliani.” The former New York mayor's infamous cameo was also the butt of jokes from “Borat” star Sacha Baron Cohen, who called Giuliani “a fresh new talent who came from nowhere and turned out to be a comedy genius ... I mean, who could get more laughs from one unzipping?” Baron Cohen, who won for best actor in a comedy, also joked that Donald Trump was “contesting the result” of his win. A FIERY FONDA Did you expect anything less from Fonda? In her memorable DeMille award speech, the multiple Globe winner extolled the virtues of cinematic storytelling — “stories can change our hearts and our minds” — then pivoted to admonishing Hollywood. “There's a story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves,” she said, “a story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out: a story about who’s offered a seat at the table and who’s kept out of the rooms where decisions are made.” She said the arts should not merely keep step with society, but lead the way. “Let's be leaders,” she said. ZHAO MAKES HISTORY When Zhao won best director for her haunting and elegant “Nomadland,” she was the first Asian American woman ever to win that award. But that wasn't the only way she made history: it was the first directing Globe for a woman in nearly 40 years, since Barbra Streisand won for “Yentl." Her film, a look at itinerant Americans, “at its core for me is a pilgrimage through grief and healing,” Zhao said. “For everyone who has gone through this difficult and beautiful journey at some point in their lives, we don’t say goodbye, we say: See you down the road.” With Zhao's win, the road widens for other female directors. ___ This story has been corrected to show that Norman Lear is 98, not 99. Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
YEREVAN, Armenia — Armenia's prime minister scored a political point Tuesday in his spat with the top military brass, advancing his motion to fire the country's top military officer. A political crisis sparked by Armenia's defeat in the conflict with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region escalated last week when the military's General Staff demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan following his move to dismiss a top general. Pashinyan responded by firing the chief of the General Staff, Col. Gen. Onik Gasparyan. Armenia’s largely ceremonial president, Armen Sarkissian, refused to approve the dismissal order for a second time on Tuesday. However, the president refrained from asking the country's high court to check whether the order to fire Gasparyan conforms with the constitution, a legal caveat meaning that the dismissal would take effect automatically. 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 again amid a rift between him and the country’s military leaders. On Monday, thousands of Pashinyan's supporters and the opposition demonstrators rallied at separate locations in the Armenian capital and then marched across the city. More rallies are planned for Wednesday. Pashinyan, a 45-year-old former journalist who came to power after leading large street protests in 2018 that ousted his predecessor, still enjoys wide support despite the country’s 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. Avet Demourian, The Associated Press
Spin Master Corp. recorded meteoric growth in its digital games business in the latest quarter as users of its Toca Life World app filmed themselves playing the game and shared the videos on social media, the company’s co-CEO said Tuesday. “There was a crazy amount of people that were actually filming themselves playing in the game and then uploading it to TikTok, and that exposure of the game really started to increase the amount of users,” Ronnen Harary told investors during a conference call. “When you have that many people seeing the product, playing with the product and telling their friends, there's a multiplier effect.” The Canadian toymaker’s digital games revenue increased by more than 400 per cent to $31.8 million in its fourth quarter, driven by the Toca Life World platform. The app, developed by Spin Master's Swedish app studio Toca Boca, lets players imagine stories for characters in the virtual game, including kids, babies, elders and creatures, and drag the characters around the screen with their finger and make them do activities. While it's free to download the app, Spin Master makes money through the in-game purchases and upgrades. The stronger digital games revenue, also driven in part by its Sago Mini kids app subscription user base, was revealed as the company said its revenue grew 3.6 per cent compared with a year ago for the three months ended Dec. 31. The Toronto-based company said revenue for the quarter was US$490.6 million, up from US$473.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2019. Spin Master's shares surged to a 52-week high and were up over 24 per cent, or $7.01, at $36.07 in midday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Yet its quarterly results also showed a decline in net sales to $434.3 million, from $441.6 million a year earlier. Mark Segal, Spin Master's chief financial officer, explained that the sales slump was in part due to retailers pulling promotions forward earlier in the fall as well as the company's decision to limit domestic inventory. "This affected our ability to fulfil some late-season replenishment and e-commerce orders, especially on hot items," he told analysts. "While this meant we did not maximize our sales, the position we took allowed us to achieve our best sell-through and cleanest retail and Spin Master inventory levels in many years." Meanwhile, the company will be releasing its feature-length Paw Patrol movie in August, expanding the reach of the company's popular kids entertainment franchise and opening up a new revenue stream. "In terms of increasing our output, you will see more films coming from Spin Master in the future and I think that gives us a whole new way to actually entertain kids," Harary told analysts. "It's really important for everybody to understand that we're actually producing the film, we didn't license the film out ... and take a royalty on it," he said. "Our team internally in Toronto produced the film, we hired the writers, we hired the directors, we did the whole casting with all that amazing voice talent." It's unclear whether there will be a theatrical release for the movie or a combination of theatrical and video on demand, Harary said. Meanwhile, although classic toys and game were a safe choice in 2020, he said consumers will "shift to newness" post-pandemic, he said. The company is preparing for this shift with a robust pipeline of new product development and the goal of greenlighting one to two new properties a year, Harary said. Harary and Anton Rabie, co-founders of the children's entertainment company, will step down from their co-chief executive roles next year. Max Rangel was appointed global president in January and adds the chief executive role to his title in April. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:TOY) Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — Alberta’s health minister says the province is considering whether to follow British Columbia in extending the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses. Tyler Shandro says a committee of COVID-19 experts is analyzing emerging data and a decision is coming. The B.C. government announced Monday that it will extend the wait between first and second doses to four months to get more people vaccinated overall in a shorter time period. B.C. based its decision on data coming from the United Kingdom, Israel and Quebec that showst the first dose of vaccines is 90 per cent effective. When Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech began distributing their vaccines late last year, it was recommended the first and second shots be completed within about six weeks maximum to be fully effective. The Oxford-AstraZeneca has also been approved for use in Canada, but a national panel of vaccine experts is recommending it only be given to people under 65 – a guideline Shandro says Alberta will follow. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021 The Canadian Press
LOS ANGELES — The Emmy Awards will be held on Sept. 19 and air live on CBS. The network and the Television Academy announced Tuesday that the 73rd annual ceremony will stream live and on demand on Paramount+, the streaming service that launches March 4. The host, producers and location for the Emmys will be announced later. Since 2008, the show has been held at Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles. Last year’s show on ABC was hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and was a combined in-person and virtual event. Kimmel was live at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, and most presenters and nominees appeared remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic. That format was also used for the recent Golden Globes. The 2020 Emmys were the lowest rated with 6.4 million viewers. As part of the broadcast networks taking turns, CBS last aired the Emmys in 2017, when Stephen Colbert hosted. The Associated Press
OTTAWA — The federal government is telling an appeal court it had to provide U.S. authorities with customer information from Canadian banks to avoid possibly "catastrophic effects" on Canada's economy. The U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, known as FATCA, requires banks and other institutions in countries outside the United States to report information about accounts held by U.S. individuals, including Canadians with dual citizenship. Among the information from Canada being shared with the U.S. are the names and addresses of account holders, account numbers, account balances, and details such as interest, dividends and other income. In a newly filed submission to the Federal Court of Appeal, the Canadian government says failure to comply would have had serious effects on Canada's financial sector, its customers and the broader economy. Two U.S.-born women who now live in Canada, Gwendolyn Louise Deegan and Kazia Highton, challenged the constitutionality of Canadian provisions implementing the 2014 agreement between the countries that makes the information-sharing possible. The two unsuccessfully argued in Federal Court that the provisions breach the Charter of Rights guarantee preventing unreasonable seizure, and they now want the Court of Appeal to overturn the ruling. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is loosening many restrictions on stores, gyms, restaurants and household gatherings as its COVID-19 case numbers continue to drop. Starting Friday, maximum capacity at stores and restaurants will increase to 50 per cent from 25, although restaurants will still have to ensure that only members of the same household sit together. Indoor religious services will be able to run at 25 per cent capacity or 100 people — whichever is lower — up from 10 per cent. Licensed establishments will be able to reopen their video lottery terminals. People who want to hold gatherings in their home will have more options. Currently, people are allowed to designate up to two people from different households as visitors. On Friday, people will be able to choose between that option or designating one entire household to visit, in essence, creating two-home bubbles. Outdoors, a limit on public gatherings will jump to 10 people from five. "Manitoba's case numbers and test positivity rates continue to trend in the right direction," Dr. Brent Roussin, chief public health officer, said Tuesday. "That's why we're able to begin to look at other options to cautiously reopen services in Manitoba." The Opposition said the government should expand the two-households rule to restaurants. "I wonder why a grandparent couldn't sit with their grandkids at a restaurant, if, in fact, they are part of that same (two-) household bubble," NDP Leader Wab Kinew said. Health officials reported two additional COVID-19 deaths and 64 new cases Tuesday. However, eight cases from unspecified dates were removed due to data corrections for a net increase of 56. The percentage of people testing positive, which peaked near 13 per cent in the fall, was down to four per cent. Roussin said COVID-19 variants remain a concern. One new case involving a variant first seen in the United Kingdom was reported Tuesday, as were two cases involving a variant that first surfaced in South Africa. The looser rules to take effect Friday will also allow fitness facilities to restart group classes, although masks will be required. Casinos, bingo halls, theatres and concert venues must remain closed. "These changes, once again, are cautious changes to ensure we continue to protect and safeguard Manitoba lives," Premier Brian Pallister said. He also announced another round of grants to businesses and charities that have had to scale back due to public-health measures. Like the previous two rounds, the new one will offer each business up to $5,000 to make up for some lost revenue. The loosening of some restrictions is not a sign that life is returning to normal, Roussin said. People must remain cautious, wear a mask and stay home if they are ill. "We are getting closer ... but we still have more work to do." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — The Quebec government has reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March, Health Minister Christian Dube said Tuesday. Dube told a news conference that some 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments for vaccinations by March 15. COVID-19 vaccinations are open to Quebecers aged 85 and older in outlying regions, while they are open to people as young as 70 in the Montreal area. Dube said the Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the B.1.1.7 mutation that was first identified in the United Kingdom. "We're afraid," Dube said. "We’re afraid the Montreal region is the calm before the storm." Quebec reported 588 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and eight more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. Hospitalizations rose by 16 to 628, and 121 people were in intensive care, a drop of one. Dube said that while the general COVID-19 curve is dropping, cases of the U.K. variant are rising quickly. The province has confirmed 137 cases of variants, most of which have been identified in Montreal and involve the U.K. mutation. He said there are also 1,095 presumptive variant cases across Quebec. The province began vaccinating older members of the general public at mass vaccine centres on Monday, and administered 16,458 doses over the course of the day. Dube said the first day was a success despite some small issues, including long lineups at some sites. He said adjustments will be made in the coming days, and also asked people not to show up too early for their appointments in order to avoid a long wait. The minister said mass vaccination would be expanded in other regions as quickly as possible. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to confirm Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo to serve as President Joe Biden’s commerce secretary and help guide the economy's recovery during and after the coronavirus pandemic. The vote was 84-15. Raimondo, 49, was the first woman elected governor of Rhode Island and is serving her second term. She is a Rhodes Scholar and a graduate of Yale Law School who went on to become a venture capitalist before turning to politics. Raimondo will be responsible for promoting the nation's economic growth domestically and overseas. Republican opposition to her confirmation focused on concerns that she would not be forceful enough in confronting the Chinese government's efforts to gain an economic and technological edge through espionage. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in particular said he was concerned that she declined during her confirmation hearing to commit to keeping Chinese telecom giant Huawei on the department’s Entity List. U.S. companies need to get a license to sell sophisticated technology to companies on the list. She subsequently told senators she had no reason to believe that companies on the list should not be there. But that answer failed to satisfy Cruz. He said it would have been a simple matter for Raimondo to commit to keeping Huawei and others on the Entity List. “She refused to do so, repeatedly," Cruz said before the vote. “This appears to be part of a pattern of a systemic decision to embrace communist China." Biden has said China is in for “extreme competition” from the U.S. under his administration, but that the new relationship he wants to forge need not be one of conflict. The COVID-19 pandemic, which originated in China, has also strained the relationship between the two countries with members of both U.S. political parties working to highlight any accommodations they see the other side making toward China. Much of Raimondo's work will be focused on regional economic issues. Lawmakers from coastal states want help protecting valuable fishing industries. Lawmakers from rural states want greater investment in broadband. She confirmed her interest in working with them on those issues during her confirmation hearing and emphasized the need to tackle climate change. She noted as governor that she oversaw construction of the nation’s first offshore wind farm. “We’re looking for someone who can come in and help, with private sector experience, to really move the agenda of this administration forward. So, for me, Gov. Raimondo’s private sector experience really means a lot," said Sen. Maria Cantwell, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. “She knows how to invest in new technologies and things that are going to help us grow jobs for the future, and she knows how to match up a workforce with those job opportunities." The Commerce Department comprises a dozen bureaus and agencies, including the National Weather Service, the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Raimondo would oversee the work of more than 40,000 employees. Kevin Freking, The Associated Press
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the decision to delay second doses of COVID-19 vaccine by four months is based on scientific evidence combined with real-world data from the province’s immunization campaign that began in late December.
Earlier this winter the City of Kingston announced the annual greenhouse experience would not be taking place as usual, due to the pandemic. The City says horticultural staff have used this time to explore unique ways the greenhouse could benefit the community. As part of a new initiative this year, the City is growing fresh greens in addition to its annual assortment of spring flowers at the Rodden Park greenhouse, according to a release from the City, dated Tuesday, Mar. 2, 2021. Mixed greens were seeded in late January, and are now about to be harvested. According to the release, the greens will be donated to the Loving Spoonful, a charity focused on providing fresh, local food to residents in need. “We know that demand is high for fresh produce in late winter and early spring and wanted to explore ways in which the City could support this locally,” says Troy Stubinski, Operations Manager, Public Works. “Working with horticultural staff, we were able to identify an opportunity to grow fresh greens which will be donated to the Loving Spoonful.” Later this year, staff will evaluate the initiative to determine if it can be implemented moving forward. According to the City, growing the mixed greens does not take away from the growing of annuals for planting out around the city. Typically, the City’s greenhouse is open throughout February and March for weekly visits. In February the City announced that a virtual greenhouse experience was in the works. The City confirmed with Kingstonist that information on this virtual experience will be available later this spring. This local food security initiative supports Council’s priority to foster healthy citizens and vibrant spaces. Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
Bunny Wailer, the legendary Jamaican reggae singer who founded the Wailers with Bob Marley and Peter Tosh and was the last surviving founding member, has died at a hospital after suffering a stroke. "This is a great loss for Jamaica and for Reggae," said Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness, calling him "a respected elder statesman of the Jamaican music scene." Wailer's given name was Neville O'Riley Livingston but he was known affectionately as Bunny Wailer, Bunny Livingston or Jah B. He came from Trench Town, a poor inner city community of Kingston that went on to inspire one of the Wailers' hits.
Des intervenants du milieu culturel local, des citoyens et la société d’histoire régionale ont multiplié les sorties publiques depuis l’annonce de la Ville de Granby de mettre aux enchères une murale de St-Patrick signée Alfred Pellan. La mobilisation n’a cependant eu aucun effet sur la position du maire Pascal Bonin. Lors de la réunion mensuelle du conseil municipal, lundi soir, plusieurs questions ont été adressées au maire au sujet du sort réservé à la mosaïque datant de 1958. L’œuvre d’art ornant la façade du 142, rue Dufferin devait à l’origine être retirée dans le but d’être mise en valeur dans un autre lieu public en raison de la démolition de l’immeuble. Le conseil municipal a toutefois changé d’avis après avoir reçu un rapport d’expertise évaluant l’opération de retrait et de restauration à quelque 160 000 $. C’est la présence d’amiante dans les murs de cette ancienne école primaire accueillant la communauté irlandaise de Granby qui expliquerait le coût élevé de la démarche. Dans le camp de ceux qui se portent à la défense de l’œuvre, décrite comme un objet patrimonial, c’est l’absence de consultation du public qui fâche. «Nous proposons que, dans un premier temps, la murale d’Alfred Pellan soit retirée de la façade de l’édifice de la MRC et qu’elle soit entreposée en lieu sûr. Dans un deuxième temps, la Ville devrait mettre sur pied un comité regroupant des élu(e)s et des citoyen(ne)s qui détermineront ensemble la meilleure façon d’assurer la préservation de ce bien patrimonial», a suggéré le président du conseil d’administration de la Société d’histoire de la Haute-Yamaska (SHHY), Maxime Gilbert, dans une question écrite transmise au conseil en raison de la procédure imposée en temps de pandémie. Dans sa missive au conseil, M. Gilbert a souligné que «la précipitation serait bien mauvaise conseillère» et il a rappelé aux élus que la communauté regrette encore aujourd’hui la destruction d’autres éléments de valeur patrimoniale dans le passé. La semaine dernière, un autre groupe s’est manifesté, soit le comité «Ma ville, mon patrimoine» qui réunit des artisans du milieu culturel local. Ils ont interpellé les citoyens par l’entremise des réseaux sociaux en leur demandant d’écrire des courriels aux élus. Ils ont même préparé un modèle de lettre à personnaliser. «Sauver des édifices, des œuvres d’art et des sculptures, ce n’est pas juste pour les autres ailleurs au Québec. Nous pouvons ensemble demander à notre conseil municipal de revenir sur cette décision», peut-on lire dans la publication sur Facebook du comité. Face à cette réaction citoyenne, le maire de Granby, Pascal Bonin, a réagi en début de réunion du conseil avec l’intention de clore le débat. «Il y a des gens qui nous demandent d'enlever l'oeuvre et d'attendre ensuite voir ce qu'on va en faire. Ça fait partie intégrante de la problématique. C'est-à-dire qu'on ne peut pas enlever l'oeuvre à cause de l'amiante qui se trouve derrière dans l'édifice. Ce n'est pas possible de retirer l'oeuvre aussi simplement. Si ça avait été le cas, ça fait longtemps qu'on l'aurait fait», a-t-il répondu en insistant sur la qualité du rapport remis aux élus. «On peut se faire reprocher de ne pas avoir consulté, mais au final, c'est un dossier qui a été bien monté au conseil. Il n'y a rien de nouveau à part la divergence d'opinions», a-t-il poursuivi, en rejetant les attaques selon lesquelles Granby ne se soucie pas de son patrimoine. Le maire a rappelé qu’un projet de dix millions de dollars vient d’être réalisé pour préserver l’église Notre-Dame, la plus vieille église catholique de la municipalité. À la suite de la réponse du maire Bonin, le comité «Ma ville, mon patrimoine» a réagi sur sa page Facebook en reprochant au conseil municipal de faire «la sourde oreille aux citoyens». Les membres déplorent un manque d’ouverture aux «arguments valables» apportés par les citoyens. Ugo Giguère, Initiative de journalisme local, La Presse Canadienne
Members of the Queens District RCMP reached out for help from the public concerning two incidents that happened on the weekend of February 19-21. On February 21, at about 9:48 p.m., RCMP responded to a report of a motor vehicle collision in Summerville, Queens County, involving two vehicles and a pedestrian. The initial investigation appeared to show that the pedestrian was struck by a vehicle on Highway 3, and that the same vehicle then went on to sideswipe a second vehicle that was travelling in the opposite direction. The suspect vehicle then fled the scene. Emergency Health Services (EHS) transported the injured pedestrian to hospital and she subsequently was released. The second vehicle that was involved in the incident had minor damage to the driver’s side. Police viewed video footage from a nearby business and conducted inquiries, but initially the only description of the vehicle available was that it’s a dark coloured car. Based on the injuries and damage to the second vehicle, the RCMP is asking the public to be on the lookout for a dark car that likely has damage to the driver’s side. Single motor vehicle collision results in arrest Two days earlier, on February 19 at about 6:45 p.m., Queens District RCMP responded to a single motor vehicle collision that occurred in Caledonia. The RCMP received a report that the driver of a van had been travelling down Hibernia Road and struck multiple mailboxes before ending up in a ditch. Members of EHS and the North Queens Fire Department also responded to the call. The driver declined treatment by EHS and was transported by police to a hospital for assessment and released shortly thereafter. He was then transported to the Queens RCMP detachment where it is alleged he declined to provide a breath sample, according to an RCMP news release issued February 23. He was subsequently arrested and charged for refusing to provide a breath sample as well as operating a motor vehicle while impaired. Police are not releasing the driver’s identity at this time. Anyone who may have witnessed either of these incidents or has any information is asked to contact Liverpool RCMP Detachment at 902-354-5721. Those wishing to remain anonymous, can also contact Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or text TIP202 + a message to ‘CRIMES’ (274637), or submit tips by Secure Web Tips at www.crimestoppers.ns.ca. Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
VANCOUVER — The federal government has provided nearly $3.5 million in funding for five vending machines that will dispense medical-grade opioids in British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia, in order to prevent overdoses. Darren Fisher, parliamentary secretary to Health Minister Patty Hajdu, says two machines are located in Vancouver, one is in Victoria and one each are in London, Ont., and Dartmouth, N.S. The machines, called MySafe, are similar to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned. Fisher says MySafe allows participants to access a safer drug without fear, shame and stigma, and without contact with anyone, which is all the more essential during the pandemic. Overdose deaths have spiked during pandemic with many people using alone and a more toxic illicit drug supply. Drug users are assessed by a doctor and a baseline urine sample is collected before they can access safer drugs through the MySafe machines, which are bolted to the floor. This is a corrected story. A previous version said $5.6 million in funding. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
The territorial government has extended its pandemic wage top-up program that sees eligible employees make $18 an hour opposed to the territory’s normal minimum wage of $13.46. The program was set to expire on February 28 but will now run until August 31. As of March 1, individuals over the age of 15 who had wanted to participate in the program in the past financial year, but whose employer declined, can apply directly for the wage top-up to be retroactively applied. That would cover the April 1, 2020 to February 28, 2021 period. The application process for individuals in the same situation who want to access the top-up between March 1, 2021 until August 31, 2021 will be announced at a later date. According to the territory, 96 businesses have participated in the program with 2,337 individuals benefitting from the subsidy since it began in April 2020. It has cost over $2.6 million to run the program thus far. Talks about the minimum wage, and whether or not it will be raised, are still being held at the territorial level. In the Legislative Assembly on February 9, Frame Lake MLA Kevin O’Reilly said he believes rolling back the minimum wage once the program expires would be “completely unfair.” “The need for this program is a clear sign that our minimum wage is too low, far too low,” O’Reilly said. Employment minister R.J. Simpson said the long-term future of the minimum wage was still being decided. “The minister is currently reviewing the report from the Minimum Wage Committee,” the Department of Education, Culture and Employment said in an email to Cabin Radio. “He intends to make a decision on the minimum wage in the near future.” Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
Last August, Christine Mickeloff’s mother left her retirement home in Jarvis with her walker. Before anyone knew it, she was wandering down the highway. Fortunately, an off-duty worker from the home was driving nearby when she recognized the Leisure Living resident who has dementia. She alerted the home and staff walked her back to safety. Mickeloff says the incident shows how people with dementia — especially those living in retirement homes that are not equipped to offer the same level of care as a long-term-care facility — are falling through the cracks. “There are people like my mom who are ... stuck in a facility that is not meant to look after (them),” says the Caledonia resident. Her mother, who Mickeloff didn’t want to name, was already showing signs of dementia when she moved into Leisure Living three years ago. A year later, she was diagnosed and the disease continued to progress. Though she was on the wait list for long-term care, delays from the pandemic meant she wasn’t getting a bed any time soon. “Mom was forgotten,” Mickeloff said of the wait. The home says staff tried their best to care for her mother, but were caught in the middle of the resident’s worsening dementia and an absence of supports. When Leisure Living restricted access during the pandemic, Mickeloff mother’s symptoms worsened. Mickeloff couldn’t visit and there were no group activities to keep her mother engaged. She began to wander more and woke up in the middle of the night to look for her husband. After the “dangerous” and “scary” highway incident, Kristina Kasza, the home’s director of care, said she immediately contacted Mickeloff and members of the resident’s care team. “Multiple times, we were told to admit her (to hospital),” said Kasza, but the hospital “kept sending her back.” “We were put in a rock and a hard place,” she said. Jane Meadus, staff lawyer at the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly, says the government has left more and more people relying on retirement homes to provide health care in the pandemic. “They are treating retirement homes almost as quasi-long-term-care homes and as a way for seniors to get care without the government having to pay anything,” she said. Unlike long-term care, a retirement home doesn’t fall under the health-care sector. Instead, residents pay rent to stay in a home and can purchase care options on top. Mickeloff looked into hiring private care, but says at $37 per hour for 12 hours a day, it was too costly. “You can’t say to somebody, ‘Well, yeah, you could go to long-term care but there’s no bed, so you’re going to have to pay privately,’ because we have a publicly funded health-care system,” Meadus added, noting that even before COVID-19, hospitals often pressured patients to go to a retirement home instead of waiting for long-term care in order to clear up beds. While home care can help supplement care in a retirement home, Meadus says it can be “spotty” because there aren’t enough workers. That means people who can’t afford private care, like Mickeloff’s mother, are left with inadequate care while waiting for a long-term-care bed. Kasza says the LHIN requested more care for Mickeloff’s mother, but didn’t have enough staff to provide it since COVID-19 prevented workers from going into multiple homes. “It was just a hot mess,” she said. Kasza noted the whole home rallied to care for Mickeloff’s mother by alerting staff when they spotted her wandering or helping redirect her. “Everybody took care of her to the best of their abilities,” she said. By September, Mickeloff’s mother was on the crisis list, which prioritizes patients for long-term care. But COVID-19 outbreaks and precautions continued to cause delays. On top of that, she was competing with hospital patients also waiting in line. By January, she was accepted for a bed. She got a COVID-19 test before her move, but days later, the long-term-care home declared an outbreak, postponing her entry for two weeks. Another COVID-19 case was later suspected in the home, again delaying her move. In February, Mickeloff’s mother finally moved into long-term care, and her daughter says she seems happier. She has access to 24-7 care and staff to keep her stimulated. Mickeloff says more needs to be done for others in her mother’s shoes, especially with dementia increasing. “The government’s just not moving fast enough,” she says. “(My mom) got left behind and wasted away while she was waiting.” Maria Iqbal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
As cases of coronavirus variants continue to rise in Montreal, the city will remain the focus of Quebec's mass vaccination campaign. At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Health Minister Christian Dubé said vaccines are the province's best tool in preventing a variant, first detected in the United Kingdom and believed to be more contagious, from taking hold elsewhere in the province. He said the plateau of new cases seen across Quebec could be the "calm before the storm," if the growing number of variant cases detected in Montreal is any indication. Last week, variants accounted for about 10 per cent of new cases in Montreal. Now, they're hovering at around 12 to 15 per cent. Dubé announced that eligible Quebecers will soon be able to book appointments to get a vaccine from their local pharmacy. Starting the week of March 15, he said as many as 350 pharmacies in Montreal will be taking appointments. The province has reached an agreement with about 1,400 pharmacists across the province to administer vaccines — with the goal of 2 million doses given by the end of July in pharmacies. "[Pharmacists] are very close to their patients and the level of trust is there," said Nirvishi Jawaheer, the owner of a pharmacy in Parc-Extension and vice-president of the Fédération des Pharmaciens du Québec. "We are very accessible, we're open long hours and we have the competency for taking care of patients." The federation says the vaccines will be offered free of charge. "We must be prudent of these variants," said Dr. Horacio Arruda, the province's director of public health. He said more infectious variants, such as the B.1.1.7 strain, could cause a new spike infections. Arruda says they are paying close attention to the spread of variants as they decide whether to loosen COVID-19 restrictions. An update on the province's bans on gatherings and other activities is expected Wednesday afternoon. Lessons learned from Day 1 of mass vaccinations Daniel Paré, who is in charge of Quebec's vaccination campaign, said much was learned on Monday, when more than 16,000 vaccines were administered — many at mass vaccination sites including Montreal's Olympic Stadium, the Palais des congrès and shopping malls. "We are really pleased that people accept to be vaccinated," Paré said. He said the government is working on increasing the capacity of its phone system and encouraged Quebecers to book appointments online or have a family member help them do so. He also said that more chairs are being provided today for the elderly people waiting in line and that additional staff are being deployed to answer questions when people arrive for their appointment. Dubé asked Quebecers to show up only five to 10 minutes before their appointment, accompanied by a maximum of one caregiver, to reduce the number of people waiting in line at one time. In Montreal and Laval, those aged 70 and older can now book an appointment to get their shot. As the province receives more vaccines, Paré said more appointment slots will open up. In the Montérégie, just south of Montreal, vaccines are only available to those aged 80 and older. But the priority, Dubé said, is completing vaccinations at the many private seniors' homes in that region before making the shot available to those under 80.
An officer with the Queens District RCMP has been awarded with the prestigious Commanding Officer’s Commendation for Bravery. Cpl. Robert Frizzell was recognized for his courageous rescue of a woman from the Mersey River on the morning of May 10, 2020, after an accident landed her vehicle submerged in water. In a social media announcement of the award on February 25, the RCMP described how, when Frizzell arrived on scene, the vehicle was fully submerged in the Mersey. “An occupant of the vehicle was able to get out of the car but was floating downstream and unable to make it to shore. “Knowing that a water recovery unit would take time to arrive, Cpl. Frizzell chose to get in the water. He grabbed a PFD and a paddleboard, then tied a rope around himself harness style, with another member and volunteer firefighter remaining on shore to hold the other end of the rope. “He swam into the river, grabbed hold of the woman and continued to hold onto her while the on-shore member and firefighter pulled them to safety,” the post continued. It ended with, “Congratulations on this well-deserved recognition, Cpl. Frizzell.” RCMP Commanding Officer for Nova Scotia, Lee Bergerman, presented Frizzell with the award February 11. Frizzell declined to be interviewed by LighthouseNOW, preferring to deflect praise to all of the responders that were on the scene that day. In an email to the newspaper, he commented that he was “truly thankful” for being recognized for the award. Nonetheless, he added, although he was the one who went into the water, “there was a whole team of others that were instrumental in rescuing the woman. “From all the onlookers who provided support and the paddleboard, the other emergency personal both police and fire, who held the rope, and everyone who provided medical care after the woman was brought out of the water, it really was a team effort. It was really great to see a community come together and help someone in need,” said Frizzell. Staff Sergeant Daniel Archibald of the Queens District RCMP echoed the praise given to the officer. “We are all very proud of the actions of Cpl. Frizzell as well as actions of the other officers and firefighters that day. We are, of course, most happy with the fact that the victim in this incident was able to ‘walk away’ with no long-term injuries,” Archibald commented to LighthouseNOW in an email. “All too often, as first responders, we often see things go the other way, unfortunately. It’s great to see Cpl. Frizzell and others get recognized for single incidences like this one, as all too often these acts of bravery happen every day across this country and no one hears about it,” Archibald added. Hailing from Prince Edward Island, Frizzell has served in Airdrie, Alberta and in three communities in the Northwest Territories: Behchoko, Tuktoyaktuk and Aklavik. He arrived in Liverpool in September 2019. In an article that appeared in LighthouseNOW following the event, Captain John Long of the Liverpool Fire Department, who was on the scene, was quoted saying he hoped there’s recognition in the future for the officer who jumped into action that morning. “He deserves kudos for that because that took guts, I’ll tell you,” said Long. Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin