Jim Friesen lost his mother, Elisabeth, to COVID-19 on Nov. 23.
Jim Friesen lost his mother, Elisabeth, to COVID-19 on Nov. 23.
WASHINGTON — Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm won Senate confirmation Thursday to be energy secretary, joining President Joe Biden's Cabinet as a leader of Biden’s effort to build a green economy as the United States moves to slow climate change. The vote was 64-35, with all Democrats and 14 Republicans, including GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, voting yes. Granholm, 62, served two terms as governor in a state dominated by the auto industry and devastated by the 2008 recession. She has promoted emerging clean energy technologies, such as electric vehicles and battery manufacturing, as an answer for jobs that will be lost as the U.S. transitions away from oil, coal and other fossil fuels. Granholm, who was sworn in late Thursday, is just the second woman to serve as energy secretary. She tweeted her thanks to senators and said, "I’m obsessed with creating good-paying clean energy jobs in all corners of America in service of addressing our climate crisis. I’m impatient for results. Now let’s get to work!'' Sen. Joe Manchin, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Granholm has the leadership skills, vision and compassion needed at the Energy Department to “develop innovative solutions for the climate challenge'' while preserving jobs. Granholm is committed to working every day “to ensure that we don’t leave any workers behind as we move towards a cleaner energy future,'' said Manchin, D-W.Va. During her confirmation hearing last month, Granholm pushed her plans to embrace new wind and solar technologies. But her position caused tension with some Republicans who fear for the future of fossil fuels. “We can buy electric car batteries from Asia, or we can make them in America,” Granholm told senators. “We can install wind turbines from Denmark, or we can make them in America.'' Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate energy committee, said Biden “seems to want to pull the plug on American energy dominance. So I cannot in good conscience vote to approve his nominee for secretary of energy.'' Barrasso and other Republicans have complained that a freeze imposed by Biden on oil and gas leases on federal lands is taking a “sledgehammer” to Western states’ economies. The moratorium could cost tens of thousands of jobs unless rescinded, Barrasso said. He and other Republicans also bemoaned Biden’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, saying thousands of jobs will be lost and a friendly source of oil left idle. Granholm assured lawmakers that creating jobs was her top priority — and Biden's. “We cannot leave our people behind. In West Virginia, and in other fossil fuel states, there is an opportunity for us to specialize in the technologies that reduce carbon emissions, to make those technologies here, to put people to work here, and to look at other ways to diversify,'' she said at her Jan. 27 hearing. During her introduction as Biden's nominee, Granholm described arriving in the U.S. at age 4, brought from Canada by a family “seeking opportunity.” She said her father found work as a bank teller and retired as head of the bank. “It’s because of my family’s journey and my experience in fighting for hardworking Michigan families that I have become obsessed ... with gaining good-paying jobs in America in a global economy,” she said. In other action Thursday on Biden's Cabinet nominees: SURGEON GENERAL Surgeon general nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy said Americans must not lose track of opioid addiction and other health emergencies amid the intense national focus on overcoming the coronavirus pandemic. He told senators at a hearing that “we cannot neglect the other public health crises that have been exacerbated by this pandemic, particularly the opioid epidemic, mental illness and racial and geographic health inequities.” After dipping slightly, opioid deaths have risen again, the result of street formulations laced with the powerful painkiller fentanyl. Murthy told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that the overdose rescue drug naloxone should be even more widely available and that medication-assisted treatment must be expanded. Murthy, who was surgeon general in the Obama administration, has drawn opposition from gun rights groups because of his assessment that gun violence is a public health problem. But he tried to dispel notions that he would launch a crusade against guns. He told Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., that while he supports government studying the problem, “my focus is not on this issue, and if I’m confirmed it will be on COVID, on mental health and substance use disorder.” TRADE REPRESENTATIVE Biden’s pick for U.S. trade representative promised to work with America’s allies to combat China’s aggressive trade policies, indicating a break from the Trump administration’s go-it-alone approach. Katherine Tai told the Senate Finance Committee that rebuilding international alliances would be a priority, as well as "reengaging with international institutions? to present Beijing with “a united front of U.S. allies.? Tai did not address whether the Biden administration would drop former President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum or whether it would revive the Obama administration's Asia-Pacific trade deal, which Trump killed. BUDGET DIRECTOR Another key Republican lawmaker came out against Biden’s embattled pick to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, raising further questions about her viability. Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley told reporters he won't support her nomination. He and Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski were two Republicans seen as potentially gettable votes for the White House, as Grassley had previously said he’d had good conversations with Tanden. Murkowski has yet to say how she'd vote. With a handful of other key centrist Republicans coming out against her in recent days, Tanden’s path to confirmation hinges largely on Murkowski and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., neither of whom have made their positions known. The White House was forced to search for a Republican to support Tanden after West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin announced his opposition last week. Lawmakers have largely cited Tanden’s controversial and at times harshly critical tweets about members of both parties in explaining their opposition to her. ___ Associated Press writers Alexandra Jaffe, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Paul Wiseman contributed to this report. Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — A British Columbia businessman who made an illegal contribution to New Democrat MP Peter Julian's 2015 election campaign has been ordered to pay $7,500 to the receiver general of Canada. Elections commissioner Yves Côté says Robert Gibbs, co-owner of Romar Communications, provided free website development services to Julian's campaign. Gibbs told Julian's campaign that the work was done by volunteers, after work hours. However, unbeknownst to the campaign, Côté says three workers were paid $1,000 each for their work, the commercial value of which Côté says was actually $6,000. In its report to Elections Canada, Julian's campaign reported non-monetary contributions worth $2,000 from each of the three workers. Since that exceeded the $1,500 individual donation limit, the campaign paid $1,500 to Gibbs' company on the understanding that it would be given to the three workers, but Gibbs kept the money. The $7,500 Gibbs must now pay the receiver general represents the commercial value of the work done plus the $1,500 from the campaign that was never given to the workers. Côté announced the payment as part of a compliance agreement with Gibbs. Compliance agreements are commonly used by the elections commissioner to deal with relatively minor violations of the Canada Elections Act. They do not constitute a criminal conviction in a court of law and do not create a criminal record for the offender. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
(St-Albert Cheese Co-Op - image credit) The St-Albert Cheese Co-op in eastern Ontario is temporarily closed as it deals with a COVID-19 outbreak. Three employees have tested positive at the factory in St. Albert, Ont., over the past week. The mobile unit of the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) was sent to the cheese factory Thursday to screen all 180 staff members for COVID-19. As a result, both the store and factory will be temporarily closed for screening. "We believe we have no choice if we want to stop the spread, and especially we're concerned about the health of our workers," said general manager Éric Lafontaine. "We're shocked. We're disappointed, because you'd never want that to happen." Lafontaine said the three workers who have tested positive are only experiencing mild symptoms, "so that at least that's a good sign for now." Product still safe, says director Lafontaine assured customers that there was no transmission of the virus to any of their products, as the food production facility already has a number of health and safety measures in place. Workers sanitize their hands and surfaces and wear prersonal protective equipment, Lafontaine said, while also getting their temperature checked before starting their shifts. 'We believe we have no choice if we're going to stop the spread,' says Éric Lafontaine, general manager of the St. Albert Cheese Co-op. He said they were closing the plant out of caution, given the threat posed by more contagious variants. "It's been 11 months since the COVID started and we never had any case. It's just unfortunate that we [just got our first case and] now we have three cases in the same week," Lafontaine said. The store will reopen on Saturday, but the factory will stay closed several days after so that management has time to get test results back and evaluate the situation, Lafontaine said. "We believe with all the measures in place, the spread should not be that big and we should be [able] to continue the operation really soon," Lafontaine said. When asked about the situation at St-Albert during a briefing Thursday, EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis offered few details. "We aware of the situation and we're investigating that right now," he said, adding the EOHU would likely provide additional information Friday.
Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé que le port du masque d'intervention pédiatrique sera rendu obligatoire en tout temps pour les élèves de la 1ère à la 6e année qui fréquentent un établissement scolaire situé en zone rouge. À Laval, cette mesure sera mise en place dès le 8 mars, soit au même moment que pour tous les autres élèves de la Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal. La livraison de ces masques vers les centres de services scolaires et les établissements d'enseignement privés est déjà en cours. Cette mesure s'appliquera plutôt à compter du 15 mars pour les autres territoires en zone rouge en raison des délais de livraison. Les élèves devront tout de même porter un couvre-visage en tissu partout dans les établissements scolaires pendant cette période. Rappelons que le port du couvre-visage était déjà obligatoire en tout temps pour les élèves des 5e et 6e années. L'ajustement se fait plutôt auprès des niveaux plus jeunes qui devaient seulement porter le couvre-visage dans les aires communes, lors des déplacements et dans le transport scolaire. Les régions situées en zone orange pourront continuer de procéder de cette façon. L'opération de vaccination de masse a débuté plus tôt jeudi sur le territoire lavallois. Elle se déroule simultanément avec le lancement de la prise de rendez-vous pour obtenir une première dose du vaccin contre la COVID-19. Selon Christian Dubé, ministre de la Santé, plus de 70 000 rendez-vous avaient déjà été confirmés dans la province moins de quatre heures après l'ouverture de la plateforme web. En conférence de presse, M. Dubé s'est d'ailleurs dit ouvert à l'idée de créer un «passeport de vaccination» qui pourrait notamment permettre aux personnes vaccinées d'accéder à certains lieux ou événements. «Tous les outils qu'on va pouvoir utiliser comme mesures sanitaires pour moi sont importants, précise-t-il. Pour moi, ça en est un, mais il faut le mettre en place. Il faut être capable de s'assurer des pratiques, mais c'est sûr que nous sommes en train de regarder ça.» Le ministre de la Santé a aussi confirmé que le Québec devrait recevoir 700 000 doses des vaccins de Pfizer-BioNTech et de Moderna d'ici la fin du mois de mars. Avec un bilan de 24 367 personnes testées positives à la COVID-19, Laval a connu une hausse de 113 cas en 24 heures. Le total de décès augmente à 868 depuis le début de la pandémie. Le CISSS de Laval cumule également 22 718 guérisons, ce qui signifie qu’il y a désormais 781 cas actifs (+57) confirmés sur le territoire lavallois. Parmi les personnes touchées, 31 sont hospitalisées, dont 10 aux soins intensifs. 15 employés de l’organisation de santé sont toujours absents du travail en raison de la COVID-19. Trois résidence privée pour aînés (RPA) de Laval sont présentement touchées par la COVID-19. Voici la liste complète de celles-ci : Au Québec, le bilan est maintenant de 285 330 cas et 10 361 décès. Au total, 633 personnes sont toujours hospitalisées, dont 122 aux soins intensifs. Nicholas Pereira, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
Twitter is branching out from advertising to find more ways to make money — both for itself and for its most prolific users, whether those are businesses, celebrities or regular people. In an investor presentation Thursday, the social media company announced a new feature called “Super Follows,” which will let users charge for extra, exclusive material not shown to their regular followers. This can include subscriber-only newsletters, videos, deals and discounts. Users would pay a monthly subscription fee to access the extra content. Twitter users — and the company's investors — have long been asking it to launch a subscription-based model. This as a growing number of internet creators and influencers use tools like Patreon, Substack and OnlyFans to make money from their online popularity. The subscriptions will also allow Twitter to tap into a broader range of revenue sources in a world where online advertising is dominated by a Facebook-Google duopoly. Twitter did not detail what percentage of the revenue it would share with celebrities and others who sign up paying subscribers. “Exploring audience funding opportunities like Super Follows will allow creators and publishers to be directly supported by their audience and will incentivize them to continue creating content that their audience loves," the company said in a statement. Super Follows is not available yet but Twitter says it will have “more to share" in the coming months. Another coming product, “Revue,” will let people publish paid or free newsletters to their audience. There's also “Twitter Spaces,” a Clubhouse competitor that lets users participate in audio chats. It is currently in private beta testing, which means it's not yet available to the general Twitter audience. The San Francisco-based company also said its revenue goal for 2023 is more than $7.5 billion, more than double its 2020 revenue of $3.7 billion. Barbara Ortutay, The Associated Press
The United States has pledged to tell the world its conclusions on what role Saudi Arabia's crown prince played in the brutal killing and carving up of a U.S.-based journalist, but as important is what comes next — what the Biden administration plans to do about it. Ahead of the release of the declassified U.S. intelligence report, President Joe Biden was expected to speak to Saudi King Salman as soon as Thursday for the first time since taking office more than a month ago. It will be a later-than-usual courtesy call to the Middle East ally, timing that itself reflects Biden's displeasure. The conversation will be overshadowed by the expected imminent release of findings on whether the king's son approved the Oct. 2, 2018, killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's authoritarian consolidation of power, inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in 2018 that the prince likely ordered the killing, a finding reported by news media but never officially released. Biden pledged as a candidate to make Saudi Arabia “a pariah” over the killing. The prince's critics, including a rights group founded by the slain journalist, want him to make good on that pledge with sanctions or other tough actions targeting and isolating the prince. They fear Biden will go with condemnation instead, eschewing a lasting standoff with the likely future ruler of an important, but often difficult, U.S. strategic ally, valued both for its oil reserves and its status as a counterbalance to Iran in the Middle East. The killing drew bipartisan outrage. Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said Thursday he hopes Biden talks to the king ”very straight about it, and very emphatically, and says that this is not acceptable.” Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia said he understood the administration to be considering new sanctions to accompany release of the report. “So it’s a day of reckoning, but one that’s long overdue.” The report's findings, and Biden's resulting next steps, at a minimum will set the administration's tone for dealing with the ambitious 35-year-old prince. Critics blame Mohammed bin Salman for the kingdom's imprisonment and alleged torture of peaceful rights advocates, businesspeople and other royals at home and for launching a devastating war in neighbouring Yemen and a failed economic blockade against neighbouring Qatar, among other actions. Mohammed bin Salman has consolidated power rapidly since his father, Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, in his 80s, became king in 2015. Salman is one of the last living sons of modern Saudi Arabia’s original founder. Given his age and Saudi royals' longevity, the prince could rule for the next half-century, if he follows his aging father to the throne. "This was in the span of two or three years — just imagine what will happen in the next 40 years if they allow him to rule,” Abdullah al Oudh, a Saudi man who has received asylum in the United States after Saudi Arabia imprisoned al Oudh’s father in 2017 over a tweet urging Saudi reconciliation with Qatar, said Thursday. “This guy ... sees the world as a stage for his botched operations," said Oudh, a Gulf research director for Democracy for the Arab World Now, a rights group Khashoggi founded shortly before his murder. The Saudi Arabia Embassy spokesman in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. Saudi officials have said Khashoggi's killing was the work of rogue Saudi security and intelligence officials. The prince said in 2019 he took “full responsibility” for the killing since it happened on his watch, but denied ordering it. U.S. intelligence findings are coming out more than two years after Khashoggi walked hand-in-hand with his fiancee to the Saudi consulate in Turkey. He planned to pick up documents for their wedding. The errand was recorded by surveillance cameras that tracked his route and those of his alleged killers in Istanbul in the hours leading up to his killing. Inside the consulate, Khashoggi died at the hands of more than a dozen Saudi security and intelligence officials and others who had assembled ahead of his arrival. A Turkish bug planted at the embassy reportedly captured the sound of a forensic saw, operated by a Saudi military colonel who was also a forensics expert, carving up Khashoggi’s body within an hour of his entering the building. The whereabouts of his remains remain unknown. Much of the damage from the killing of Khashoggi, a gregarious and well-regarded Saudi journalist with influential supporters in the United States and around the world, has already been absorbed by the U.S.-Saudi relationship. Once in office, Biden said he would maintain whatever scale of relations with Saudi Arabia that U.S. interests required. He also ordered an end to U.S. support for the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen and said he would stop the sale of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia. He's given few details of what weapons and support he meant. Asked how the release of the findings would affect Biden's approach toward Saudi Arabia, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday, “He will speak out on the concerns he has about human rights abuses, about the lack of freedom of speech or the lack of freedom of media and expression, or any concerns he has." But she added: “We have a long relationship with Saudi Arabia” and said the U.S. would continue aiding Saudi Arabia's defence against regional rivals. Congress in 2019 demanded the release of the report's findings, but the Trump administration refused. The Biden administration agreed to release a declassified version. Saudi Arabian courts last year announced they had sentenced eight Saudi nationals to prison in Khashoggi's killing. They were not identified. —- Associated Press writer Aamer Madhani in Chicago contributed to this report. Ellen Knickmeyer, The Associated Press
(CBC - image credit) The provincial government is on the hook to pay 10 defence lawyers for their work defending 10 correctional officers charged in the death of Jonathan Henoche. CBC News has confirmed the province lost an arbitration hearing against the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees, the public sector union representing the officers. A decision was sent to all parties on Thursday morning. NAPE notified the correctional officers via email, enclosing a snippet of the ruling, in which arbitrator James Oakley wrote, "The employer is required by Section 36 [of the officers' collective agreement] to pay legal fees incurred by the grievors until such time as there is a determination by the facts or the courts that the grievors have been deemed to have performed in a negligent manner." Section 36 deals with who pays legal fees when a person is charged or sued while acting in their role as a correctional officer. It says the province is responsible except in cases where officers are deemed negligent by "facts or the courts." Seven officers are charged with negligence causing death, and three are charged with manslaughter in the death of inmate Jonathan Henoche on Nov. 6, 2019. Henoche was facing a first-degree murder charge in the death of Regula Schule, 88. He died after what sources told CBC News was an altercation with officers at Her Majesty's Penitentiary. Sources have told CBC News Henoche was involved in a physical altercation with officers in his cell. He was taken to the segregation unit and later died. His death was ruled a homicide by the province's chief medical examiner. The 10 officers' first court appearance was Feb. 11, when defence lawyers said they didn't have enough time to review all the documents handed over by the prosecution, and a second date was set for March 11. No facts have been proven by the court, but the province had refused to pay the officers' legal fees, while saying it was abiding by its interpretation of the collective agreement. NAPE disagreed, and filed a grievance. The hearing was held on Feb. 19. CBC News has yet to obtain a full copy of Oakley's decision. NAPE declined comment Thursday afternoon. Messages to representatives of the provincial government were not immediately returned. This story will be updated if the Department of Justice and Public Safety responds to a request for comment. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
(Canada Border Services Agency - image credit) Two parents are facing several charges after being caught at Pearson airport allegedly trying to smuggle $1.6 million worth of drugs into the country while travelling with their kids. According to a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) news release issued Thursday, the adults were with a 10-year-old and a 12-year-old at the time. The CBSA says the incident happened on Feb. 7, when the family arrived at Pearson from Jamaica. The agency says officers examined their luggage and found 7.7 kilograms of cocaine, 93 kilograms of pot, and 218 grams of hash. "A suitcase concealing cannabis was checked in under the ticket of a 12-year-old child," the news release reads. The CBSA estimates that the drugs are worth over $1.6 million. Both parents, who are from Brampton, have been charged with three counts of importation of a controlled substance and three counts of conspiracy to commit an indictable offence. They were released on bail and are scheduled to appear in court in April. The CBSA says arrangements were made to release both children to other family members.
Quebecers 85 years and older were able to register for COVID-19 vaccinations starting Thursday, while seniors in Ontario will have to wait weeks to book in that province. The Quebec appointments are to begin next week in the Montreal region. Ontario’s vaccine distribution committee, blaming a lack of supply for the delay, has said seniors won’t be able to book appointments until March 15. Provinces are moving forward with their vaccine distribution plans as federal officials assure the disruptions that have plagued supply lines have been rectified. The vaccine appointment launch in Alberta on Wednesday left many frustrated when the government's online portal crashed after more than 150,000 people tried to get access to it about the same time. Some 230,000 people born in 1946 or earlier are now eligible to be immunized in that province. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, military commander in charge of the federal vaccine distribution program, said he understands that provinces may not have a lot of confidence in dose deliveries after a disappointing performance in February. But supply is already ramping back up, he said. The largest number of doses yet was delivered this week — 643,000 across the country. "Provinces are now in a position to fully deploy their immunization plans," Fortin said. Even with setbacks in recent weeks, Canada's deputy chief public health officer, Dr. Howard Njoo, said more than 40 per cent of seniors over 80 have received one dose of the vaccine. About 5.5 per cent have received a second dose. Njoo cautioned it is not time for people to let their guard down. "For now, however, COVID-19 remains a serious threat” Concern over spread of the novel coronavirus in Quebec has prompted officials there to require primary school students in red pandemic-alert zones, including the greater Montreal area, to wear masks starting March 8. It won't apply to certain students with special needs or when children are playing outside. The more contagious B.1.1.7 variant — first detected in the United Kingdom — has become a significant concern in Montreal, where there is still widespread community transmission. The variant is making up eight to 10 per cent of new cases. Dr. Mylene Drouin, Montreal's public health director, said 40 per cent of cases linked to variants in the city involved children. Hospitalizations, however, are declining provincewide. Health authorities are reporting 858 new infections and 16 more deaths. Ontario was to release new COVID-19 projections later Thursday. The province has reported 1,138 new infections and 23 more deaths linked to the virus. There has been a total of 20,945 new cases across Canada over the past seven days. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
Sudbury's first ever COVID-19 mass vaccination event began Thursday at the Carmichael Arena on Bancroft Drive. It's a joint effort of Public Health Sudbury and Districts, Health Sciences North, Greater Sudbury Paramedics Service and the City of Greater Sudbury. The clinic is taking place Thursday and Friday this week. Members of the Sudbury media were ushered through the building Wednesday to see how the vaccinations will be carried out. Media will not be allowed in the building when patients are receiving vaccines. The arena's main area has been transformed into a large room filled with partitions, arrows pasted on the floor, tables and chairs and waiting areas where people will be gathered to get their first shot of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. The target is to vaccinate 1,200 people a day. "So when people come to the arena, the most important thing is that it is by appointment only," said Karly McGibbon, the lead public health nurse assigned to the event. She said all those who are receiving vaccines have been contracted and given a time for when to visit the arena "Once the people are registered and checked in they will come here," McGibbon said at the entrance to the rink surface. "There will be staff members telling them where to go and then they will be sent to one of our twelve vaccine stations." Each person will be screened for any conditions such as allergies or other health matters before the vaccine is given. At each station, a nurse is on hand to swab each patient's arm and then give a needle with the vaccine. McGibbon said the actual needles are the same as the small-gauge sharps used for flu shots. The needles are considered relatively painless for anyone accustomed to getting a flu shot. Once the shot is complete, each patient will be directed to a waiting area to sit for 15 minutes to ensure they're feeling well. There is then a formal check-out area where each patient will be handed a printed receipt outlining the time and place of their first dose. The patients will then be moved out of the building through the back doors to ensure there is no mix up with people coming in the front doors. McGibbon said the entire process should take about 30 minutes. "People should plan to be here for half an hour," she said. "The vaccine itself will take maybe five minutes." She said anyone with a history of allergies might be asked to stay a bit longer so that the health-care staff can check them out before they leave. McGibbons said the target group at this event are priority workers who up until now have not been able to get their first dose of the vaccine. "The people coming this week, Thursday and Friday, are staff members and essential care givers from long-term care homes. So these are people that have been identified by facilities and so their place of work, or where they're an essential care giver, notified them to say, it's your turn. Please call this number and book your appointment." All the booking was done by the City of Greater Sudbury in collaboration with PHSD. Second doses of the Pfizer vaccine will also be booked to take place in about one month's time, said McGibbon. McGibbon said there is no immediate word on future clinics beyond the one happening this week. "Well, we have the two clinics right here this week," said McGibbon. "We may move to other locations. It all depends on vaccine availability when the clinics can be booked. We may use a different venue. We may return to this venue. That hasn't been set up yet." McGibbon said the vaccines are being stored in extreme freezers at Health Sciences North. "What we'll do is pick it up in the morning. We'll bring it here. It has to thaw and then we have to mix it, so it is a little bit of a different process from Moderna," she said, referring to the other vaccine approved by Health Canada. McGibbon said all those who provide the vaccines are well-trained and experienced in giving the needles. "We are using a multitude of immunizers. We are using nurses from public health that have experienced immunizers, we are using nurses from other sectors, so we certainly have nurses from HSN coming, we have nurses from community centres, and we are also using community paramedics." Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
There has been much community engagement and debate over the proposed Cardston recreation centre through recent letters to the editor and social media posts. The Temple City Star conducted interviews with municipal CAO’s this week in an effort to get straight to the facts, and tidy up any confusion. When a municipality has a large capital project in the works, it can take years to work from conception to completion. During the process, administration inquires with different vendors for preliminary pricing, gets an idea of community need (town halls, surveys and discussion), and researches where to best elicit funds (grants, partnerships, reserves, levies, or a tax increase) before council makes any concrete decisions about the project and approves the tendering process in which companies can bid for the job. As CAO Jeff Shaw shares, the indoor recreation facility project has been somewhat different because “we have a community champion in Gibb Schaffer, and council wants to support the project while we have the momentum.” Still, there are processes that legally have to be followed by any municipal level of government, and the red tape can be confusing to untangle. Town councillors have been interested in building a recreation center since the 2018 election, and a committee of council began pursuing this idea in 2019 with a very large indoor recreation center in mind. The intention of the committee was to commence public consultation in 2020, but due to COVID, the public consultation had to be cancelled. In the fall of 2020 major discussions on the specifics of an indoor recreation building were resurrected around the council table when Mr. Schaffer asked council to pursue it more assertively. As it stands, the Cardston Town Council has made very few official resolutions regarding the project, only those resolutions which direct administration to seek information regarding community need, project scope and size, and preliminary pricing. The recreation center is still just a proposal, but one council is actively seeking more information about before committing fully. Council recently created a short survey gathering community interest in a general use indoor recreation center which includes questions about potential user fees and tax impacts. The potential project scope and size has yet to be determined, as discussions around the council table have ranged from the building being an 8,000 square foot structure to a 19,000 square foot structure. According to CAO Jeff Shaw, the “survey attempts to grasp at basic community need and interest… we can shape what the building will look like once we understand the need better.” Hasegawa engineering group has been consulted as a third party to help determine preliminary costs of a larger building, and these were presented in a public meeting. Cardston town council has publicly, and informally, committed 1 million dollars to the capital funding (or building costs) of the proposed recreation centre, contingent on other funding covering any capital expenses over and above their contribution. At this time it is expected that $700, 000 of the town’s portion of the funding will come from reserves that have been put away for the recreation department, and $300,000 will come from Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) dollars. MSI is funding received from the provincial government to support local infrastructure projects, but has recently been on the chopping block in provincial budgets. Every year town councils wait to set their municipal budgets depending on the ramifications of the provincial budget, so these numbers are not yet set in stone for the year. Even if the 2021 provincial budget does not decrease council's expected MSI dollars, the recreation center would still require other funding in order to go ahead as Shaw has shared that “council isn’t willing to extend themselves past the first million.” In discussions with Mr. Shaffer at council meetings, much has been mentioned about easing the financial load by working with local contractors who are willing to donate time and materials, soliciting funds from other partners, and from private donations. However, Cardston Council first needs an idea about the total scope of the project, and the potential price, then they will make a decision about tax rates for the year, all before they will start to officially solicit funds from other partners. As previously reported, Westwind school division has already declined the invitation to become a financial partner this year. In last week's front page article, it was reported that the County was “willing to set aside $250,000 for the project.” Clarification on this point comes from Cardston County CAO Murray Millward, who says that “the County has not received any official funding requests from Cardston, and they will not act until a request comes through the official line”. If they do receive a request, Cardston County may also want to conduct a survey of citizens to gauge the desire for county support. The County has heard Mr. Shaffer’s presentation on the matter and would consider recreation donations for the project. Their recreation funding to any adjacent municipality is determined by an Inter-municipal Collaboration Framework (ICF), and such an agreement with Cardston has been underway and will soon be signed by both councils. Any donations to the recreation center would be over and above the ICF agreement. However if county council votes to not assist in funding the project, and the town of Cardston decides to go ahead with it anyways, the county would not be on the line for future operational costs for the center. Operating costs for most recreation centers make building restrictive to many small municipalities, which is why you don’t find a full sized swimming pool and gym in every single small town. There is sometimes an assumption that the charges to enter a recreation facility cover the operational costs for that facility but this is often not the case. Estimating the operational costs of the facility cannot be done until size and scope are determined, which will not be decided until council receives feedback from the survey about community interest.Once feedback is received, and the taxation levels for the year decided in the budget, then the council can go ahead and solicit funds from partners, knowing more precisely how much capital and operational help they require in order to get the project off the ground. Once enough capital funds have been gathered, it would be time to go ahead with the tendering process, which is when commitments become real and cannot be backed away from (without major financial consequence). It is mandated by trade agreements that council go through a formal process to get bids on jobs that are above a certain price threshold, and this project will inevitably be above the threshold. It is the hope that, if the project goes forward to tender, local contractors would bid for the job, and include the very generous donations of time and labour that some have discussed with Mr. Shaffer during his initial legwork attempting to reduce costs. Contractors willing to donate some of their time and supplies because they believe in the project could score favourably in the evaluation process. However, the financial magnitude of the job disallows the town from favouring any bids by local contractors. The financial magnitude of the project is heavy on the council's mind and has kept them from jumping in with both feet at this point. Time will tell, and budgets dictate, what the future is for this proposal. Elizabeth Thompson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temple City Star
WELLINGTON COUNTY – The Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) project is looking toward the next phase targeting funding broadband projects in lower-density areas. SWIFT is a non-profit that aims to subsidize broadband projects in rural southwestern Ontario areas that have poor or no connectivity. George Bridge, Minto mayor and SWIFT board member, and Barry Field, SWIFT executive director, gave an update on the project to Wellington County council at Thursday’s meeting. In the presentation Bridge noted some highlights from the first phase of the project, called SWIFT 1.0. He explained they are exceeding their target of 50,000 premises served by a few thousand and are very close to reaching their kilometre of fibre laid goal. He was also happy to report that despite earlier concerns from smaller companies about SWIFT becoming a “Bell and Rogers show,” projects from small internet service providers (ISPs) accounted for about half of the funding given through SWIFT’s first phase. The small ISPs will become more important for SWIFT 2.0, the next phase of the project where SWIFT intends to focus on projects in lower density areas. “The bigger ones, Bell and Rogers, they go after so many people per km but your small ISP, for example they’ve gone down as low 3.1 density per km or three houses on a km,” Bridge said. “Our next round we’ll get into, some of the low hanging fruit has been done, now we need to get out to that last mile.” The funding is a big question for the next phase as there has been no commitment on what the province and federal governments will give, if anything at all. A third of SWIFT is funded by the province and a third from the federal government, with the private sector filling in another third and municipal governments providing some capital contributions. Coun. David Anderson asked if there’s anything they could do to give projects a better chance at a successful grant application. Field said municipal financial support or just letter of support for a grant application — which Field noted applies for other funding beyond SWIFT — can go a long way. He also said it might be helpful to encourage local ISPs to apply for funding if they haven’t done so. Wellington North mayor Andy Lennox questioned how to ensure funding gets distributed more equitably so lower density projects aren’t missed again. Field said by the time SWIFT 2.0 comes around those will be most of the projects left and to lower the number of premises per kilometre required, which in the first phase is at around 17 premises per km on average. “There are things we can do in the (request for proposals), the procurement itself, to not only encourage but ensure that we’re not getting at that easiest of the remaining premises,” Field said, noting this was a valid criticism of SWIFT 1.0. “We did have a very high premises count target we had to achieve and that kind of led to policies we had to encourage more premises passed.” Coun. Jeff Duncan asked if a possible federal election this year could delay or impact the next phase. Field said he wasn’t sure but did stress there is no commitment from upper levels of government to fund SWIFT 2.0. Bridge said they’ve been advocating through the Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus to all political parties and there is no question from any of them that this is needed. The presentation was accepted as information from council. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the federal official in charge of delivering vaccines against COVID-19, says he understands why provinces are cautious about expecting big shipments over the coming weeks. But he says that as manufacturers make up for a sharp drop in supplies this winter, the provinces will see they can count on those doses to arrive.
(Submitted by Summerside Police - image credit) A Summerside man had to be given two doses of the life-saving medication naloxone after taking an unknown amount of the opioid fentanyl on Wednesday, police say. EMS staff called Summerside police around 12:30 p.m. to say they needed help at the scene of a suspected overdose, according to a police news release. Officers were told that a 36-year-old man had collapsed just after arriving at the home. People described in the release as "witnesses" knew there was a Narcan kit in the home and gave the man a dose. Narcan is a trade name for naloxone, which is highly effective at reversing the effects of overdoses of opioids including heroin, morphine or fentanyl. "The witnesses also confirmed that the man had consumed fentanyl," the news release said. The man showed improvement but relapsed after the officers arrived, "so police administered a second dose." The man recovered and refused any other medical treatment, the news release said. A small amount of a substance suspected to be fentanyl was found at the home. "Police are encouraging anyone consuming these drugs to ensure they are not alone when consuming and to have a Narcan kit on hand in case problems occur," the news release said. Overdoses, deaths concern officials Appearing at a legislative committee earlier this month, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said the number of accidental fentanyl-related opioid overdoses and deaths on P.E.I. took a sharp rise in 2020. As of Sept. 30, Morrison's office had been informed of six accidental deaths involving opioids, of which three involved fentanyl, and 17 non-fatal opioid overdoses, nine of which were linked to fentanyl. Fentanyl is widely considered to be 50 times more powerful than morphine in its effects on the user's body. More from CBC P.E.I.
CAMEROON, Cameroon — Linda Thomas-Greenfield presented her credentials as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday, officially taking on one of the most challenging jobs for the Biden administration of helping to restore the United States as a top multilateral player on the global stage after former President Donald Trump’s unilateral “America First” policy. The longtime American career diplomat thanked Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris, who swore her in on Wednesday, for choosing her for the “distinguished position.” “That was made all the more wonderful because I knew you were here,” she told Guterres who served as the U.N.’s refugee chief before his election to the U.N. post. “I worked with you in the past on refugee issues so I’m looking forward very anxiously to getting to work and working on many of the key issues that we know are before the United Nations and we know that people around the globe are looking to us for.” Guterres warmly welcomed Thomas-Greenfield, calling her a “distinguished global citizen" with great compassion for refugees. Thomas-Greenfield and Guterres then moved to his private office on the 38th floor of U.N. headquarters overlooking New York’s East River for private talks. She will be jumping right into her new job, tackling global peace and security issues with Russia, China and a dozen other countries because the United States takes over the rotating presidency of the powerful U.N. Security Council on Monday. And she might even decide to attend a council meeting on Friday. Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador Dmitry Polyansky told a group of reporters Wednesday that “the red carpet” will be rolled out for Thomas-Greenfield and Moscow is ready to work with President Joe Biden’s administration -- but “it takes two to tango.” “We are looking forward to interactions with her,” he told a group of reporters Wednesday. “You can count on our most favourable attitudes and positive emotions towards her as a member of our Security Council family.” Noting Thomas-Greenfield's decades as a U.S. diplomat, he said “it's always easier to interact with professionals." But he said America’s view that Russia is “an enemy” and a “threat” hasn’t changed under Biden, so “it’s very difficult to imagine how the interaction with us might change with such starting points of the positions of the new administration.” Nonetheless, Polyansky said, “there are a lot of things Russia and the United States can do together” and “we will judge the new administration by what it does.” “We’re in favour of co-operation,” he said. But “it takes two to tango, and really we’re ready to dance, but we need a good and reliable partner who knows all the moves and who respects us” as a country with certain positions, “doesn’t view us as a threat” and sees “our obvious national interests in many issues.” Thomas-Greenfield, a retired 35-year veteran of the U.S. foreign service who rose to be assistant secretary of state for Africa, resigned during the Trump administration. She will be the third African-American, and the second African-American woman, to hold the U.N. post. Her confirmation on Tuesday was hailed by Democrats and advocates of the United Nations who had lamented former President Donald Trump’s “America First” unilateral approach to international affairs and rejoiced at President Joe Biden’s return to multilateralism. At the Senate hearing on her nomination, Thomas-Greenfield called China “a strategic adversary” that threatens the world, and called a speech she gave in 2019 that praised China’s initiatives in Africa but made no mention of its human rights abuses a mistake. The Senate voted 78-20 to confirm her with Republican opponents saying she was soft on China and would not stand up for U.S. principles at the U.N. Thomas-Greenfield said at the hearing that Washington will be working not only with allies “but to see where we can find common ground with the Russians and the Chinese to put more pressure on the Iranians to push them back into strict compliance” with the 2015 agreement to rein in their nuclear program. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement in 2018 and Biden has indicated the U.S. will rejoin it, though how that might happen remains a major question. Polyansky said Russia welcomes the “positive developments” on the Iran nuclear deal and the U.S. agreement to extend the START nuclear agreement, adding that Moscow is ready for serious and meaningful discussions “first and foremost in the area of strategic stability.” Thomas-Greenfield stressed at the hearing that the U.S. will be reengaging internationally and promoting American values -- “support for democracy, respect for universal human rights, and the promotion of peace and security.” Louis Charbonneau, United Nations director for Human Rights Watch, told The Associated Press that Thomas-Greenfield should promote human rights as “a top priority.” “She should abandon the Trump administration’s selective approach to human rights – enthusiastically condemning its enemies’ abuses while ignoring rights violations of allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia,” he said. “But there’s room for continuity on China and Syria," Charbonneau said. “She should make expanding the coalition of nations willing to speak out against Beijing’s human rights abuses one of her chief goals at the U.N., above trying to bring African, Asian, and Latin American states into the fold. And she should continue to push for expanded humanitarian access to all parts of Syria.” Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press
(Michelle Sylliboy - image credit) The Cape Breton Centre for Craft & Design has created two new positions to help support Indigenous artists and crafters with their entrepreneurial skills. Executive director Lori Burke said the centre began looking at the barriers that exist for Indigenous crafters after reading a study by the Cape Breton Partnership on the hurdles Indigenous female entrepreneurs face. "There were barriers to access for Indigenous artists and particularly women who were looking to develop their artistic practice and their creative businesses," said Burke. Burke said the most common business for Indigenous female entrepreneurs is in the field of craft and design. Aside from barriers to access, Burke said many of the people they consulted from Indigenous communities cited a lack of mentorship as one of their biggest challenges as entrepreneurs. "The artists were really looking for community-based training and support," said Burke. "So we listened." Burke is executive director of the Cape Breton Centre for Craft & Design. The mandate of the non-profit centre is to promote excellence in the craft and design sector on Cape Breton Island through education, training, exhibitions and special events. The centre has also created a Mi'kmaw advisory committee. "We've worked and developed this project so that it was meaningful, or we hope that it's going to be meaningful, for the community," said Burke. The two new positions — an Indigenous arts co-ordinator and an Indigenous craft business skills co-ordinator — will focus on identifying an Indigenous artist's business skills, their needs, gaps in their skills and how to enhance them. "This is going to be very focused on that community and also finding out who's in the community and who's doing what, because we don't have that data," said Burke. The centre is accepting applications now for both positions. MORE TOP STORIES
TORONTO — The head of the Business Council of Canada is worried about the country's inability to produce vaccines and certain medical supplies, but hopes the pandemic will pressure governments to rectify the situation. "Canadians saw back in the crisis, when it began last year, that we got caught relying on the integrity of supply chains that were vulnerable to a pandemic," said Goldy Hyder, the council's president and chief executive, in an online discussion hosted by MedicAlert Canada on Thursday. "Who knew you could only get masks or something from one country? How did that happen? … That innovation needs to be brought back to Canada to some extent." Hyder's remarks, made in conversation with University Health Netwok infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch and MedicAlert chief executive Leslie McGill, come as Canada nears the anniversary of the first closures of businesses and public spaces because of COVID-19. The country has spent the last year trying to quell the virus, but also grappling with a lack of vaccines, medical supplies and pharmaceutical manufacturers in Canada. With most manufacturing facilities for these products located overseas, it has impacted Canada's ability to quickly access personal protective equipment, edge out other countries vying for vaccines and prepare itself to deal with future pandemics. Hyder is proud of how companies including Canada Goose shifted from making luxury winter coats to scrubs and patient gowns and aviation manufacturer CAE Inc. rushed to start producing ventilators, but said Canada needs to look at pain points the pandemic highlighted too. "How did we get to the point where Canada can't manufacture vaccines?" he said. "Canada had that capacity and we lost it and so clearly there has to be analysis of what are the actions that policy-makers took that drove away the investment that would create the manufacturing capabilities for vaccines." Canada is buying at least 238 million doses of seven different vaccines, but only one is from a Canadian company — Medicago — and none will initially be produced in Canada. So far the country has been purchasing and receiving vaccines made in the U.S., Germany and Switzerland from Moderna, Pfizer and BioNTech. Earlier this week, Entos Pharmaceuticals in Alberta said a lack of federal funding early in the pandemic kept homegrown COVID-19 vaccines from moving as quickly as international versions. Dr. Gary Kobinger, a Laval University microbiologist behind Ebola and Zika vaccines, added his non-profit had a COVID-19 vaccine with promising early results last February, but it stalled because they lacked funding. Hyder has grown used to seeing Canada lack this kind of capital and "muddle through things." The pandemic has been no different, he said. Canadians have taken pride in having far fewer COVID-related deaths and hospitalizations than the U.S., but Hyder believes that shouldn't be the measure of success. "We have to aspire to do better and policy is a very big part of that," he said. "Policies effect the next time, so I am really hoping we don't let ourselves off the hook by saying thank God we did better than the Americans … We need to build back better. — With files from Mia Rabson in Ottawa This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX: GOOS, TSX:CAE.TO) Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press
Le bilan lavallois pointe désormais à 781 cas actifs selon les données émises par le Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) de Laval. Cela représente une hausse de 57 cas actifs par rapport à la veille. On décompte aussi 113 nouveaux cas confirmés en date du 25 février. Ils s'ajoutent au total lavallois de 24 367 cas confirmés depuis le début de la pandémie. Le nombre de décès augmente à 868 (+1). Parmi les personnes porteuses du virus, 31 sont hospitalisées, dont 10 aux soins intensifs. Le CISSS de Laval confirme que 15 employés de son réseau sont présentement absents du travail en raison de la COVID-19. Seulement deux secteurs lavallois ont connu une baisse de cas actifs en date du 25 février, soit Pont-Viau/Renaud-Coursol/Laval-des-Rapides (-13) et Sainte-Dorothée/Laval-Ouest/Laval-Les Îles/Fabreville-Ouest/Laval-sur-le-Lac (-9). Ce dernier est d'ailleurs le secteur lavallois le moins affecté du territoire, que ce soit en chiffres absolus (86 cas actifs) ou en taux d'infection (124 cas par 100 000 habitants. À l'inverse, Chomedey (+9) est toujours le quartier qui compte le plus de cas actifs à Laval avec 185 personnes porteuses du virus. Vimont/Auteuil (+15) constate quant à lui la hausse de cas actifs la plus importante du jour. De leur côté, Duvernay/Saint-François/Saint-Vincent-de-Paul et Fabreville-Est/Sainte-Rose présentent huit et cinq cas actifs de plus sur leur territoire respectif. *** Prendre note que tel qu’indiqué sur le site Web du CISSS de Laval, ces données par secteur incluent l’ensemble des cas des citoyens testés positifs à la COVID-19, qu’ils résident dans des milieux fermés ou ailleurs dans la communauté. Les milieux fermés incluent des milieux de vie comme les centres d’hébergement et de soins de longue durée (CHSLD), les résidences privées pour aînés (RPA), les ressources intermédiaires (RI), ainsi que les centres correctionnels. Les données présentées sont calculées en fonction du lieu de résidence. Le CISSS tarde à déterminer le foyer de 50 cas jusqu’ici, dont 6 actifs. Nicholas Pereira, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
On December 8th of 2020 the provincial government announced sweeping restrictions that many Albertans thought would only be in place for 4 weeks. However, as we rang in the New Year, most restrictions pressed on and Albertans had to readjust to a new pandemic plan. In early February, a 4 phase system for easing restrictions was announced by the provincial government. We are currently in Step 1 of the ‘Path Forward,’ which allows for in-person dining with one’s own household, increased team sport opportunities for children, and one-on-one indoor fitness training by appointment. According to the Alberta government website, indoor social gatherings will not begin to be allowed until Step 3, and those required to work from home will not be allowed back into regular workplaces until Step 4. The website specifies a minimum of three weeks between each phase, meaning they won’t consider entering phase two until next week, but changes are also based on a continual reduction in the hospitalization numbers. The ‘path forward’ comes with challenges, but the government is also attempting to relieve some of the related burden. An announcement was made February 10th outlining the critical worker benefit, a one-time payment of $1,200 to “recognize critical workers… for putting themselves at risk on the job during the pandemic.” In June 2020, the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant was announced to help thousands of businesses safely reopen and rehire staff. This program was expanded in January 2021 to ensure new businesses have access to the support they need. The grant provides up to $15,000 worth of funding per business based on possible lost revenue and can be used to pay employee wages, purchase personal protective equipment, pay rent, replace inventory and more. This program will conclude in the Spring, and just last week the government announced that it will be replaced by Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit which begins in April. According to the new release “businesses that can demonstrate a revenue reduction of 60 per cent or more will be eligible to receive 15 per cent of their monthly revenue, up to a maximum of $10,000”. The purpose of the new program is to fill any gaps left by federal programs short falls. Businesses who apply will have to “report the total amount of provincial and federal support received, to ensure no more than 80 per cent of revenue is covered”. Other tools used to reduce pressure during the pandemic include freezing the education property tax rates, and ensuring employees are entitled to 14 days of unpaid, job-protected leave if they are required to quarantine or need to tend to pandemic related family responsibilities (i.e. caring for children in quarantine). If you, your family members, or your business have used some of these services feel free to write into the Star and tell us about your positive or negative experiences with provincial and federal support during the pandemic. Elizabeth Thompson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temple City Star
((RCMP) - image credit) The New Brunswick RCMP say their major crime unit is investigating the suspicious death of a 49-year-old woman whose body was found near Tracadie-Sheila. At about 2 p.m. on Wednesday, members of the Tracadie RCMP responded to a report of a dead woman on Chemin W. Gautreau, in the area of Pont-Landry, the force said in a media release Thursday. The woman's body was found by a passerby, RCMP said. An autopsy will be done on Friday to assist police in the investigation and to help determine the woman's exact cause of death, the RCMP said. The force said anyone with information about the incident can contact the major crime unit at 1-888-506-7267. Information can also be provided anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, by downloading the secure P3 mobile app, or by secure web tips at www.crimenb.ca.