TACO earnings call for the period ending December 29, 2020.
Residents of Terrace, B.C. scheduled to receive COVID-19 vaccines Friday now have to wait until next week after Northern Health cancelled a day's worth of appointments due to what they characterize as "dwindled" interest among older age groups in the community. Kirsten Fehr, a Kitsumkalum Nation resident of the northwestern B.C. city, didn't find out her shot was cancelled until she showed up at the Terrace Sportsplex to find a sign on the door saying the clinic was closed. "Frustrated," she said of her reaction. "I had to organize a babysitter in order to attend this appointment and I was looking forward to starting the process of immunization." Currently anyone in Terrace aged 65 and up can book an appointment to be vaccinated, but Northern Health says only those in the 70 and up age range, or 18 and up for Indigenous residents, are actually receiving doses at the moment. "Appointment bookings in this age group ... had dwindled this week, and the decision was made to cancel today's clinic and reschedule any booked appointments into next week's clinics," Northern Health said in an email and Facebook post, responding to residents upset by the change. A sign posted on the Terrace Sportsplex vaccine clinic Friday.(Kirsten Fehr) The health authority did not clarify why other appointments were not moved up, or other age groups invited to be vaccinated sooner, rather than cancelling a day's worth of inoculations. "We have always said, in small communities in the north, clinic details will be subject to change," spokesperson Eryn Collins said in an email. "No vaccine goes to waste — it is all used in line with the provincial plan." Fehr said she had to call to reschedule her appointment and is now supposed to receive her dose on Wednesday — five days later than originally planned. Terrace resident Walter Fricke said he is frustrated by the decision to cancel appointments rather than attempt to fill up empty slots with younger age groups. "I know several people who could have been there in less than half an hour," he said in an email. The health authority says moving forward, they will be operating the clinic from Tuesday until Thursday, with a goal of 1,000 shots a week. On Friday, B.C. health officials announced 1,262 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths in the province. So far, 1,025,019 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, with 87,606 of those being second doses. A record high 40,018 people were vaccinated in B.C. on Thursday.
Brett Langdeau used to take the bus every day to his job at Home Depot in Coquitlam, B.C. But that all changed once the pandemic hit. "A large part of it was due to fear. I didn't want to be in an enclosed space with a bunch of other people," said Langdeau, who would take the bus from his home in the city. He borrowed his parent's car and has been driving to work ever since. Experts say Langdeau's story is common, and it's one of the reasons traffic levels are high in Metro Vancouver even though many people are still working from home. And traffic volume, they warn, will most likely exceed pre-pandemic levels as confidence in taking transit recovers slowly, even as more people get vaccinated and return to the workplace. Recent data from TransLink shows that crossings on three major bridges in Metro Vancouver owned by the transit authority — Golden Ears, Pattullo and Knight Street — are within 10 per cent of pre-COVID volume. The data from the transit authority compares the average number of weekday crossings every month from the beginning of 2019 until March 2021. On the Pattullo Bridge between New Westminster and Surrey, there was a definitive drop in crossings in the first few months of the pandemic, but traffic volume quickly rebounded. Last month, an average of 62,078 vehicles crossed the span on weekdays — only around five per cent less than the figure for February 2020, the month before sweeping pandemic restrictions were introduced. It's a similar story on the Knight Street Bridge between Vancouver and Richmond, where there were an average of 94,166 daily crossings on weekdays in February, a decrease of only nine per cent compared to February 2020. Meanwhile, last month, the Golden Ears Bridge connecting Langley with Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge saw its highest number of average weekday crossings since August 2019, at 67,174. While traffic levels are high on the roads, there's been a huge decrease in ridership of about 60 per cent on transit, according to TransLink. The pandemic caused a big disruption in travel behaviour, says SFU associate professor of health sciences Dr. Meghan Winters. "A lot of people did shift their travel modes. People who had choices stopped using transit. StatsCan data says that three-quarters of those people went to drive in their private vehicles," she said. Winters says people's travel behaviours generally only shift due to big disruptions in their lives like buying a house, finding a new romantic partner, retiring — or a global pandemic. "The kind of interruption or disruption we saw with the COVID lockdown was completely unprecedented," she said. Learned habits could lead to congestion Congestion levels on major crossings are something TransLink is keeping a close eye on, especially as transit ridership numbers have plummeted. "People are not sharing small spaces. Whether that be shared rides, carpooling, or on transit," said Geoff Cross, vice-president of planning and policy at TransLink. It's a problem Winters doesn't see going away once we are all vaccinated. Transit riders have developed new learned habits through the pandemic, she says — and she's not convinced vaccinations will be a big enough event to push them back to shared transit options. "When we are all vaccinated ... it's not going to feel like that same disruption. So it's not going to have that same kind of intervention feeling. And, I would say, it's likely that people will be slow to make those behaviour changes," said Winters. There were more than 62,000 crossings on the Pattullo Bridge in March 2021.(CBC) With traffic levels already close to normal, she predicts the return to in-office work and in-classroom studies will equal major congestion on the Lower Mainland's roads. "There's not capacity on our roads. We were in a state of congestion that was having social and economic impacts pre-COVID," said Winters. 'Robust' recovery in ridership predicted Once the government says it's safe to encourage larger numbers back to transit, Cross says TransLink expects some hesitancy over the first few months as riders test their comfort levels, but he's confident ridership will rebound. "We do believe that there will be a very rapid and robust recovery into 2022," he said, adding that congestion on the roads over the first few months post-vaccination could actually encourage more people to return to taking the bus or SkyTrain. He says the team is preparing a campaign to welcome riders back and convince them of the system's safety. Geoff Cross, vice-president of planning and policy at TransLink, says people no longer feel comfortable sharing tight spaces like buses and SkyTrain cars during the pandemic. But he's confident ridership in the transit system will rebound.(Maggie MacPherson) The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy — which is responsible for TransLink — says it's looking to the transit authority to convince the public to, once again, ditch their vehicles. "We are confident that British Columbians will make increasing use of transit as we emerge from the pandemic," it said in a statement. But Langdeau says his return to transit will be decided by the numbers, even if he has been vaccinated. "If we have a transmission rate that's going up, I would be hesitant to get on the bus at all," he said.
The Yukon government has issued a potential COVID-19 exposure notification for a flight into Yukon Sunday evening. The possible exposure was for Air Canada flight 8889 from Vancouver to Whitehorse at 6:30 p.m. that evening, landing in Whitehorse at about 8:49 p.m., according to a news release issued Friday. The release says "new information" became available regarding a previous case, where a person was infected with the variant B117 while outside Yukon. The person had originally been cleared to travel but, based on new information, the person was determined to be infectious while on the flight. The release says contact tracing with passengers seated in close proximity to the case is underway. The risk of exposure is low on flights, the release says, but the territory says it's taking a precautionary approach. So far, no other exposures of concern have been identified in Yukon. The infected person followed public health advice and is deemed to be recovered. There are no confirmed active cases in Yukon as of Friday evening. Health officials say anyone who thinks they are experiencing COVID-19 like symptoms should self-isolate and remain at home, take the online self-assessment and arrange to get tested either by calling 867-393-3083 or booking a test online.
WASHINGTON — The State Department on Friday unveiled new rules for U.S. government contacts with Taiwan that are likely to anger China but appear to reimpose some restrictions that had been lifted by the Trump administration. The department announced the changed policy in a statement that said the Biden administration intends to “liberalize” the rules to reflect the “deepening unofficial relationship” between the U.S. and Taiwan. However, the revised guidelines don’t include all the changes put in place by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the waning days of the Trump administration. Pompeo had lifted virtually all restrictions on contacts with Taiwan, including allowing Taiwanese military officers to wear uniforms and display the Taiwanese flag at meetings with U.S. officials. Friday’s changes were silent on those matters, although the rules do continue to permit U.S. officials to meet their Taiwanese counterparts in federal buildings. China regards Taiwan as a renegade province and opposes any attempt to treat the island as an independent country. China had condemned Pompeo's easing of the restrictions that had been in place since the U.S. recognized Beijing and dropped formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979. “These new guidelines will continue the U.S. government’s longstanding practice of providing clarity throughout the U.S. executive branch of how to implement our ‘one China’ policy,” the department said. “This new guidance is a step forward from earlier versions, including the contact guidance that was in place for virtually all of the previous administration, by encouraging engagement with Taiwan counterparts and removing unneeded restrictions.” Yet the statement contained no details about the new “contact guidance” and congressional aides briefed on the matter said the changes were actually more restrictive than those Pompeo had rolled out just 11 days before the end of the Trump administration. The department said Pompeo's changes had not made engagement with Taiwan easier but rather “had the practical policy effect of impeding our unofficial engagement with Taiwan — a problem that we are rectifying today with this new guidance.” It was not immediately clear how the new guidance rectified the matter. On Jan. 9, Pompeo issued a sweeping order that rescinded almost all U.S. restrictions on contacts with Taiwan. “The United States government took these actions unilaterally, in an attempt to appease the Communist regime in Beijing. No more," Pompeo said in a statement that announced the “lifting all of these self-imposed restrictions.” He said the U.S.-Taiwan relationship should not “be shackled by self-imposed restrictions of our permanent bureaucracy.” Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Former central banker Mark Carney says he'll do whatever he can to support the federal Liberal party.Until now, Carney has avoided any overt show of partisanship, as required in his former roles as governor of the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England.But he's telling Liberals at their convention that he's committed to public service and helping the governing party.It's not clear whether that means Carney intends to run for the party in the next election.Liberals have long touted Carney as a possible leader one day.He flirted quietly with the idea of a leadership run back in 2012 but eventually squelched the idea by suggesting he would just as soon become a "circus clown."This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 9, 2021. The Canadian Press
Watching baby elephants are one of the most rewarding things you can do while on an African safari. The video shows just how adorable baby elephants can be while dealing with their daily real-life struggles such as attempting to get back onto your feet while lying down in slippery mud. While on safari in the Kruger National Park, it didn’t take long for us to find our first sighting which was a small herd of elephants. The herd of elephants were on the banks of a small river busy drinking water and playing in the mud. Whenever elephants are near any water or mud, you can be assured that it will be a great experience to watch. Just observing the unique manner in which elephants drink water is a magical experience on its own. Some elephants, especially the youngsters, usually decides to cool down in the mud after their drink of water. This is usually where the real fun and entertaining watching starts. It didn’t take long to spot one of those funny and entertaining moments amongst the herd members. On the opposite side of the river bank was two baby elephants, one was kicking around in the mud in front of him while the smaller baby elephant was lying on its side in the mud. The baby elephant lying down in the mud was making sure that he got that one side of his body covered in mud, helping the elephants to cool down during the heat of the day. The most amusing part of the bay elephant’s behaviour was when it looked like it was making an attempt to get back on to its feet. The baby elephant managed to roll from its side onto its belly. From the belly down position the baby elephant looked very lazy and not very committed to really get back up onto its feet. With what looked like a real big effort, the baby elephant finally managed to get onto it is feet only to suddenly find itself in another wobbly moment. The mud under its feet was clearly slippery and the baby elephant nearly lost his footing before finally gathering himself to stand up straight next to mommy. We wholeheartedly enjoyed our experience and time with the herd of elephants. We left the herd alone and drove off, each person on the vehicle with a smile on their face and the fresh memories of the adorable baby elephant in the mud
Concerns are being raised by some members of P.E.I.'s trucking industry about what the future might hold as a driver shortage lingers across Canada. "I think people have a concept of what the industry is and I don't think it's accurate," said Brian Oulton, the executive director of the P.E.I. Trucking Sector Council. "It's not a, you know, old boys club. There's a lot of diversity, there's a lot of opportunity, there's a ton of professionalism." Currently, Oulton estimates approximately 4,000 people are working in the trucking profession on the Island — roughly half of those are drivers. But, he said more than 500 additional people will be needed over the next five years. "The major shortage we have here is for long-haul truck drivers ... as well as truck and transport mechanics." Aging industry According to Oulton, there are several factors that play into the current situation. On one hand, he said trucking is an aging profession on P.E.I. with the majority of workers being over 45 years old. "We're seeing people come in as a second career," said Oulton. "That puts a bit of pressure and I guess makes us a bit older as an industry." 'The majority of our workforce, in fact, is 45-plus,' says Brian Oulton, the executive director at the P.E.I. Trucking Sector Council.(Tony Davis/CBC News) On top of that, he said COVID-19 has had an impact on getting temporary foreign workers and training new employees. "As part of the training, each student will take a four-week internship with a company and be paired with a driver coach," said Oulton. "Well, a lot of coaches don't want to share their trucks right now." 'Quite fortunate' Seafood Express Transport said it has just enough drivers at the moment but is also struggling to recruit more. "We've been quite fortunate to have our trucks full but ... I do find it difficult to find good quality drivers," said Suzanne Gray, the company's recruiting co-ordinator. 'Our minimum experience is two years experience on the road, but it's hard to find that nowadays,' says Suzanne Gray, the recruiting co-ordinator at Seafood Express Transport.(CBC News) Gray said there is still a lot of interest in local container work but people they've interviewed for jobs seem reluctant to travel to the U.S. "A lot of them just have a fear of going into those high areas that are ... COVID hotspots." Finding people who qualify for the job is also becoming more difficult. "Our minimum experience is two years experience on the road, but it's hard to find that nowadays, of drivers that are qualified, that have the experience and that are looking for U.S. long-haul work in particular," she said. Driver diversity For those interested in joining the industry Oulton said they can reach out to the trucking sector council for more information. And while he said it is helpful that many drivers are continuing to work after 65 years old, he said the council is looking to attract those who may not have considered driving as a career. "It was traditionally a male-dominated industry, which we've been doing a lot of work to attract women and, you know youth, other groups to this," said Oulton. "It's a slower process and we're getting there but that has kind of been part of it as well." More from CBC P.E.I.
Saskatchewan is reporting 358 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, the highest single-day increase in nearly three months. On Jan. 15, 382 new cases were announced. Premier Scott Moe said his government will consider over the coming days whether more public health measures need to be put in place. "These numbers will be watched very, very closely," Moe said, adding that conversations with Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, will continue. Moe said the province will get advice from Shahab on whether the stricter health orders in place in Regina should be extended out across the rest of the province. While Shahab provides advice, it's the government that ultimately decides on public health measures. Moe said he had not yet spoken to Shahab on Friday. The premier called the restrictions already in place throughout the province "significant" and called for people who are impatient for the pandemic to be over to remain vigilant. "Over the course of these last number of weeks, we need to double down our efforts on the existing health measures," Moe said. Regional change may be needed: Moe Moe said officials would look at where the increase in cases is happening and decide on whether any regional steps are necessary. The highest proportion of new cases announced Friday came from the Regina area, where rules were already tightened two weeks ago due to concerns about rising variant cases. The overall caseload was spread out regionally as follows: far northwest (six), northwest (30), north central (14), northeast (seven), Saskatoon (64), central west (three), central east (19), Regina (108), southwest (four), south central (eight), and southeast (63). Moe said the province would also consider whether even stricter rules are needed in the Regina area. "We haven't had those conversations yet, but I know we will," he said. (CBC) "We would hope that we'll be able to manage through this but we do have to ensure that we are ensuring the safety of Saskatchewan people," Moe said. 6 new deaths Six new deaths were also reported Friday. One was in the 40 to 49 age group from the Regina area, four were in the 70 to 79 age group in the Regina (two), Saskatoon and southeast areas, and one was in the 80-and-over age group in the Regina area. Saskatchewan's seven-day average for total new cases stands at 242, or 19.7 new cases per 100,000 people. The last time it was that high was in late January, near the end of Saskatchewan's deadly second wave. Two hundred and six people are in hospital due to COVID-19 in the province, including 43 people under intensive care. "There are younger people that are staying in hospital for a lengthier period of time," Moe said of recent COVID-19 data trends. Variant cases update Health officials have now identified 3,086 cases of COVID-19 variants so far in the province, an increase of more than 100 cases from Thursday. Regina saw the highest day-over-day increase, with 2,189 variant cases now identified compared to 2,107 on Thursday. The variant cases identified so far in Saskatoon held steady at 189. (Government of Saskatchewan)
Two employees working at two different city-operated mass immunization clinics have tested positive for COVID-19. In a news release issued by Toronto Public Health (TPH) Friday, the city said one of the employees worked at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre clinic between April 2 and 5. The other staff member was on-site at the Scarborough Town Centre clinic from March 31 to April 2. "The risk to the general public who attended the clinics is extremely low," the news release reads. The employees and those who may have come into contact with them were all wearing appropriate personal protective equipment and maintained physical distancing, TPH said. Measures to ensure the safety of clinic staff and those with appointments for vaccination have been taken, the city says. "As a precaution, anyone who was at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre clinic between April 2 and 5 or the Scarborough Town Centre between March 31 and April 2 should monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days after their visit," TPH advised. Any staff who may have come into contact with the individuals who tested positive have been informed and are following public health direction. TPH says the clinics have been cleaned and sanitized and are carefully following safety measures. All clinic operations are continuing and those with confirmed appointments should still attend at their scheduled time, the health unit says.
Ukraine's defence minister said on Saturday his country could be provoked by Russian aggravation of the situation in the conflict area of Ukraine's eastern Donbass region. The minister, Andrii Taran, said Russian accusations about the rights of Russian-speakers being violated could be the reason for the resumption of armed aggression against Ukraine. "At the same time, it should be noted that the intensification of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine is possible only if an appropriate political decision is made at the highest level in the Kremlin," he said in a statement.
After seven years on the job, Estevan’s police chief, Paul Ladouceur, is to step down April 16 amid mounting pressure by the police union, which is urging changes after votes of non-confidence in his role as chief. Conversely, the city’s chairman of the board of police commissioners, Roy Ludwig, who’s also the mayor, says the union lacks “all the information,” alleging it has engaged in “conjecture.” Ladouceur tendered his resignation with Ludwig on Thursday afternoon. He resigns following union pressure for how he and the board of police commissioners allegedly handled Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) claims made by the late Jay Pierson, a former Estevan police constable. Ladouceur did not return the Leader-Post’s request for comment. Citing confidentiality, Ludwig said he couldn’t provide details about Ladouceur’s or the board’s handling of mental health concerns officers raised. “Unfortunately some of these people do not have all the information,” he said. “We cannot release confidential information. “As a result, some people will conjecture and make up their own opinions, not knowing all of the background, all of the facts and of course there's nothing we can do to prevent that.” Three different medical professionals diagnosed Pierson with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He died on March 5 of natural causes, his family says. Pierson first filed benefit claims for his PTSD in 2017. Estevan police administrators appealed those claims through a WCB appeal process. In June 2020 a Court of Queen’s Bench Justice ruled Pierson should have his benefits reinstated after they were denied through the WCB appeal. Casey Ward, president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Police Officers (SFPO), told the Leader-Post he heard from Estevan police members “there was a real lack of support with mental health issues … They saw how Jay was treated. There are members that are hurting and they thought there would be no support if they came forward.” Two EPS members last week called Ward, he said, to tell him “‘we're not eligible for retirement, but we're quitting, we can't work there anymore.’” The SFPO president said Estevan members have twice called non-confidence votes for the chief over the past 12 months. In the fall of 2020, they voted — at the SFPO’s urging — to keep Ladouceur on board to work with him. This year shortly before Pierson’s death, Ward said all but four Estevan members voted for a non-confidence motion against Ladouceur. After their colleague’s death, they “came back to the (local) president (Kevin Reed) and said 'we want to change our vote,' and they had 100-per-cent agreement of non-confidence.” Reed did not respond to the Leader-Post’s phone calls for comment. The SFPO on Tuesday sent a letter to Saskatchewan’s policing and corrections minister, Christine Tell, requesting “a formal review of the leadership of the Estevan Police Service (EPS),” Ward said. Tell’s office confirmed it received the letter. In an emailed statement, Tell said, “at this time no decisions have been made regarding an inquiry into the Estevan Police Service.” She said her ministry “places a high priority on mental health for our police services and corrections staff.” Ludwig commended Ladouceur’s work in his service with the city. He said the chief’s securing “carbine (rifles)” for its members, getting funding through SGI to pay for new police cruisers and obtaining speed radar cameras are examples of that. “He was able to find revenue streams that we did not have the opportunity to even be aware of in the past. He had a great relationship with SGI and with the provincial government.” Ladouceur joined the Estevan Police Service as chief in April 2014, after working as a detective-sergeant with the Brockville, Ont. police service. Before that, he was with the London, Ont., police force for about 11 years. Sgt. Warren Morrical is to serve as the interim police chief, until the city finds a permanent replacement, Ludwig said. email@example.com Evan Radford, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Regina Leader-Post, The Leader-Post
The Ottawa Police Service has cleared a Nunavut RCMP officer in the shooting death of a man last year. Abraham Natanine, who was 31, was killed on May 5, when the Mountie responded to a call about a domestic disturbance in the community of Clyde River. Ottawa police have a memorandum of understanding with Nunavut RCMP to investigate major incidents involving officers, and can lay criminal charges. Investigators travelled to Clyde River on May 7 and interviewed 10 civilian witnesses and three police witnesses. Nunavut RCMP says in a statement that it has received a copy of the report and supports its findings that no officer committed a criminal offence. The Government of Nunavut's justice department has also been notified of the investigation's conclusion. In a statement, Brian Sauvé, president of the National Police Federation, the union that represents the RCMP, said any loss of life "is tragic and an absolute last resort for our member officers." "That said, our members have a responsibility to uphold the law and to protect the public and themselves," Sauvé said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 9, 2021. The Canadian Press
TOPEKA, Kan. — Republicans on Friday ousted a powerful Kansas lawmaker charged with drunken driving from his leadership job following the release of a document saying he taunted the Highway Patrol trooper who arrested him and called the officer “donut boy.” Senate Majority Leader Gene Suellentrop’s removal was the first time in at least several decades that a Kansas legislative leader’s colleagues pushed someone out before the end of his or her term. Suellentrop, a Wichita Republican, had been set to be majority leader through 2024. Republican senators voted 22-4 to remove Suellentrop during a 50-minute meeting that was closed to reporters and the public. Senate President Ty Masterson disclosed the vote afterward, saying Republican senators would have an acting majority leader until late May, when they will elect a new majority leader. “These are just heavy issues,” Masterson, another Wichita-area Republican, told reporters after the meeting. “We build relationships in this chamber, so it’s kind of a sad day.” Suellentrop will remain in the seat for his Wichita district. Masterson said whether Suellentrop retains the seat is up to his constituents. Kansas law limits the grounds for a recall to a felony conviction, misconduct in office or “failure to perform duties prescribed by law.” Constituents seeking to recall Suellentrop would have to file petitions signed by more than 3,900 registered voters in his district. Suellentrop stepped away from most of his duties as majority leader following his March 16 arrest in Topeka after he was stopped on Interstate 70 for driving the wrong way. He was the Senate’s second-highest leadership job, and the majority leader decides which proposals are debated each day. Asked about his relationship with Suellentrop, Masterson said, "Yes, we're still friends.” “I've made mistakes myself, maybe not to that level,” he said. "Think about it: Take your most shameful decision and put it on the news every night.” Suellentrop was not available to reporters Friday and did not attend the meeting of fellow senators. He did not answer his cellphone, and it didn’t allow for a voicemail message seeking comment. Suellentrop faces five counts, including a felony fleeing to avoid arrest and a misdemeanour driving under the influence charge. An affidavit from the Highway Patrol officer who arrested him was released Thursday, and it said Suellentrop's blood-alcohol level after his arrest was .17, more than twice the legal limit of .08. The call for a vote to remove Suellentrop came first from Republican Sen. Rick Kloos, of Topeka, who said he “had numerous conversations” with colleagues and the release of the affidavit was a deciding factor. He was joined by two other Topeka-area senator, Republicans Kristen O'Shea and Brenda Dietrich. “We came to the decision today that we put this off long enough, as difficult as it is. We have more information now,” Dietrich said. GOP senators kept the doors to their normal meeting room closed. Reporters who waited outside could see through glass in the doors legislative staffers distributing and then collecting slips of paper serving as ballots. Asked earlier in the day about having the discussions in public, Masterson said: “We’ve had plenty of discussion in public.” Assistant Majority Leader Larry Alley, who represents a district south of Wichita, will serve as acting majority leader, as he has since mid-March. Republicans will pick a new majority leader on the last day of this year's legislative session, Masterson said. Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Austin Shepley said in his affidavit that Suellentrop refused to take a breathalyzer test and was taken to a Topeka hospital for a blood test after a judge issued a warrant. At one point, he called Shepley “donut boy,” according to the affidavit, and said the events were “all for going the wrong way.” “While the phlebotomist was administering the blood kit, Gene Suellentop’s demeanour becoming slightly aggressive in his tone, he made reference to physically going up against me,” Shepley said. “He looked me up and down, stating he played state sports competitively in high school. He stated he could ‘take me.’” ___ Follow John Hanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjdhanna John Hanna, The Associated Press
REGINA — A group of 285 Saskatchewan physicians have banded together to urge the provincial government to implement stricter COVID-19 health measures and vaccinate younger essential workers. The doctors' names are on a letter sent Friday to Premier Scott Moe and Health Minister Paul Merriman that said intensive care admissions are at an all-time high with younger, previously healthy people. "Many of these (people) are essential service workers and those from lower socio-economic status groups who cannot stay home or cannot isolate from their families if someone is sick," the letter read. "There have been more cases in youth under the age of 19 and more cases in schools." The doctors said they want the government to step up public-health measures across the province to be consistent with what is in place in Regina. The capital region has become a hot spot for the more contagious COVID-19 variants, forcing the government to implement stricter rules. In Regina and some surrounding communities, private indoor gatherings are limited to household members, restaurants are closed for in-person dining, in-person worship services are capped at 30 people and all event venues are shuttered. Restrictions in the rest of the province include allowing individual households to have up to 10 people at a time from two to three different households. Worship services can also have up to 30 per cent of a building’s seating capacity or 150 attendees, whichever is less. "Our current measures are not enough. Our system will not cope with these more aggressive, more contagious and more lethal variants," the doctors' letter said. "Without further action, both our health-care system and the economy will be further devastated." Health officials reported Friday 358 new cases of COVID-19 and six new deaths. Since the pandemic began, 453 people have died in Saskatchewan due to the virus. A total of 3,086 variants of concern have been identified by screening in Saskatchewan, the province said. There were 206 people in hospital with the illness and, of those, 43 were in intensive care. The doctors' letter also said the government should provide immediate economic support for those whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic, as well as give paid sick time to all essential workers. "Vaccinations are the light at the end of the tunnel, but we are not close enough to the end to rely solely on them," the physicians wrote. They have also urged the province to rethink its age-based immunization strategy, saying that younger health-care and front-line workers will not receive the vaccine fast enough to protect them. All those workers and people at higher risk due to socio-economic factors as well as medical risks should be prioritized, the doctors said. Earlier in the week, the Saskatchewan Medical Association also criticized the age-based vaccination plan. The association said Wednesday that the government’s refusal to immediately vaccinate essential workers, including physicians and health-care workers who have not yet received their shots, "will result in more deaths and long-term illness." The Saskatchewan Party government was not immediately available for comment on the letter, but has said changing its age-based strategy would slow the rate of people getting the shots. Vicki Mowat, the Opposition NDP's health critic, said in a statement Friday that ignoring the experts has led to a "slow motion lockdown," which doesn't get the pandemic under control or get people back to work. "The premier had the opportunity in November, when the second wave was hitting our province, to take the right steps and introduce a short-term circuit breaker," Mowat said. "But he ignored the experts then, as he's ignoring them now." This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 9, 2021. — By Daniela Germano in Edmonton The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Grassroots Liberals have overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution calling on the federal government to develop and implement a universal basic income — despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's apparent lack of enthusiasm for the idea. The resolution, co-sponsored by the Liberal caucus, passed by a vote of 491-85 Saturday at the governing party's virtual convention. It will automatically become official party policy, along with 10 other top priority resolutions that were fast-tracked at the convention. Another 26 resolutions were also approved Saturday morning but must still go through another vote later in the day to be narrowed down to 15 and become official party policy. Among those 26 were resolutions calling for enforceable, national standards for long-term care homes, a 10-per-cent increase in old age security for those 70 and over, and implementation of a national pharmacare program, which the Trudeau government has promised but has taken only incremental steps towards achieving. Others included calls for a "green new deal" to ensure a just and fair to transition to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, investments in "transformational projects" to create jobs for workers displaced by that transition and tax incentives for large corporations to invest in renewable resource development. Still others called for investments in affordable housing, a trans-Canada high-speed rail line, expanded access to high-speed Internet and measures to turn Canada into an "agricultural superpower." Participants rejected just five resolutions, including the only one that could have helped the government pay for all the other proposed costly new initiatives endorsed by convention-goers. That defeated resolution called on the government to impose an inheritance tax on all assets over $2 million and to reduce the capital gains tax exemption by 40 per cent. Some of the non-binding resolutions mesh with the government's stated intention to spend up to $100 billion to fuel a green, inclusive economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, on top of the $380-billion-plus deficit already racked up helping Canadians stay afloat. But Trudeau has already signalled his lack of enthusiasm for the universal basic income idea, suggesting now is not the time to embark on a costly overhaul of the country's social safety net. The parliamentary budget officer last week concluded that a universal basic income could almost halve Canada's poverty rate in just one year but at a steep cost: $85-billion in 2021-22, rising to $93-billion in 2025-26. Toronto MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, one of the champions of the idea within the Liberal caucus, said in an interview that he understands the price tag is daunting. Still, he said he's hopeful that the convention's endorsement of the idea will push the government to move gradually in that direction. At the 2018 convention, Liberals passed a resolution calling for decriminalization of all illicit drug use. Trudeau rejected the idea at the time but Erskine-Smith noted his government has since been moving toward treating drug addiction as a public health issue rather than a criminal issue, including with proposed legislation repealing mandatory minimum sentences for minor drug offences. Trudeau also initially opposed legalization of cannabis despite a party resolution calling for it, only to later change his mind. His government legalized recreational marijuana during its first mandate. Trudeau will wrap up the three day convention later Saturday with a keynote speech. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 10, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — People camping and living in a Vancouver park will have until the end of the month to pack up their tents. Vancouver's park board general manager issued a new order Friday restricting tents and other temporary structures from being set up in Strathcona Park after April 30. Donnie Rosa said the order builds on the board's work to take back bits of the park for the community. "The intention is the encampment doesn't grow and these folks are going to be moved indoors over the next few weeks," Rosa said. A statement accompanying the order called the shut down a "necessary next step" to return the park to community use. The order comes after the province, city and park board signed a formal agreement this week to end the 10-month encampment that has swelled to roughly 400 tents. The encampment has faced criticism from a local neighbourhood association, which alleges it has become a source of crime and violence. "There are a number of people in our neighbourhood that feel quite traumatized by the experience they've gone through in the last 10 months. I'm certain there's a section of the camp population that is as well," said Katie Lewis, the vice-president of the Strathcona Residents' Association. She said it's been a long 10 months of dealing with the encampment, and she's looking forward to the park being accessible to the wider community. "I'm looking forward to kids playing in the park, I'm looking forward to seeing the Chinese elders do their tai chi there in the morning," Lewis said. "It's a pretty magical place and I'm so looking forward to seeing it thrive again." Chrissy Brett, a spokeswoman for the encampment, said campers haven't yet decided if they'll abide by the order. "It is definitely a colonial response," she said. Brett said the campers want to see the development of an urban reserve or co-op, which would allow them to camp outside if desired. Earlier this month, the British Columbia government announced it had bought three more hotels with a total of 249 units to help house the homeless. About 114 units are expected to be available soon. The campers moved into Strathcona Park after the Vancouver Port Authority won a court injunction requiring them to leave nearby Crab Park. They previously camped at Oppenheimer Park, which was shut down by the B.C. government after nearly two years over fears of COVID-19 spreading. Rosa acknowledged the possibility of the campers following the previous pattern of moving to a new location, but said the board's new bylaw to restrict when tents can be in parks could impact that movement. "We're working on our plans to make sure we're enforcing our park control bylaw," she said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 9, 2021. Nick Wells, The Canadian Press
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday called for the "worrying" developments in eastern Ukraine's Donbass region to come to an end after meeting his Ukrainian counterpart in Istanbul, adding Turkey was ready to provide any necessary support. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy held more than three hours of talks with Erdogan in Istanbul as part of a previously scheduled visit, amid tensions between Kyiv and Moscow over the conflict in Donbass. Kyiv has raised the alarm over a buildup of Russian forces near the border between Ukraine and Russia, and over a rise in violence along the line of contact separating Ukrainian troops and Russia-backed separatists in Donbass.
MONTREAL — Health officials in Quebec City pleaded with residents on Friday to follow health orders after the capital region reported the highest number of new daily COVID-19 infections in the province for a second consecutive day. Quebec City had 449 new cases compared to 392 in Montreal, a city more than three times its size. The region south of the provincial capital, Chaudiere-Appalaches, reported 218 new cases. "We don't know how it'll evolve in the coming days," Dr. Andre Dontigny, head of public health for the provincial capital health region, told reporters. "Will it reach a plateau? Will it continue to increase?" He said 70 per cent of the new cases reported in Quebec City involve the B.1.1.7 mutation of the novel coronavirus, which is considered more contagious and virulent than the original strain. Dontigny said variants will continue to play a larger role. "That's the new pandemic, in a way," he said. The provincial government has placed Quebec City, Levis, Gatineau and several municipalities in the Beauce region under emergency measures, closing schools and non-essential businesses in those areas and applying an 8 p.m. curfew. The health order was extended on Thursday until at least April 18, and it is unclear whether it will need to be extended further in the provincial capital, Dontigny said. As of Friday, authorities had linked at least 506 cases in the region to the Mega Fitness Gym — 208 cases linked directly to the Quebec City facility and another 298 secondary infections from 40 related outbreaks. Dontigny said the gym is an example of the kind of outbreak officials don't want to see, but it alone doesn't explain Quebec City's high case count. He said the region had noted a rise in cases of the B.1.1.7 variant in late March, before it struck gym clients. Also, he said, the lifting of some restrictions in the area may have contributed to the spread. On Thursday, Quebec Premier Francois Legault also announced a return to an 8 p.m. curfew for Montreal and Laval beginning Sunday, calling it a preventive measure. Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante acknowledged that people in the city are at their wits' end. "For me, this measure is a lesser evil. I prefer a curfew instead of a lockdown if the situation degenerates further," she said in a video posted to Facebook. "We were the epicentre of the first wave, and I don't want to happen again with this third wave." Quebec reported 1,683 new COVID-19 cases Friday and eight more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including five in the previous 24 hours. Health officials said hospitalizations rose by three, to 569, and 134 people were in intensive care, a rise of two. Quebec set a single day record for COVID-19 vaccinations Thursday with 69,148 doses administered, including 16,161 Oxford-AstraZeneca shots that were administered at special walk-in clinics for those 55 and older wanting that specific vaccine. The AstraZeneca vaccine is currently only available to those between the ages of 55 and 79, after the government suspended its use in younger people over concerns about rare but serious blood clots. The province has now vaccinated 1,754,749 people with a dose of vaccine, representing about 20.6 per cent of the population. Late Thursday, Quebec announced the first 13 companies that will operate clinics in their workplaces, with each site able to vaccinate up to 25,000 people between May and August. Participating companies include National Bank, Bell, and Groupe CH, owner of the Montreal Canadiens NHL team. The clinics will be located in eight different health regions and should be operational by May 1. Montreal's airport authority will partner with Air Canada and Bombardier to create a vaccination hub that will operate two sites at the departure level of the airport terminal and in a nearby Bombardier hangar. The Quebec government said 450 companies offered to help the inoculation campaign. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 9, 2021. Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
Allison Garber says from the outside it looked like she had it all together. The communications business owner and mother of two may not have looked like a problem drinker. But she says she found herself willing the clock to hit 5 p.m. every day so she could open a bottle of wine and pour a glass. Then "not so patiently" waiting for her kids to go to bed so she could have a few more. Garber decided she had a problem with drinking in 2018 and sought help. She's been sober now for more than two years and is thankful her recovery came before the pandemic did. "I am so glad that I was not still stuck on this train where I viewed alcohol as a reward for getting through a tough day," she said. "[The pandemic] just amplified everything. It has amplified how we use alcohol as a form of self-medication, as a form of self care. "And that message is reinforced almost everywhere you go. You've had a long day, pour yourself a glass of wine." WATCH | Allison Garber says it was hard to come to the realization she had a problem with alcohol: Drinking among women has increased steadily in recent years. In 2018, the Report on the State of Public Health from Canada's chief public health officer identified alcohol use in women as one of the most pressing concerns of our time. The report highlighted that from 2011 to 2017, deaths attributed to alcohol increased by 26 per cent among Canadian women, while alcohol-related deaths in men increased just five per cent. The pandemic has led to soaring alcohol sales and some Canadians are reporting increased binge drinking. A Statistics Canada survey released in January shows many Canadians are not just pouring themselves a single glass. Almost one in five who responded to the survey said they consumed five or more drinks — the equivalent of a bottle of wine — on the days they reported drinking alcohol in the previous month. The agency says this is higher than before COVID-19 hit. When women drink, the health effects can be staggering. Drinking three to six alcoholic beverages a week increases the risk of breast cancer in women by 15 per cent. Women who drink two glasses of wine daily have a 50 per cent increase in their risk of breast cancer. "What we might consider to be very modest amounts of alcohol are still really significant from a health perspective," said Dr. Jennifer Wyman, associate director of the Substance Use Service at Women's College Hospital. Right now, Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines recommend no more than 10 drinks per week for women and 15 for men. The agency in charge of these guidelines, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, is looking now at whether they should be changed. The current guidelines need to be revised to reflect the risks, said Dr. Wyman. WATCH | Dr. Jennifer Wyman talks about why she feels the low-risk alcohol guidelines need to change: One drink a day or seven a week would likely be more reasonable, she said, adding that the guidelines are meant to be a maximum even though they may not always be treated that way. Dr. Wyman says she thinks some people view the guideline's 10-drinks-a-week maximum and interpret that as being what the average person is drinking. "And therefore, if that's what they're drinking, then they're sort of within the middle of the spectrum and they're doing OK, as opposed to that's really the maximum number that you should be thinking about," she said. "And it doesn't mean that you should be aiming to hit that every week. That should be the tops." Just as the upper limits for alcohol consumption are different for women and men, so are the reasons why they drink. The pressure put on women to fill several different roles has many counting down to the time that they can pour a glass of wine, Dr. Wyman says. "I think that women tend to drink as a coping mechanism," she said. A report from Canada's chief public health officer identified alcohol use in women as one of the most pressing health concerns, with deaths attributed to alcohol increasing by 26 per cent among Canadian women from 2011 to 2017. Since then, the pandemic has led to soaring alcohol sales.() Alcohol is often seen as the quickest decompression tool, says Ann Dowsett Johnston, who wrote the book Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol. "If you can't get to a yoga class, if you can't figure out how you're going to fit that in, or a long bath, or a walk around the block — you're making dinner, you're at the vegetable chopping block, you pour a glass of wine." Alcohol consumption is reinforced socially as well. Girls nights out, popping champagne for a celebration, wine at a book club. It's how we celebrate, relax and reward ourselves, Dowsett Johnston said. It has also become a social media phenomenon that moms need wine to cope. There are wine glasses emblazoned with "mom juice" and "because kids." "I think the whole notion of mommy drinking has become a meme, and I think that there's far too much humour about it. I think it's a serious social issue." Dowsett Johnston says the pandemic has only added to the burdens many women carry. WATCH | Ann Dowsett Johnston discusses the challenges facing women that may influence their alcohol consumption: The "mommy juice" marketing to help cope is something life coach Alexis McCalla resents. "You're making an assumption that they can't handle their life, so they have to go out and drink," the Whitby, Ont., mother said. "And now you're normalizing it." McCalla never drank an amount even close to the 10 drinks a week upper limit, but said she found herself having a glass of wine to unwind during the pandemic more often than she normally would. Previously, opened wine bottles would go unfinished. But she says she found herself making more frequent trips to the liquor store to numb the fear she was feeling about COVID-19. She says she journaled and asked herself tough questions, and in the end realized she was drinking more because she worried about her family getting sick during the pandemic. Once McCalla got to the root of her fears, she says she decided to stop drinking, doing an alcohol-free period with a few of her clients. She's also working with some of them to address the anxieties at the core of their alcohol consumption. McCalla has had a single glass of wine since then and found she wasn't interested in restarting, realizing she was getting a better night's sleep and a harder workout the next day if she didn't open a bottle. "I could have gone and read another book. I could have spoken to friends or journaled and learned more about myself." Life coach Alexis McCalla said once she decided to cut out alcohol altogether, she realized she was getting a better night's sleep and a more effective workout the next day.(Alexis McCalla) McCalla and the women she has helped are not the only ones questioning their drinking. Dawn Nickel is based in Victoria, B.C. She's the founder of SheRecovers, an addictions recovery program tailored to women. Nickel says in the last year, the number of women who have reached out has exploded. "Our Facebook group went from 2,000 people to 7,800 in the last year." Nickel says not every woman contacting the program has an alcohol abuse disorder. For some, abstinence is the goal, for others it could be cutting back. "We just talk about, like, what are your goals? What's your intention? Do you want to slow down? Do you want to stop? You pick it and we'll support you to get there." The pandemic may have led to more drinking, but with so many recovery programs now online, Nickel says finding help is also easier and more convenient than ever. So is finding a safe space to question why they need alcohol to cope. "There's so much support for them now," Nickel said. "We're having these conversations for the first time in society around what we're being influenced by, and who says we have to have a bottle of wine every evening to unwind." For Garber, recovery involved a more traditional 12-step program. "I knew that if I continued down this path, I was going to face some dire consequences. I could see it clearly. And so I made a choice to reach out to a friend who I knew was in recovery herself." Now, Garber is supporting other women who reach out and need help. She joined a running club and trains for races. She runs on the waterfront every Saturday and on the days when Halifax's famous clouds part, she takes a moment to stop and take a picture of the sunrise, grateful for how far she's come. "I stop at the same place every time," she said. "It's just this chance to say thank you to whatever it is out there that helped me stay here." Watch full episodes of The National on CBC Gem, the CBC's streaming service.
Washington will rush federal resources to support vaccinations, testing and treatments, but not vaccines, to Michigan in an effort to control the state's worst-in-the-nation COVID-19 outbreak, the White House said Friday. The announcement came as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer strongly recommended, but did not order, a two-week pause on face-to-face high school instruction, indoor restaurant dining and youth sports. She cited more contagious coronavirus variants and pandemic fatigue as factors in the surge, which has led some hospitals to postpone non-emergency procedures. Statewide hospitalizations have quadrupled in a month and are nearing peak levels from last spring and fall. “Policy alone won't change the tide. We need everyone to step up and to take personal responsibility,” Whitmer said Friday, while not ruling out future restrictions. Michigan's seven-day case rate was 506 per 100,000 people, well above second-worst New Jersey, with 314 per 100,000 residents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. President Joe Biden outlined the federal actions late Thursday in a call with Whitmer to discuss the dire situation in the state, according to senior administration officials. The response will not include a “surge” of vaccine doses, a move Whitmer has advocated and which is backed by Michigan legislators and members of Congress. Instead, Biden talked about how the federal government was planning to help Michigan better utilize doses already allocated to the state, as well as to increase testing capacity and provide more medications used to treat the sick. Whitmer, a Democrat, confirmed that she asked Biden on the call to send more vaccine doses to Michigan, particularly the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot. “I made the case for a surge strategy,” she said. “At this point, that's not being deployed, but I am not giving up." “Today it's Michigan and the Midwest,” she added. "Tomorrow, it could be another section of our country. I really believe that the most important thing we can do is put our efforts into squelching where the hot spots are." Doses are allocated to states proportionally by population, but Whitmer has called for extra doses to be shifted to states, like hers, that are experiencing a sharp rise in cases. The Biden administration isn't ready to make such changes. “We’re going to stick with the allocation system of allocating by state adult population," said White House COVID-19 co-ordinator Jeff Zients, calling it “the fair and equitable way” to distribute vaccines. He said the administration was looking to help Michigan administer more of its vaccines efficiently. When Whitmer began calling for more doses from Washington, the state had not maxed out its orders for vaccines from the federal government, according to a person familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the situation. Gen. Gustave Perna, the top federal official overseeing vaccine distribution, raised the issue of gaps between states' allotments and their orders on Tuesday in a White House call with the nation's governors. On Thursday, Biden administration officials huddled directly with the Michigan health department to discuss the state's ordering strategy and ensure that it uses its entire allotment. “We actually met with the White House team yesterday and walked through our entire ordering strategy, and when we ordered what and when,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, a top state health official, said Friday. "It's very clear. They agreed with us that we are ordering all of the vaccines that are available to us.” Federal officials said providing more doses would not be as immediately effective in curbing Michigan's virus spike as increasing testing, restoring measures like mask wearing, and foregoing high-risk activities. That's because vaccines take at least two weeks to begin providing immunity. Biden told Whitmer that his administration stands ready to send an additional 160 Federal Emergency Management Agency and CDC personnel to Michigan to assist in vaccinations, on top of the 230 federal personnel already deployed to the state to support pandemic response operations. He's also directing the administration to prioritize the distribution of doses through federal channels, like the retail pharmacy program and community health centres, to areas of the state Whitmer identifies. “We are at war with this virus, which requires leaders from across the country to work together,” said White House spokesperson Chris Meagher. “We’re in close contact with Gov. Whitmer, who is working hard to keep Michigan safe, and working in close co-ordination through a range of options that can help stop the spread of the virus.” Michigan ranked 35th among states in its vaccination rate. About 40% of Michigan residents ages 16 and older have gotten at least one vaccine dose. The governor's recommended high school closure drew mixed reaction in education circles. Her administration closed high schools for a month during the state's second surge late last fall. “Research has shown schools can be safe places for in-person learning, so long as community spread is under control — but with higher risk in our communities comes higher risk in classrooms,” said Michigan Education Association President Paula Herbart, whose union urged a similar two-week suspension of in-person learning at elementary and middle schools and colleges. Restaurants, meanwhile, questioned Whitmer's recommendation not to eat inside but welcomed the call for more vaccines. “We trust our operators to continue to provide a safe environment indoors or out in the coming weeks and we trust Michiganders to do their part to act responsibly and respectfully to help us all achieve that outcome,” said Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association. ___ Eggert reported from Lansing, Mich. Zeke Miller And David Eggert, The Associated Press