Earnings news continues to come out, as interesting acquisitions take place in the technology space.
BANGKOK — Three Cabinet ministers in Thailand were forced to leave their posts Wednesday after a court found them guilty of sedition for taking part in sometimes-violent protests in 2013-2014 against the government then in power. The Criminal Court in Bangkok found Digital Economy Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta, Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan and Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senneam guilty along with about two dozen other defendants in a case that was launched in 2018. Nataphol was among 10 Cabinet member who survived a no-confidence vote on Saturday over their performance in the current government. The verdicts can be appealed to a higher court but under the law the Cabinet ministers must relinquish their jobs immediately. Another prominent person convicted Wednesday was Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy prime minister who helped found the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, which led the demonstrations against the elected government of then-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Instability caused by the street protests led to the Thai army staging a coup in 2014 and keeping power until 2019. Suthep and the Cabinet ministers each received prison sentences ranging from five to about seven years. Another prominent defendant, Suwit Thongprasert, who was a Buddhist monk known as Buddha Issara during the protests, was sentenced to 4 years and 8 months in prison. All were remanded into custody pending appeals procedures. “We are prepared. Whatever happens, will happen,” Suthep said outside the court. "But I have to assure you that the protest leaders and those who share our same belief, that we are fighting for our country and our land. We firmly believe in responsibility in our actions and not violating the law.” The protests marked the tail end of almost a decade of intense political contention in Thailand that began in 2006 after then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted by a coup after being accused of corruption and abuse of power. Thaksin is Yingluck's brother, and they are both currently in exile. Thaksin’s ouster set off years of sometimes violent conflict between his supporters and opponents, both of which engaged in aggressive street protests against governments led by the other’s faction. The People’s Democratic Reform Committee was in the anti-Thaksin camp, which in an earlier incarnation as the People’s Alliance for Democracy occupied the prime minister’s offices and Bangkok’s international airport for about a week in 2008. Thaksin’s supporters were known as the Red Shirts, and in 2010 wreaked havoc by occupying part of central Bangkok. Their protest was suppressed by the army in several weeks of violence that took almost 100 lives. The court in Bangkok on Wednesday dismissed charges of insurrection and terrorism against the defendants, on the ground that they had not used force to hurt anyone. However, Suthep and 26 other defendants were found guilty on several other lesser charges carrying prison terms as short as four months. The court suspended for two years the sentences of 12 people because they considered them participants rather than leaders of the protests. Chalida Ekvithayavechnukul, The Associated Press
Les villes de Dunham et de Sutton pourront profiter d’une subvention de 13 800 $ remise à chacune pour mettre à jour leur plan d’action Municipalité amie des aînés (MADA). Dunham a adopté sa première politique Familles et Aînés en 2017, tandis que Sutton a une telle politique depuis 2012. Les sommes ont été consenties à la suite d’un appel de projets dans le cadre du programme de soutien de la démarche. L’argent et le programme servent à favoriser l’émergence d’environnements bâtis et sociaux propices au vieillissement actif. «C’est une bonne chose, se réjouit le maire de Dunham, Pierre Janecek. Ça va être bien pour la population vieillissante. C’est très apprécié.» Depuis 2017, la municipalité a lancé un club de marche pour les 50 ans et plus. Avant la pandémie, entre 15 et 20 personnes y participaient. Des ateliers d’initiation à l’informatique ont également été organisés, de même que différents ateliers et conférences à la bibliothèque. Dunham a aussi travaillé sa règlementation afin de permettre les maisons bigénérationnelles dans son cœur villageois. Aussitôt qu’il sera possible de se rassembler, la Municipalité prévoit consulter sa population pour la mise à jour de la politique et du plan d’action. Le maire de Sutton, Michel Lafrance, remercie la ministre responsable des Aînés et des Proches aidants, Marguerite Blais, de croire en leur projet. «Notre projet démontre que la Ville a une vraie préoccupation pour la qualité et les saines habitudes de vie des aînés et des proches aidants», dit-il. Sutton prévoit faire une présentation publique des résultats du dernier plan d’action 2017-2020. «Les projets soutenus dans le cadre de ce programme témoignent de l’engagement des villes de Dunham et de Sutton à promouvoir le mieux-être des aînés de leurs municipalités, et nous pouvons en être fiers, commente par communiqué Isabelle Charest, députée caquiste de Brome-Missisquoi. De telles initiatives sont à la fois rassembleuses et porteuses pour nos communautés et elles auront un effet positif considérable sur la qualité de vie des personnes âgées, favorisant par le fait même leur épanouissement, et ce, de manière durable.» Cynthia Laflamme, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix de l'Est
VANCOUVER — Two more units have been added to a COVID-19 outbreak declared at Vancouver General Hospital. A statement from Vancouver Coastal Health says outbreaks are underway on inpatient units T-14-G and T-11-G in the highrise tower of the hospital's Jim Pattison Pavilion. The health authority says the outbreaks are in addition to one declared Sunday in unit T-10-C in the same tower. The statement says, in total, 16 patients and 13 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Visits to all three units have been suspended, except for end-of-life compassionate visits, and the hospital says infection prevention and control protocols are underway to prevent further transmission. Coastal Health says the rest of the hospital, including the emergency room, remain open and operating as usual. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
ATHENS, Greece — A 6-year-old boy from Iran died of burns suffered during an overnight fire at a migrant camp northwest of Athens, Greek authorities said Wednesday. The blaze broke out late Tuesday at a short-term residence facility near the town of Thebes, about 90 kilometres (55 miles) from the Greek capital. Nobody else was reported injured. The fire service said in a statement that firefighters sent to the incident were initially prevented by camp residents from entering, and had to call police support to get in and extinguish the blaze. By then, the boy had already been brought unconscious out of the building where the fire broke out. He was pronounced dead in hospital. The cause of the fire is being investigated. The Associated Press
ROME — Italy on Wednesday pressed the United Nations for answers about the attack on a U.N. food aid convoy in Congo that left a young ambassador and his paramilitary police bodyguard dead. Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio told lawmakers in Rome that Italy has asked both the U.N. and the U.N. World Food Program to open an investigation into the security arrangements for convoy, which was attacked two days earlier. The minister said Italy also will spare no effort to determine the truth behind the killing of Ambassador Luca Attanasio and Carabiniere paramilitary officer Vittorio Iacovacci. A WFP Congolese driver, Moustapha Milambo, was also killed in the attack. “We have formally asked the WFP and the U.N. to open an inquest that clarifies what happened, the motivations for the security arrangements employed and who was responsible for these decisions,” Di Maio said. The trip was undertaken at the U.N.’s invitation, according to Di Maio. The two Italians had “entrusted themselves to the protocol of the United Nations,” which flew them on a U.N. plane from Kinshasha to Goma, 2,500 kilometres (1,500 miles) away, Di Maio said. The Italian embassy in Kinshasha, Di Maio noted, has two armoured vehicles at the ambassador's disposal for moving around the city and the country. But for Monday's mission, to visit a WFP school food project in Rutshuri in eastern Congo, Attanasio was travelling in U.N. vehicles. Only hours earlier, Di Maio, flanked by Premier Mario Draghi, met the arrival of the bodies of the two Italians at a Rome military airport. Autopsies are scheduled for Wednesday and a state funeral for both men was set for Thursday in Rome. A special team of Carabinieri investigators, dispatched by Rome prosecutors, arrived Tuesday in Congo on what Di Maio said would likely be multiple missions to determine what happened. Attanasio, 43, who leaves a widow involved in volunteer projects in Congo and three young children, "was in love with his profession, with Africa and his family,'' Di Maio said. He noted that the Carabiniere was nearing the end of his security detail in Congo and was soon due back in Rome. The World Food Program, which won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for its efforts to feed refugees and other malnourished people worldwide, is headquartered in Rome. "For this reason, I immediately asked WFP in Rome and the United Nations, involving directing the Secretary General (Antonio) Guterres, to supply a detailed report on the attack on the convoy,'' Di Maio said. WFP has said the road had been previously cleared for travel without security escorts. U.N. security officials based in Congo usually determine road safety. On Tuesday, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in New York that the U.N. had launched an internal review concerning the “security around the incident.” Di Maio said the attackers numbered six, had light arms and apparently spread obstacles on the road and fired shots in the air to stop the convoy. “The noise of the shooting alerted soldiers of the Congolese Armed Forces and the rangers of Virunga park, less than a kilometre (half-mile) away, headed to the place of the incident.” Di Maio quoted the local governor as saying that to force the victims to go into the bush, they killed the WFP driver. When the ranger patrol arrived, Di Maio said, citing the Congolese interior minister’s account, the attackers “fired upon the Carabiniere, killing him, and at the ambassador, gravely wounding him.? Attanasio died of his wounds shortly afterward. Italy will reinforce its commitments to aid Africa, Di Maio said, calling that the “best way to honour the memory? of the two slain Italians. "A policy that puts Africa at the centre of Italian diplomatic, European and international attention, this is the commitment Luca believed in and in which we believe in,'' the foreign minister said. Frances D'Emilio, The Associated Press
A long career in municipal affairs that began in 1980 for Charles Barton, the CAO, clerk and deputy treasurer of Nipissing Township, has ended with his retirement. Barton's last day of work at the township office was Feb. 16. The retirement is actually Barton's second farewell from the municipal office. He took an early retirement in 2001 after his wife passed away from cancer in 1994 at the age of 42. At the time of her death, Barton's son and daughter were teenagers, and several years later he came to the conclusion that “life's too short” not to enjoy it. But he was coaxed back by the mayor in 2008 after Nipissing carried out a study of its operations and decided it should have a chief administrative officer. “They wanted me to work full time, but I said no and we settled on three days a week,” says Barton, 71. Barton studied business administration at Canadore College when it was still a campus of Sudbury's Cambrian College before becoming an independent institution in 1972. Born and raised in Nipissing Township and after graduating from college, Barton began working at the Bank of Nova Scotia's main branch in North Bay in 1971. He spent nine years as a Scotiabank employee and, during that time, he and his family moved eight times. “I liked working for the bank, but I didn't like moving all the time. And when the kids started to get into school, they didn't want to keep moving either,” Barton recalls. When he was growing up, Barton knew the type of work he wanted to do. He liked three careers, namely becoming a bank manager, a township clerk or a church minister. He ended up in banking, and when the financial sector took him to Sault Ste. Marie, he played the organ at the church the Barton family attended. It was then he got a phone call from the then reeve of Nipissing. Barton recalls the conversation. “He said 'The clerk's job in Nipissing is coming up, You better apply,'” Barton recalls. “I said 'OK,' applied and got the job. So I guess with me now finally retiring I won't become a minister.” LONE OFFICE EMPLOYEE Barton first started at the township office on May 5, 1980, as the municipality's clerk, treasurer and tax collector. At the time, he was the only office member, although the township had a roads superintendent who also was in charge of the landfill. “I looked after the office, cemetery and recreation,” Barton recalls. Since those early days in 1980, Barton has seen several major changes and he had input in bringing them about. For example there was no zoning bylaw or official plan, which he helped create. Also, there was no fire department. Several portable pumps are what the township used to fight fires. Barton recalls one of the pumps was stationed at the township office, another was in Commanda Township, a third in Nipissing and one pump was in place for the island properties. The former Ministry of Natural Resources would help Nipissing Township in the event of a forest fire. And if there was a structure fire too large for the community to fight on its own, Callander would send its firefighters. Although a group of volunteers built the township's first fire department on Wasi Road, Barton says the community wouldn't see a full fire department until the late 1980s. When Barton agreed to return in 2008, he assumed the roles of chief administrative officer and clerk, and a little later he was named deputy treasurer. With Barton's latest departure, town council has named Kris Croskery-Hodgins the interim CAO-clerk-treasurer. Prior to the appointment, Croskery-Hodgins was the treasurer and deputy clerk. It was during Barton's second life with the township that the office personnel began to expand. He says Croskery-Hodgins was hired as was John-Paul Negrinotti, who looked after issues such as zoning bylaws, minor severances and variances in his role as the municipal planning official. 'LONG SUCCESSION PLAN' Over the succeeding years, Barton trained both of the new employees calling what he was doing a “long succession plan. “They're trained, ready to take over and it was time for me to retire,” he says. Over his two stints at the township hall, Barton worked with 13 town councils, speaking highly of the elected officials. “I never had a bad council in all those years,” he says. Barton says he enjoyed going to work every day over the decades, adding “you never knew what was going to happen.” Nipissing Township has a core, year-round population of 1,700 people, but swells to more than 3,000 residents during tourist season. Barton says he could always expect a call of some sort almost daily. Barton originally intended to retire last year, but when COVID-19 struck he agreed to stay on a little longer. But after that additional year, Barton says the time to leave is now. Council, he says, is in the third year of a four-year term and he didn't want to leave during an election year or leave when the new council is elected. “That was at the back of my mind,” he says. “But now with me gone, they can hire a new person who can be trained for next year's election.” 'GOOD' RESERVES Barton says he's leaving the township in excellent financial shape adding “our reserves are good.” He most recently helped bring about a new official plan and last December the zoning bylaw was updated. Barton personally hopes council sees its way to make Croskery-Hodgins the permanent CAO. “I hope council sees Kris would be the logical choice if they do advertise for a chief administrative officer,” he says. Barton lives on a 170-acre property and in the same home where he was born. His daughter lives next door to him in Nipissing and his son about one kilometre away. He has four grandchildren, one great-grandchild and a female companion in the Burk's Falls area. With his municipal career over, Barton says he now has more time for recreational activities like snowmobiling on his land, and come this summer he can golf on a nine-hole course he put on his land. He also recently bought a piano. “So I have lots to do,” he says. Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget
The deal with Revolution Acceleration Acquisition Corp is expected to provide Berkshire Grey about $413 million in cash, as the maker of logistics automation systems looks to take advantage of a surge in online shopping amid the COVID-19. Delaney, a former Congressman who launched his special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) in December, will join Berkshire Grey's board following the transaction.
(Alberta Health Services - image credit) After months of worrying about the risk of COVID-19 in long-term care homes, Nicole Bugeaud is finally feeling some relief. Bugeaud's sister, Dominique, has Down Syndrome and lives at Centre de Santé Saint-Thomas, a supportive living facility in Edmonton. The past year has been a rollercoaster for Nicole and her family, but now that her sister has received both doses of the vaccine, she says things are getting better. "It was a difficult year in the sense that things were evolving very quickly, cases were erupting everywhere, protocols were put in place limiting visitations," Bugeaud said. "Trying to explain to her that what was going on wasn't easy. But in the last couple of months, things have gone better. Cases have gone down, two-shot vaccinations were completed for all residents and things seem to be calming down a lot more." Nicole Bugeaud is feeling a sense of relief now that her sister, Dominique, who lives in Centre de Santé Saint-Thomas, has received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. This relief is being felt by many long-term care residents, their families and staff, as Alberta is reporting a steep decline in active COVID-19 cases in long-term care facilities. According to the province, active cases have fallen 92 per cent in long-term care since hitting a peak of 776 on Dec. 27. The decline coincides with the province's COVID-19 vaccine rollout, all long-term care and designated supportive living facility residents have been vaccinated. On Monday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said two of every three deaths linked to COVID-19 in the province came from long-term care or supportive living facilities. Hinshaw said the decline in cases shows strict public health measures to reduce community spread have worked, and exemplifies the protective effect of the COVID-19 vaccines. "Every one of us should take pride in this turnaround, as it is the result of not only our immunization campaign, but also of our collective efforts to bring our new case numbers down," Hinshaw said on Monday. Hinshaw added that the number of active long-term care outbreaks had dropped from 74 on Dec. 20 to five as of Feb. 16. In designated supportive-living facilities, a peak of 1,300 active cases on Christmas Day has since fallen by 88 per cent. Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Alberta, said it's been remarkable to see the high rates of infection and deaths in long-term care centres decline. She said the decline is affirming as proof of the vaccine's effectiveness. "I think that everyone can look at this example and say that they're reassured that even in this frail population, the vaccines are safe and effective," Saxinger said. "That's just a great message for everybody to focus on." Now that there's more protection for long-term care residents, Saxinger said she wouldn't be surprised to see some restrictions eased to make it easier for visitors to see loved ones, while still protecting people who haven't been vaccinated. But she added she hopes current restrictions hold steady while until the province better understands the risk of COVID-19 variants. If variant transmission takes off, it could necessitate much longer and more severe restrictions, Saxinger said. Michael Dempsey, a vice-president with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, said there's a lot of relief among long-term care staff that case numbers have dropped. He said he's heard many workers worked double-shifts and as long as 16-hour days. "There was a lot of angst and anxiety as well as fatigue, because of course if a member has to book off sick then they're off for a couple of weeks," Dempsey said. He added that there's still some residual anger among AUPE members about the province not implementing stricter health measures sooner as the province entered its second wave of COVID-19. Bugeaud said it's been difficult for her sister at Saint-Thomas dealing with isolation in the past year. Her sister often doesn't recognize family members when they're wearing masks and video calls are difficult because she isn't very verbal, Bugeaud said. She hopes that with the recent decline, her family will be able to visit her sister more often. "COVID has made us all think of what we want in our lives, how we want to live our lives," Bugeaud said. "My brothers and sisters are most or all retired. Certainly, they have the time to come and spend with her, but the limitations were holding them back."
SUDBURY, Ont. — Public health officials in Sudbury, Ont., have dismissed students and staff from two schools following five confirmed cases of COVID-19. Lasalle Secondary School and Cyril Varney Public School were closed today. All five cases have been identified by Public Health Sudbury & Districts as variants of concern. The afternoon route of elementary bus N100 is also affected. "These measures were taken as a precaution to protect the school communities and to reduce the spread of the virus," said a statement from Public Health Sudbury & Districts. Staff and students at the two schools and on the bus route are being advised by public health officials to self-isolate and get tested for COVID-19. Officials say there is no evidence the virus was acquired or spread within the school communities, so no outbreak has been declared. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
China hit back on Wednesday at growing criticism by Western powers of its treatment of ethnic minorities in the regions of Xinjiang and Tibet and of citizens in the former British colony of Hong Kong. Hours earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a wide-ranging speech to the U.N. Human Rights Council, said that the Biden administration would denounce atrocities in Xinjiang.
(Heather Marcoux/CBC News - image credit) The overdose prevention trailer in downtown Red Deer was supposed to be temporary when it arrived in 2018, but two years later it's still saving lives in the Safe Harbour parking lot. Last week, there were 38 overdoses in the trailer where someone needed oxygen or naloxone or both to be revived. "We had a 24-hour period last month where we had 13 overdoses recorded," said Sara Fleck, clinical manager of the Turning Point Society of Central Alberta, which runs the trailer. "We can never predict what is going to come into our site. So we'll have some weeks where we don't have any overdoses. And then overnight there will be a new substance in town that is identified by our clients as being stronger, and we'll see several overdoses." From January to November 2020, the rate of drug poisoning deaths in Red Deer per 100,000 persons per year was 50.3, provincial statistics show. Edmonton's rate was 40.3 and Calgary's was 31. In Red Deer, 44 of the 51 drug deaths recorded in the first 11 months of 2020 were caused by opioids. The community hasn't seen numbers this high since 2018, when Red Deer's rate per 100,000 climbed to 50 at a time when Edmonton's rate was just 21 and Calgary's was 24.5. That year, former Health Minister Sarah Hoffman called Red Deer's drug crisis an emergency and authorized the temporary trailer. Fleck said Red Deer needs a permanent supervised consumption site. "In this overdose prevention site, our mandate is to save lives," she said. "And we provide referrals to health and social services, and really act as an entry to the health services for people. But at a supervised consumption site, we were going to have addictions and mental health support on site, and a very wide variety of wrap-around services." Seth Schalk looks over plans at The Red Deer Dream Centre. Fleck wants to provide more support so Turning Point can better help people rebuild their lives. She said Red Deer's high overdose rate also reflects the community's lack of access to local treatment centres. A group of Christian business people are trying to remedy that by creating a rehab facility in downtown Red Deer. Next door to a strip club and across the street from the police station sits the building formerly known as the Lotus Nightclub, which is being transformed into a residential treatment facility called the Dream Centre. Local realtor Wes Giesbrecht, president of the Red Deer Dream Centre, said he believes in the power of community and recovery. The Red Deer Dream Centre is modelled after similar facilities in Los Angeles and Calgary. Giesbrecht said the group has raised more than half of the $1.4 million in capital costs through private donations from the community, and he expects construction on the new 40-bed treatment facility for men to begin next month. "So far, we're seeing our numbers coming in a little bit under budget, we're hoping to be — we're praying — that we're going to be under budget. We've raised just under $800,000, privately at this point in time, with no government subsidies or funding." The overdose prevention site at 5246 53rd Avenue in Red Deer. Giesbrecht said the centre has applied for government grants at the federal, provincial and municipal levels but plans to be sustainable without that funding, through support from Red Deer's faith community. "I think it's time that we stop looking to the government for solutions," he said. "I think as a community, the faith community in particular, we believe in recovery." The Dream Centre is still looking to fundraise about $600,000 before June and expects to be housing men by the end of the year. He hopes that in five years people can look at Red Deer and see a community with low rates of drug use and overdoses. "It is not enough to just give somebody clean needles anymore," said Giesbrecht. "It's not enough just to get them detoxed. You need to give them tools to teach them how to live without this stuff." At the ATCO trailer behind Safe Harbour, Fleck also wants to see a different Red Deer in five years, one with more permanent supports than the trailer can provide.
LUNENBURG, N.S. — High Liner Foods Inc. says it earned a profit in its latest quarter compared with a loss a year ago even as its sales declined. The frozen seafood company, which keeps its books in U.S. dollars, says it earned US$7.4 million or 21 cents per share for the quarter ended Jan. 2, compared with a loss of US$3 million or nine cents per share a year earlier. Sales for the quarter fell to US$198.4 million compared with US$221.6 million for the fourth quarter of 2019. Sales volumes totalled 59.6 million pounds, down from 59.7 million pounds. On an adjusted basis, High Liner says it earned 29 cents per share for its most recent quarter, up from an adjusted profit of 17 cents per share a year earlier. Analysts on average had expected an adjusted profit of 28 cents per share and $213 million in revenue, according to financial data firm Refinitiv. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:HLF) The Canadian Press
(Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit) An online portal for booking appointments for COVID-19 vaccines in Ontario is set to launch on March 15, the head of the province's immunization task force said Wednesday, but it will likely be months longer before many people are able to get a reservation. The announcement from retired general Rick Hillier comes as members of the general public in both Alberta and Quebec will be able to start booking appointments this week. Hillier said the delay in launching Ontario's version is because the focus until that point will be on populations that don't require an appointment, such as patient-facing health-care workers and essential caregivers for long-term care residents. "I would have liked to have it earlier, quite frankly," Hillier told reporters, adding that health authorities are working "furiously" to test the system. When the online portal, along with a telephone booking system, launch in March, Ontarians aged 80 and over will be the next priority. Hillier cautioned that anyone who is not in that age group, or who is not trying to make a reservation for a person in the 80-plus age group, will not be able to book an appointment in the weeks that follow. Officials expect to begin vaccinating people 80 years and over by the third week of March. The proposed schedule in the following weeks, Hillier said, will look something like this as long as supplies of vaccine stay steady: April 15: vaccinations begin for people 75 years old and over. May 1: vaccinations begin for people 70 years old and over. June 1: vaccinations begin for people 65 years and over. July 1: vaccinations begin for people 60 years and over. Essential workers, meanwhile, should begin getting their shots the first week in May, Hillier said, with the final decision about who qualifies in that category still to come from cabinet. The task force has already submitted its recommendations, he added. Hillier wouldn't say when those 60 years old and under who are not essential workers should expect to start getting shots. "A great question, we don't need to answer it right now. Early summer is when we might be able to discuss that issue," Hillier said. WATCH | Retired general Rick Hillier on Ontario's vaccine rollout timeline: He also did not provide even a rough timeline for when people under 60 with underlying medical conditions or those living in higher-risk neighbourhoods might expect to be given a first dose of vaccine. Hillier did say, however, that where Ontarians can expect to get a shot will be based on their postal code. They will be delivered through a combination of mass vaccination clinics, community centre programs pharmacies. Asked why Ontario's platform wasn't launched sooner considering Alberta and Quebec residents will be booking vaccines imminently, Ford said at a news conference Wednesday that he respectfully disagrees the province is lagging behind. Ford pointed to Alberta's system crashing Wednesday on its first day of operations and said Quebec hasn't administered a single second dose of the vaccine thus far. In a series of tweets, Dr. Isaach Bogoch, an infectious disease physician and member of the task force, said that primary care providers will help staff vaccination sites and will eventually be able to offer shots at their own clinics once additional vaccines are approved for use by Health Canada. Several options on the horizon are more stable than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines currently available, Bogoch said. Approval of further vaccines could "significantly speed up" the rough timeline offered by Hillier. Ontario Premier Doug Ford watches a health-care worker prepare a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. Each public health unit will eventually be expected to give out up to 10,000 doses per day, though some larger health units should be doing considerably more, Bogoch said. For example, Toronto Public Health expects to have capacity for up to 400,000 shots per week, with most administered at nine mass vaccination sites, he added. As of Feb.14, all residents of long-term care and high-risk retirement homes — generally defined as those that provide memory care — who wanted a vaccine had been given their first shot. So far the province has administered a total of 602,848 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, and 251,590 people have gotten both doses. At a news conference Wednesday, Ford also announced Ontario will spend $115 million to provide tuition-free training to 6,000 prospective personal support workers. The programs, which are set to be up and running in April, will consist of paid placements with students completing in six months, rather than eight. The government will also provide approximately $2,000 in financial assistance to some 2,200 students already completing studies in the PSW fields. Asked if the province will move to institute paid sick days for PSWs, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Ontario's minister of long-term care, didn't answer directly. 1,054 new cases of COVID-19 The news comes as Ontario reported another 1,054 cases of COVID-19 and nine more deaths of people with the illness Wednesday morning. The additional cases include 363 in Toronto, 186 in Peel Region and 94 in York Region. Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were: Simcoe Muskoka: 53 Windsor-Essex: 50 Thunder Bay: 45 Waterloo Region: 44 Ottawa: 40 Hamilton: 38 Durham Region: 35 Halton Region: 26 Niagara Region: 13 Middlesex-London: 10 (Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, because local units report figures at different times.) The Ministry of Education also reported 112 school-related cases: 89 students, 18 staff members and five people who were not identified. As of yesterday, 16 of Ontario's 4,828 publicly-funded schools were closed due to COVID-19. Ontario's lab network completed 54,852 tests for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and logged a test positivity rate of 2.4 per cent. The seven-day average of new daily cases rose to 1,084. A steep drop in the seven-day average that began on Jan. 12 has levelled out. According to the Ministry of Health, there were 675 people in Ontario hospitals with COVID-19 as of yesterday. Of those, 287 were being treated in intensive care and 182 needed a ventilator. The nine deaths reported today bring Ontario's official toll to 6,893.
A Turkish court convicted an executive of Turkish jet company MNG and two pilots for migrant smuggling over their role in flying former Nissan Motor Co Ltd Chairman Carlos Ghosn out of Japan during his escape to Lebanon just over a year ago. Two other pilots and a flight attendant were acquitted, while charges were dropped against another flight attendant.
MULGRAVE – Councillor Crystal Durling, the Town of Mulgrave’s representative on the Eastern Counties Regional Library (ECRL) board, told council at its committee of the whole meeting Monday night (Feb. 22) that the ECRL has expressed its desire to close the library branch in Mulgrave. “For cost for them, it makes more sense to close it,” Durling said, adding that ECRL headquarters would remain in Mulgrave. CAO Darlene Berthier Sampson asked if the library closure was a suggestion, or if they were being told the decision had been made, to which Durling replied, “They wanted to bring it to the meeting … pretty much -- it is going to happen because of money issues.” Since the pandemic started, the ECRL branch in Mulgrave has been closed. Prior to that, the branch had only opened six months of the year. Since March 2020, books have been available for curbside pick-up at the Mulgrave branch – via online ordering – and also by mail. “The only thing it is going to hurt is if a lot of people in town go there to use computers,” said Durling. Council believes that the only way to keep the library branch open in Mulgrave is to dedicate more money from the town’s budget to the operation of the facility. “It’s pretty much a money issue, the way she (ECRL CEO Laura Emery) was saying that, ‘If you want to keep the service, you’re going to probably have to pay.’ They only have so much money to work with for their budget.” The matter will be tabled until the next council meeting, but councillors voiced their agreement with the proposed closure. Last month, the Town of Mulgrave started to look for a volunteer to sit on the Eastern Mainland Housing Authority Board. The town’s seat on the board – recently left vacant – has not been filled. Berthier Sampson said at the meeting that the housing authority board is, “a very important initiative … I’m not going to mince words to the public, we’re not having great outcomes with our public housing. Financially, some of them stay empty for a long period of time and for every month they stay empty the town’s share is 12.5 per cent, approximately. The longer it stays empty the more we pay.” In addition to the financial burden of the housing units, they’re also often the subject of bylaw infractions and policing calls. The original agreement between the town and the province regarding public housing is outdated and needs to be renegotiated, said Berthier Sampson. A volunteer from Mulgrave is needed to represent the town’s interests on the board. In an addition to the approved agenda, Councillor Robert Russell asked the town staff to investigate the possiblity of plowing the Scotia Trail. The next regular town council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 2 at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
(Maritime Electric - image credit) Power has been restored after a motor vehicle accident in eastern P.E.I. that left 370 Maritime Electric customers without electricity. RCMP said a car went off the road on Route 17 and hit a power pole, leaving a large section of the southern part of Montague without electricity. At 10 a.m., the local fire department, RCMP and Island EMS were still on the scene, so RCMP were not able to provide a lot of detail. The driver, a male, was alone in the vehicle at the time. His injuries are believed to be minor, but he was being transported to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown as a precaution. A Maritime Electric crew was also on the scene, and had power restored a little before 1 p.m.. More from CBC P.E.I.
(Courtesy Terry Jenkins - image credit) Thanks to all the recent snowfall, those sleigh bells are ringing at a horse farm just outside of Chatham. TJ Stables began offering sleigh rides to paying customers last weekend, and it's been very popular. One of the owners, Terry Jenkins, said it's been a much-needed financial boon after being locked down for much of the past year. Jenkins said she's hoping the snow will stick around. "Oh, this is the first time in my life I've wished it would stay cold," she said with a laugh. She bought the sleigh almost three years ago "to make memories" for her grandchildren but the weather hasn't co-operated. After considering selling it last summer, enough snow fell this season for Jenkins to use the sleigh, and help make memories for other families as well, she said. The endeavour is supporting keeping the horses fed after almost six months of lockdowns. "They don't know it's COVID. They just want their supper," she said. The sleigh can hold four adults or a family of six with children — all in the same bubble. More from CBC Windsor:
Which would you prefer? In Serbia, people can select any of four jabs: the one developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, China’s Sinopharm, Russia’s Sputnik V and Oxford-Astrazeneca's.View on euronews
(Maggie MacPherson/CBC - image credit) If you live in the middle of Vancouver and your first child is entering kindergarten, it's the sort of situation talked about in hushed, knowing tones. "I heard about it through parents talking, but you don't really know what it's all about until you go through it yourself," said Debbie Lee, who lives in the city's Fairview neighbourhood. "I knew it was difficult. Like, I heard it was difficult to get in. But, you know, you don't think that that would happen to you? No one thinks — you just always hope that you're not going to be the one." Lee was speaking about the lottery for children to get into kindergarten at the school nearest to their home. Number of young families increasing In the past few decades, the number of young families living in the core of Vancouver has drastically increased, while the number of new schools has increased much more slowly. As a result, eight of the nine elementary schools between Macdonald Street, Main Street and 16th Avenue had more applications than spaces this year, requiring a lottery with results announced last week. In the rest of the city, just six of 80 elementary schools have a waiting list. Lee's son is number 14 on the wait-list for False Creek Elementary School. He also didn't get into any of the nearby French immersion schools, and the closest school available is more than two kilometres away. Suddenly, staying in the middle of Vancouver is an open question. "I have a daughter as well," said Lee. "And I don't want my son to switch schools multiple times because of the situation. So I'll need to think about what our long-term plans are as a family." Crosstown Elementary School, opened in 2017, has helped alleviate some of the pressure of more young families in the area — but the absence of a school in nearby Olympic Village has been a big problem. Long-term problem In a statement, the Vancouver School Board said more than 300 students are wait-listed for 14 schools across the city (up from 269 in the 2019-2020 school year), but added that the number is expected to change as families finalize their plans for September. Board Chair Carmen Cho said she understands it's not an ideal situation. "It's a very frustrating experience for families, and I certainly understand that, and that's why the district is working very hard to ensure we accommodate in-catchment students," she said. Cho said the school board looks to maximize instruction space within any building to increase the seat count, and limit cross-boundary students. In addition, a new school planned for Coal Harbour and another promised for Olympic Village will alleviate the wait-list in the long-term. But one school board trustee argues they could be more creative in the short-term, given how large the problem is. "In other situations we have talked about and found creative solutions," said Barb Parrot. "It's so burdensome and causes amazing stress on parents. And that's not fair." Many do get in As for parents who have been through the process, they can offer one piece of advice. "Just be patient. But expect that you may have to take your child to another school," said Stacy Buckland. At this time last year, her five-year-old son Spencer was deep on the wait-list for nearby General Gordon elementary. Two days before the school year began, she got the call that her son had been accepted. Buckland said the email threads between parents, conversations in Facebook groups, and being in regular contact with the school were helpful in alleviating stress about the situation and figuring out the odds of a happy conclusion. But even though she was ultimately successful, she still wonders why the system has to be so difficult for young families who move to neighbourhoods geared for them in so many ways — except guaranteed school spots. "In hindsight, I would look before we moved into the neighbourhood," she said. "It's a major problem." The full list of schools in Vancouver with a wait-list: Emily Carr, Edith Cavell, Crosstown, Elsie Roy, False Creek, Sanford Fleming, Simon Fraser, General Gordon, Henry Hudson, Dr. A.R. Lord, Lord Nelson, Norma Rose Point, Lord Roberts and Roberts Annex.
TOKYO — Japan’s communications ministry punished 11 senior officials on Wednesday for accepting lavish dinners paid for by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s eldest son and fellow executives at a satellite broadcaster, the latest embarrassment for Suga’s already scandal-laden government. The case surfaced after weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun reported that Seigo Suga and other executives from satellite broadcaster Tohokushinsha Film had entertained the officials at the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, which regulates communications business. On Wednesday, the ministry announced penalties including salary cuts and reprimands for the 11 ministry officials for accepting the expensive dinners and gifts in violation of the ethics code. Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Ryota Takeda told reporters it was regrettable that the case led to the loss of public trust in the government. Takeda said he is taking a three-month salary cut himself and ordered the ministry to set up an investigative panel to look further into the case. A ministry internal investigation found that the ministry officials received dinners and gifts totalling about 600,000 yen ($5,700) on around 40 occasions from 2016 to 2019. It also found one of Prime Minister Suga's public affairs officials, Makiko Yamada, also accepted an expensive steak dinner when she was at the ministry in 2019. Suga apologized over his son’s entertaining of the officials. He, however, denied any involvement in his son’s business activity or knowledge of his entertaining of the officials. "I'm very sorry about my son's involvement that led to illegal activity, and I would like to apologize to the people,(asterisk) Suga said. The National Public Service Ethics Law prohibits government officials from accepting treats, gifts or entertainment from individuals or companies seeking favourable treatment. Opposition lawmakers alleged that the officials met with executives of the broadcaster because of its affiliation with Suga's son and raised questions about whether they gave the company favourable treatment. The scandal could be a further setback for the prime minister, whose approval ratings have been on the decline, with poll respondents saying he was too slow to act on coronavirus measures when infections were surging to new highs in late December. A vice education minister in Suga's Cabinet was dismissed after he and two other senior governing party lawmakers acknowledged partying at an expensive hostess bar last month, defying a state of emergency, even though the measure is a non-binding request for bars and restaurants to close early and for people to avoid dining out. A former farm minister resigned as lawmaker in December after allegations he took bribes from an egg farm. Mari Yamaguchi, The Associated Press