It was easy to pick winners last year, but 2021 will be different. Let's single out four stocks worth watching.
WASHINGTON — A conference dedicated to the future of the conservative movement turned into an ode to Donald Trump as speakers declared their fealty to the former president and attendees posed for selfies with a golden statue of his likeness. As the Republican Party grapples with deep divisions over the extent to which it should embrace Trump after losing the White House and both chambers of Congress, those gathered at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday made clear they are not ready to move on from the former president — or from his baseless charges that the November election was rigged against him. “Donald J. Trump ain’t going anywhere,” said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, one of several potential 2024 presidential contenders who spoke at the event, being held this year in Orlando to bypass COVID-19 restrictions. Trump on Sunday will be making his first post-presidential appearance at the conference, and aides say he will use the speech to reassert his power. The program underscored the split raging within the GOP, as many establishment voices argue the party must move on from Trump to win back the suburban voters who abandoned them in November, putting President Joe Biden in the White House. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and others worry Trump will undermine the party’s political future if he and his conspiracy theories continue to dominate Republican politics. But at the conference, speakers continued to fan disinformation and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, with panels dedicated to amplifying false claims of mass voter fraud that have been dismissed by the courts, state election officials and Trump’s own administration. Indeed, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., another potential 2024 hopeful, drew among the loudest applause and a standing ovation when he bragged about challenging the election certification on Jan. 6 despite the storming of the Capitol building by Trump supporters trying to halt the process. “I thought it was an important stand to take," he said. Others argued the party would lose if it turned its back on Trump and alienated the working-class voters drawn to his populist message. “We cannot — we will not — go back to the days of the failed Republican establishment of yesteryear,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who outlined a new Trumpian GOP agenda focused on restrictive immigration policies, opposition to China and limiting military engagement. “We will not win the future by trying to go back to where the Republican Party used to be,” echoed Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who chairs the fundraising committee tasked with electing Republicans to the Senate. “If we do, we will lose the working base that President Trump so animated. We’re going to lose elections across the country, and ultimately we’re going to lose our nation." Scott is dismissing pressure on him to “mediate between warring factions on the right” or “mediate the war of words between the party leaders." He has refused to take sides in the bitter ongoing fight between Trump and McConnell, who blamed Trump for inciting the deadly Capitol riot but ultimately voted to acquit him at his impeachment trial earlier this month. “I’m not going to mediate anything," he said, criticizing those who “prefer to fan the flames of a civil war on our side” as “foolish” and “ridiculous." But in speeches throughout the day, the GOP turmoil was front and centre. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., lit into Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, who has faced tremendous backlash for her vote to impeach Trump for inciting the Capitol riot. And as the program was wrapping up, Trump issued a statement endorsing Max Miller, a former staffer who has now launched a campaign challenging Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, another Republican who voted in favour of impeachment. Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox News Channel host and Trump Jr.'s girlfriend, offered a pointed message to those who stand in opposition to the former president, who will not arrive at the conference until Sunday but was present in spirit in the form of a large golden statue erected in a merchandise show booth, where attendees could pose for pictures with it. “We bid a farewell to the weak-kneed, the spineless and the cowards that are posing in D.C. pretending that they’re working for the people,” she said. “Let’s send them a pink slip straight from CPAC.” Trump Jr., who labeled the conference “TPAC” in honour of his father, hyped the return of his father and the “Make America Great Again” platform to the spotlight. “I imagine it will not be what we call a ‘low-energy’ speech," he said. “And I assure you that it will solidify Donald Trump and all of your feelings about the MAGA movement as the future of the Republican Party.” Jill Colvin, The Associated Press
The Village of South River discussed several topics at its Feb. 22 council meeting, including the annual water report, South River’s arena status and the District of Parry Sound Social Services Board being more involved in health and well-being. Here are key quotes from the council meeting. On the 2020 annual water report “People have concerns and rightly so; they have a right to be concerned about the security of their water, but we certainly have taken all the steps to make sure that security is there and it’s good for us to have a reminder for them,” said Coun. Bill O’Hallarn. “On our water page, both this report and the next one that we’re about to accept will be on the website (Feb. 23) and the past years are there,” said clerk-administrator Don McArthur. On the South River Arena “As we all know, we decided to remove the ice and that work will go on. We’ll move forward all the maintenance once they get the ice out that would have normally taken place in May and June — we can begin in March and see how far that takes us,” said McArthur. “We’re hopeful that the (Investing in Canadian Infrastructure Program) COVID-19 grant may be announced before the end of March and maybe we can enhance some of that work. For right now, the plan is to put the ice back in mid-June to be ready for hockey opportunity camp … so the arena update is that the season came to an end unfortunately,” said McArthur. On the District of Parry Sound Social Services Administration Board “That’s something we always wanted to do, was to have the District of Parry Sound Social Services Administration Board more involved with health and well-being,” said Coun. Teri Brandt. “The DSSAB is an active member of the build in Powassan for the new Noah building and you can see the building is going ahead and they’re very optimistic there’s going to be 50 units and lots of subsidized units,” said Brandt. The Village of South River’s next council meeting is on March 8. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
(Zach Goudie/CBC - image credit) A mining company hoping to strike it rich on the Eastern Shore says it now believes there is double the amount of gold it initially thought was on its property near Goldboro, N.S. Anaconda Mining originally estimated there were 1.4-million ounces of gold at its site about 250 kilometres east of Halifax. But after exploration, drilling and testing last year, the Toronto-based company now believes there are closer to 2.75-million ounces of gold. "I've been in this industry 35 years, and it's been my dream to develop something like this," said Kevin Bullock, the company's president and CEO. "I'm just ecstatic. You know, people look for these their lifetime and never find them. So I'm really happy about that." Bullock said he believes the gold deposit at Goldboro is the second-largest undeveloped deposit in Atlantic Canada, second only to Marathon Gold's Valentine Gold project in Newfoundland and Labrador. Focus shifting to open-pit mining The findings have prompted Anaconda to modify its plans for the proposed mine. The plan had always been to extract gold through both open-pit surface mining as well as underground mining. The company still plans to use both methods, but now plans more open-pit mining. Open-pit mining tends to be faster and less expensive. It also means more ore is crushed and processed, producing more waste dumps and tailings, the material left over after ore is processed. Bullock said the amount of ore that will be processed will quadruple from previous estimates. The shift to more open-pit mining will increase the physical footprint of the mining operations due to the amount of tailings and waste dumps, but Bullock couldn't yet say by how much. He expects the period of open-pit mining to last for at least eight or nine years before underground mining begins. Bullock said if the mine is approved, he hopes to see construction begin by the end of 2022. The project would create a "tremendous" number of jobs through both the construction and operations phases, Bullock said. Anaconda is now expecting to be able to produce about 100,000 ounces a year, a figure Bullock estimates is relatively on par with the activities of the province's active mine, Atlantic Gold's Touquoy mine in Moose River. Environmental approval Anaconda submitted its original plans for Goldboro to the province for environmental approval in August 2018. But the environment minister at the time, Margaret Miller, said the company's submission didn't contain enough information. She asked Anaconda to write a new, more extensive report on the environmental implications of the project, and gave a one-year deadline. Three days before that deadline, in September 2019, Anaconda withdrew its proposal from the environmental assessment process because it was changing its plans for the mine. Bullock said the mine would operate in compliance with all provincial environmental policies. "So, waters frequented by fish, we will stay away from. We will ensure that everything is done to the standard that anything emitted to the environment will not have anything in it that's deleterious." Bullock acknowledged that since the Goldboro area was mined as far back as the late 1900s — long before any environmental regulations were in place — there are historical tailings that "have some nasties in them." He said the company would hope to help the government clean up those sites. MORE TOP STORIES
OTTAWA — A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough to cover the average pinky nail but is made up of more than 280 components and requires at least three manufacturing plants to produce. By the time that dose is injected, it has travelled to at least six different cities in four countries, across the Atlantic Ocean twice, and monitored by a 24-hour watchtower in Iceland every step of the way. A marvel of both science and supply-chain heroics takes the vaccine from the factory floor to the arms of grateful patients all over the world. "It's really very complex," said Germain Morin, Pfizer's vice-president in charge of global supply chains for the company's rare-disease medications and vaccines. The messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines being made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, as well as Moderna, are a novel technology that before COVID-19 had never been approved for widespread use in humans. While DNA is the large and complex molecule that stores all of genetic coding that makes us who we are, RNA carries individual pieces of that code out into the body with the instructions on how to carry out the body's work. In the case of mRNA vaccines, they are carrying the genetic code for part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which teaches our bodies to mount a defence against the virus. A year ago, the materials for these vaccines were being made for research purposes only, enough for maybe a few hundred doses at a time. Now Pfizer expects to pump out two billion doses by the end of this year. It has made scaling up the manufacturing process a herculean feat, said Morin. There are 25 different suppliers involved, spanning 19 different countries. Some of them, said Morin, were making milligrams of liquid at the start. Then they were asked to make kilograms of it, and finally hundreds of kilograms. The 475,000 doses Canada received last week began their lives before Christmas. Morin said it used to take four months to make a single dose of the vaccine, which is officially called BNT162b2. Morin said the process has recently been streamlined to half that time. Every dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is born in a Pfizer lab in Chesterfield, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis. That's where small DNA molecules called plasmids are made with the beginnings of the code for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. It takes about two weeks, followed by a quality assurance process. Every step of production has quality checks and rechecks, from the bags and boxes used to store and transport the vaccine components to the temperature in the lab and the protective clothing worn by any workers. Then comes the first major chill, as the plasmids are put in bags and frozen to that famous ultralow temperature Pfizer's product needs: -80C. From Missouri, the plasmids are shipped to two labs, one a Pfizer facility in Andover, Mass., and another a BioNTech facility in Germany, where they are used to make the mRNA. A single batch of mRNA takes about four days to make, in a high-tech process with numerous enzymes and chemicals. The mRNA is then frozen again and shipped off for finishing. In the U.S. that happens in Kalamazoo, Mich., and for Canada's doses, currently made in Europe, they go to Puurs, Belgium, Pfizer's biggest plant in the world. Messenger RNA is not a very stable product and will disintegrate quickly if not protected, so every bit of mRNA is encased in a tiny amount of fat called a lipid nanoparticle. "Imagine a very, very small egg, so a very small eggshell of lipids that would protect the mRNA," said Morin. "This is part of the magic of making this vaccine as well." Over the course of three or four more days the mRNA gets its lipid coating, and is filled into vials containing enough vaccine for six doses. The vials are then packed into boxes, and immediately put into "those famous freezers" which turn the lipid-coated mRNA molecules into mini blocks of ultracold ice. "This was, by the way, one of the challenges," said Morin. "You can imagine that those freezers are not very common in the world. Laboratories buying them would typically buy them one or two at a time. We went to the suppliers and the first time we've asked for 650 of them in one shot, and then we went for more after that." The vials stay in those freezers for two to three weeks, while every lot is tested with more than 40 different quality-control measures. Then come the thermal shipping boxes Pfizer and BioNTech developed for this vaccine. Each vial is packed into a tray about the size of a pizza box with 195 vials total. Five trays are packaged together into the special box, which is filled with dry ice, and sealed. Every box contains a tracking unit to know its location and internal temperature at all times. A control site in Iceland monitors the boxes, which are all uniquely labelled. If any box records a problem between Belgium and the delivery site, it will be investigated and most likely discarded. Morin said at first there were many concerns about the complexity of the freezer requirements but the supply chain has been so successful that only one per cent of the product around the world has been lost because of temperature concerns. Pfizer contracted with UPS to deliver the boxes. Those are picked up by UPS in Belgium, and sent through Germany and Kentucky on their way to Canada. UPS delivers the batches to dozens of delivery sites in each province, where provincial health officials take over possession and prepare to inject them into arms. Moderna hasn't released as many details about its manufacturing process, but has said the vaccine is largely produced for Canada in Switzerland, sent to Spain to be mixed with a diluent and filled into vials, and then shipped to a warehouse in Belgium. Canada has hired FedEx and Innomar Strategies to manage the shipping and distribution of Moderna's and all other vaccines except Pfizer-BioNTech's. Guy Payette, the president of Innomar, said they too use specially designed boxes. Moderna's vaccine doesn't have to be frozen as deeply but does have to be kept at about -20C. The other vaccines Canada is likely to get will mostly need to be kept at about 6 C. Payette said each box is also labelled and tracked with a GPS and thermal sensor. The shipments arrive at Innomar's warehouse, where workers repackage them to match the quantities being sent to each province. He said except for one spot in northern British Columbia, the trackers have worked beautifully. Where they did not, due to the altitude, boxes are equipped with a second device with data that can be downloaded later. He said so far, the temperature has been fine and all products delivered successfully. Those involved in the vaccine process have expressed awe at the speed with which everything turned around. Moderna's vaccine was in clinical trials less than two months after the SARS-CoV-2 virus was fully sequenced. Pfizer and BioNTech signed a partnership agreement in March 2020, and 266 days later the vaccine was approved in the United Kingdom. More than 50 countries have since followed suit and more than 100 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine have now been distributed. It's a pace of development the company has never seen in its 173-year history. "Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, not even close," said Morin. He said most products take three to five years to get this far. "We're very proud," he said. "Every new market that we launch is a celebration." He said when the first Canadian was vaccinated on Dec. 14, "I had goosebumps." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
Twenty departments in France and one northern province in Poland have had stricter measures enforced From this weekend to stem the spread of COVID-19 following localised infection surges.View on euronews
(Shutterstock - image credit) A member of Parliament from Nova Scotia wants food products in Canada labelled so consumers can clearly see their impact on the environment. Jaime Battiste's private member's motion calling for a green grading system passed in the House of Commons this week. "My hope and my dream is that within, you know, the next few years, we'll be able to pick up two products at the local Walmart and Costco and we'll be able to make a choice of two products based on not only their cost, but on what the impact is on our environment," Battiste, the MP for Sydney-Victoria, told CBC Radio's Information Morning on Friday. Even though we're in the middle of a pandemic, the next crisis is climate change, Battiste said. The House standing committee on environment and sustainable development will now study what food labels could look like under a green grading system, among other things. Battiste said he imagines the information being displayed in a similar way to nutritional information, with products getting a grade such as A, B or C. "When we're looking at environment labelling, we're not looking at our personal health, but our environmental health," he said, "which I think is interconnected in a lot of ways." Battiste said some restaurants already include information about carbon footprint on their menus. He'd like the labels to be on Canadian-made food products as well as those from other countries, but said that will be looked at further in the study. The committee will talk with farmers, environmentalists and industry experts, he said. The grading system would take into consideration things like greenhouse gas emissions, the waste created, water used and distance travelled. The committee will also have to determine if the grading is voluntary or if companies that don't comply should face fines, Battiste said. "I think we have to hear from the experts and hear from the industries and hear from the farmers and hear from everyone before you can really make judgments like that," he said. As far as he knows, no other country has created a similar green labelling system. Jaime Battiste, the MP for Sydney-Victoria, put forward a private member's motion that was passed by the House on Feb. 24. "There are so many different labels on so many different foods, but if we had one consistent one that was used across Canada, kind of like a nutritional facts, it's pretty consistent," he said. "This is the opportunity that we have to make a difference in our day-to-day lives to ensure that we're doing our best to protect our planet." Not all MPs have the chance to put forward a private member's bill. Battiste said he was thrilled when his bill, which is called M-35 Environment Grading Label, passed this week. "I don't know if I'll ever get this opportunity again and I wanted to be able to look [my son] in the eyes when he's older and said when I had an opportunity to make a difference, I did what I could to make sure that the future generations and the next seven generations had had a fighting chance," he said. MORE TOP STORIES
The “Trump-made-me-do-it” defence is already looking like a longshot. Facing damning evidence in the deadly Capitol siege last month — including social media posts flaunting their actions — rioters are arguing in court they were following then-President Donald Trump's instructions on Jan. 6. But the legal strategy has already been shot down by at least one judge and experts believe the argument is not likely to get anyone off the hook for the insurrection where five people died, including a police officer. “This purported defence, if recognized, would undermine the rule of law because then, just like a king or a dictator, the president could dictate what’s illegal and what isn’t in this country," U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell said recently in ordering pretrial detention of William Chrestman, a suspected member of the Kansas City-area chapter of the Proud Boys. “And that is not how we operate here.” Chrestman’s attorneys argued in court papers that Trump gave the mob “explicit permission and encouragement” to do what they did, providing those who obeyed him with “a viable defence against criminal liability.” “It is an astounding thing to imagine storming the United States Capitol with sticks and flags and bear spray, arrayed against armed and highly trained law enforcement. Only someone who thought they had an official endorsement would even attempt such a thing. And a Proud Boy who had been paying attention would very much believe he did,” Chrestman’s lawyers wrote. Trump was acquitted of inciting the insurrection during his second impeachment trial, where Democrats made some of the same arguments defence attorneys are making in criminal court. Some Republican lawmakers have said the better place for the accusations against Trump is in court, too. Meanwhile, prosecutors have brought charges against more than 250 people so far in the attack, including conspiracy, assault, civil disorder and obstruction of an official proceeding. Authorities have suggested that rare sedition charges could be coming against some. Hundreds of Trump supporters were photographed and videotaped storming the Capitol and scores posted selfies inside the building on social media, so they can’t exactly argue in court they weren’t there. Blaming Trump may be the best defence they have. “What’s the better argument when you’re on videotape prancing around the Capitol with a coat rack in your hand?” said Sam Shamansky, who’s representing Dustin Thompson, an Ohio man accused of stealing a coat rack during the riot. Shamansky said his client would never have been at the Capitol on Jan. 6 if Trump hadn’t “summoned him there.” Trump, he added, engaged in a “devious yet effective plot to brainwash” supporters into believing the election was stolen, putting them in the position where they “felt the the need to defend their country at the request of the commander in chief.” “I think it fits perfectly,” he said of the defence. “The more nuanced question is: Who is going to buy it? What kind of jury panel do you need to understand that?” While experts say blaming Trump may not get their clients off the hook, it may help at sentencing when they ask the judge for leniency. “It could likely be considered a mitigating factor that this person genuinely believed they were simply following the instructions of the leader of the United States,” said Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney in Michigan who's now a professor at the University of Michigan Law School. It could also bolster any potential cases against the former president, experts say. “That defence is dead on arrival,” said Bradley Simon, a New York City white-collar criminal defence attorney and former federal prosecutor. “But I do think that these statements by defendants saying that they were led on by Trump causes a problem for him if the Justice Department or the attorney general in D.C. were to start looking at charges against him for incitement of the insurrection.” While the legal bar is high for prosecuting Trump in the Capitol siege, the former president is already facing a lawsuit from Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson that accuses him of conspiring with extremist groups to prevent Congress from certifying the election results. And more lawsuits could come. Trump spread baseless claims about the election for weeks and addressed thousands of supporters at a rally near the White House before the Capitol riot, telling them that they had gathered in Washington "to save our democracy." Later, Trump said, “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” A lawyer for Jacob Chansley, the shirtless man who wore face paint and a hat with horns inside the Capitol, attached a highlighted transcript of the Trump's speech before the riot to a court filing seeking Chansley's release from custody. The defence lawyer, Albert Watkins, said the federal government is sending a “disturbingly chilling message” that Americans will be prosecuted “if they do that which the President asks them to do.” Defence lawyers have employed other strategies without better success. In one case, the judge called a defence attorney’s portrayal of the riots as mere trespassing or civil disobedience both “unpersuasive and detached from reality.” In another, a judge rejected a man’s claim that he was “duped” into joining the anti-government Oath Keepers group and participating in the attack on the Capitol. Other defendants linked to militant groups also have tried to shift blame to Trump in seeking their pretrial release from jail. An attorney for Jessica Watkins said the Oath Keepers member believed local militias would be called into action if Trump invoked the Insurrection Act to stay in office. Watkins disavowed the Oath Keepers during a court hearing on Friday, saying she has been “appalled” by fellow members of the far-right militia. “However misguided, her intentions were not in any way related to an intention to overthrow the government, but to support what she believed to be the lawful government,” her lawyer wrote. Meanwhile, a lawyer for Dominic Pezzola, another suspected Proud Boy, said he “acted out of the delusional belief that he was a ‘patriot’ protecting his country." Defence attorney Jonathan Zucker described Pezzola as “one of millions of Americans who were misled by the President's deception.” “Many of those who heeded his call will be spending substantial portions if not the remainder of their lives in prison as a consequence," he wrote. “Meanwhile Donald Trump resumes his life of luxury and privilege." Michael Kunzelman And Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press
TORONTO — A ticket holder somewhere in Ontario won Friday night's whopping $70 million Lotto Max jackpot. Nine of the draw's Maxmillions prizes of $1 million each were also won, with one of those prizes being split between two lottery players. Winning Maxmillion tickets were sold in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and the Prairies. The jackpot for the next Lotto Max draw on Mar. 2 will be approximately $24 million. The Canadian Press
(Halifax Port Authority - image credit) A sliver of rocky land that has been described as an "eyesore" may be turned into a park. New land that has been created by infilling part of the Bedford Basin near the Fairview Cove Container Terminal likely will be designated for community use when the project is complete. Commuters and other travellers on the MacKay Bridge or the Bedford Highway may have noticed dumptrucks depositing material into the water over the past several years, and a growing infilled area stretching from the container terminal toward Africville Park. The Halifax Port Authority, which operates the terminal and is responsible for the infilling project, is working with the Halifax Regional Municipality's African Nova Scotian Affairs Integration Office and the Africville Heritage Trust to determine a future use for the land. "The intention is that we might do something that's community-based," said Lane Farguson, the port authority's spokesperson. "We don't have the final plan in place yet, but that's really the intention." Asked how the land could be used, Farguson said, "a park is certainly one of those ideas, and maybe some sort of a boardwalk as well, but until the final plans are in place and everybody's agreed to it, we really can't say a whole lot more." A spokesperson for the HRM would only say the municipality is collaborating on the future use of the area, "complementary to historic Africville and Africville Park." Juanita Peters, the executive director of the Africville Museum, declined to comment on the project until plans were firmed up. Tourboat docking a possible use During a natural resources and economic development committee meeting last October, Halifax-Needham MLA Lisa Roberts questioned Capt. Allan Gray, the port authority's president and CEO, about the infilling work. She said her constituents had called it an "eyesore." Gray said the Africville Heritage Trust, which operates the Africville Museum directly across from the infilled land, was initially concerned about the view from Africville Park being blocked, but the organization later became comfortable working with the port authority on the project. The Halifax Port Authority, Halifax Regional Municipality's African Nova Scotian Integration Office and the Africville Heritage Trust are working to determine future use for the new land. "The Africville Heritage Trust wants to use the bay-like area for some purposes," he told the committee. "They've talked about getting tour boats to be able to access there, so we're making sure any design work and infill work is compatible with those uses." Infilling project still underway The infilled land is currently owned by the port authority, a federal Crown corporation. Farguson said while the corporation is generally not allowed to sell land, it is permitted to do land swaps, land transfers or long-term leases. The infilling project, called the Fairview Cove Sequestration Facility, began in 2012. The fill is largely pyritic slate that has been removed from construction sites on the peninsula. The port authority is paid for accepting the material, but Farguson declined to say how much. The infilling project in the Bedford Basin can be seen clearly from the Africville Museum. As of the end of November 2020, about 6.3 hectares had been infilled, or an area about one-third the size of Citadel Hill. Some of that is being used for port operations. On the above and below maps, the purple area has already been infilled, and the yellow area is still in the process of being filled in. The green area would be a treed area to provide a buffer zone between the port activities and the rest of the new land. MORE TOP STORIES
(Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press - image credit) The math is simple, the challenge is not. Quebec plans to dole out 12 million doses of the various COVID-19 vaccines before Labour Day, which is 26 weeks away. That means an average of 450,000 doses per week. In the seven days ending Thursday, it managed 85,000 or so. The Health Ministry is ramping up its efforts by opening vaccination centres across the province, but also by enlisting help from the private sector. On Wednesday, the province inked a deal in principle to allow pharmacists to inject people, as early as mid-March or as late as mid-April, depending on deliveries. "From our experience from the flu vaccination, we know pharmacies can, for an extended period of time, give 100,000 doses of vaccines per week," said Pierre-Marc Gervais, the senior director of pharmaceutical services for the Association Québécoise des pharmaciens propriétaires. "That's the minimum, and in some weeks we gave 140,000 doses of flu vaccines, so that's a lot of immunizations." So far, 1,500 pharmacies have signaled their desire to participate. More crucially, there are 3,000 registered pharmacists in Quebec who are able to do the injecting, in addition to the nurses who typically provide immunization services in community pharmacies. Vaccine logistics are about to become simpler That's roughly the number of qualified staff the public health system currently has dedicated to the task. The expectation is they will be able to crank out 120,000 or so vaccines per week on average, in April. That's when the vaccine bottleneck will be eased completely, and the trickle turns into a firehose. The federal government's decision on Friday to approve Astra-Zeneca/Oxford University vaccine, as well as an Indian-manufactured version of it, should help simplify the logistics somewhat. That vaccine, and the candidates proposed by Novavax, Johnson and Johnson, and others, are somewhat less finicky than the mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. They don't need to be frozen, and in Johnson and Johnson's case, only require a single dose. "It's a huge boost if you wanted to roll this out quickly," Dr. Matthew Oughton, an epidemiologist at McGill University and the Jewish General Hospital, told CBC News Network about the Astra-Zeneca approval. Gervais said there are also hopeful signs regarding the mRNA shots, pointing to a U.S. finding this week that suggests the Pfizer-BioNTech product may not need to be super-frozen after all. The Canadian government has firm orders for about 300 million doses of seven different vaccines and options to buy millions more, with deliveries set to ramp up meaningfully in April and May. Quebec should have no trouble getting its 12 million. But the public vaccination centres and pharmacies may still not be able to hit the pace required to meet the fall target. That's where the province's large employers come in. Véronique Proulx, CEO of the association representing Quebec's manufacturers and exporters, said her group's 23,000 members (and their 475,000 employees) are eager to help. "We need to get out of this [pandemic] situation as quickly as possible ... they're more than happy to raise their hands," she said. Proulx was part of a delegation of business leaders that visited an as-yet unopened vaccination centre in Brossard on Friday with provincial vaccine czar Daniel Paré, and she was struck by the familiarity of the environment. "It's very similar to a small manufacturing line," she said, adding "we should be able to replicate it." Proulx added there are roughly 1,000 manufacturing businesses dotted across Quebec that have more than 100 employees, and that many have the large, open spaces to accommodate vaccination stations. All they'll need is a little training and financial support from the province to set them up. Employee vaccination blitzes Karl Blackburn, the CEO of the Conseil du patronat, struck a similar chord, saying there is a "big interest" among the 70,000 employers his group represents in helping the effort, particularly between June and September. Blackburn estimates the summer vaccination peak could reach a million people per week, and that companies large and small could help the effort either by holding weekend vaccination blitzes or more sustained campaigns for employees, their families and the general public. He offered an illustration of how it might work with Premier Tech, a Rivière-du-Loup firm that works in the food and automation sectors. The company employs about 1,600 people. "If you add their families and their suppliers and the public in that specific area, it means more than 10,000 people could be vaccinated," he said, adding he's had firm expressions of interest for large companies with multiple facilities in the province like Rio Tinto, Ubisoft and CAE.
(Leanne King Photography - image credit) Members of Saskatchewan's horse-racing community are devastated after the cancellation of the 2021 season at Marquis Downs in Saskatoon. They say more could have been done to save the season and that the cancellation could cause long-term damage to the sport in Saskatchewan. Horse-racing at Marquis Downs, a racetrack operated by Prairieland Park, was cancelled last year due to COVID-19. Earlier this week, the organization announced the 2021 season would be cancelled as well. The news is a heavy blow for many in the industry. Some claim Prairieland Park has been keeping them in the dark about plans for the season after a deal to lease the facility to Pan Am Horse Racing Inc. for 2021 was unsuccessful. "It seems to me that they haven't put forward the effort that one would expect from an organization that is in the business of running horse-racing and promoting agriculture," said Nicole Hein, an apprentice jockey and one of the only female jockeys in the province. Hein is spearheading a grassroots effort to raise awareness of the short- and long-term effects the cancellation will have on the horse-racing industry in Saskatchewan. She said many in the community are upset, as there's been "silence for months'' from Prairieland Park, leaving many who depend on the racetrack in limbo. Hein was one of the organizers of a small demonstration at City Hall on Friday aimed at making more people aware of the situation. She said organizers feel their voice has not been heard and that Prairieland Park needs to do more to support the sport. "They just sat silent for months and then made this decision," she said. A small group of people gathered at Saskatoon's City Hall this week to raise awareness of the cancellation of the 2021 horse-racing season at Marquis Downs. Mark Reiger, CEO of Prairieland Park, said the organization was still making efforts to run races in 2021 until three days before the cancellation. He said the pandemic hit Prairieland Park hard and presented issues for a potential 2021 season. He pointed to both recruitment of international jockeys — a process with extensive COVID-19 protocols — and a lack of agreement with the Saskatchewan's Horsemen Benevolent and Protective Association (HPBA) representing owners and trainers as factors. "The fact is, the horsemen haven't agreed to 20 days of racing, which is a problem in itself. If they refuse to race, then we have no horses, so we're done," he said. "The bigger issue is the jockey situation. If we had an agreement with the horsemen and we could get jockeys in, we might consider this." Prairieland Park put forward an offer to run 20 days of races, but the HPBA wanted to see a 24-day season to ensure the costs of running are covered. Regier said the issue comes down to finances. "We invest large amounts of money to make it operate and there's limits as to what we can do," he said. "With the shutdown of our whole operations here, Prairieland could be losing as much as $3 million this year. So that poses a big challenge for us too. How many days are enough? What are we supposed to do? We try our best here to make it work, but there are limitations as to what we can do." He said Prairieland not having applied for permits as usual a "non-issue," saying they could have been acquired quickly if needed. We try our best here to make it work, but there are limitations as to what we can do. - Mark Reiger, CEO of Prairieland PArk Sport will suffer from cancelled seasons Eddie Esquirol, President of the Saskatchewan HPBA, said owners and trainers countered with the 24-day season because cash streams from gate admission and concessions would likely be off the table due to COVID, so they would be relying on revenue from wagering and race takes alone. "Keep in mind the care of the animals, the care of the horses, is 365 days a year," he said. He said some racetracks have had success broadcasting their globally via simulcast, which allows people in international markets to bet on live races even if physical attendance is limited. While you can wager on horse racing at Marquis Down through a smartphone app, the software is based out of Ontario, meaning some money made from Saskatchewan betters won't stay in the province, Esquirol said. He said Prairieland Park needs to invest in a global simulcast, and the marketing and planning required to make it successful. He also said he's "at a loss" as to why Prairieland Park leadership won't join the HPBA's efforts to lobby the provincial government for funding, which he said could be one avenue to saving the struggling industry. He's not sure Saskatchewan's horse-racing industry will be able to survive without provincial intervention. "There's 500 people that are affected directly and there's another 500 plus that are affected indirectly," he said. "So for Prairieland not to conduct horse racing in Saskatoon for the summer of 2021, you have many people that are either going to be forced to relocate to our neighbouring provinces or find some other form of employment in Saskatoon." Praireland has no interest in further lobbying efforts Reiger said Prairieland has invested millions in the sport of horse-racing over the years and is not interested in asking the province for money alongside the HPBA. Although Prairieland supported a petition lobbying the province for funding in the summer, he said it has no interest in continuing lobbying efforts. "That's their initiative, it's in front of the table and we'll let them talk to the government," he said, noting there wouldn't be thoroughbred racing in the province at all if not for Marquis Downs. Asked about criticisms that Prairieland isn't doing enough, he said, "that's their opinion and I appreciate that." On Friday, CBC reached out to Prairieland Park with follow up questions about the 2021 horse-racing season, including questions about a global simulcast, but a response was not received by deadline. Marquis Downs is the premier horse-racing track in Saskatchewan. A news release from Prairieland Park said its revenue is derived from "trade shows, banquets, agricultural exhibitions, and the Exhibition itself," all of which have been unable to open due to COVID-19. "The effect of that has been a significant reduction in revenues. To help maintain its strong balance sheet, Prairieland Park has been forced to make many difficult decisions over the last year," the statement said. "The primary commitment is opening operations when safe to do so." Kristy Rempel, marketing manager with Praireland Park, told CKOM that the park understands the cancellation of the 2021 season "does effectively end horse-racing in the province." Esquirol said he's reached out to the province in hopes of meeting to discuss further options. He said he's yet to get a response. Hein, who wants to see horse-racing grow and thrive in Saskatoon, said leaders at Prairieland need to do their part to make sure the sport survives. "Everybody needs to pull up their bootstraps and get to work and not hide behind a desk and just decide the fate of an entire industry from your chair," she said.
(Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press - image credit) Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault says he's not expecting pushback from Facebook as he moves ahead with proposed legislation that would force the company and other global online giants to pay Canadian news agencies for the content they use. Guilbeault told CBC's The House that Facebook took a hit to its public image when it tried to head off a similar law approved this week in Australia by blocking all news from that country. Google also threatened to prevent Australian users from accessing its search engine before reaching licensing deals with publishers in that country for stories that appear on its news showcase site. "I think there's a couple of lessons that need to be learned from what just happened in Australia. The first one is that if we ever needed a reason why these companies need to be regulated, Facebook just handed it to us on a silver platter," Guilbeault said in an interview airing Saturday. "(It) just proves the point that they've been unregulated for too long. And this needs to change. And I think the second lesson I draw from all of this is that we need to act internationally. We need to find international allies and engage on this issue together, because these are very big, powerful companies." Lessons from Australia Australia is at the forefront of efforts to ensure Facebook, Google and other digital giants share the revenue they earn from linking to or lifting news content with the domestic newspapers and broadcasters creating that content. The News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code became law in Australia on Wednesday. Australia's Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told Sky News this week that the talks with Facebook and Google were complex and difficult. He's since spoken about the new law to his counterparts around the world, including Canada's Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland. "What's transpired in recent weeks in Australia has been very much a proxy battle for the world with major global ramifications," he said. Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison shakes hands with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the APEC Summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea November 18, 2018. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed the issue this week during a call with Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison. A readout of the call said the two agreed to continue coordinating efforts to "ensure the revenues of web giants are shared more fairly with ... the media." On Friday, Facebook announced it had reached tentative deals with three Australian news publishers. But critics say it isn't a total victory for Australia's government. The law allows those online companies to negotiate deals with Australian news companies. Only in the event that no deal is reached can the matter be referred to an independent arbitrator. The Globe and Mail reported on Friday that Facebook is prepared to negotiate licensing deals with Canadian news publishers, but the timing and details still need to be worked out. Guilbeault said he hasn't spoken with Facebook officials since the Australian law went into effect. Critics argue the government's efforts in Australia failed to protect smaller media companies and the journalists they employ, and will benefit only the largest media organizations. A 'made-in-Canada approach' Guilbeault said he doesn't agree with those who argue that Australia passed a watered-down law. He said he's aware, however, that Facebook and others should not be free to negotiate solely with Canada's largest media chains. "It's certainly something that's at the top of mind for us," he told The House. "We need to ensure ... a made-in-Canada approach to this, because we can't just cut and paste a model and import it here. Canadian media companies have been urging the government to regulate these digital companies because they're taking a larger and larger share of advertising revenue. "One thing we want to make sure is that our model will serve the bigger, the medium-sized and the smaller media organizations in Canada," Guilbeault said. Guilbeault said he has spoken to his counterparts in several other countries about the best approach. Heritage Canada also continues to talk with smaller organizations to ensure that the proposed legislation will lead to proper compensation for their content and encourage new companies to emerge. Guilbeault said he hopes to table his bill later this spring because protecting homegrown journalism is "one of the pillars of democracy" in Canada. Taking on hate speech, sexual exploitation In the meantime, he said, his department expects to introduce proposed legislation in the coming weeks to force internet service providers to take action against hate speech, sexual exploitation and other online violence. "I think Canadians are getting really, really sick and tired of some of the content that they are seeing on those platforms," he said. "They're asking government to intervene." The plan is to create a new regulator to monitor online activity, with the power to force internet providers to choose between taking down offending material within 24 hours and facing severe penalties. "So you can imagine a regulator like that having audit powers to look at what platforms are doing, ensure that compliance is happening," he said.
New numbers on the state of the Great Lakes shows a rise in water temperatures for winter 2021, including for Lake Huron. Environmental experts in the Georgian Bay area say the warming of Lake Huron can have significant effects on the weather, environment and wildlife. The latest data from the Great Lakes Environment Research Laboratory (GLERL) shows Lake Huron's water volume temperature sitting at 4.3 C for Feb. 5. That's compared to this time last year, when the water temperature was at 3.9 C, and the year before, at 3.2 C. David Bywater, a conservation program manager with Georgian Bay Biosphere Mnidoo Gamii, said GLERL's latest data is consistent with the pattern of ice loss coverage they've seen in data dating back to the 1970s. A report the Biosphere published in 2018 details a steady decline in ice coverage for Lake Huron from 1973 to 2016, using data from the Canadian Ice Service. It adds the average water temperature is increasing at a rate of 0.9 C every decade. It links both these phenomena to climate change. "It can affect weather: if you have open water instead of ice, that's going to affect the amount of precipitation that you're going to be seeing, both rain and snow," he said. This is because ice coverage prevents further evaporation. Rupert Kindersley, the Georgian Bay Association's executive director, said the warming waters are a concern for that reason: he noted the damage done to structures, docks and businesses near the Georgian Bay shoreline over the years as a result of flooding. "It's one of the features of climate change that we're getting these warmer winters and less ice cover," he said. There are also ecological impacts: according to Samantha Noganosh, a councillor with Magnetawan First Nation and lands manager, many community members have seen a decrease in the number of fish coming through Magnetawan River — which is connected to Lake Huron — over the years, meaning less yield during fishing season. Community members also use the river as a water source for recreational activities and ceremonies. "(Magnetawan River) is the lifeblood of the First Nation," said Alanna Smolarz, a species-at-risk biologist working for the First Nation. "It's an incredible resource." According to Noganosh, the First Nation is closely monitoring the situation with Lake Huron's warming waters. Bywater said the community partners with the Georgian Bay Biosphere to collect data and exchange information to aid in raising awareness. "That's part of the climate change challenge: making it local and making it meaningful when it's such a big issue," he said. Kindersley said the Georgian Bay Association is also working to inform members of the water level concerns, but added what they can do to tackle this problem is minimal. "There's not a lot we can do about climate change and global warming other than persuade people to adopt individual behaviour that will help to reduce CO2 emissions and other things," he said. Zahraa Hmood is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering the municipalities of Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Zahraa Hmood, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
(© Disney/Chelsea Klette - image credit) A Saskatoon artist is joining the elite ranks of those who bring the magic of Disney to life. Denyse Klette is the first Canadian to be signed by Collectors Editions as an officially published creator of Disney fine art. "It's magical," Klette said. "My mom and dad had Sunday nights as a special evening where … they'd make us hamburgers and French fries and we'd watch The Wonderful World of Disney. So I absolutely grew up on this." Denyse Klette is a painter and sculptor based on an acerage outside of Saskatoon, Sask. The Collectors Editions is not a Disney Corporation, but it's the only independent company in the world with rights to produce and publish Disney fine art. "They have a small group of artists from around the world that they've selected and we get to design and create Disney art," Klette said. "The originals are sold in different Disney galleries and also they have reproductions done." The painter and sculptor lives on an acreage just outside of Saskatoon and has a style that combines her mediums. Klette paints an image, then sculpts around the edges to give it a 3D aspect. Denyse Klette's work combines painting with sculpture work around the edges. Klette said she is allowed to base pieces on almost any of Disney's animated works. She first produces a full-colour concept drawing on her iPad then uploads it to the Collectors Edition team. The team sends it to the Walt Disney Company, which then reviews it and makes any corrections on proportions or colours. Disney then sends it back to the Collectors Edition, which gives her the go ahead. So far she has created artwork inspired by Beauty and the Beast, Moana, Tangled, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Frozen, The Lion King, Lilo & Stitch and Mulan. Denyse Klette is authorized to produce work based on animated characters from Disney. She paints the picture then adds sculpted frames for a unique piece of art. Her work is mainly on display at the Disney art gallery at the Epcot Centre in Florida, but she's allowed to sell in Canada through her website. Her originals or reproductions can also be found at galleries authorized by Collector's Editions. "It's so much fun. I get to walk into my studio and paint Mickey Mouse," Klette said. "I still do like my non-Disney, but to do Disney art, it's such a magical and close-to-the-heart experience." Klette said she has an extensive library of Disney books that she collected over the course of almost 40 years. "It really is a dream come true." Noka Aldoroty, the director of Disney fine art at Collectors Editions, said in a statement that Walt Disney's ability to inspire others to create was his greatest talent. "It amazes me that even to this day his legacy is still inspiring artists to invent new ways of reimagining and interpreting Disney stories through their own creative lens," Aldoroty said. "We saw in Denyse a truly unique point-of-view artistically, and we could not be more excited to share her talents with Disney fans and art collectors around the world." One of Denyse Klette's pieces is a Moana-inspired painting with a custom-sculpted frame. Klette's work can be found in hotels, resorts, private collections, home decor products, bags, puzzles and more. She also signed a book deal in 2016 with Macmillan Publishers for a whimsical series of adult colouring books distributed worldwide. Klette is currently working on pieces inspired by Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmations and Ursula from The Little Mermaid.
(Sean Kilpatrick / Canadian Press - image credit) Delays in the delivery of vaccines sapped Canadians' esteem for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — but polls suggest there hasn't been a corresponding slippage in support for the Liberal Party he leads. Not yet, at any rate. Voting intentions often move after other indicators of voter sentiment start to shift. But with recent announcements about more vaccine shipments arriving soon, the Liberals might avoid taking the hit that was coming their way. As was the case for most governing leaders across the country, Trudeau's popularity soared at the outset of the pandemic. COVID-19's rallying effect tapered off somewhat as the pandemic dragged on, but Trudeau was still polling better at the end of 2020 than he was at the start of it. News in mid-January that there would be delays in vaccine deliveries, and that Canada was falling behind in international vaccination rankings, coincided with a decline in Trudeau's own personal ratings. According to a recent survey from the Angus Reid Institute, Trudeau's approval rating has dropped by five points since mid-January to 45 per cent. The risk of over-promising, under-delivering Abacus Data found that the share of Canadians saying they have a positive impression of Trudeau fell three points to 36 per cent, while the number of those with a negative impression increased five points to 42 per cent. The timing probably isn't a coincidence. Trudeau's repeated assurances that Canada would receive a specific number of vaccines by a specific date put him in danger of over-promising and under-delivering something over which his government had only limited control. So it isn't surprising that after those delays were announced, Abacus reported that the number of Canadians saying that Trudeau has done an excellent or good job procuring vaccines had dropped 15 percentage points. Léger has also found that public satisfaction with the measures put in place by the federal government to fight COVID-19 has fallen to 56 per cent from 66 per cent before the New Year, while an Ipsos/Global News poll found approval of Trudeau's response to the pandemic down six points from early January to 54 per cent. Those are some significant drops after what had been a rather steady public opinion environment for Trudeau. But while the Liberals are down a little, they have not seen as much of a shift in their own support. Liberal lead in the polls largely untouched According to the CBC's Canada Poll Tracker, an aggregation of all publicly available polling data, Liberal support across the country stands at 34.9 per cent, down just 1.2 percentage points since Jan. 27. Recent polls have shown an inconsistent trend line. The most recent Léger survey has the Liberals at 36 per cent, unchanged since mid-January, and ahead of the Conservatives by seven points. Both Abacus and Ipsos have the Liberals dropping three points since January, but still ahead of the Conservatives by one and three points, respectively. The Angus Reid Institute pegged the Liberals at 34 per cent, down a single point since January but leading the Conservatives by three. While it's not a positive trend line for the Liberals, it certainly doesn't look like the bottom is anywhere close to falling out for them. This isn't the first time we've seen support for the Liberals proving to be more resilient than support for the prime minister. According to polling by Abacus Data, the share of Canadians with a positive view of Trudeau plummeted 11 points in early 2018 — around the time of his controversial trip to India. In the same polls, however, support for the Liberals slipped by just three points. Trudeau's positive ratings tumbled by 12 points between December 2018 and April 2019 during the SNC-Lavalin affair, but the Liberals only suffered a four-point drop. This is largely because a party leader's ratings and those of the party he or she leads are only linked to a certain point — because even if voters sour on a leader, they need to prefer the options available to them before they take their votes elsewhere. Conservatives struggle to capitalize The Conservatives haven't benefited from the Liberals' modest drop. The party currently sits at 30.1 per cent support nationwide in the Poll Tracker — down 0.5 points since Jan. 27. Instead, it's the NDP that has picked up some of the Liberals' slack. Polls suggest Erin O'Toole, who took over as Conservative leader in August, has not made a positive first impression with Canadians. While Trudeau's personal ratings fell, Abacus found that O'Toole's positive score was unchanged at 20 per cent, while his negatives increased by two points to 30 per cent. The Angus Reid Institute found just 29 per cent of Canadians holding a favourable view of O'Toole (down three points since January), while his unfavourable rating increased four points to 51 per cent — just one point behind Trudeau, who benefits from having higher favourables and fewer undecideds than O'Toole does. Polls suggest the Conservatives under leader Erin O'Toole have been unable to make much headway in popular support, despite recent struggles for the Liberals. O'Toole's problematic personal ratings make it difficult for the Conservatives to capitalize on Trudeau's own worsening numbers — a phenomenon they've experienced before. The same thing happened to the previous Conservative leader, Andrew Scheer. Drops in support for the Liberals over the India trip in 2018 and SNC-Lavalin in 2019 did not result in big spikes for the Conservatives — in part because Scheer had problems with his own personal poll numbers. More vaccines could turn things around for Trudeau It's clear that the appeal of the alternatives matters — and that voting intentions don't always follow the leader. According to polling by Abacus Data during the 2019 federal election campaign, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh saw his positive ratings increase by 14 points. But by the end of the campaign, Abacus had the NDP down one point from its pre-campaign standing. Nevertheless, a leader's declining poll numbers should get parties thinking about whether their own support will be next. Had further vaccine delays continued to sap Trudeau's popularity, it's likely that the Liberals would have started to feel the effects more directly. Instead, new vaccine shipments are imminent and should put Canada on track to reach its targets by the end of March. Any rise in Canada's international vaccination rankings could correspond with a rise in Trudeau's support. Indications of a potential rebound might already be emerging. Polling by Morning Consult, an American polling outfit that has been tracking the approval ratings of global leaders, recently reported an uptick in Trudeau's approval rating. It could be a blip. But after a tough few weeks, there's no doubt Trudeau and the Liberals will be happy for any signal that they've made it through in one piece.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. There are 861,472 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 861,472 confirmed cases (30,516 active, 809,041 resolved, 21,915 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 3,252 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 80.29 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20,886 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,984. There were 50 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 339 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 48. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 57.66 per 100,000 people. There have been 24,205,347 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 977 confirmed cases (290 active, 682 resolved, five deaths). There were four new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 55.54 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 114 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 16. There were zero new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.03 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 0.96 per 100,000 people. There have been 194,501 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 121 confirmed cases (seven active, 114 resolved, zero deaths). There was one new case Friday. The rate of active cases is 4.39 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been six new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 100,524 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,634 confirmed cases (35 active, 1,534 resolved, 65 deaths). There were 10 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 3.57 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 30 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.64 per 100,000 people. There have been 323,312 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,428 confirmed cases (42 active, 1,360 resolved, 26 deaths). There was one new case Friday. The rate of active cases is 5.37 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 11 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There were zero new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.04 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 3.33 per 100,000 people. There have been 234,746 tests completed. _ Quebec: 286,145 confirmed cases (7,888 active, 267,885 resolved, 10,372 deaths). There were 815 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 91.99 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,458 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 780. There were 11 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 94 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 13. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.16 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 120.96 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,220,844 tests completed. _ Ontario: 298,569 confirmed cases (10,294 active, 281,331 resolved, 6,944 deaths). There were 1,258 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 69.87 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 7,798 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,114. There were 28 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 124 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 18. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.13 per 100,000 people. There have been 10,726,049 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 31,721 confirmed cases (1,197 active, 29,635 resolved, 889 deaths). There were 64 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 86.79 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 486 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 69. There was one new reported death Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 10 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is one. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.1 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 64.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 526,985 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 28,344 confirmed cases (1,510 active, 26,454 resolved, 380 deaths). There were 153 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 128.11 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,099 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 157. There were zero new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 15 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.18 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 32.24 per 100,000 people. There have been 567,399 tests completed. _ Alberta: 132,788 confirmed cases (4,505 active, 126,406 resolved, 1,877 deaths). There were 356 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 101.88 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,433 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 348. There were three new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 65 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 42.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,378,626 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 79,262 confirmed cases (4,719 active, 73,188 resolved, 1,355 deaths). There were 589 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 91.67 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,427 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 490. There were seven new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 28 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.08 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.32 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,901,202 tests completed. _ Yukon: 72 confirmed cases (zero active, 71 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Friday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.38 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,126 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 42 confirmed cases (three active, 39 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 6.64 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 14,388 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 356 confirmed cases (26 active, 329 resolved, one deaths). There was one new case Friday. The rate of active cases is 66.07 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 24 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,569 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Feb. 26, 2021. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Patrick Butler/Radio-Canada - image credit) Space is being cleared in at least one long-term care home in St. John's to make way for a dedicated COVID-19 unit, while front-line staff await word on when more of them will be receiving vaccinations, says the union representing the province's nurses. Some residents at Pleasantview Towers have been moved in an effort to prepare for long-term care residents who may develop symptoms of the virus and require a dedicated unit for care, says Yvette Coffey, president of the Registered Nurses' Union of Newfoundland and Labrador. "They did this last year. There were no admissions to that unit. However, they've still got to be prepared and have staff ready in case needed," Coffey said. "Hopefully we will not need to open that unit to patients, but we have to be prepared. We do not want to be caught like Ontario and Quebec when it comes to our vulnerable population." Our members are tired. They're stressed. They've been on the front lines now for over a year, and there's no end in sight yet. - Yvette Coffey Prior to the outbreak of coronavirus variant B117 earlier this month, centred mainly in the metro St. John's region, the COVID-19 pandemic was generally under control, Coffey said. But with hundreds of cases and, as of Saturday, 10 people in hospital — six in intensive care — Coffey said being prepared for a possible influx of residents requiring extra care is essential. "We've all watched across the country and we all know that if COVID gets into our long-term care facilities, it's going to be very challenging for us, so, you know, they're doing what they can to ensure safety and continuity of care for our patients and residents," Coffey said. That could include redistributing where nurses are assigned to work, Coffey said. In an email Saturday, Eastern Health told CBC News the unit at Pleasantview Towers will have 28 beds, with some residents being temporarily relocated to Chancellor Park to create space for the unit. The health authority said the plans were made in consultation with residents and their families and there is no timeline right now for the residents' return. Eastern Health staff are working to prepare the unit at Pleasantview Towers and a date for the opening of the unit will be confirmed "in the near future." Each individual long-term care facility also has its own plan for how to isolate residents, if necessary, the health authority said. At the start of the pandemic last year RNUNL and other health sector unions signed a "good neighbour agreement" with the province and the four regional health authorities that would allow them to move staff around as needed. There were already regulations under the registered nurses' collective agreement that allows them to be reassigned to where the health authority feels they're most needed, Coffey said, but the good neighbour agreement expands on it. Yvette Coffey, president of the Registered Nurses' Union of Newfoundland and Labrador, says the union wants nurses who are being reassigned to any area that was identified in the Phase 1 group to be vaccinated before going to those areas. One of the places where Coffey said members are being deployed is to long-term care. "Staffing levels have reached a point in some areas that we can't provide the services without deploying nurses there, and one of those areas is long-term care, and … critical care as well," Coffey said. "In order to provide services, what the regional health authorities have first done is ask for volunteers … with the skill set and experience in the areas that they need to deploy to. If there are no volunteers, they have looked at the people who have previous experience in those areas, and that's who they are redeploying first." Eastern Health CEO David Diamond said the health authority had been short staffed in long-term care even before the pandemic, and staffing has been an ongoing challenge. Vaccines only 1 part of protection One of the concerns about reassigning staff is where things stand with COVID-19 vaccine rollout for front-line workers. Phase 1 of Newfoundland and Labrador's vaccination plan identified vulnerable populations, including long-term care residents and Indigenous communities, as well as front-line workers who would be the most likely to be exposed. The province released its plans for Phases 2 and 3 of vaccine rollout Friday afternoon, identifying who will be able to sign up, and when they're expected to get vaccinated. But those timelines will rely on supply of the vaccine, while also prioritizing people 70 years and older in the pre-registration plans. Front-line health care workers not immunized in Phase 1 will be covered under Phase 2, with inoculations happening some time between April and June. That could mean some of the registered nurses now being assigned to work in COVID-19 units like the one being established in Pleasantview Towers may not be vaccinated yet, Coffey said. However, vaccines is only one part of protection for registered nurses, Coffey said. Pleasant View Towers, which opened in 2014, has 460 long-term care beds. "The vaccine keeps our workforce from being sick, but it doesn't prevent transmission of the virus. Our registered nurses have to use their judgment and wear the appropriate PPE — that is their best line of defence with COVID-19." The reason vaccines haven't been distributed more widely, Coffey said, is simple: "We don't have vaccine." Vaccine supply has been a challenge across Canada, and since the supply is distributed to the provinces from the federal government, that means there isn't any vaccine to be administered. Coffey said she was told as of Thursday that it's expected everyone identified in Phase 1 of the vaccine rollout in this province would have received their inoculations by March 5. "We have pushed that those who are being reassigned, especially to COVID units and long-term care or all areas that were identified in the Phase 1 group, that they be vaccinated prior to going to those areas," Coffey said. Judy O'Keefe, Eastern Health's vice-president of clinical services, said priority has been given to any staff member who would work in the ICU, emergency, case rooms and COVID-19 units, as well as community-based high-risk staff. "The last couple of weeks, for sure, our greatest concern has been the seniors' population in congregate living," O'Keefe said Friday afternoon. "We've been vaccinating people as we have vaccine." Public health nurse Betty Sampson prepares the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to be administered in Makkovik in January. O'Keefe said Eastern Health thinks that all staff identified in that Phase 1 category should be fully vaccinated with their second doses by the end of March. As the pandemic drags on, Coffey said, union members are feeling the strain, and ask that members of the public do their best to adhere to health guidelines. "Our members are tired. They're stressed. They've been on the front lines now for over a year, and there's no end in sight yet," Coffey said. "We do ask the public, we plead with the public, to please follow public health guidelines, because the less people we have coming into our hospitals and acute care, the less pressure there is on the system." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Gunmen in Nigeria on Saturday released 27 teenage boys who were kidnapped from their school last week in the north-central state of Niger, while security forces continued to search for more than 300 schoolgirls abducted in a nearby state. Schools have become targets for mass kidnappings for ransom in northern Nigeria by armed groups. On Feb. 17, 27 students, three staff and 12 members of their families were abducted by an armed gang that stormed the Government Science secondary school in the Kagara district of Niger state, overwhelming the school's security detail.
(wutzkohphoto/Shutterstock - image credit) Heads up, Canadians: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is going to be a tax season like no other. If you collected COVID-19-related benefit payments last year, you might end up owing more money than in previous years. However, if you spent part of 2020 working from home, you could wind up with a bigger tax refund than usual. Here's what you need to know about filing your taxes this season, including important deadlines. Has the deadline been extended? Despite this being a more complex tax season, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has not extended the tax filing deadline. The due date is still April 30 for most Canadians, and June 15 for self-employed people. To avoid interest charges, Canadians need to pay any taxes owed by April 30. However, not everyone has to comply with that rule this year. Those who had a total taxable income of $75,000 or less and received one or more of the COVID-19 benefits listed below don't have to pay their taxes until April 30, 2022. Eligible benefits: Canada emergency response benefit (CERB). Canada emergency student benefit (CESB). Canada recovery benefit (CRB). Canada recovery caregiving benefit (CRCB). Canada recovery sickness benefit (CRSB). Employment Insurance benefits. Similar provincial emergency benefits. Qualifying Canadians "will have that full year after the filing deadline of April 30th " to pay any tax debt without facing interest charges, said Francesco Sorbara, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue. Those who qualify for the payment deferral still need to file their taxes on time — or they'll face a late-filing penalty. Will I owe taxes on my government benefits? The benefits listed above are considered taxable income, so the federal government introduced the tax-payment deferral to help out the many Canadians who will have to pay taxes on their benefit payments. "[Many] lost jobs and collected benefits, and they may have some amounts owing," said Sorbara. "We're giving some flexibility there." WATCH | CRA prepares for a complicated tax season: The government didn't withhold any taxes on CERB and CESB benefit payments Canadians received in 2020. It did withhold a 10 per cent tax for people who received CRB, CRCB and CRSB benefits, but tax expert Jamie Golombek said many of those individuals will still owe the government money, as most Canadians' income is taxed at a much higher rate than 10 per cent. "For many people, [10 per cent is] not going to be enough, particularly for those who had other sources of income throughout the year," said Golombek, managing director of tax and estate planning at CIBC. "You may actually find out for the first time ever in your life that you actually owe some taxes." Working from home? Claim your cash Due to the pandemic, many Canadians worked from home for part of 2020, which means they may be eligible for a home office expenses tax deduction. To qualify, you must have worked from home more than 50 per cent of the time for at least four consecutive weeks last year. There are two options for Canadians claiming home office expenses. The first is the detailed method, which involves calculating what percentage of your household costs — such as hydro, rent and internet — can be applied to your home office space. Also, you're required to save all relevant receipts. If that sounds like too much work, don't fret. To simplify the process for people who worked from home for the first time in 2020, the CRA has introduced a new, temporary flat rate method. It allows employees to claim a tax deduction of $2 for each day they worked from home, up to a maximum of $400. "We've kept it simple. They can file it without filing any documentation, any forms," said Sorbara. Software designer Pat Suwalski is seen working from his desk at home in Nepean, Ont. Software developer Pat Suwalski of Nepean, Ont., has been mainly working from home since April 2020. He filed his taxes on Wednesday using the flat rate method and said it took him just minutes to calculate his deduction. "I'm a pretty honest guy, so I took a calendar and I started counting [work] days," he said. Suwalski counted 188 work-from-home days last year. Multiply that by $2 a day and he's set to get a tax credit of $376. "I'll take it," he said. "It's great that they made [the process] simpler." Which method should you choose if you worked from home this year? Golombek said the flat rate method may be the best option if you're a homeowner, because it's easier and chances are you'll come out ahead. That's because mortgage payments — typically a homeowner's biggest monthly bill — can't be claimed as a home office expense. "Our experience is that homeowners, typically speaking, don't have enough expenses … to beat the $2-a-day method," Golombek said. While homeowners can't claim their mortgage payments, renters can claim a portion of their rent based on the size of their home office space compared to their entire home. As a result, Golombek says they may reap bigger rewards by choosing the detailed method. "Depending on [what] percentage of their home they're using, [renters] typically would probably come out ahead on the detailed method." Digital tax credit Golombek also points out one of the new wrinkles this tax season, which is that the government is offering a tax break to people who subscribed to digital news services in 2020. Canadians can claim up to $500 for subscriptions to qualifying Canadian media, such as newspapers, magazines, websites and podcasts, that don't have a broadcast licence and offer primarily original news content. "I call it a bit of a fun new credit," Golombek said. The CRA told CBC News it will post a list of eligible subscriptions on its website in March and that it will only include organizations that wish to have the information publicly posted. If you still have questions about your taxes, you can call the CRA tax information line at 1-800-959-8281. The agency said it has beefed up resources at its call centre, as it anticipates higher than normal call volumes this tax season.
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Saturday that the country's biggest city will go into a seven-day lockdown from Sunday after a new local case of the coronavirus, of unknown origin, surfaced. The opening race of the best-of-13 series between Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli and America's Cup holders Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) is due to be held in the waters off Auckland on March 6.