Toronto-based artist Robert Small has sketched notable Black Canadians for a legacy poster every February since Black History Month was officially recognized in 1995.
Toronto-based artist Robert Small has sketched notable Black Canadians for a legacy poster every February since Black History Month was officially recognized in 1995.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
Texas on Tuesday became the biggest state to lift its mask rule, joining a rapidly growing movement by governors and other leaders across the U.S. to loosen COVID-19 restrictions despite pleas from health officials not to let down their guard yet. The state will also do away with limits on the number of diners who can be served indoors, said Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who made the announcement at a restaurant in Lubbock. The governors of Michigan and Louisiana likewise eased up on bars, restaurants and other businesses Tuesday, as did the mayor of San Francisco. “Removing statewide mandates does not end personal responsibility,” said Abbott, speaking from a crowded dining room where many of those surrounding him were not wearing masks. “It’s just that now state mandates are no longer needed." A year into the outbreak, politicians and ordinary Americans alike have grown tired of rules meant to stem the spread of the coronavirus, which has killed over a half-million people in the United States. Some places are lifting infection control measures; in other places, people are ignoring them. Top health officials, including the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have responded by begging people repeatedly not to risk another deadly wave of contagion just when the nation is making progress in vaccinating people and victory over the pandemic is in sight. U.S. cases have plunged more than 70% over the past two months from an average of nearly 250,000 new infections a day, while average deaths per day have plummeted about 40% since mid-January. But the two curves have levelled off abruptly in the past several days and have even risen slightly, and the numbers are still running at alarmingly high levels, with an average of about 2,000 deaths and 68,000 cases per day. Health officials are increasingly worried about virus mutations. “We stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned on Monday. Even so, many states are allowing restaurants to resume indoor dining, reopening movie theatres and expanding mass gatherings, while Americans are eager to socialize again. An Indianapolis-area bar was filled with maskless patrons over the weekend. In Southern California, people waited in lines that snaked through a parking lot on a recent weekday afternoon for the chance to shop and eat at Downtown Disney, part of the Disneyland. (The theme park's rides remain closed.) And Florida is getting ready to welcome students on spring break. “People want to stay safe, but at the same time, the fatigue has hit,” said Ryan Luke, who is organizing a weekend rally in Eagle, Idaho, to encourage people to patronize businesses that don’t require masks. "We just want to live a quasi-normal life.” Miichael Junge argued against a mask mandate when officials in the Missouri tourist town of Branson passed one and said he hasn’t enforced it in his Lost Boys Barber Company. He said he is sick of it. “I think the whole thing is a joke honestly,” he said. “They originally said that this was going to go for a month and they have pushed it out to indefinitely. ... It should have been done a long time ago.” In San Francisco, and upbeat Mayor London Breed announced that California gave the green light to indoor dining and the reopening of of movie theatres and gyms. Florida is getting ready for spring break travellers to flock to its sunny beaches. The state is considered to be in an “active outbreak,” along with Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and South Carolina, according to the data-tracking website CovidActNow. Florida Gov. Rick DeSantis made it clear during his annual State of the State speech Tuesday that he welcomes more visitors to Florida in his drive to keep the state’s economy thriving. Municipalities can impose their own mask rules and curfews, restrict beach access and place some limits on bars and restaurants, but some have virtually no such measures in place ahead of the season. Miami Beach will require masks both indoors and out and will restrict the number of people allowed on the beach as well as in bars and restaurants. “If you want to party without restrictions, then go somewhere else. Go to Vegas,” Miami Beach City Manager Raul Aguila said during a recent virtual meeting. “We will be taking a zero-tolerance attitude towards that behaviour.” In Michigan, a group called All Business Is Essential has resisted Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s virus policies, and many people are abandoning mask requirements and other measures, said group leader Erik Kiilunen. “At some point you’ve got to look yourself in the mirror and say, ‘Do I want a zero-risk life?’” he said. “It’s become a farce, really. People have quit living for a year, at what price?” “I think everybody wants things to get back the way they were,” said Aubrey D. Jenkins, the fire chief in Columbia, South Carolina, whose department issues dozens of $100 citations every weekend to bar-goers who refuse to wear masks or keep their distance. “But we still have to be real cautious.” ___ Webber reported from Fenton, Michigan. Associated Press writers Brendan Farrington in Tallahasee, Florida; Anila Yoganathan in Tucker, Georgia; John Flesher in Traverse City, Michigan; Heather Hollingsworth in Mission, Kansas; Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar in Washington; Melinda Deslatte in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Paul J. Webber in Austin, Texas; Janie Har in San Francisco; and David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan, contributed to this story. The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Nearly a decade ago, the United States was touting Myanmar as an American success story. The Obama administration reveled in the restoration of civilian rule in the longtime U.S. pariah as a top foreign policy achievement and a potential model for engaging with other adversaries, such as Iran and Cuba. But today, Myanmar is once again an international outcast, facing a new wave of U.S. sanctions. A coup has returned the military to power and pro-democracy activists, reform advocates and journalists have been attacked and detained in a brutal crackdown. The collapse is not America’s fault, to be sure, but it follows inconsistent efforts to nudge the Southeast Asian nation further toward democracy, enthusiasm for which was diminished by a systematic campaign of repression against Muslim minorities in the country's north. After years of robust diplomacy with Myanmar under President Barack Obama focused mainly on then-opposition leader and now jailed State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi, the Trump administration adopted a largely hands-off policy. It focused primarily on Myanmar’s strategic importance in the competition between the United States and China for influence in the region. Myanmar has become a reminder that, for all the hopefulness and anticipation of Obama administration officials – many of whom now serve in the Biden administration – there are limits to America’s ability to shape developments in another nation, particularly one so reclusive and far away. The restoration of civilian rule after six decades of dictatorship was at least partially the fruit of one of the Obama administration’s earliest attempts to reach out to a country long denounced by the U.S. Overtures to Iran and Cuba would come later, buoyed in part by what appeared to be success in Myanmar. Sanctions were eased, diplomatic representation bolstered and aid was increased. Obama made two trips to Myanmar, also known as Burma, as president and his two secretaries of state, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, each visited the country twice themselves. Clinton’s visit in 2011 was the first by a U.S. secretary of state since 1955.. She met with Suu Kyi at the lakeside home where the opposition leader had been held under house arrest for years, Just six years earlier, President George W. Bush's Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had branded Myanmar as one of six “outposts of tyranny” for the military’s refusal to brook dissent and rejection of democratic elections. And, in 2007, as world leaders gathered at the annual United Nations General Assembly, a crackdown on Buddhist monk-led protests, the so-called “Saffron Revolution,” attracted widespread concern and international condemnation, including high-profile repudiations from Rice and then-first lady Laura Bush. Thus, the opening initiated by Obama and Clinton in 2010 augured what many hoped would be a new beginning for Myanmar, whose military leaders were then ostensibly concerned about being overly reliant on China for trade and security. There was initial enthusiasm over the thaw, over Nobel peace laureate Suu Kyi’s elevation to a leadership role despite being barred from running for office, and over Myanmar’s steady but hesitant opening of its once cloistered country. But that soon faded, most notably over the government’s treatment of Rohingya Muslims, who became the target of a ruthless campaign of repression and abuse. Repeated entreaties to Suu Kyi, who was appointed State Councilor after her National League for Democracy won 60% of the vote, and others on behalf of the Rohingya and other minorities went unheeded. Still, the Obama administration continued to have faith in her. “Proud of my friend Aung San Suu Kyi and the people of Burma for never giving up in the long struggle to bring change to their country,” Clinton said in 2015, after having devoted an entire chapter of her 2014 memoir “Hard Choices” to the Obama administration’s policies toward the nation. Despite Kerry’s two trips to Myanmar, the administration became rapidly consumed with the Iran nuclear deal and normalization of ties with Cuba. At the same time, it was pursuing an ill-fated effort to forge an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. So Myanmar’s halting and imperfect democratization was left largely untended by officials in Washington. When President Donald Trump took office in 2017, his administration made no secret of the fact that it was focused less on bilateral ties than in concentrating on a broader effort to blunt China’s growing regional influence. In November 2017, Trump’s first Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, made that administration’s only high-level visit to the country and on his return declared that the military-backed violence against the Rohingya in northern Rakhine state amounted to “ethnic cleansing.” Sanctions on the country’s top military leaders followed the next month. But since then, U.S. attention to Myanmar has been sporadic, dominated primarily by public expressions of disappointment in Suu Kyi, who defended the military crackdown in Rakhine and opposed efforts to initiate and international investigation into it. Stirrings of the Feb. 1 coup, coming as those elected in November 2020 elections won by Suu Kyi’s party were to take their seats in parliament, did not appear to be a priority in Washington, where officials were preoccupied by domestic political problems of their own. In its final weeks in office, the Trump administration made no public comments about growing civilian-military tensions in Myanmar despite speaking out about democracy concerns in Venezuela, Tanzania, Uganda, Cuba, Iran and Russia. After taking over on Jan. 20, the Biden administration was similarly silent until Jan. 29 when the U.S. Embassy in Yangon signed onto a joint statement with several other embassies to support democracy in the country and to oppose “any attempt to alter the outcome of the elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition.” The warning went unheeded by the military. “There was a risk that the Burmese generals were playing us,” Clinton wrote about the 2010-11 rapprochement with Myanmar in “Hard Choices.” That fear may have been prescient. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
They've never met and only spoken once via social media, but Bruno Labelle would be happy to follow the path fellow Canadian Antony Auclair has taken into the NFL. After being bypassed in the 2017 NFL draft, the Quebec-born Auclair signed as a priority free agent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The former Laval Rouge et Or star has carved out a role as a blocking tight end with the NFL club, having registered just 10 career catches for 81 yards. Auclair was on Tampa Bay's 53-man roster for last month's Super Bowl, but inactive for its 31-9 championship win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Labelle said Auclair's pathway to the NFL is inspiring. "One-hundred per cent, especially since he did it coming from Canada," Labelle said. "That's pretty impressive. "He's a little bigger than me . . . I haven't seen him catch the ball or run routes a lot but I think we've approached the blocking aspect of the game the same way. That is, being aggressive and a big part of it, for sure." Blocking has been the six-foot-four, 250-pound Labelle's primary task the past four years in the college ranks at Cincinnati. After redshirting in 2016, the Montreal native had just 20 catches for 150 yards and two TDs in 46 career games with the Bearcats although he achieved career highs in catches (10) and yards (81) last season. "Obviously everyone wants to catch the ball — for sure," Labelle said. "I came in as a 205-pound receiver, I thought I'd catch a bunch of balls in college, but it didn't turn out that way. "I kind of took the blocking tight end role and loved it honestly. I don't have any issue with blocking and I think it gave me great opportunities, especially at the next level." Last season was a strong campaign for No. 8 Cincinnati (9-1), its lone loss being a 24-21 decision to No. 7 Georgia in the Peach Bowl. Labelle could've remained in school for another year but feels ready to shoot for an NFL opportunity, be it as a late-round pick or priority free agent. Labelle is looking to follow Cincinnati alumni Travis Kelce (Kansas City) and Brent Celek (former Philadelphia Eagle) as NFL tight ends. Labelle said he has spoken to Kelce on occasion and the All-Pro's message to him has been simple. "Just to keep working," Labelle said. "It's a long process, it's easy to become impatient and want it now. "I've been doing this for five years and it's kind of like, 'OK, I'm ready to go and take the next step,' but you just have to trust the process." Labelle is currently training in Nashville, Tenn. With Cincinnati's pro day slated for March 31, his goal remains posting the fastest 40-yard dash time he can. "I've been running in the 4.6s so low 4.6s (is the pro-day goal)," Labelle said. "Overall, have a good day but at the end of the whole thing it comes down to what you run in the 40." Labelle initially enrolled at Cincinnati expecting to register plenty of receptions as a receiver. He joined the Bearcats figuring the NCAA was the most direct route to the NFL "I felt tight end was probably the best fit for me if I wanted to play professionally," Labelle said. "With not having a lot of tight ends in Canada, I felt like coming here and being in an offence that used the tight end a lot that it was just the right fit for me. "Not speaking English wasn't too big an issue. It took me about a year to get a good feel for it and now I'm good." Should an NFL career not happen, Labelle would look at playing in the CFL. With no tight ends in Canada's pro game, Labelle's future north of the border could be as a fullback or H-back He'd even consider losing weight for the chance to return to his roots as a receiver. "I could see myself leaning down a little bit getting into the 230s to be used more as a fifth receiver in the slot," he said. "I'm optimistic about the NFL . . . I feel I have a good shot to play in the NFL either as a tight end or fullback. "If that doesn't work I'll be happy to play in the CFL too . . .but obviously my main focus is to play in the NFL right now. I feel like many blocking tight ends (in the NFL) are big dudes like six-foot-six, six-foot-seven and 270 pounds. I'm six-foot-four, 250 pounds, I can move around a little better than some of those guys." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press
Roblox Corp expects its revenue to double in the first quarter of 2021, the company said on Tuesday, ahead of a high-profile market debut later this month. San Mateo, California-based Roblox is among the world's most-popular gaming sites and offers a host of titles across mobile devices and games consoles. However, on its investor day last week, Chief Financial Officer Mike Guthrie said the company had "pretty low expectations" on revenue in China over the next few years, as it plans to invest heavily to attract users.
NASHVILLE — Country music festival CMA Fest in Nashville, Tennessee, will be cancelled for a second year in a row because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Country Music Association announced on Tuesday the decision to cancel the June event, which is one of the oldest country music festivals after starting in 1972 as Fan Fair. It was also cancelled last year. “While we are optimistic with the pace at which COVID-19 vaccines are becoming more widely available, we still face several challenges that prevent us from bringing our many artists, crew members and fans together safely for the full CMA Fest experience we know everyone has come to expect,” CMA CEO Sarah Trahern said in a statement. Trahern explained that the festival takes place at several Nashville venues and couldn't be rescheduled for later in the year. Venues would also have capacity restrictions that would limit attendance. Further, the festival draws many out-of-state and international visitors that would be impacted by travel restrictions. People who purchased passes for last year and held onto them to use for this year's festival can either retain them for 2022 or opt for a refund at CMAFest.com. The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Catherine Zeta-Jones was already a fan of “Prodigal Son,” so when the chance came to join the show, she jumped, lured by the prospect of working alongside Michael Sheen. The Welsh actors were born in cities about an hour apart and moved in similar circles during their youth without ever knowing each other. She was born in Swansea and Sheen was born in Newport seven months apart. “We have all these mutual friends, but we’ve never crossed. My mom and dad know his dad,” she said Tuesday in a virtual Television Critics Association panel. “It’s bizarre. That was, of course, a huge pull for me.” Zeta-Jones joins Fox’s “Prodigal Son” in Tuesday's episode, directed by co-star Lou Diamond Phillips. Previously, the Oscar winner had done guest episodes and appeared in TV movies and miniseries, but never a regular series role. She plays Dr. Vivian Capshaw and Alan Cumming appears in two episodes as a cocky Europol agent. “It’s a family drama with a twist of danger and it’s a dark family,” Zeta-Jones said. “I gravitate to kind of dark material.” Sheen’s presence increased the comfort level for Zeta-Jones to come onto a set where the cast and crew had already been together for a season. He plays an incarcerated serial killer surgeon. “As soon as Lou shouted, ‘Cut,’ Michael and I went into inside jokes, Tommy Cooper impressions,” she said, referring to the British comedian. Phillips said, “She came like a team player, she came to play. It was seamless.” Zeta-Jones told her agent she wanted to join the show on the same day she was watching “The View” talk show. “Whoopi Goldberg just randomly gives it this incredible kind of thumbs up and I’m like, ‘Yes, that’s what I’m talking about,’” she said. “That was like a stamp of approval that came from nowhere.” The show’s second season is currently airing on Fox, and the first season began streaming Tuesday on HBO Max. Beth Harris, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — A House of Commons committee is unanimously urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to promise he won't call a federal election while the COVID-19 pandemic rages across Canada.In a report by the procedure and House affairs committee, even Liberal members supported a recommendation calling for a commitment that there will be no election during the pandemic, unless Trudeau's minority Liberal government is defeated on a confidence vote.The committee makes no similar call for opposition parties to promise not to trigger an election during the pandemic by voting non-confidence in the government.However, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has vowed his party won't vote to bring the government down as long as the country is in the grip of COVID-19.That should be enough to ensure the survival of the minority Liberal government for the foreseeable future, unless Trudeau decides to trigger an election himself.Trudeau has repeatedly insisted he has no interest in forcing an election but opposition parties remain suspicious."Unfortunately, the Liberal government has already indicated their desire to recklessly send Canadians to the polls at whatever time they deem to be the most advantageous for the prime minister," the Conservatives say in a supplementary report to the committee's report.Indeed, the Conservatives assert, without explanation, that Trudeau has already tried to orchestrate his government's defeat.They thank Liberal committee members for taking "a stand against the whims of the prime minister, who has been eagerly pressing towards an election for the last few months."At the same time, Conservatives have been pursuing a strategy that could give Trudeau justification for calling an election: They've been systematically blocking the government's legislative agenda, including repeatedly delaying a bill authorizing billions in pandemic-related aid.They have also blocked debate on a bill that would give Elections Canada special powers to conduct an election safely, if need be, during the pandemic.Bill C-19 is the government's response to chief electoral officer Stephane Perrault, who has said special measures are urgent given that a minority government is inherently unstable and could theoretically fall at any time. However, some opposition MPs view the legislation as proof that the Liberals are planning to trigger an election.In their own supplementary report, New Democrats argue that an election in the midst of the pandemic "has the potential to undermine the health of our democracy." They point to the current delay in Newfoundland and Labrador's election due to a COVID outbreak as an example of the "delays, confusion and unforeseen barriers in voting" that could undermine Canadians' confidence in the outcome of a federal election."This raises the spectre of a government whose political legitimacy is openly challenged," the NDP committee members say, adding that could lead to the kind of crisis that provoked a riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 by supporters of former president Donald Trump.The Capitol riot, sparked by Trump's unfounded claims that mail-in ballots were fraudulent, appears to have been on the minds of opposition committee members when it comes to other recommendations for how to safely conduct an election, if necessary, during the pandemic.Anticipating a massive increase in mail-in ballots, the chief electoral officer has, among other things, suggested that mail-in ballots received one day after the close of in-person polls should still be counted.The Conservatives say the procedure and House affairs committee should have rejected that proposal, arguing that "the election should end on Election Day and Canadians deserve to know the results without delay."Bloc Quebecois committee members, in their supplementary report, similarly argue that extending the deadline for receipt of mail-in ballots "would delay the election results, which would fuel voter suspicion and undermine confidence in the electoral system, which is obviously undesirable."This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
All Northern Manitoba First Nations youths can now take a survey by the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Inc. to determine their needs during the COVID-19 crisis. To be conducted until until March 16, the survey sets to gain insights on potential programs the MKO can develop to support the youth from First Nation communities in Northern Manitoba as the pandemic continues. “Children and youth have shown a lot of resilience during this difficult time, and as leaders, it is important we acknowledge the strain this pandemic has had on our young people,” said MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee during the survey launch on Tuesday. “Ages 12 to 18 are the demographic that somehow seems to be forgotten, but that is something we want to address.” Settee noted that solutions are often laid upon youths without their input on the matter. MKO wants to empower them through the findings of the survey. Survey results on the youths’ concerns and needs will be used to inform the next steps in the development of the organization’s child and youth mental wellness strategy. “We want to let them know that they are not alone and that there are people who are listening to them and care for them,” said Settee. The survey can be accessed online at www.surveymonkey.com/r/mkoyouth. It is also available for downloading and printing on MKO’s website. When the survey ends, gift cards worth $50 each will be distributed at random to 10 lucky youths who complete the survey. The winners will be chosen through a draw. Nicole Wong is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Nicole Wong, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun
TORONTO — The Toronto Arrows are under the bubble in nearby Whitby, gearing up for the March 20 start of the Major League Rugby season. They soon will be taking up residence 1,200 kilometres south in Marietta, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta. The team is scheduled to leave Toronto on March 18 for its season opener against Rugby ATL two days later and will stay in Georgia until pandemic-related border restrictions allow U.S. sides into Canada. The Arrows will share facilities with Rugby ATL, which plays at Life University's Lupo Field, some 35 kilometres northwest of the city. The San Diego Legion, meanwhile, will play their home games in Las Vegas because of the COVID-19 situation in California. The league was five weeks into its 2020 season when it halted play temporarily on March 12 due to the pandemic. A week later it called off the season. Despite the lengthy break, Arrows coach Chris Silverthorn said his players have come into camp looking good. "It's been great, it's been absolutely fantastic. Guys have come in with a lot of energy," he said. "And to be honest with you, you've got a bunch of 20-year-olds who have been locked up for a year and they're just happy to be able to come out of their house legally and hang out and do stuff. "It's quite a different path we're on. They were so excited the first week just to be out and about." Still, the camp is anything but normal as the team trains in a COVID-19 bubble. The plan is for the team to spend the first three weeks in Georgia in a hotel before deciding whether to stay there or find alternate local accommodation. Silverthorn hopes they will be able to return home sooner than later. "Honestly the players, they're excited but nervous as well," said Silverthorn. "I mean we're coming from a place in Canada here where we obey the rules and take precautions to a place that's pretty much wide-open. "And COVID seems to be a lot worse (there) than where we are. But because of the border being closed, we just can't do it here." The team plans to take some 30 players and eight staff down south. Wherever they call home, the Arrows should bring attacking flair with them, drawing on domestic and international talent. South American newcomers this season include Argentina's Joaquin Tuculet, Manuel Montero, Gaston Cortes and Juan Cruz Gonzalez. Cortes is a prop with the other three are backs although at six foot five, winger Montero would not look out of place in the forward pack. At five foot seven and 185 pounds, Gonzalez is at the other end of the size spectrum. He and Tuculet are expected to compete at fullback. "He's not very big in stature but he's like trying to catch a water-bug," Silverthorn said of Gonzalez. Tuculet is another catch. The 31-year-old has won 56 caps for Argentina, appearing at two World Cups, and spent the last five seasons with Super Rugby's Los Jaguares after stints with Sale Sharks in England, Cardiff in Wales and Grenoble and Bordeaux in France. The Arrows started camp Feb. 8. Everyone has now arrived, with some of the South Americans coming later due to visa delays and quarantine. Captain Dan Moor, a Canadian international winger, has retired while New Zealand fly half/fullback Sam Malcolm has joined a club in Japan. Returning South Americans include Argentina's Tomas de la Vega and Uruguayans Leandro Leivas, Manuel Diana and Gaston Mieres. New Zealand's Tayler Adams returns at fly half with Canadian Will Kelly also available at No. 10. Domestic additions of note include prop Marc-Antoine Ouellet, a former Laval defensive lineman. "He might be the strongest kid in the country in rugby right now," said Silverthorn. "His rugby IQ maybe isn't quite where we need it to (be)." Ouelett is training part-time with the Arrows while finishing his engineering degree at Laval. The six-foot-three 270-pounder, who won the Vanier Cup with the Rouge et Or in 2106, spent 2019 with Rugby Canada's Pacific Pride developmental side. At six foot three and 245 pounds, B.C. back-rower Siaki Vikilani is another big-unit addition from the Pride. The Arrows have added talent at scrum half in the form of Irish-born Jason Higgins and South African-born Ross Braude, both of whom are eligible to play for Canada through family bloodlines. They join Canadians Andrew Ferguson and Jamie McKenzie in the battle for the No. 9 shirt. MLR, entering its fourth season, is home to some 60 Canadians, according to national team coach Kingsley Jones. --- Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021 Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Les cultures dites « émergentes » gagnent du terrain au Québec, à tel point qu’elles devraient bientôt être incluses dans le plan conjoint des Producteurs de grains du Québec, la fédération de l’Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) active dans ce secteur. Cela permettra d’aller chercher davantage de financement pour la recherche et la promotion de grains tels que la cameline ou le quinoa, aujourd’hui marginaux mais qui pourraient rapidement devenir beaucoup plus visibles. Au Québec, il n’existe qu’un syndicat agricole, l’UPA, formé de plusieurs fédérations représentant les différentes productions agricoles. Pour organiser la mise en marché de leurs produits, ces fédérations adoptent des plans conjoints, qui ont force de loi. Ils permettent notamment d’adopter des règlements et de négocier collectivement avec les acheteurs. Certains plans conjoints sont très contraignants, comme les fameux quotas de lait ou de poulet. Dans le cas des grains, le plan conjoint impose une contribution de 1,45 $ par tonne produite. L’argent ainsi récolté permet de financer les associations régionales des Producteurs de grains, de faire de la promotion et de payer des projets de recherche. « On soutient un centre de recherche, le CÉROM. Mais on a aussi des projets avec des institutions, par exemple avec l’Université du Québec en Abitibi » explique le directeur général des Producteurs de grains du Québec, Benoit Legault. Le CÉROM est célèbre pour avoir été au cœur de l’affaire Louis Robert : cet agronome avait été congédié du ministère de l’Agriculture après avoir dénoncé l’ingérence du secteur privé dans les résultats de recherche de ce centre. Des chercheurs étudiant l’effet des pesticides avaient notamment été la cible de pressions, et plusieurs avaient alors décidé de démissionner. Peu de producteurs dans l’Est Les cultures émergentes qui pourraient rejoindre le plan conjoint incluent la cameline, le chanvre, le quinoa, le pois chiche, les lentilles, le riz et le sésame, entre autres. D’après M. Legault, il se fait déjà de la recherche sur ces grains, mais financées à partir des contributions des autres cultures. Selon lui, c’est donc « une question d’équité avec les autres productions », d’autant plus que dans le cas du chanvre, les producteurs demandent depuis longtemps à rejoindre le plan conjoint. Les producteurs de grains ont déjà voté une résolution pour étendre le plan conjoint en 2019, et ont soumis cette demande à la Régie des marchés agricoles et alimentaires, qui décidera si elle l’accepte ou non. Avant cela, elle tiendra une séance publique virtuelle le 7 avril pour écouter les producteurs, qu’ils soient pour ou contre. Ils peuvent également envoyer leurs commentaires écrits à la Régie avant cette date. Au cours des trois dernières années, 693 entreprises ont déclaré avoir vendu du grain au Bas-Saint-Laurent ou en Gaspésie, ce qui représente 20 à 30 000 tonnes annuellement. Les cultures émergentes sont cependant rares : on trouve par exemple un producteur de quinoa à Sainte-Florence, et un producteur de cameline à Baie-des-Sables, Nature Highland. Ce dernier est en train de se renseigner sur le sujet et préfère s’abstenir de commenter pour le moment. La contribution sera retenue par l’acheteur au moment où le grain est vendu. Cela signifie que si un fermier utilise du grain pour nourrir ses animaux, celui-ci ne sera pas concerné, mais seulement un éventuel surplus qu’il déciderait de vendre. De même, le grain transformé au sein d’une même exploitation – comme la cameline de Nature Highland, qui est destinée à faire de l’huile – n’est pas visé. Réactions mitigées Le président des Producteurs de grains pour l’Est-du-Québec, Francis Caouette, voit d’un bon œil ce changement : « Par exemple, le quinoa n’est pas typique au Québec. Il faut qu’on ait de la recherche pour savoir comment le produire », dit-il en faisant notamment référence au climat. « Pour qu’il y ait une diversité dans l’Est-du-Québec, il faut qu’on aide ceux qui font des productions marginales. » Mais l’ancien président de l’Union paysanne Maxime Laplante ne veut pas de cette aide. Ayant une petite production de céréales biologiques à Sainte-Croix-de-Lotbinière, il n’était même pas au courant de l’histoire quand Le Mouton Noir l’a contacté pour lui demander son avis, disant ne pas avoir été invité à l’assemblée générale de 2019 où la résolution a été votée. « J’explore la possibilité de faire du chanvre, du quinoa ou des lentilles l’année prochaine, et dès le départ ils vont m’exiger une cotisation et un contrôle de mes opérations? Et ils ne m’informent même pas? », s’emporte M. Laplante. La somme à payer serait minime, mais il considère que les recherches menées par les Producteurs de grains ne lui ont pas été utiles jusqu’à présent. « Je dois avoir à peu près le dixième de la surface moyenne des producteurs de grains en moyenne au Québec. Je n’ai pas intérêt à payer des prélevés à gauche et à droite pour l’industrie », lance-t-il. Malgré sa démission survenue en novembre, Maxime Laplante reprend ainsi la critique que l’Union paysanne a toujours faite à l’UPA : cette dernière s’intéresserait davantage aux gros producteurs conventionnels qu’aux petits défendant une agriculture paysanne écologique. Ceux qui pensent comme lui ont jusqu’au 7 avril pour se faire entendre… Rémy Bourdillon, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Mouton Noir
TORONTO — Canadian actor Jahmil French of "Degrassi: The Next Generation" fame has died. His agent, Gabrielle Kachman, confirmed the news to The Canadian Press through a statement. Kachman did not provide details on his death but noted French "will be remembered by many for his passion for the arts, his commitment to his craft, and his vibrant personality." French played high-school student Dave Turner on the Toronto-shot teen series "Degrassi: The Next Generation." His other credits include the Netflix series "Soundtrack," the Pop TV show "Let's Get Physical," and the Canadian film "Boost," for which he earned a 2018 Canadian Screen Award nomination for supporting actor. According to various bios online, he was 29. Fans and friends of the performer shared tributes on social media Monday, including fellow "Degrassi" alum Annie Clark, who tweeted she's "heartbroken over the loss." She also posted a video of him dancing on a stage, noting that's how she'll always think of him. "So full of energy and fun. He was always dancing. A true talent and a great friend. We will all miss you so much Jahmil," Clark wrote. Dylan Everett, who also acted on "Degrassi: The Next Generation," tweeted that French was "kind, funny, and talented." "One of the first people I met on 'Degrassi,' he immediately made me feel welcome," Everett wrote. "He disarmed you with a smile and his confidence and energy was infectious. You’ll be missed, brother." Toronto-based Salvatore Antonio tweeted French was a longtime acting student of his, his mentee and "a special human." "He was fearless and brilliant in his pursuit, and I’m so sad we won’t get to see more of his gift," Antonio wrote. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
PIERRE, S.D. — Top South Dakota lawmakers announced a proposal on Tuesday to delay evaluating whether the state's attorney general should be impeached until the conclusion of the criminal case against him for hitting and killing a man with his car. House Speaker Spencer Gosch, a Republican, released a plan he will present to a House committee on Wednesday, arguing that a delay was necessary in light of a judge's order last week that halted Gov. Kristi Noem and government officials from releasing evidence in the investigation. Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg — also a Republican — is facing three misdemeanour charges for striking and killing a man walking on the shoulder of a highway late on Sept. 12. Ravnsborg initially told authorities that he thought he had struck a deer or another large animal and said he searched the unlit area with a cellphone flashlight. He said he didn’t realize he had killed a man until the next day when he returned to the accident scene. A bipartisan group of lawmakers had filed articles of impeachment against the state's top law enforcement officer last week, just hours after Noem had called for Ravnsborg to resign. The Republican governor also made the extraordinary move of releasing videos of interviews Ravnsborg had with criminal investigators. But her administration was later forced to remove the videos by a judge in the county where the criminal case against Ravnsborg is proceeding. “Our proceedings need to be fair and transparent," Gosch said in a statement. "In light of the recent court order issued by the Honorable John Brown, we have some concerns on what our abilities are in a public proceeding.” Gosch's proposal amounted to a step back from the impeachment proceedings after the governor and some lawmakers had used nearly every available means to get Ravnsborg to resign last week. The lawmaker said he would propose removing the articles of impeachment from the legislative resolution and replacing them with a statement saying that after Ravnsborg's criminal trial, the House “may evaluate whether articles of impeachment ... are necessary and proceed accordingly.” Both House Republican Leader, Kent Peterson, and Democratic Leader, Jamie Smith, said they agreed with the delay. A hearing date for Ravnsborg's criminal case has not been set. Gosch said it would also require a special session of the Legislature to reconvene for impeachment, which would require support from two-thirds of both chambers. If the House decided to proceed with the impeachment, it would take a simple majority to advance the impeachment charges to the Senate. There, it would require two-thirds of senators to convict and remove him from office. Noem would get to appoint a replacement if Ravnsborg leaves or is removed from office. Stephen Groves, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Canada's chief public health officer says new COVID-19 cases are starting to tick back up after a month-long decline, giving urgency to the question of who should receive doses of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine due to arrive in Canada Wednesday. The "moderate increase" at the national level noted by Dr. Theresa Tam is in keeping with models forecasting a spike in cases over the next two months unless stricter public health measures are imposed to combat more contagious strains of the virus. “The concern is that we will soon see an impact on hospitalization, critical care and mortality trends," Tam said Tuesday. Canada saw 2,933 new cases on average over the past week, a figure similar to last Friday's numbers that revealed week-over-week increases of between eight and 14 per cent in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. The uptick comes as provinces figure out how to allocate their various vaccines, especially as Canada receives 500,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine produced at the Serum Institute of India. About 445,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are also arriving this week, said Procurement Minister Anita Anand. Guidance on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has caused some confusion. Health Canada authorized its use last week for all adults but the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends it not be administered to people 65 and over. The advisory committee cites concern over limited data from clinical trials for older patients. Health Canada also acknowledges that issue. But the advisory panel, which recommends how vaccines should be used, says the limitation means seniors should take priority for the two greenlighted mRNA vaccines — Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — where dearth of data is not an issue. Alberta's health minister said Monday the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca's vaccine to anyone over 65. British Columbia, Ontario and Prince Edward Island are on similar courses, though details on who will get those jabs is not always clear. "With clinical testing of AstraZeneca limited to those under 65, we will need to adjust our plan to look at a parallel track for some of these more flexible vaccines in order to cast the widest net possible," the B.C. health ministry said in an email. Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott characterized Oxford-AstraZeneca as "very versatile " because it lacks the same cold-storage requirements as the two other vaccines in use in Canada. It won't go to seniors, but she said shots might be administered in correctional facilities for that reason. P.E.I. will target AstraZeneca at "healthy younger individuals who are working in certain front-line, essential services," said Dr. Heather Morrison, the province's chief medical officer of health. Health officials in Quebec and New Brunswick say they await further advice from health authorities and are taking time to examine how to deploy the latest vaccine. Nova Scotia's chief medical health officer Dr. Robert Strang said the province has yet to give an answer to Ottawa "about whether we actually want to take the vaccine." All provinces must provide a response by midday Thursday, he said. Two experts say essential workers who are more likely to contract and transmit COVID-19 should be prioritized for immunization with the Oxford-AstraZeneca doses. Caroline Colijn, a COVID-19 modeller and mathematician at Simon Fraser University, and Horacio Bach, an adjunct professor in the division of infectious diseases at the University of British Columbia, also say the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine could be better promoted by provincial health officials as a strong alternative to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Oxford-AstraZeneca reported their vaccine is about 62 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19 while Pifzer-BioNTech and Moderna have said the efficacy of their vaccines is about 95 per cent. But Colijn and Bach say the fact there have been no hospitalizations from severe illness and no deaths among those receiving the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine needs to be underscored because people awaiting immunization seem to be fixated on the higher efficacy data for the first two vaccines approved in Canada. "If the AstraZeneca vaccine will prevent you from getting really sick that's still a win for you," Colijn said. "I see this huge, huge benefit of vaccinating young people, particularly people with high contact, essential workers, sooner." No province has been spared from the increase in new variants circulating across the country, though several continue to ease anti-pandemic restrictions. Modelling from the Public Health Agency of Canada projected a steep surge in new cases starting late last month — and reaching 20,000 new cases a day before May — if public health measures weren't tightened. Since that Feb. 19 forecast, restrictions in many regions have loosened as Canadians return to restaurants, cinemas and hair salons. But Tam said Canada is gaining ground on "the vaccine-versus-variants leg of this marathon" every day. "Canada is prepared, and Canada remains on track," she said. Provinces have now reported 1,257 cases of the B.1.1.7 mutation that was first identified in the United Kingdom, 99 cases of the B. 126.96.36.199 strain first identified in South Africa, and three of the P. 1 variant first identified in Brazil. There have been 870,033 cases of COVID-19 in Canada and 22,017 deaths as of Monday night. There were 30,430 active cases across Canada, with an average of 42 deaths reported daily over the past week. Provinces are also figuring out whether to stick to the original injection schedules or extend the interval between doses beyond three or four weeks. The national advisory committee is expected to update its recommendations this week. Ontario is waiting for that guidance, while B.C. is pushing ahead with its plan to prolong the interval to four months. Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, said Monday the decision was based on local and international evidence that shows the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines provides "miraculous" 90 per cent protection from the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. — With files from Camille Bains, Kevin Bissett, Laura Dhillon Kane and Holly McKenzie-Sutter. Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
On Wednesday, the verdict in Toronto’s van attack trial will be revealed. Alek Minassian has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. Erica Vella reports.
VICTORIA — British Columbia's chief coroner says deadlier street drugs are behind another grim milestone in the province's overdose crisis as a record was set for the number of deaths in January. The BC Coroners Service says 165 people died from suspected overdoses in January, the largest number of lives lost due to illicit drugs in the first month of a calendar year. It says the deaths come amid a rise in drug toxicity, with almost one in five of the deaths involving extreme levels of fentanyl concentration — the largest number recorded to date. There were 14 deaths in which carfentanil was detected, the largest monthly figure involving the more lethal analogue of fentanyl since May 2019. More people died from illicit drug overdoses in British Columbia last year than in any year before. Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe says more than twice the number of people died in January 2021 compared with January 2020 and the drug toxicity shows a need for swift action. "The findings suggest that the already unstable drug supply in B.C. is becoming even deadlier, underscoring the urgent need for supervised consumption options, prescribing for safe supply, and accessible treatment and recovery services," she says in the statement. The report also notes recent increases in the presence of unprescribed benzodiazepines and its analogues, including etizolam. Since July 2020, etizolam has been identified in nearly one-third of illicit drug toxicity deaths where expedited testing was performed. In January, benzodiazepines and its analogues were detected in nearly half of all samples tested. The addition of etizolam to fentanyl increases the likelihood of overdose due to the combined respiratory depressant effects, the coroners service says. It says increased drug toxicity was responsible for an average of 5.3 lives lost each day in January.Premier John Horgan and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart have written letters to the federal government asking for an exemption that would allow for the decriminalization of drug possession for personal use.The City of Vancouver says it submitted a preliminary application to Health Canada on Monday outlining a health-focused "Vancouver model" for managing substance use and saving lives.It says in a statement its first application is based on consultation with Vancouver Coastal Health and police, and it details how the city plans to work with community organizations and people with lived experience to build on the submission.Alvin Singh, spokesman for the mayor's office, said they wouldn't share the document because they didn't want to "jeopardize the integrity of the application."However, he said the proposal would require police to determine if a person is in possession of drugs for personal use at the scene and no penalties or sanctions are envisioned at this stage. Instead, voluntary referrals would be made to Vancouver Coastal Health's overdose outreach team."However, this is preliminary thinking and much more work needs to be undertaken before a model is finalized," Singh said. Sheila Malcolmson, the minister of mental health and addictions, says in a statement that the pandemic has pushed people further into isolation, compounding the effects of stigma that drives people to use drugs alone.She says B.C. is working to add more treatment and recovery options, more services and supports, and to work with the federal government on decriminalization. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa on Wednesday launched a search for eight people to join him as the first private passengers on a trip around the moon with Elon Musk's SpaceX. The first stage of the selection process runs to March 14, with applicants needing to pass medical checks and, eventually, an interview with Maezawa. The entrepreneur, who sold his online fashion business Zozo Inc to SoftBank in 2019, is paying the entire cost of the voyage on SpaceX's next-generation reusable launch vehicle, dubbed the Starship.
It has been a tough year for many local businesses, and the Timmins Chamber is doing its part to celebrate the perseverance and determination of those who have adapted to the ever changing business climate. On Tuesday afternoon, the 45 nominees for the 2021 Nova Business Excellence Awards were announced. There were 120 nominations received across the 15 award categories ranging from "Innovation" to "Marketing" to "Best New Business." Three finalists were announced in each category by a panel of independent community judges. The winners will be announced in a virtual ceremony broadcast on May 13. Under normal circumstances, a gala event with hundreds of well-dressed people would be held at the McIntyre Arena where attendees can mingle and network over cocktails, but due to the ongoing restrictions surrounding COVID-19, the event will be held online for the second consecutive year. “It's clear from this list of finalists that our local entrepreneurs have continued to construct powerful strategies to stay viable throughout the pandemic, which is why we're looking forward to celebrating the best of Timmins business at the Nova Award, virtually, on May 13,” said Chamber president Melanie Verreault. “This year's slate of incredible nominees is yet another reminder that Northern Ontario entrepreneurs are leaders in shaping and moulding the socio-economic landscape, bridging gaps, and hammering out key investments that grow our economy through almost every aspect of their business, and they deserve recognition.” Now in its 19th year, the Nova Awards are the largest business awards in Northern Ontario. This year's theme is "Building Business" – which celebrates the ways in which local entrepreneurs continue be leaders in building a stronger community. “Our businesses consistently work with each other, laying the foundation for lasting relationships and paving the way through 2020. Its why we remain honoured to have spent 19 years making sure their achievements are recognized at the Nova Awards to help us celebrate their ongoing successes,” said Verreault. The ceremony will be streamed online as well as on Eastlink TV. 2021 NOVA FINALISTS BMT Insurance & Financial Services Business Contribution to the Community Award (1-5 employees) – Discover Fitness/Discover Performance Inc.; Pioneer Snack Express; Your Professional Business Solutions. The Venture Centre Business Contribution to the Community Award (6-10 employees) – 101 Radiator Timmins; Lady Luck Family Restaurant & Convenience; The Moose/Vista Radio Ltd. NorthernTel Business Contribution to the Community Award (11+ employees) – Full Beard Brewing Co.; MNP LLP; Newmont Porcupine. FNETB Best Place to Work Award – Bright Spot Therapy Services; Plan A Timmins Health Care Staffing; SMS Equipment. Newmont Porcupine Young Leader Award – Katherine Storring, dB Hearing Inc; Kieran Duquette, Northern Windows & Doors; Melissa Lamarche, Spoiled Rawt'n. RBC Marketing Award – Fortier Automotive; Kinz and Klomp Live; New Burger Planet Inc. National Bank Innovation Award – Casa di Media Productions; Mine Safety Solutions; Radical Gardens. Northern College Service Excellence Award – CL Lawn Care; Gorilla Property Services; The Wizard of Paws Inc. Caisse Alliance New Business Award (Under 2 Years) – All About You Medical Spa; Golden Crust Specialty Bakery; Hallmark Timmins. TD Bank Group Business of the Year Award (1-5 employees) – Dumoulin's; Northern Lights Fauxmagerie; Porcupine Advance Printers. Scotiabank Business of the Year Award (6-10 employees) – The Co-operators Timmins; J&R Custom Cabinets; The Urban Farm. Kidd Operations Business of the Year Award (11+ employees) – DSI Services; J&B Cycle & Marine Ltd; Timmins Mechanical Solutions Inc. DeBeers Canada Indigenous Partnership Award – Niiwin General Partnership Inc; NPLH Drilling; The Bucket Shop. City of Timmins Non-Profit Organization Award – Anti-Hunger Coalition Timmins; Living Space; Timmins and District Hospital Foundation. OPG Lifetime Business Achievement Award – BMT Insurance and Financial Services; McIntyre Catering Services; Wyatt Image Solutions. President's Award – To be announced on May 13. Andrew Autio is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for The Daily Press. LJI is a federally funded program. Andrew Autio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Daily Press
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Naval Academy is developing plans to begin vaccinating midshipmen this month so students can deploy to ships and with Navy teams as part of their training this summer, Vice Adm. Sean Buck told Congress Tuesday. If the vaccines are available, the midshipmen would be the first military academy students to receive the COVID-19 shots. The plans come as the Naval Academy wrestles with a new uptick in positive coronavirus cases, and has locked down the campus in Annapolis, Maryland, for 10 days. Students have been restricted to their rooms for classes and meals, and can go outside for a maximum of two hours a day, with only one roommate. The lockdown was announced on Sunday, and includes the suspension of sports events and practices, other than the men's varsity basketball team, which will participate in post-season play because the athletes have been isolated since last week. Speaking to the House Defence Appropriations subcommittee, Buck said that he's given Navy leaders a timeline for when he'd like to begin giving vaccines to midshipmen who will be deploying out to the fleet. Generally, students go out on fleet cruises in the summer after their freshman year, do a four-week training stint in the fleet after their sophomore year and go on a higher-level fleet cruise after their junior year. Often the training is part of the process to determine what service job interests them. “Our Navy has prioritized the operational forces first. They’re getting vaccinated. They have a very safe and healthy bubble,” Buck told lawmakers. “And for them to be willing to accept our midshipmen from the academy as well as midshipmen from NROTC universities around the country, we need to vaccinate them prior to the summer training.” The Navy has had several small outbreaks on ships, both deployed and at home ports, and leaders have been trying to get crews vaccinated in order to avoid upticks in the virus. The USS Theodore Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier, had a massive outbreak early last year while at sea, and was sidelined in Guam for weeks while the crew went through a methodical quarantine process. To meet the training timelines, Buck said a small initial group of students would have to start getting vaccines by the last week of March, in order to get out to their deployments in mid-May. That would give them time to get both shots, and have two weeks to ensure their immunity was in full effect. Buck and the superintendents for the Army and Air Force academies told lawmakers that they have all started providing vaccines to their faculty and staff, based on the priorities set by the CDC and the Defence Department. But the Air Force and Army academies haven't yet begun preparations to give shots to students. Army Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., said about 4,000 staff and faculty have gotten the vaccine so far, which is about half. At the Naval Academy, more than 900 of the roughly 2,300 staff and faculty have gotten shots, including some who got vaccines in the local community based on their eligibility. The military leaders said first responders and vulnerable people are prioritized, as noted in the CDC and Pentagon guidelines. Williams added that he's confident students will want to get the vaccine once it's available. Air Force Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, superintendent of the Air Force Academy in Colorado, noted that the cadets are “the most healthy of our population and they fall into the lower level” of the priorities. Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press
TORONTO — North American stock markets were quieter after experiencing strong gains to start March. The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 121.98 points to 18,421.60. But U.S. markets were lower, with the Dow Jones industrial average down 143.99 points at 13,391.52. The S&P 500 index was down 31.53 points at 3,870.29, while the Nasdaq composite was down 230.04 points at 13,358.79. The Canadian dollar traded for 79.20 cents US compared with 78.98 cents US on Monday. The April crude oil contract was down 89 cents at US$59.75 per barrel and the April natural gas contract was up 6.2 cents at US$2.84 per mmBTU. The April gold contract was up US$10.60 at US$1,733.60 an ounce and the May copper contract was up 10.9 cents at US$4.22 a pound. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X) The Canadian Press