Chris Murphy talks to Nathan Coleman ahead of storm for Atlantic Canada.
Chris Murphy talks to Nathan Coleman ahead of storm for Atlantic Canada.
LOS ANGELES — Tiger Woods was seriously injured Tuesday when his SUV crashed into a median, rolled over and ended up on its side on a steep roadway in suburban Los Angeles known for wrecks, authorities said. The golf superstar had to be pulled out through the windshield, and his agent said he was undergoing leg surgery. Woods was alone in the SUV when it crashed into a raised median shortly before 7:15 a.m., crossed two oncoming lanes and rolled several times, authorities said at a news conference. No other cars were involved. The 45-year-old was alert and able to communicate as firefighters pried open the front windshield to get him out. The airbags deployed, and the inside of the car stayed basically intact and that “gave him a cushion to survive the crash,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. Both of his legs were seriously injured, county Fire Chief Daryl Osby said. They said there was no immediate evidence that Woods was impaired. Authorities said they checked for any odor of alcohol or other signs he was under the influence of a substance and did not find any. They did not say how fast he was driving. The crash happened on a sweeping, downhill stretch of a two-lane road through upscale Los Angeles suburbs. Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who was the first to arrive at the wreck, told reporters that he sometimes catches people topping 80 mph in the 45 mph zone and has seen fatal crashes there. “I will say that it’s very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” Gonzalez said. Woods was in Los Angeles over the weekend as the tournament host of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, where he presented the trophy on Sunday. He was to spend Monday and Tuesday filming with Discovery-owned GOLFTV, with whom he has an endorsement. A tweet Monday showed Woods in a cart smiling with comedian David Spade. According to Golf Digest, also owned by Discovery, the TV shoot was on-course lessons for celebrities, such as Spade and Dwyane Wade, at Rolling Hills Country Club. Woods, a 15-time major champion who shares with Sam Snead the PGA Tour record of 82 career victories, has been recovering from Dec. 23 surgery on his lower back. It was his fifth back surgery and first since his lower spine was fused in April 2017, allowing him to stage a remarkable comeback that culminated with his fifth Masters title in 2019. He has carried the sport since his record-setting Masters victory in 1997 when he was 21, winning at the most prolific rate in modern PGA Tour history. He is singularly responsible for TV ratings spiking, which has led to enormous increases in prize money during his career. Even at 45, he remains the biggest draw in the sport. The SUV he was driving Tuesday had tournament logos on the side door, indicating it was a courtesy car for players at the Genesis Invitational. Tournament director Mike Antolini did not immediately respond to a text message, though it is not unusual for players to keep courtesy cars a few days after the event. Woods feared he would never play again until the 2017 fusion surgery. He returned to win the Tour Championship to close out the 2018 season and won the Masters in April 2019 for the fifth time. He last played Dec. 20 in the PNC Championship in Orlando, Florida, an unofficial event where players are paired with parents or children. He played with his son, Charlie, who is now 12. Woods also has a 13-year-old daughter. During the Sunday telecast on CBS from the golf tournament, Woods was asked about playing the Masters on April 8-11 and said, “God, I hope so.” He said he was feeling a little stiff and had one more test to see if he was ready for more activities. He was not sure when he would play again. Athletes from Mike Tyson to Magic Johnson and others offered hopes that Woods would make a quick recovery. “I’m sick to my stomach,” Justin Thomas, the No. 3 golf player in the world, said from the Workday Championship in Bradenton, Florida. “It hurts to see one of my closest friends get in an accident. Man, I just hope he’s all right.” Crews used a crane to lift the damaged SUV out of the hillside brush. The vehicle was placed upright on the street and sheriff’s investigators inspected it and took photos. Then it was loaded onto a flatbed truck and hauled away Tuesday afternoon. This is the third time Woods has been involved in a car investigation. The most notorious was the early morning after Thanksgiving in 2009, when his SUV ran over a fire hydrant and hit a tree. That was the start of shocking revelations that he had been cheating on his wife with multiple women. Woods lost major corporate sponsorships, went to a rehabilitation clinic in Mississippi and did not return to golf for five months. In May 2017, Florida police found him asleep behind the wheel of a car parked awkwardly on the side of the road. He was arrested on a DUI charge and said later he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medicine for his back pain. Woods later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and checked into a clinic to get help with prescription medication and a sleep disorder. Woods has not won since the Zozo Championship in Japan in fall 2019, and he has reduced his playing schedule in recent years because of injuries. The surgery Tuesday would be his 10th. He has had four previous surgeries on his left knee, including a major reconstruction after he won the 2008 U.S. Open, and five surgeries on his back. ___ Ferguson reported from Jacksonville, Florida. Stefanie Dazio And Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press
ATLANTA — Fueled by Black turnout, Democrats scored stunning wins in Georgia in the presidential and U.S. Senate races. Now, Republicans are trying to make sure it doesn't happen again. GOP lawmakers in the once reliably red state are rolling out an aggressive slate of voting legislation that critics argue is tailored to curtail the power of Black voters and undo years of work by Stacey Abrams and others to increase engagement among people of colour, including Latino and Asian American communities. The proposals are similar to those pushed by Republicans in other battleground states: adding barriers to mail-in and early voting, major factors in helping Joe Biden win Georgia's 16 Electoral College votes and Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff take the two Senate seats that gave Democrats control of the chamber. But one aspect of their plans, a proposal to eliminate early voting on Sundays, seems specifically targeted at a traditional get-out-the-vote campaign used by Black churches, referred to as “souls to the polls." It's led many to suggest Republicans are trying to stop a successful effort to boost Black voter turnout in Georgia, where they make up about a third of the population and have faced a dark history of attempts to silence their voices in elections. “It's a new form of voter suppression, the Klan in three-piece suits rather than white hoods,” said the Rev. Timothy McDonald III of the First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta, which has participated in souls to the polls events. “They know the power of the Black vote, and their goal is to suppress that power.” In previous elections, souls to the polls campaigns were festive, with vehicles and people parading to election offices during early voting windows. Churches would sometimes playfully compete to see which could bring the most voters, said McDonald, who described the GOP legislation as “spiteful.” In Georgia and elsewhere, Republicans say proposals to tighten voting access are meant to bolster confidence in elections, though they have been some of the loudest proponents of meritless claims that the election was fraudulent. The Brennan Center for Justice, a public policy group, has counted 165 bills in 33 states this year meant to limit access to voting. In Georgia, Republicans control state government and have introduced dozens of legislative measures that would restrict voting access. GOP state Rep. Barry Fleming is chief sponsor of a wide-ranging proposal that would ban Sunday early voting, require a photo ID for absentee voting, limit the time when an absentee ballot could be requested, restrict where ballot drop boxes could be placed and curb the use of mobile voting units, among other changes. In committee hearings, Fleming has cast the legislation as “an attempt to restore the confidence of our public in our election system.” He didn’t respond to an email or phone message requesting comment. Nse Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project that Abrams founded in 2014, called the GOP measures a backlash “to our multiracial, multilingual progressive majority that is winning elections." Biden beat former President Donald Trump by roughly 12,000 votes, becoming the first Democrat to win a presidential contest in Georgia since 1992. Biden received nearly double the number of absentee votes as Trump in a state that became a major target of Trump’s baseless claims of fraud. Biden's win there was confirmed in three separate counts, including one by hand. "These measures, in our opinion, are not based on any objective, data-driven, evidence-based assessment of the issue but solely with the intention to undermine Black voters and other communities of concern,” said Democratic state Rep. Michael Smith, chairman of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus Policy Committee. Because Republicans control both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office, at least some form of their proposals are likely to become law. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, also a Republican, has called for a photo ID requirement for absentee voting but has yet to back a specific proposal. His office said it was still reviewing the legislation. Republicans are trying to limit ways to vote that have been wildly popular. After states expanded access to mail-in and early voting during the coronavirus pandemic, nearly 70% of all ballots cast nationwide came before Election Day. An estimated 108 million people voted by mail, early in person or by dropping off absentee ballots. In Georgia, over 4 million voters cast early or absentee ballots. “They realize if they continue to allow individuals to vote by mail, it is going to be an uphill battle for Republicans to win at the polls and maintain their position,” Democratic state Rep. Debra Bazemore said. At the federal level, Democrats are pushing for a sweeping overhaul of how Americans vote. House Democrats are expected to vote next week on a measure that would establish federal election standards like early voting periods, same-day voter registration and other policies that Republicans have dismissed as federal overreach. And they are expected to introduce another bill to restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that had triggered federal scrutiny of election changes in certain states and counties with histories of discrimination. Georgia was among the states that previously had to get approval for voting changes. “If left to their own devices, Republicans will try to limit the ability of minority voters to exercise their fundamental right to vote,” said U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat co-sponsoring the bill on federal election standards. “It's open season on voting rights in Georgia,” he said. ___ Izaguirre reported from Lindenhurst, New York. ___ Associated Press coverage of voting rights receives support in part from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The AP is solely responsible for this content. Anthony Izaguirre And Ben Nadler, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is moving slowly but surely toward reengaging with the Palestinians after a near total absence of official contact during former President Donald Trump’s four years in office. As American officials plan steps to restore direct ties with the Palestinian leadership, Biden’s national security team is taking steps to restore relations that had been severed while Trump pursued a Mideast policy focused largely around Israel, America's closest partner in the region. On Tuesday, for the second time in two days, Biden's administration categorically embraced a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something that Trump had been purposefully vague about while slashing aid to the Palestinians and taking steps to support Israel’s claims to land that the Palestinians want for an independent state. The State Department said Tuesday that a U.S. delegation attended a meeting of a Norwegian-run committee that serves as a clearinghouse for assistance to the Palestinians. Although little-known outside foreign policy circles, the so-called Ad Hoc Liaison Committee has been influential in the peace process since Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. “During the discussion, the United States reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to advancing prosperity, security, and freedom for both Israelis and Palestinians and to preserve the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state,” the State Department said in a statement. “The United States underscored the commitment to supporting economic and humanitarian assistance and the need to see progress on outstanding projects that will improve the lives of the Palestinian people, while urging all parties to avoid unilateral steps that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve,” it said. U.S. participation in the meeting followed a Monday call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel’s foreign minister in which Blinken stressed that the new U.S. administration unambiguously supports a two-state solution. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is close to Trump, has eschewed the two-state solution. Biden spoke to Netanyahu last week for the first time as president after a delay that many found suspicious and suggestive of a major realignment in U.S. policy. Blinken, however, has spoken to Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi twice amid ongoing concern in Israel about Biden's intentions in the region, particularly his desire to reenter the Iran nuclear deal. In Monday's call, Blinken “emphasized the Biden administration’s belief that the two-state solution is the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace alongside a viable and democratic Palestinian state,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. The Trump administration had presented its own version of a two-state peace plan, though it would have required significant Palestinian concessions on territory and sovereignty. The Palestinians, however, rejected it out of hand and accused the U.S. of no longer being an honest peace broker after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, moved the U.S. embassy to the city from Tel Aviv, cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority, closed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington and rescinded a long-standing legal opinion that Israeli settlement activity is illegitimate under international law, Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
(Bonnie Allen/CBC - image credit) The government of Saskatchewan says it will put up $15 million to fund VIDO-InterVac's pandemic research if the federal government commits to contributing funding. The province made the announcement on Tuesday. It said VIDO-InterVac — the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre — at the University of Saskatchewan is doing world-class research and is now working to secure funding for a Level 4 containment laboratory. Being a Level 4 facility would allow researchers to work with some of the most serious and deadly human and animal diseases. The province said the only other Level 4 facility in Canada is the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg. "Canada should be one of those vaccine producing nations and Canada should be a world leader in not only research, but also the development and production of new vaccines," Premier Scott Moe said at a news conference Tuesday. "And that should happen right here in Saskatchewan." Moe said production of various vaccines could begin at the new facility in 2022, with the ability to produce up to 40 million a year. The funding is contingent on the federal government committing funds to the facility, the province said. VIDO has already received a commitment of $250,000 from the City of Saskatoon and "significant contributions" from several private donors, the province said. VIDO is requesting $45 million in federal government support and ongoing operating funding for this project. A spokesperson for federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne said he is aware of the proposal and following VIDO-InterVac's progress closely. "We are proud that the University of Saskatchewan's Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization–International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) was one of the first projects supported by our government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic," the spokesperson said. The spokesperson said the federal government has already given contributions of $46 million to help strengthen VIDO-InterVac's research and construction of a pilot-scale manufacturing facility. It said it welcomed the support from the province. VIDO-InterVac director Dr. Volker Gerdts said the research will help people, but also livestock. "This facility will focus both on human diseases as well as animal diseases, and thus have a huge impact on our lives and that of our animals. It will help us to prepare and be better prepared for future emerging diseases," Gerdts said Tuesday.
Le recrutement à l’international reste l’une des voies privilégiées par les entreprises et les sociétés québécoises afin de répondre à leurs besoins en manque de main-d ’œuvres professionnelles et ouvrières. L’Abitibi-Témiscamingue est l’une des régions qui souffre davantage de cette problèmqtique et son milieu d’affaires ne cesse pas de multiplier ses efforts afin de combler leurs besoins. « Depuis bientôt cinq (5) ans il nous a été impossible de combler nos besoins de main d’œuvre. Nos offres d’emploi sont publiées sur le site d’Emploi Québec et sur le site Guichet Emplois du Gouvernement du Canada. Nous constatons encore aujourd’hui que les besoins de main d’œuvre en Abitibi-Témiscamingue vont continuer d’augmenter. Nous avons donc à la fin de 2019 décidé d’avoir recours au recrutement international » nous explique la Vice-Présidente d’Agrimax à St-Bruno-de-Guigues, madame Madeleine Paquin. Jusqu’aux Philippines ! Plusieurs stratégies sont utilisées par les ressources humaines de ces sociétés et les directeurs des entreprises pour mieux cibler les compétences voulues et combler les postes vacants dans leurs départements. « En novembre 2019 nous avons donc entamer le processus via Solution Recrutement International, et, nous nous sommes rendus à Manille, capitale des Philippines, pour rencontrer des candidats potentiels. Nous avons alors retenu la candidature de deux d’entre eux pour occuper des postes de mécaniciens de machineries agricoles (lourdes) » indique madame Madeleine Paquin. Le défi de la bureaucratie… C’est la phase bureaucratique qui est la partie la plus complexe à gérer puisque le processus administratif de l’immigration et des vérifications prend beaucoup de temps. Généralement, les employeurs doivent s’armer d’une patience de fer avant de finir toutes les étapes et voir arriver leurs nouveaux recrus. « Les documents ont été signés sur place pour l’embauche de deux (2) d’entre eux pour un contrat de trois (3) ans. Nous avons donc donner le mandat à la firme SRI de procéder aux démarches pour leur venu au Canada. À ce moment-là on nous avait dit que nous pourrions espérer leur arrivée en juin ou au plus tard en septembre 2021 » ajoute la Vice-Présidente. Toujours en attente Bien que les entreprises engagent parfois des firmes spécialisées en recrutement, ils tiennent à faire un suivi de près auprès de leurs futurs employés. « Nous sommes en communication régulièrement avec Mark et Ruel, ils ont tous deux très hâte de rejoindre l’équipe d’Agrimax. Nous sommes toujours en attente d’une confirmation de leur arrivé; Ruel en est à l’étape finale du processus soit l’obtention de son visa; pour Mark il reste certains examens à compléter et, il attend toujours la communication de l’IRCC pour remettre son passeport et ensuite obtenir son visa » poursuit-elle. Les services essentiels d’abord ! « On comprend que la fameuse COVID-19 est venu brouiller les cartes. Selon nos informations le gouvernement traite en priorité les personnes devant travailler pour des services essentiels. Nous avons récemment pu faire valoir qu’Agrimax offre des services essentiels aux entreprises agricoles, et, espérons que nous aurons été entendus » conclut-elle. Moulay Hicham Mouatadid, Initiative de journalisme local, Reflet Témiscamien (Le)
CHARLOTTETOWN — Prince Edward Island announced the start of a COVID-19 testing pilot project Tuesday for travellers arriving in the province by air. Chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison told reporters the four-week project will assess the feasibility of using rapid tests on travellers. Air travellers will have two swabs taken when they land on the Island: one for a rapid test and another that will be sent for confirmation at a provincial laboratory. Morrison said the test on arrival does not exclude travellers from the mandatory 14-day isolation period for people arriving from outside the province. She said authorities are looking to detect COVID-19 cases among travellers more quickly. Morrison said it would likely be at least six weeks before conditions in the Atlantic region are stable enough to allow for travel within the four-province bubble that existed until rising case numbers ended it in November. She said the province is looking closely at other jurisdictions as they loosen restrictions to monitor the spread of various variants of the virus. No new cases of COVID-19 were reported in P.E.I. on Tuesday, leaving just one active reported infection. The province has had a total of 115 cases since the pandemic began. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Health authorities in Newfoundland and Labrador are reporting 15 new cases of COVID-19 today. Officials say all of the new infections involve people in the eastern health region, where an outbreak has been spreading through the metro St. John’s area. Authorities say 50 people have recovered from the virus since Monday, leaving 372 active reported cases of COVID-19 across the province. Newfoundland and Labrador's active infection rate is now 71 cases per 100,000 people. Five people are in hospital because of the disease, and officials say two of those people are in intensive care. Public health says the outbreak in the St. John's region was traced to the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant, which was first discovered in the United Kingdom, and the province has been in lockdown since Feb. 12. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell underscored the U.S. economy's ongoing weakness Tuesday in remarks that suggested that the Fed sees no need to alter its ultra-low interest rate policies anytime soon. “The economic recovery remains uneven and far from complete, and the path ahead is highly uncertain,” Powell said in testimony to the Senate Banking Committee. Powell's comments are in contrast to the increasing optimism among many analysts that the economy will grow rapidly later this year. That outlook has also raised concerns, though, about a potential surge in inflation and has fueled a sharp increase in longer-term interest rates this year. Most economists say they think the Fed’s continued low rates, further government financial aid and progress in combating the viral pandemic could create a mini-economic boom as soon as this summer. Powell acknowledged the potential for a healthier economy. But he stressed the personal hardships caused by the pandemic, especially for unemployed Americans. “As with overall economic activity, the pace of improvement in the labour market has slowed,” Powell said. “Although there has been much progress in the labour market since the spring, millions of Americans remain out of work.” Powell's focus on the economy's challenges reflects his reluctance to send any signal that the Fed is considering pulling back on its efforts to boost economic growth and hiring. The Fed cut its benchmark short-term interest rate to nearly zero last March in response to the pandemic recession. It is also purchasing $120 billion a month in bonds in an effort to hold down longer-term rates. Powell reiterated that those purchases will continue until “substantial progress” has been made toward the Fed's goals of low unemployment and stable inflation at about 2% annually. The economy may improve rapidly later this year, Powell said, "but the job is not done yet, the job is not done.” Powell also downplayed concerns about rising longer-term interest rates and potentially higher inflation, which some analysts worry will result from a burst of spending and growth if the pandemic is brought under control later this year. The Fed chair also refused to endorse or condemn President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion economic rescue package, which is beginning to make its way through Congress. When asked by Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., if he would “be cool” with Congress approving or voting down Biden's proposal, Powell said, “By either being cool or uncool, I would have to be expressing an opinion. ... which I'm not doing." The divide in Congress in regard to the state of the economy was clearly on display, a key part of the debate over the stimulus. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, chairman of the committee, spoke of Americans facing eviction, struggling small businesses, and state and local governments that need financial assistance. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., however, noted that 18 states have unemployment rates below 5% and argued that incomes have recovered to pre-pandemic levels. “We are well past the point where our economy is collapsing,” Toomey said. “In fact our economy is growing rapidly ... There's also real danger that we have overheating ... that can lead to inflation.” Powell has previously endorsed government spending in general to offset the impact of the recession. Fed chairs typically avoid commenting on specific legislation. The Fed chair also acknowledged that prices could rise later this year if Americans engage in a burst of spending as the coronavirus comes under control. But Powell emphasized that he doesn't expect sustained price increases. Inflation has been held down for decades by greater international competition, growing online commerce, and other trends that take time to change, he said. In response to a question from Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Powell said, "We do expect that inflation will move up. But we don’t expect the effects on inflation will be particularly large or persistent.” Powell's remarks to the Banking Committee are coming on the first of two days of semiannual testimony to Congress that is required by law. On Wednesday, he will testify to the House Financial Services Committee. His testimony comes as the economy is showing gradual improvement in key areas, with manufacturing and retail sales rebounding despite a stagnant job market. Still, the steady rise in interest rates has unsettled the stock market. On Monday, the tech-heavy Nasdaq index tumbled a steep 2.5% as the yield on the 10-year Treasury note surged to nearly 1.37%. At the start of the year, the 10-year yield was below 1%. Powell attributed that increase to optimism about a potential acceleration in growth. “In a way it's a statement of confidence on the part of markets that we will have a robust recovery," Powell said. In response to a question from Toomey, Powell acknowledged that “there is certainly a link” between the Fed's low-interest rate policies and rapid price increases for stocks, homes, and some commodities. But he also attributed much of the price gains that have occurred to rising optimism. For now, interest rates remain, by historical standards, exceedingly low. As recently as the fall of 2018, for example, the 10-year yield briefly topped 3%. But for the past year, the economy and the markets have drawn strength from near-record-low borrowing rates. Many analysts are bullish about the prospects for this year. On Monday, Michelle Meyer, an economist at Bank of America, raised her forecast for growth this year to 6.5%. That would be the strongest calendar year economy growth since 1984. Still, the job market remains essentially stalled, with employers adding an average of just 30,000 jobs a month in the past three months. The economy is about 10 million jobs short of its pre-pandemic level. Powell was also asked about the prospects of the Fed creating a digital currency, a move that is gaining steam among other central banks. Powell said the Fed is “looking carefully at whether to issue a digital dollar.” Fed governor Lael Brainard said last year that the central bank has conducted “in-house experiments” on a digital currency, as a complement to cash. Providing a digital dollar would ensure “the public has access to a range of payments options,” she said. Christopher Rugaber And Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
TORONTO — The top doctor for one of Ontario's COVID-19 hot spots says paid sick days and relief for businesses could be built into the province's pandemic response system to help mitigate a third wave. Peel Region's Dr. Lawrence Loh says resistance to strict public health measures often stems from lack of relief. He says the province should consider looking at how support policies could be part of Ontario's tiered restrictions system, taking effect when regions are in certain categories. The government did not immediately respond to requests for comment but has previously said that it isn't looking to implement its own sick leave police because some relief is available through a federal benefit. Loh's suggestions came during a discussion hosted by the Ontario Medical Association that looked ahead to the next stage of the pandemic. The medical association has called for Ontario to tighten COVID-19 restrictions in light of more infectious variants spreading in the province. The group representing physicians has recommended banning indoor restaurant dining and other non-masked indoor activities for regions in the red tier of the province's pandemic system. Loh and his counterpart in Toronto sought to extend strict shutdown measures and a stay-at-home order for their regions last week, arguing the spread of variants and recent reopening of schools made it too risky to ease restrictions. The province granted their request, extending the strictest measures for those two regions, as well as North Bay, Ont., until March 8. The COVID-19 hot spot of York Region, however, saw restrictions ease as it was moved to the red, or second-strictest, tier of the province's pandemic response system. York's top doctor had sought the loosening of measures, saying his region was not seeing “explosive growth" of variants that were first detected in December. Dr. Karim Kurji said last week that there was a "reasonable handle" on variant cases, arguing the need for strong measures needed to be balanced with economic and mental wellbeing. The province's economic reopening began earlier this month. The government has said, however, that it has created an "emergency brake" measure that allows it to swiftly move regions into lockdown if cases spike. On Tuesday, the Opposition called for the government to clearly define what would trigger the use of that brake measure. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the government loosened public health restrictions too soon, without a clearly defined plan. Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca and Green party Leader Mike Schreiner also expressed confusion over the parameters of the measure. Health Minister Christine Elliott said the measure considers a public health unit’s increase in case numbers, variants of concern and health system capacity. She argued it was used when the province decided last week to keep Toronto, Peel Region and North Bay under the stay-at-home order for two more weeks. Ontario reported 975 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and 12 more deaths from the virus. The province said 16,252 COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered since the previous update, for a total of 585,707 doses total. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press
First Nation communities along the James Bay and Hudson Bay coast are in lockdown after a spike in cases. Since last Friday, 15 cases of COVID-19 have beenreported in Moosonee. The Porcupine Health Unit has also warned of a potential exposure risk to people who were at GG's Ace Hardware Store in Moosonee Thursday Feb. 1 to Friday, Feb. 19. People who have visited the store during those days are advised to monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the last day they visited, which ends Feb. 25 to March 5. In a video message posted on Facebook, Moosonee’s Mayor Wayne Taipale asked people not to panic and stay home. “There’s likely to be more positive cases during tracing but we urge everybody not to panic,” he said. “We encourage everybody to follow the requirements, stay home and not to travel unless it’s essential, to wash hands, wear mask and keep distances. If we all do this, then we’ll be getting this under control faster.” Fort Albany First Nation, Attawapiskat First Nation, Moose Factory Island and Kashechewan First Nation are currently in lockdown. Moose Factory's lockdown is in effect until March 12. Vehicle traffic to the island is restricted to Moose Factory Island residents, essential workers and residents from other communities who need to receive medical care. A mandatory curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. has been put in place for all Moose Factory Island residents with exemptions for those who need to work, are in need of medical care and those participating in traditional harvesting, according to Moose Cree First Nation's statement. Residents are also required to wear double masks in all public places. Moosonee Health Centre will be offering COVID-19 testing Wednesday, Feb. 24 by appointment only. In Fort Albany, there is a community lockdown for domestic air travel and suspension of the temporary winter road travel corridor. Community members that have medical appointments in Moose Factory will be required to provide proof to be able to travel on the winter road. All travellers, who are currently out of Fort Albany, will have until Thursday, Feb. 25 to return to the community. They will be required to isolate for 14 days and complete a nasal swab. Kashechewan First Nation is in a two-week lockdown until March 5. Community members can use the winter road to travel to Moosonee for medical purposes until Feb. 27. According to Kashechewan’s statement, there will be medical drivers who will take the patients from the community and drive them to the Weeneebayko General Hospital in Moose Factory. At this time, residents are not allowed to drive to appointments on their own. The Porcupine Health Unit COVID-19 information line can be reached at 705-267-1181 or 1-800-461-1818. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
OTTAWA — Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem says the central bank is seeing early signs that people may be purchasing homes solely because they believe prices may go up. Macklem says rising prices in particular for single-family homes are still a long way from the heated market the country observed about five years ago. Fuelling the increase has been a combination of demand for more space as millions of workers do their jobs remotely, constrained supply and rock-bottom interest rates driven low by central bank actions. The bank's key policy rate has been at 0.25 per cent for about 11 months, and its quantitative easing program is trying to reduce the rates paid on things like mortgages to drive spending. Macklem says the central bank is surprised by the rebound in the housing market. He adds there are early signs of what he called "excess exuberance," with people maybe expecting the recent increases in prices to go on indefinitely. "What we get worried about is when we start to see extrapolated expectations, when we start to see people expecting the kind of unsustainable price increases we've seen recently go on indefinitely," Macklem said during a question-and-answer session with chambers of commerce in Edmonton and Calgary. "We are starting to see some early signs of excess exuberance, but we're a long way from where we were in 2016-2017 when things were really hot." The central bank plans to keep its key rate low until the economy recovers, expected sometime in 2023, and adjust its bond-buying program over time. Macklem says there is still a need for considerable monetary policy support to generate a complete recovery. In the meantime, the bank will keep an eye on debt levels, as mortgage debt rises as households pay down other debt like credit cards and personal loans, Macklem says. "We are acutely aware that in a world of very low interest rates, there is a risk that housing prices could get stretched, households could get stretched, and certainly that's a risk we want to guard against," Macklem told reporters following the speech. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Township of Perry does not support looking into changes for the regional fire training funding model. After its Feb. 17 meeting, council discussed a resolution put forward by the Township of McMurrich/Monteith to the seven municipalities involved in the regional fire training. On Dec. 12, the regional fire services committee met to discuss and agreed upon a one-fifth funding model to secure the training services of Gary Courtice. This is the third three-year term that Perry, Kearney, McMurrich/Monteith, Magnetawan, Burk’s Falls, Armour and Ryerson have signed on for. Perry’s mayor Norm Hofstetter said that he had no intention of going back and trying to renegotiate the funding model. Here are key quotes from the conversation: “ … It seems to me that the wrench that’s thrown into this is (McMurrich/Monteith) gets a little upset that Ryerson, Armour and Burk’s Falls are sharing a fire department and (McMurrich/Monteith) seems to think they’re getting a benefit from it, but I don’t look at it as that,” said Hofstetter. “I’m not interested in going back and renegotiating — as far as they want to see invoices before an invoice is paid … they seem to think that the training officer has an open agenda to order whatever he wants but he works withing his budget the same as all other departments do and at the end of the year it’s all reconciled the same way we do with our budgets. So, where I’m coming from you kind of get tired of doing the same thing over and over and if we do this, we’re taking huge steps backwards in training our firefighters,” said Hofstetter. “I do know it was a huge challenge to get where we’re at and I think all of the councils thought it was finalized at that committee meeting,” said Beth Morton, clerk-administrator. “ … McMurrich/Monteith is behind the eight ball here. Some of their councillors are just not up to speed as to where we’re at with this regional fire (committee) they’re just behind and they refuse to be educated so Reeve MacPhail is going to their meeting in March to set the record straight, so to speak, because it’s the fire chiefs’ realm now and they’re working to get a resolution together for the final thing,” said Coun. Margaret Ann MacPhail. “As one of the councillors here, I would like to see us stay the course.” “It looks like a lot of time has been put in and I don’t understand how they’d see that of Mr. Courtice because I’ve seen nothing but professionalism and that’s why we chose him … I agree with Coun. MacPhail and stay the course,” said Coun. Joe Lumley. “I don’t want to play these games anymore, we have a system that’s working and this all boils down to saving $2,000 to $3,000 is what they’d save if we move to another funding model,” said Hofstetter. The Township of Perry said it would not support looking into changes in the regional fire training funding model and would prefer remain status quo with what was decided at the Dec. 12 regional fire services committee meeting. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
HALIFAX — Iain Rankin was sworn in as Nova Scotia's 29th premier Tuesday along with a cabinet that included two former leadership rivals.Rankin tapped ex-Liberal party leadership contenders Labi Kousoulis and Randy Delorey for high-profile jobs, with Kousoulis getting the crucial finance portfolio and Delorey assuming duties as minister of justice and attorney general.Lt.-Gov. Arthur LeBlanc swore in the 17-member cabinet at the Halifax Convention Centre during a ceremony that was scaled back due to COVID-19 protocols."We are writing a new chapter for sure, but it is one that reflects and respects our past," Rankin said in an address after swearing his oath of office. "Governments that have come before ours ... have provided us with strong foundations to support our agenda."The 37-year-old Rankin was chosen as Liberal party leader earlier this month at a virtual convention in Halifax. He captured his party's top job by billing himself as an agent of generational change and has vowed to be a collaborative premier who will place an emphasis on the environment.He takes office with a shortened window to establish himself — a provincial election must be called by the spring of 2022. Rankin, however, said he is immediately focused on governing and dealing with important issues such as jobs, the economy and tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.He told reporters there is no shortage of challenges."I'm really impressed with the team that I have and I'm putting them in the right place to help me deliver on the commitments I made during the leadership campaign, Rankin said. "Issues of climate change, inequality and building back a strong economy that's more inclusive."Kousoulis will have the tough task of balancing fiscal discipline with the need to bolster an economy damaged by the pandemic. Nova Scotia went from a projected surplus of $55 million to a deficit of $779 million over the past fiscal year — a figure former premier Stephen McNeil recently said would be closer to $500 million by this spring's budget."The work will be to ensure that we're supporting Nova Scotians and getting ourselves back on a solid financial footing," Kousoulis said. He said that while the upcoming budget is already largely prepared, there could be a chance to tinker by adding some of Rankin's priorities.Signalling change, Rankin created a new department — Infrastructure and Housing — that will be headed by former business minister Geoff MacLellan, who has said he won't be running in the next election.He also created two offices: Mental Health and Addictions under new Health Minister Zach Churchill, who shifts from education; and the Office of Equity and Anti-Racism Initiatives, which will become the responsibility of Tony Ince, who remains as minister of African Nova Scotian affairs.Kelly Regan was sworn in as deputy premier and retains her position as minister of community services while taking on responsibility for the province's seniors.Cabinet newcomer Keith Irving was appointed minister of the newly renamed Department of Environment and Climate Change. Other first-time cabinet ministers include Ben Jessome as minister of the public service commission, and Brendan Maguire, who takes over municipal affairs. Irving, a former architect who lived for 26 years in Iqaluit, said he's ready to deal with what has been a long-time interest. "While living in the Arctic in the early '90s, I saw the effects of climate change," he said. "It was very real there and it is now very real for all of Canada and Nova Scotia."Chuck Porter returns to cabinet in a new role as minister of lands and forestry, while Derek Mombourquette is the new minister of education. The Immigration Department will be getting a new title as well, becoming the Office of Immigration and Population Growth, overseen by Lena Metlege Diab, who will remain as minister of labour and minister of Acadian affairs. Lloyd Hines remains as minister of transportation, while others retaining their old jobs include Fisheries Minister Keith Colwell, Service Nova Scotia Minister Patricia Arab and Culture and Heritage Minister Suzanne Lohnes-Croft. Rankin replaces McNeil, who announced his retirement last August after 17 years in politics. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press
On Tuesday the maintenance supervisor at Riverview Gardens woke up excited as Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health woke up “pumped” and ready to go. Dr. David Colby inoculated Rick Walker with the COVID-19 vaccine at the John D. Bradley Convention Centre at 9:30 a.m. It was the first vaccine given to a local person that is not a long-term care resident and it is also the first Pfizer vaccine to be issued locally. “It’s like a train coming down the tracks. It (COVID) is going to come to you sooner or later,” Walker said. “I am excited to be a part of the solution honestly.” Chatham-Kent hopefully saw the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic when long-term care residents got their first doses of the Moderna vaccine in late January. Second doses for those residents started Monday. Now all staff in long-term care homes and the primary caregivers of its residents are able to receive their immunization. Riverview Gardens staff and caregivers were the first up, with more than 300 doses expected to be doled out. “This is an absolute milestone. This is ground zero,” Colby said. Walker said he would encourage all other Chatham-Kent residents to get the vaccine. “You always have (COVID) in the back of your mind. But this is the solution where we can get to the end of this and I firmly believe that.” “Who would have ever guessed that when we were celebrating New Year’s in 2020 what was to lie ahead of us? And here we are. It’s time to rid Chatham-Kent of this pestilence, it's the way to do it,” Colby said of getting vaccinated. Chatham-Kent reported 18 active cases Tuesday after five recoveries and one new case were reported on Tuesday morning. Fairfield Park long-term care home in Wallaceburg has one active case of COVID-19 among its residents and one active case among staff left active. The cumulative total of cases for Fairfield sits at 100 and now new ones were reported this week. The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance outbreak in the Medicine Unit remains active with 24 cumulative cases. Two patients are still in the hospital with the virus. Four staff are off work after testing positive for COVID-19, but not all are related to the outbreak. Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice
ROME — The Republic of San Marino finally can start its coronavirus vaccination drive after the first shots arrived Tuesday. But the city-state surrounded by Italy had to resort to its “Plan B” and buy Sputnik V jabs from Russia after plans to get European Union-approved doses from Italy got delayed. A pink and yellow truck escorted by police cars brought the first 7,500 Sputnik V vaccines into San Marino and delivered them at the main hospital. Officials said the Russia-made doses will eventually be enough to vaccinate some 15% of the microstate’s population of around 33,800. San Marino bought Sputnik V shots at the last minute after an agreement to have Italy send a proportion of the vaccines it received through the EU's vaccine procurement system got delayed. San Marino, located near Rimini on the Adriatic coast, isn’t an EU member, and as such was excluded from the deals the 27-nation bloc negotiated with pharmaceutical firms. The San Marino secretary of state, Luca Beccari, said during a news conference last weekend that the negotiations with Italy took a long time and that under an agreement signed Jan. 11, San Marino was to receive one dose for every 1,700 that Italy received from the EU. But the deal hit a snag as Italy and other EU countries faced delivery delays for the three EU-approved vaccines, the ones from: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca. Italy has administered some 3.7 million doses. “Unfortunately, the time required to define these procedures and the fact that San Marino is a country that has not yet started its vaccination campaign has forced us to seek alternative solutions,” Beccari said in explaining the Sputnik purchase. “As for all other countries, it is necessary to start the vaccination campaign as soon as possible in order to ensure the safety of its citizens,” he said. The European Medicines Agency has said the developers of Sputnik V recently asked for advice on what data they needed to submit for the vaccine to be licensed across the European Union. Hungarian health authorities have approved both Sputnik V and the vaccine developed by state-owned Chinese company Sinopharm. San Marino has had a proportionately devastating outbreak, with 3,538 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 73 deaths. Roberto Ciavatta, San Marino’s secretary of state for health, said Sputnik V was safe and effective. “It is not that it did not pass any controls. On the contrary, as all the research and data available show, it is a vaccine that is already administered in 30 countries, About 70 million people have been vaccinated with it. It has extremely high safety standards,” he said. Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press
Going outside could be just what the doctor ordered. British Columbia has launched a new program that has doctors prescribing the great outdoors to help people with mental health issues or chronic illnesses. Robin Gill explains the science behind it.
(Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada - image credit) Quebec's COVID-19 vaccination campaign is slowly ramping up, with those born in 1936 and earlier in the general population able to get shots as early as next week. The government specified that an exception will be made for people aged 70 and over who act as a primary caregiver for someone aged 85 and over. This means that a younger spouse of someone who meets the criteria may also be eligible. Premier François Legault made the announcement during Tuesday afternoon's COVID-19 briefing at Montreal's Olympic Stadium. The atrium of the stadium, once home to the Montreal Expos, has been converted into a vaccination site. WATCH | Here's what the vaccination centre looks like at Montreal's Big O: The province's first COVID-19 vaccines were administered in Quebec on Dec. 14, and the inoculation campaign has since focused on residents in long-term care homes and private seniors' homes, as well as health-care workers. So far, more than 350,000 Quebecers have received shots, accounting for less than four per cent of the population. The pace of the province's vaccination efforts has garnered criticism, including from Ottawa, and last month's drastic reduction in the number of doses delivered from Pfizer-BioNTech didn't help matters. In recent weeks, the province has been prepping several vaccination sites, including the one at the Big O and the Palais des congrès in downtown Montreal. "This is great news," Legault said, calling vaccines "our best hope to win this battle." "We have vaccinated everyone in CHSLDs [long-term care homes] and we are seeing the results; there are almost no deaths in CHSLDs." But with more contagious variants on the rise, Legault said that "numbers could change very quickly if we let our guard down." Premier François Legault laid out the latest vaccine targets at a briefing on Tuesday. Target for next 2 weeks The campaign will begin in Montreal, but Quebecers across the province can make appointments as of Thursday. Legault said it is preferable to make an appointment online at quebec.ca/vaccincovid. Those who do not have internet access or someone who can help them can call 1-877-644-4545, also as of Thursday. Once patients get the vaccine, they will be given another appointment for a second dose. The announcement didn't go as far as some expected. Earlier in the day, sources had told Radio-Canada that the vaccine would be available to people over 80 across the province starting March 1 and to those 70 and over in Montreal. Legault said the younger age groups will follow in the coming weeks but urged those born after 1936 not to try to make an appointment yet. There are roughly 200,000 people in Quebec who were born in 1936 or earlier, and about 60 per cent of them live with family or on their own. Vaccinating that group is expected to take about two weeks, the province said.
CALGARY — Athletes setting significant records in their sport are often too busy achieving those milestones to process their place in history at the moment. What helps Jennifer Jones wrap her head around a career 153 wins at the Canadian women's curling championship is seeing them through the eyes of people she loves. Jones became the career leader in wins at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts with a 6-5 win Tuesday over Newfoundland and Labrador's Sarah Hill. Jones arrived at the 2021 Tournament of Hearts two back of the 152 victories held by Colleen Jones. Jennifer Jones knows the record would have meant a lot to her late father Larry, who died two years ago at age 80. "My dad always loved the records," Jones aid Monday. "He always followed all the records. I know he would watching from above, (be) very, very proud. "It definitely means something to me. As you kind of approach the end of your career, just to be remembered for doing something that you love is pretty remarkable." The wins record is among many Jones holds in women's curling. If the six-time national champion prevails in Calgary, the 46-year-old from Winnipeg will be the only woman to win seven. Should daughters Isabella and Skyla take up curling, the record book provides a compelling argument that their mother is the best to ever play the game. "My kids do look at it. There's a book with my name in it with some records," Jones said. "I hope if anything it just shows them that if you work hard, that dreams are possible. I just want them to have the best possible life and if this can have any impact on that, it's absolutely incredible." Jones's first win in 2002 was an 8-4 victory over Prince Edward Island's Kathy O'Rourke, who is P.E.I's alternate in Calgary this year. Jones's 153rd wasn't a work of art as her team's shooting accuracy was 80 per cent, but it was one Jones and her Manitoba foursome needed to get to a 3-2 record. Sitting on 2-3 until their next game Wednesday wouldn't have felt uncomfortable. "We were grinding it out today," Jones said. "We really needed this win to stay kind of in there in the competition." Quebec's Laurie St-Georges topped Pool B at 4-1 ahead of Prince Edward Island's Suzanne Birt at 3-1. Manitoba was knotted at 3-2 with Chelsea Carey's Wild Card One. St-Georges downed Nunavut's Lori Eddy 7-5. Carey lost a second straight game, falling 7-5 to B.C.'s Corryn Brown. B.C., Newfoundland and Saskatchewan were even at 2-2. Saskatchewan's Sherry Anderson fell 7-6 to New Brunswick's Melissa Adams, who won her first game. Nunavut was winless in five games. Ontario's Rachel Homan and defending champion Kerri Einarson at 4-0 were the only undefeated teams in the tournament heading into Tuesday's Pool A draw. The top four teams from each pool of nine at the end of the preliminary round Thursday advance to the two-day championship round and take their records with them. The championship round's top three will be Sunday's playoff teams, with the No. 1 seed rewarded with a bye to that day's final. Jones has won everything there is to win in women's curling, including two world titles a decade apart in 2008 and 2018. Jones, third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jill Officer and lead Dawn McEwen went undefeated en route to an Olympic gold medal in 2014. "I can't believe this is my 11th year with Jennifer and the girls," Lawes said. "I still feel like I'm the 21-year-old kid when I joined the team. "I was just so eager to learn from the best. I've always looked up to Jen. She's a role model and how special is it to be able to play with people that you're inspired by?" Jones and former second Officer own the record for most Hearts final appearances (9). Dawn McEwen, who is pregnant and sitting out this year, played lead for Jones in seven of them. Jones has appeared in the most playoff games (33) and shares the playoff win record (21) with Officer. "I've been so fortunate to have the best human beings as teammates that have supported me throughout I don't know how many years," Jones said. In her 16th Hearts appearance, Jones trails only Colleen Jones (19) for the most by a skip. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
WABASCA-DESMARAIS, Alta. — RCMP have arrested a man on 15 sex charges in a remote northern Alberta community and say there could be more. Police say the allegations involve five women and took place between 2013 and 2018 in the Desmarais area, about 275 kilometres north of Edmonton. Mounties say they began investigating in December after receiving reports of sexual offences. Police say the suspect and the women know each other. Daniel Michael Balanger, who is 36, is charged with five counts of sexual assault, five counts of sexual interference and five counts of sexual exploitation. Balanger has been remanded in custody and is to appear in Desmarais provincial court on Thursday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021 The Canadian Press
More than 250 COVID-19 tests were performed over two days as the Nova Scotia Health Public Health Mobile Units rolled into Liverpool. “It was a great weekend. We had a huge community response, which was awesome, and we were really, really happy with everything,” commented Holly Gillis, public health manager, public health mobile units. “We had a great location and the legion was a fabulous host.” The testing took place February 13 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and February 14 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 38 on Henry Hensey Drive. Those wanting tests could pre-book appointments or simply drop in. The Public Health Mobile Unit project hit the ground with a fleet of 10 vans in December 2020, with the goal of reaching out to communities across the province and thereby increasing the number of people getting tested for the coronavirus. “We know in Nova Scotia that getting tested is fast, easy and free, and it’s a good way to protect ourselves and our communities from the spread of COVID-19,” said Gillis. The mobile clinics offer another option for Nova Scotians in addition to the primary assessment centres that exist across the province and the rapid pop-up testing clinics that are also being held in various locations across Nova Scotia. Gillis conceded the different options may be a bit confusing, but their goal is the same – to get as many people tested as possible. “Some people may find it tricky to go online or call 811 to book an appointment,” she said, explaining that she’s been advised seniors in particular find it difficult. Whereas the idea of the mobile clinics is that people can just show up and get the test done. While all Nova Scotians are encouraged to review the screening tool located on the Nova Scotia Health website and check for symptoms regularly, Public Health Mobile Units offer support for outbreak, contact tracing and testing for people without symptoms. At the mobile clinics, Nova Scotia Health staff use the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test administering a nasopharyngeal (NP) swab, or gargle/swish option for those under 18 years of age. According to Gillis, NP swabbing is the optimal specimen collection method for COVID-19 PCR testing because it pulls from deeper in the nasopharynx and has been proven to have a high viral concentration. This is why the NP swab is the standard for reliable testing, she explained, adding that all samples collected through the Public Health Mobile Units go to the lab. The rapid (Antigen) test detects protein fragments specific to the coronavirus. This allows the results to be obtained quickly, however it is not considered to be as accurate as the PCR alternative. To do a self-assessment or book a test, call 811 or go to: www.covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca. For testing locations go to www.nshealth.ca/coronavirustesting. Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin