Health Canada has yet to sign off on Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine but chief public health officer Dr. Teresa Tam says the fact that it no longer needs to be frozen in transit makes things easier, especially when it comes to remote communities.
Health Canada has yet to sign off on Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine but chief public health officer Dr. Teresa Tam says the fact that it no longer needs to be frozen in transit makes things easier, especially when it comes to remote communities.
WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservative groups opposed President-elect Joe Biden's forthcoming immigration plan Tuesday as massive amnesty for people in the U.S. illegally, underscoring that the measure faces an uphill fight in a Congress that Democrats control just narrowly. In a further complication, several pro-immigration groups said they would press Biden to go even further and take steps such as immediate moratoriums on deportations, detentions and new arrests. Coupled with the discomfort an immigration push could cause for moderate Democrats, liberals' demands illustrated the pressures facing Biden as four years of President Donald Trump's restrictive and often harsh immigration policies come to an end. “It simply wouldn't have happened without us," Lorella Praeli, co-president of the liberal group Community Change, said of Biden's victory. “So we are now in a powerful position." Biden plans to introduce the legislation shortly after being inaugurated Wednesday, a move he hopes will spotlight his emphasis on an issue that's defied major congressional action since 1986. Its fate, as written, seemed in doubt. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will become Senate majority leader this week, said Trump's impeachment trial, confirmation of Biden's Cabinet nominees and more COVID-19 relief will be the chamber's top initial priorities. “I look forward to working together with him" on the measure, Schumer said — a choice of words that might suggest changes could be needed for it to pass Congress. Biden's proposal would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, set up a processing program abroad for refugees seeking admission to the U.S. and push toward using technology to monitor the border. The measure was described by an official from Biden's transition team who described the plan on condition of anonymity. With an eye toward discouraging a surge of immigrants toward the U.S.-Mexico boundary, the package's route to citizenship would only apply to people already in the U.S. by this past Jan. 1. But it omits the traditional trade-off of dramatically enhanced border security that's helped attract some GOP support in the past, which drew criticism on Tuesday. “A mass amnesty with no safeguards and no strings attached is a nonstarter,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., often a central player in Senate immigration battles. “Total amnesty, no regard for the health or security of Americans, and zero enforcement," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who like Rubio is a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, said in a Monday tweet. That view was shared by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, which favours curbing immigration. “Past proposals at least accepted the concept of turning off the faucet and mopping up the overflow. This is nothing but mopping up and letting the faucet continue to run," Krikorian said. Rosemary Jenks, top lobbyist for NumbersUSA, which also wants to limit immigration, said the measure seems likely to fail in the Senate. It would need at least 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats to overcome a filibuster that would kill the measure. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said, “Moving an immigration reform bill won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible." He cited a 2013 massive overhaul that narrowly passed the Senate, only to die in the GOP-run House. Menendez and Rubio were part of a bipartisan “Gang of 8" senators that helped win Senate approval. Under Biden's legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization if they pursue citizenship. For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements. Biden is also expected to take swift executive actions, which require no congressional action, to reverse other Trump immigration actions. These include ending to the prohibition on arrivals from predominantly Muslim countries. The legislation represents Biden's bid to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of Trump's restrictive policies and mass deportations. It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years. Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with the GOP to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades. That kind of major win, even if it involves compromise, could be critical for Biden. He'll be seeking legislative victories in a Congress where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities, like rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending. Democrats will control the 50-50 Senate with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. Democrats currently control the House 222-211, with two vacancies. ___ Barrow reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego also contributed to this report. Alan Fram, Lisa Mascaro And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
Shelburne Council looks at street names for new subdivisionThe municipality’s Town Planner, Steve Wever presented a report to Council regarding the proposed street names in the Fieldgate Development on the eastern edge of town. Shelburne’s Street naming and Addressing Policy, #2018-14 establishes a uniform and logical street naming system for new streets in town and assists with naming streets in a way that recognizes and promotes the her-itage and identity of Shelburne, as well as emergency or safety considerations and sig-nificant contributions by organizations or individuals. The policy provides for street names in a development to be based upon a particular theme and that all names be consistent with that theme. The Fieldgate theme is natural heritage and the names are to reflect local flora and fauna found surrounding woodlots and wetlands. However, the company had one special request for a street name – Leanne Lane, which was significant to the company. The name reflects that of the late wife of the architect who designed the homes in the subdivision.The street naming policy also provides direction for names to reflect a sense of con-tinuity and belonging, long standing local area identification and/or recognition, or to celebrate local history, places, events or cul-ture, so Council directed Town staff to work with Fieldgate to create inclusive street names, acknowledging the region’s Black and Indigenous community history.Several indigenous names were offered for inclusion and as a result, Fieldgate revised their original proposal to include, Anishi-naabe Drive, Ojibway Road, Potawatomi Crescent, White Oak Avenue, Red Elm Road, Black Cherry Cresent, Hemlock Place, Leanne Lane, Trillium Court, Chippewa Ave-nue and Limestone Lane.The report noted that street names, which advertise the developer, are not allowed, but this wasn’t an issue for Fieldgate’s special request of Leanne Lane.It went on to say that no objections had been received from any of the organizations approached to review the names, including the County, Canada Post and various indigenous groups. The Town is proposing to name the park in the subdivision, now being marketed as Emerald Crossing, after William and Mary Ghant, two prominent early Black settlers to Dufferin County.Council approved the names suggested.In other news, Councillor Benotto brought up the issue of the sidewalks in Shelburne being icy and difficult to walk on, especially up near the Arena, where he walks fre-quently. He asked if Public Works was plan-ning to sand them soon and if there was a problem. Director Jim Moss responded, say-ing that during the holidays, there had been some equipment failures regarding sidewalk maintenance and that currently only one machine was operational. He added that first thing Tuesday (Jan. 19), he would send a crew up to evaluate the situation and deal with it as best as possible.Meanwhile, Council approved a motion by Deputy Mayor Steve Anderson, in his ongo-ing crusade for inclusivity and diversity within the Town, to establish a Diversity and Inclusion Committee, as per the recommen-dations of the Anti Racism Task Force. This committee would consist of eight to 10 community members plus two or three councillors and was fashioned after the similar Dufferin County Committee.The community members on the new committee would be selected, perhaps by application, and the three councillors would guide them in their deliberations, again similar to the County template.Finally, two new nominations were put forward by Deputy Mayor Anderson for the Community Excellence Awards. Mike Mackely was nominated for his many years of dedicated community ser-vice, along with Mr. Yehya Soliman for his services to the community. Theses awards along with the others will be presented vir-tually la Peter Richardson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Citizen
Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced that the province would be easing some of the current COVID-19 public health restrictions during a joint press conference on Jan. 14, 2021. Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer, and Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw also took part in this address. Starting on Jan. 18, 2021: · Outdoor social gatherings of up to 10 people will be permitted. · Personal and wellness services will be able to reopen by appointment only. These services include hair salons, nail salons, massage, tattoos, and piercing services. · Funeral service attendance will be increased to 20 people, although funeral receptions still will not be permitted. While these restrictions have loosened from when they were implemented in December, Albertans will still need to continue to follow guidelines such as social distancing and wearing masks while indoors. All of the other restrictions and guidelines that were put in place in December remain in effect. Tyler Shandro said, “Albertans have done a good job of staying the course and abiding by public health measures, but we are still seeing high hospitalizations and case numbers, and this continues to put a serious strain on our health-care system. How much further we can ease restrictions depends on our collective efforts over the coming days and weeks to limit the spread of the virus.” Expanded Small and Medium Business Supports Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer announced that the province will expand the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant to allow businesses that started operating between Mar. 1 and Oct. 31, 2020, to apply. Starting in February, eligible businesses could qualify to receive up to $15,000. COVID-19 Reporting in Schools Updated Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, announced that the terminology used to describe case numbers of COVID-19 in schools would be updated to make it more transparent and easier to understand. Starting on Jan. 18, the following terms will be used: · Alert: One to four cases · Outbreak: Five or more cases Many parents reported finding the term “watch” confusing, and it will no longer be used. Dr. Hinshaw stressed that this change in terminology would not change the level of public health support that will continue to be provided to students, staff, and families. Parents will still be notified if there is a single case in their child’s school, and further supports will be put in place if there are two or more cases in a school. Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
Rank, Book Title by Author Name, ISBN, Publisher 1. Bridgerton Collection Volume 1 by Julia Quinn - 9780063045118 - (Avon) 2. Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn - 9780062424105 - (Avon) 3. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn - 9780062424037 - (Avon) 4. The Scorpion’s Tail by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child - 9781538747292 - (Grand Central Publishing) 5. The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn - 9780062424075 - (Avon) 6. To Sir Phillip, With Love by Julia Quinn - 9780062424112 - (Avon) 7. An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn - 9780062424082 - (Avon) 8. When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn - 9780062424136 - (Avon) 9. Daylight by David Baldacci - 9781538761687 - (Grand Central Publishing) 10. The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher - 9781488076749 - (Graydon House Books) The Associated Press
CHARLOTTETOWN — Prince Edward Island's premier says public health orders should soon be eased across the province because of its low COVID-19 infection rate. "At a time when other jurisdictions are experiencing tightening restrictions and increased lockdowns, we are in the very fortunate and enviable situation to be looking at the days ahead to see an easing of restrictions within our borders," Dennis King told reporters Tuesday. But King said it won't be until at least mid-February before the Island re-enters the Atlantic bubble, which allows residents to travel freely between regional boundaries. "At this time, as a province, we are not comfortable moving forward with re-entering the Atlantic Bubble," King said. Health officials in Prince Edward Island reported two new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Heather Morrison said the new cases involved a woman in her 40s who is a contact of a previously reported case, and a woman in her 20s who recently travelled outside Atlantic Canada. She said there are now seven active reported cases on the Island. Morrison, however, said she's concerned by the situation beyond P.E.I.'s borders. "The situation in Canada remains concerning, with over 715,000 cases and 18,000 COVID-related deaths," she told reporters. "Since Jan. 1, New Brunswick reported 372 new cases, Nova Scotia 60 new cases, P.E.I. has had 12 since Jan. 1, and Newfoundland and Labrador reported six new infections. "Our friends and neighbours in New Brunswick are working hard to contain the spread of COVID-19, reporting 89 new cases in the last three days. They currently have over 300 active cases — the most since the pandemic began," she said. P.E.I. has reported 110 COVID-19 infections since the start of the pandemic. Indoor private gatherings are limited to members of a household plus ten people, while most businesses are still required to operate at 50 per cent capacity. The restrictions are scheduled to remain until Jan. 25. Morrison said that as of Monday, 5,910 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been administered on P.E.I., including 1,407 second doses. "By the end of this week, everyone living and working in long-term care and community care facilities will have received their first dose of the vaccine," she said. "They will start receiving their second dose next week." Morrison said the anticipated slowdown in the delivery of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will have very little impact on the Island. "The Pfizer slowdown means that we may not get a shipment of the product for one week, on Jan. 25. That shipment contains 975 doses. However, we will get two shipments of that same amount in the middle of February," she said. "Given the fact that we have been holding back the second dose of vaccine, and we expect the increased supply in February, we are confident that we have enough vaccine to continue with our original plan." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. — By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — On his way out the door, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lashed out anew at China on Tuesday by declaring that its policies on Muslims and ethnic minorities in the western Xinjiang region constitute “crimes against humanity” and a “genocide.” The rarely used designation is sure to provoke an angry response from Beijing. Pompeo made the determination just 24 hours before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. There was no immediate response from the incoming Biden team, although he and members of his national security team have expressed support for such a designation in the past. Pompeo’s determination does not come with any immediate repercussions although the legal implications mean the U.S. must take it into account in formulating policy toward China. The U.S. has spoken out and taken action, implementing a range of sanctions against senior Chinese Communist Party leaders and state-run enterprises that fund the architecture of repression across Xinjiang. Many of those accused of having taken part in the repression are already under U.S. sanctions. The genocide designation means new measures will be easier to impose. “After careful examination of the available facts, I have determined that since at least March 2017, the People’s Republic of China, under the direction and control of the Chinese Communist Party, has committed crimes against humanity against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other members of ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang,” Pompeo said in a statement. “In addition, after careful examination of the available facts, I have determined that the PRC, under the direction and control of the CCP, has committed genocide against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang. I believe this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uyghurs by the Chinese party-state." A main reason cited for the declaration of genocide was widespread forced birth control among the Uighurs, which The Associated Press documented last year. Another reason cited, Uighur forced labour, has also been linked by AP reporting to various products imported to the U.S., including clothing and electronic goods such as cameras and computer monitors. Tuesday’s move is the latest in a series of steps the outgoing Trump administration has taken against China. Since last year, the administration has steadily ramped up pressure on Beijing, imposing sanctions on numerous officials and companies for their activities in Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong and the South China Sea. Those penalties have gotten harsher since the beginning of last year when President Donald Trump and Pompeo began to accuse China of trying to cover up the coronavirus pandemic. Just on Saturday, Pompeo lifted restrictions on U.S. diplomatic contacts with Taiwanese officials, prompting a stern rebuke from China, which regards the island as a renegade province. Five days ago, the administration announced it would halt imports of cotton and tomatoes from Xinjiang with Customs and Border Protection officials saying they would block products from there suspected of being produced with forced labour. Xinjiang is a major global supplier of cotton, so the order could have significant effects on international commerce. The Trump administration has already blocked imports from individual companies linked to forced labour in the region, and the U.S. has imposed sanctions on Communist Party officials with prominent roles in the campaign. China has imprisoned more than 1 million people, including Uighurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic groups, in a vast network of concentration camps, according to U.S. officials and human rights groups. People have been subjected to torture, sterilization and political indoctrination in addition to forced labour as part of an assimilation campaign in a region whose inhabitants are ethnically and culturally distinct from the Han Chinese majority. China has denied all the charges. China says its policies in Xinjiang aim only to promote economic and social development in the region and stamp out radicalism. It also rejects criticism of what it considers its internal affairs. The genocide designation is a rare step for the U.S. government, which did not apply it to the 1994 mass killings in Rwanda until much later. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell designated the situation in Sudan’s western Darfur region a genocide in 2004. Former Secretary of State John Kerry applied the term to the Islamic State’s repression and massacres of Yazidis and other ethnic and religious minorities in Syria and Iraq in 2016, but he couched it by saying it was a legal determination only that did not mandate action by the U.S. government. Human rights groups, which have been generally critical of Trump administration policies, welcomed the move, which Pompeo said was taken with an eye toward the U.S. role in prosecuting Nazi war crimes during WWII at the Nuremberg trials. “We hope to see the U.S. follow these strong words with decisive action,” said Grant Shubin of the Global Justice Center. “Where there is a risk of genocide, there is a duty to act. Moving forward, this designation should inform the entirety of U.S. foreign policy and we hope to hear more from the incoming Biden administration on how it plans to follow through on this historic announcement.” And, some questioned the decision to apply it to China and Xinjiang and not to the situation in Myanmar, where Rphingya Muslims have been subjected to significant attacks and atrocities. “The Secretary’s statement underscores the importance of appropriate international investigations and prosecutions of officials for the crime of genocide in Xinjiang,” said Eric Schwartz, the president of Refugees International. “At the same time, I’m baffled and deeply concerned that Secretary Pompeo has declined to make a similar finding of genocide against the state of Myanmar for its vicious mass attacks against the Rohingya population beginning in August 2017.” ___ Ben Fox contributed. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
Skoflek Electric is a Merritt-based electrical company which offers both residential and commercial services. Company owner Bela Skoflek and Head Electrician Bryan Tolmie tackle electrical projects big and small in the Nicola Valley, providing quality workmanship at a price that won’t break the bank. Already a working electrician, Skoflek found himself feeling unfulfilled with the direction his life and career were taking. When he suddenly faced a huge personal hurdle, he decided it was time to make a change. “My goal in the trade was always to get to the point of having my own company,” said Skoflek. “The catalyst that actually made me follow through was getting sick. I was diagnosed with lymphoma a few years ago. At that point I re-evaluated where I was at and where I wanted to be.” Although Skoflek made a decent wage as a certified tradesman, he felt that there was more to life than punching a clock for someone else. “I was at a pretty good point in my career, had full time work with a local contractor, but still didn't feel fulfilled,” explained Skoflek. “Working long hours, making good money, but sacrificing time with my son and family. I was off work for nearly a year doing treatment and used that time to plan the company. I didn't have much money, but I had time. So, I got the extra education I needed, came up with a company logo and design, learned about bookkeeping, taxes, etc.” Skoflek beat lymphoma and was able to return to work after finishing his treatment period. It was at this time that Skoflek launched his company in Sept. 2019. “It was terrifying and exciting all at once,” said Skoflek. “It was a slow start but I had enough to make overhead. I had learned to live a bare bones lifestyle while sick. My first jobs were from friends and family who were supporting me, something I will forever be thankful for, and my focus was to provide quality work without price gouging.” Through word of mouth from satisfied clients and the use of social media marketing and advertising, Skoflek began to see requests for his services increase and his business become busier. “Word of mouth and Facebook marketing helped me start getting new clients and my mission stayed the same, quality work, reasonable rates. Everything snowballed from there, but I maintained the low overhead lifestyle,” said Skoflek. “This allowed me to pour all the income back into the company. Getting better tools and equipment to streamline work. Radio ads and better marketing to bring in more customers. Soon it became bigger than I could handle alone.” Suddenly, Skoflek Electric saw its first expansion, bringing in Bryan Tolmie to help shoulder the workload. “Bryan joined the team, and he was a perfect fit,” said Skoflek. “He had ample experience in the trade and is great with client interaction. We were very like-minded.” Both were of the same opinion that they should be a solid company providing reliable work at reasonable rates, and that family should always come first even alongside business responsibilities. “We are able to achieve this by streamlining workflow and keeping overhead low,” explained Skoflek. “The end goal of every job is to have the customer satisfied with the work performed, it has never been about money. I am able to take my son to school and pick him up every day. That's what it is all about. Going forward we want to sustain the same mindset and grow it. We want to help Merritt grow and give back to the community that fostered our company.” When it comes time to relax and blow off steam, the lifelong Merrittonian still keeps up with his favourite hobby – skateboarding. “I usually go around two times a week in the summer,” said Skoflek. “The non-competitive aspect is what drew me to it, I was never big on team sports. Skateboarding was a way to do something together with friends while everyone is doing completely independent things.” That ability to be successful and have fun independent of others has helped Skoflek build a business others have already come to trust in the less than two years since he started. If you are in need of an electrician, you can contact Skoflek Electric at 250-315-3507, or find them on Facebook at ‘Skoflek Electric’. Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald
Open-educational resources are critical for increasing global learners' access to education during COVID-19 and beyond. Blockchain technology can address concerns about plagiarism in resources.
A union representing health-care workers in long-term care is calling on the province to make vaccines more accessible — just as the province scales back on vaccinations due to a pause in production. SEIU Healthcare wrote to the province asking for paid sick leave for all staff in long-term-care homes and hospitals in order to remove “barriers” to getting vaccines. The union has members working in Hamilton homes such as Grace Villa and Shalom Village — both with large ongoing COVID outbreaks. “We’ve been advocating for paid leave in support of vaccination from the time to consult with a physician, to the time and cost related to travel and transportation, to paid sick days that may be required if someone experiences adverse side effects,” said Sharleen Stewart, president of SEIU Healthcare in an emailed statement. She noted members raised concerns about scheduling, where workers don’t often know when and where they’ll be vaccinated far enough in advance. Language is also a hurdle. “Many long-term-care staff are new Canadians whose first language may be neither English nor French,” Stewart said. “We’re asking for more multilingual communications about the process to establish confidence in the rollout.” Meanwhile, as of Jan. 18, the province says only residents, staff and caregivers at long-term-care homes and “high risk” retirement homes will be eligible to receive the vaccine, as Pfizer pauses work at its Belgium facility to prepare for increased production in future weeks. That means retirement homes not deemed high risk — which were next in line for vaccines — will have to wait. Anyone who already received their first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine is expected to get their second dose on time, though Hamilton’s medical officer of health, Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, said Monday that public health is “continuing to work with the province ... to ensure that happens.” The city has administered 13,400 doses so far and aims to wrap up its first phase of vaccine rollout by Wednesday. In an email Monday, the city said there are about 700 eligible workers left to be vaccinated. The news comes the day a new death was reported at Grace Villa, Hamilton’s worst outbreak which has now seen 44 deaths since Nov. 25. Two new resident cases each were reported at Shalom Village (specifically in long-term care), Macassa Lodge and the Cardinal Retirement Residence. Richardson said she’s happy with vaccine uptake so far in long-term-care and retirement home workers. “We were up over 65 per cent vaccine coverage as of the end of last week,” she said. “We’re moving forward quite well.” Richardson said public health has asked homes to work with their staff to schedule their vaccines, but acknowledged language barriers persist and said there’s ongoing translation work to address them. “It’s been a little slower than we would’ve liked on that front,” Richardson said. “That’s absolutely something that we need.” Stewart said the work should happen “immediately.” “Front-line workers have given everything to their communities through this battle with COVID-19. Many have gotten sick. Some have lost their lives,” she said. “We owe it to these workers ... to ensure that vaccines are available and that the barriers that could imperil the vaccination effort are eliminated.” Maria Iqbal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
Pfizer Inc told Canada on Tuesday it will receive no coronavirus vaccines next week, officials said, an unexpected development that promises more pain for provinces already complaining about a shortage of supplies. Pfizer said last week it would slow production in late January and early February because of changes in manufacturing processes, resulting in a supply cut for Canada and European Union nations. Canada had already predicted last week that Pfizer shipments would be cut in half over the next month.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford says all long-term care and high-risk retirement homes will receive vaccinations by Feb. 15 despite a shortage of Pfizer vaccines. As Morganne Campbell reports, the backlog is causing a delay in the province's rollout plan.
Alexei Navalny, President Vladimir Putin's most prominent critic who was jailed at the weekend, on Tuesday released a video in which he and his allies alleged that an opulent palace belonged to the Russian leader, a claim the Kremlin denied. The allegations, which first surfaced in 2010 when a businessman wrote about them to then-President Dmitry Medvedev complaining of official graft, come as Navalny's supporters urge people to join nationwide protests on Saturday. Reuters reported in 2014 that the estate in southern Russia had been partly funded by taxpayer money from a $1 billion hospital project.
After four years, U.S. President Donald Trump will be leaving office as President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into the position on Jan. 20, 2021. The weeks leading up to Trump’s departure have been tumultuous, with a siege on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, five federal executions, and 143 presidential pardons, just to name a few pivotal moments.Trump began the day by speaking to a crowd at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland before boarding Air Force One. He is traveling to his golf club, Mar-a-Lago, in Florida, and will not be attending Biden’s inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C.Supporters of the 45th U.S. President gathered in West Palm Beach, Fla. to greet Trump’s motorcade when it arrived in the city.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
WASHINGTON — Janet Yellen, President-elect Joe Biden's choice as Treasury secretary, said Tuesday that the incoming administration would focus on winning quick passage of its $1.9 trillion pandemic relief plan, rejecting Republican arguments that the measure is too big given the size of U.S. budget deficits. “More must be done,” Yellen told the Senate Finance Committee during her confirmation hearing. “Without further action, we risk a longer, more painful recession now — and long-term scarring of the economy later.” Democrats voiced support for the Biden proposal while Republicans questioned spending nearly $2 trillion more on top of nearly $3 trillion that Congress passed in various packages last year. Various Republicans questioned elements of the Biden proposal such as providing an additional $1,400 stimulus check to individuals earning less than $75,000. They also objected to the inclusion of such long-term Democratic goals as boosting the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., argued that this was cause the loss of jobs and was coming at a time that thousands of small businesses such as restaurants had one out of business. Yellen said that the increase in the minimum wage would help millions of frontline American workers who are risking their lives to keep their communities functioning and often working two jobs to put food on the table. “They are struggling to get by and raising the minimum wage would help these workers,” she said. Despite policy differences, Yellen, who would be the first woman to be Treasury secretary after being the first woman to be chair of the Federal Reserve, is expected to win quick Senate confirmation. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, who will become chairman when Democrats take over the Senate, said it was his hope that Yellen could be confirmed by the full Senate as soon as Thursday. Biden last week unveiled a $1.9 trillion relief plan that would provide more aid to American families and businesses and more support for vaccine production and distribution as well as providing support for states and localities to avoid layoffs of teachers and first responders. Many Republicans raised the soaring budget deficits as a reason to be cautious in passing further relief. Last year, the budget deficit climbed to a record $3.1 trillion. Yellen said that she and Biden were aware of the country's rising debt burden but felt fighting the pandemic-recession was more important currently. “Right now, with interest rates at historic lows, the smartest thing we can do is act big,” she said. “In the long run, I believe the benefits will far outweigh the costs, especially if we care about helping people who have been struggling for a very long time.” Yellen was nominated to be chair of the Fed by Barack Obama and she stepped down in February 2018 after President Donald Trump decided not to nominate her for a second four-year term. Since leaving the Fed, Yellen has been a distinguished researcher at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think-tank . In the financial disclosure forms filed with the committee, Yellen listed more than $7 million in speaking fees she has received from a number of top Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs and Citigroup since leaving the Fed. Yellen has agreed to recuse herself from Treasury matters involving certain firms that have compensated her for her talks. Yellen's Treasury nomination was supported in a letter from eight previous Treasury secretaries serving both Republican and Democratic administrations. Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — A man and woman have each been fined for pretending to cough on customers in a gym just steps from Vancouver police headquarters. A statement from police says the owner of the gym flagged down two passing constables outside the business Saturday night. He said a man and woman, who were not wearing masks and were not members of the gym, were inside coughing in the general direction of patrons and equipment. A 60-year-old man and his 25-year-old girlfriend told the officers they were only pretending to cough. Police say the couple claimed they reacted because gym members were staring at them. The police statement says both people left the business after being handed $230 tickets for violating the Emergency Program Act by failing to wear a face covering. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
Adam Grant, who first began working for the Region of Queens Municipality (RQM) in 2007 as the assistant director of the engineering and public works department, now gets a turn at the helm. Grant was appointed as the department’s new director at the RQM council meeting on January 12. He has been in the role of acting director since the retirement of Brad Rowter in December 2020. Rowter worked for the municipality for 24 years. He began his career at RQM as an engineer and was appointed Director of Engineering and Public Works in September 2003, after being in the role of acting director for about a year. “We are pleased to have Adam take on this important role with Region of Queens Municipality. With 14 years’ experience as an engineer with the municipality, we are confident Adam can lead the Municipality in our continued growth and continue to advance important infrastructure projects,” Darlene Norman, RQM’s mayor, commented in a press release. As director, Grant will be responsible for overseeing the management, maintenance and development of municipal infrastructure of two sewer systems, its water system, Queens Solid Waste Management Facility and Materials Recovery Facility, streets in Liverpool, parks and green spaces throughout Queens County, as well as the operational components of Queens Place Emera Centre. Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern):1:50 p.m.Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting zero new COVID-19 infections today.The province is dealing with five active reported cases.One person is recovering in hospital with the disease.The province has reported a total of 396 infections and four deaths linked to the novel coronavirus.---1:40 p.m.Manitoba is reporting 111 new COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths. With numbers decreasing in recent weeks, the government is proposing to ease several restrictions on business openings and public gatherings by the end of the week. The possible changes, subject to public consultation, include allowing non-essential stores, hair salons and barbershops to reopen with capacity limits. Another proposed change would ease the ban on social gatherings inside private homes to allow two visitors at a time.---1:30 p.m.Quebec Premier Francois Legault is calling on the federal government to ban all non-essential flights to Canada.Legault says he's worried that people travelling to vacation destinations will bring new variants of COVID-19 back to the province.While the premier says it may be difficult to determine which flights are essential, he says it's clear that flights to sun destinations are non-essential.---12:45 p.m.Procurement Minister Anita Anand says she has spoken to Pfizer and does not expect any more interruptions to its Canadian deliveries after mid-February.Anand says Pfizer is contractually obligated to ship four million doses to Canada by the end of March.Canada expects its shipments from Pfizer to be larger than previously expected from the middle of February until the end of March to make up for smaller shipments over the next month.---12:25 p.m.Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin says Canada will get no doses of vaccine from Pfizer at all next week.Fortin, the vice-president of operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, says this week's shipment is almost one-fifth smaller than expected.That means only 171,093 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will arrive over the next two weeks, instead of the 417,300 doses previously expected.Fortin says the deliveries over the first two weeks of February have yet to be confirmed, but Pfizer is still expected to meet its contractual obligation to ship four million doses to Canada by the end of March.---11:20 a.m.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says any Canadians who still have international trips planned need to cancel them.The variants of the novel coronavirus identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil could change the situation rapidly and he warns that Canada could impose new restrictions on the border at any time, without warning.---11:15 a.m.Quebec is reporting a significant drop in new COVID-19 infections today with 1,386 new cases.The province also reported 55 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including 16 that occurred in the prior 24 hours.Health officials say hospitalizations rose by nine, to 1,500 and 212 people were in intensive care, a drop of five.Quebec has reported a total of 245,734 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 9,142 deaths linked to the virus.---10:50 a.m.Prince Edward Island is reporting two new cases of COVID-19 today.Chief medical officer of health Dr. Heather Morrison says the new cases involve a woman in her 40s who is a contact of a previously reported case, and a woman in her 20s who recently travelled outside Atlantic Canada.There are now seven active reported cases in the province.P.E.I. has reported 110 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.---10:35 a.m.Ontario is reporting 1,913 new cases of COVID-19 today, likely under-reported due to a technical error in Toronto.Health Minister Christine Elliott says that Toronto is reporting 550 new cases of the novel coronavirus.Over the past three days, Toronto reported 815 new cases, 1,035 new cases and 903 new cases.There were 46 more deaths linked to the virus in Ontario.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
Billionaire businessman and founder of TD Ameritrade Joe Ricketts is launching a new national outlet to deliver news “without opinion or bias,” a spokesperson said on Tuesday. The news of the venture was first reported by the Omaha World-Herald https://omaha.com/business/local/joe-ricketts-is-launching-a-national-news-outlet-based-in-omaha/article_117fe584-55e5-11eb-9f6b-9349abea2fd7.html, which describes Joe Ricketts as a leading funder of national conservative causes. The Center for Responsive Politics has listed him as a Republican megadonor.
OTTAWA — Canada’s veterans ombudsman is calling on the federal government to reverse restrictions on mental-health services for veterans' families. Ombudsman Nishika Jardine’s demand is in a scathing report released today, a year after Ottawa cut off this federal funding for veterans' families, even when the family member needs treatment because of their loved one’s military service. That move followed outrage over Veterans Affairs Canada having paid for Christopher Garnier’s PTSD treatment while in prison because he was the son of a veteran, even though Garnier had been convicted of killing police officer in Halifax. Jardine’s report quotes several veterans and their family members about the harm those restrictions have done to them and their children, most of whom were receiving support before the change was made without notice. Some of those quoted also question how the government can justify the restrictions when Canadian Armed Forces commanders have repeatedly stressed how supporting military families at home contributes to successful missions abroad. Jardine says reversing the restrictions is a matter of fairness given the unique challenges facing veterans' families, including constant moves, long periods of separation and the stress of living with someone suffering from physical and mental injuries. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
Four people have been arrested in connection with the death of Amber Dawn Wood, 38, of Bienfait, Sask. Justin Julien Englot, 29, and Jayden Marie Sanford, 25, both of Regina, have been charged with accessory after the fact to murder and possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000. Sanford and Englot made their first appearance in Regina provincial court Tuesday morning. Two other people, both males, are also in custody. They haven't been charged, but police say an investigation is continuing. Wood died after being severely injured Saturday morning at a home on the 700 block of Athol St., police said. Police were called to the scene following a report someone had been shot. Wood was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead. It was the city's first homicide of 2021.