As the federal government looks to pick up the pieces after a scathing report into the toxic workplace at Rideau Hall under former governor general Julie Payette, employees are looking at whether to return to their old jobs or take legal action.
As the federal government looks to pick up the pieces after a scathing report into the toxic workplace at Rideau Hall under former governor general Julie Payette, employees are looking at whether to return to their old jobs or take legal action.
(NASA/JPL-Caltech - image credit) When the Perseverance rover successfully landed on Mars last month, it arrived with a B.C.-made tool in its figurative tool belt. The six-wheeled, plutonium-powered U.S. rover landed on the red planet on Feb. 18, with a mandate to drill down and collect tiny geological specimens that will be returned to NASA in about 2031. That drilling will be done using a drill bit tip designed and manufactured by a company based in Langford, B.C. "It has great wear and fraction resistance so it is perfect for a Mars application," said Ron Sivorat, business director for Kennametal Inc., during an interview on CBC's All Points West. The drill bit tip is made from K92-grade tungsten carbide blanks, which Sivorat said are one of the toughest grades used for drilling here on earth and he is confident it will be good enough for Mars. According to Sivorat, the company has had a relationship with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 2014, when the space agency first began ordering and testing Kennametal Inc. drill bit tips. In 2018, the company learned NASA wanted to work with it to build a bit for Perseverance. Sivorat said staff built the drill bit to NASA's specifications and then sent it to the agency who finessed it somewhat for its Mars mission. When Perseverance landed safely on the fourth planet from the sun, it was an exciting moment for Kennametal Inc. employees, many of whom watched the landing online and are continuing to check on Perservance's daily progress updates. "We know that we are going to be part of, in one way or another, an historical event that will be remembered for many years to come," said Sivorat. Sivorat said he expects the drill bit built in B.C. to start penetrating the surface of Mars in the next couple of weeks. And B.C. is not the only Canadian province with a connection to Perseverance. Canadian Photonic Labs, based in Minnedosa, Man., manufactured a high-speed and highly-durable camera that played an instrumental role in landing the rover. The Manitoba company's relationship with NASA dates back roughly 15 years, he said — but much of the work that's happened in that time has been cloaked in secrecy.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials began expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 22, opening community clinics for people aged 80 years and older. Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, has said the province's plan is to open another 10 clinics in March for 48,000 people who will be mailed a letter informing them how to book an appointment. Strang said the vaccination program will then expand to the next age group in descending order until everyone in the province is offered the chance to be immunized. The age groups will proceed in five-year blocks. Future community clinics are to be held March 8 in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro; March 15 in Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth; and March 22 in Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth. The province began its vaccination campaign with residents of long-term care homes, those who work directly with patients, those who are 80 and older, and those who are at risk for other reasons including First Nations and African Nova Scotian communities. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island The province says the first phase of its vaccination drive, currently slated to last until the end of March, targets residents and staff of long-term and community care, as well as health-care workers with direct patient contact at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure. Those 80 and older, adults in Indigenous communities, and truck drivers and other rotational workers are also included. The next phase, which is scheduled to begin in April, will target those above 70 and essential workers. The province intends to make the vaccine available to everyone in late summer and fall. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors on Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. The province says the vaccination of children and pregnant women will be determined based on future studies of vaccine safety and efficacy in those populations. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry also says first responders and essential workers may be eligible to get vaccinated starting in April as the province also decides on a strategy for the newly authorized AstraZeneca vaccine. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Tuesday: ENGLAND Manchester City looks to make it 21 straight wins in all competitions by beating Wolverhampton to move 15 points clear in the Premier League. Wolves has caused City issues recently, beating Pep Guardiola's side home and away last season, but does not have star striker Raul Jimenez this time round as he recovers from a fractured skull. “The history against them shows us how tough it is and we know it perfectly," Guardiola said. “We know exactly the type of game we have to play — to be so intense but, at the same time, calm." City is in the middle of a hectic period featuring games every three or four days so will rotate again, with Raheem Sterling, Joao Cancelo and Bernardo Silva among those likely to be recalled. Manchester United is City's nearest challenger, 12 points back, and plays Crystal Palace on Wednesday. GERMANY Borussia Mönchengladbach has lost all three games since the club announced that coach Marco Rose will be joining Borussia Dortmund next season. The teams meet in the German Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday, when Rose will hope to end the negative spiral against his future employers. Gladbach’s troubles started before Rose’s departure was made known. It hasn’t won its last five Bundesliga games. While Gladbach has been on a slump, Dortmund’s fortunes are looking up after three wins in a row including a 4-0 rout of Schalke in the derby and a 3-2 win at Sevilla in the Champions League. Coach Edin Terzic seems to be enjoying his role now the pressure has been taken off with Rose’s arrival at the end of the season. Both teams know the German Cup is a realistic chance of a trophy with reigning champion Bayern Munich already knocked out of the competition. ITALY Injury-hit Juventus needs a win against lowly Spezia to boost its faltering title defence. The nine-time defending champion drew at Hellas Verona 1-1 last weekend to leave it 10 points behind Serie A leader Inter Milan, albeit having played a match less. Juventus will still be without Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Juan Cuadrado, Arthur and Paulo Dybala, who are all injured. Forward Álvaro Morata could recover enough for a place on the bench. Also, Lazio could move level with fourth-place Atalanta if it wins at home to relegation-threatened Torino. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
THUNDER BAY — City police are reporting the names of five people who have been criminally charged with impaired driving-related offences. From Feb. 20 to Feb. 28, police charged the following individuals with various impaired driving offences: Individuals charged for impaired driving also face a 90-day driver’s licence suspension, according to police. Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
Health Canada has approved the third vaccine to help combat the spread of COVID-19. After a months-long review, Health Canada has approved the COVID-19 vaccine from Oxford University-AstraZeneca for use in Canada. On February 26, the federal agency approved its use for adults over the age of 18. The department’s regulators concluded the shot has an efficacy rate of 62 percent. While it is less effective than Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines at preventing infection, the shot is 100 percent effective in preventing the severe outcomes of COVID-19. This includes serious illness, hospitalizations and death, according to the regulators. Additionally, it can be stored and transported at normal refrigerated temperatures. Canada has secured access to 22 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Most are expected to arrive between April and September. “This is very encouraging news. It means more people vaccinated, and sooner,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “Because for AstraZeneca, just like we were for Pfizer and Moderna, we are ready to get doses rolling.” According to Trudeau, with these new doses, Canada now stands to receive about 6.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer vaccines by the end of March. That’s enough to vaccinate just over 3.2 million people fully. Also awaiting approval is a vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, which is the only vaccine submitted to Health Canada for review, requiring only one dose. “The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is a single-dose vaccine. It doesn’t have any booster doses in the regimen that’s been applied for Health Canada approval,” said Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health. Colby said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine appears to have a bit of a slow start to its immune response. However, it continues to build for a substantial amount of time and the longer you follow the vaccinated population, the better the numbers look. “I’m really hoping Health Canada approves it soon. Because a single dose product that only needs refrigeration, wow, we can really work with that and get it distributed in a widespread way,” said Colby. He added that the other vaccines that need freezing are very effective, but they’re cumbersome to transport and deal with. Despite the other vaccines requiring two doses, Colby said there isn’t an exact answer for how long a person can go between receiving the first and second dose. So there isn’t an exact answer, we have an agreed-upon regimen for these COVID vaccines, which is up to 45 days, but the Ontario government does not want to go out that far with the elderly population,” said Colby. “All I can say is that there’s a great deal of protection that’s afforded for quite a while with even one dose of any of the vaccines.” Approval for two more vaccines, made by Johnson & Johnson and Novavax, are still under review. Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News
Deux personnes ont été arrêtées à la suite d’une perquisition de drogues à Mont-Joli. La Sûreté du Québec a mis la main sur de nombreux stupéfiants, notamment des drogues de synthèse, ainsi que des cigarettes de contrebande. Les deux personnes arrêtées ont été libérées avec promesse de comparaître. Les agents de la sûreté du Québec sont intervenus le 26 février dernier dans un immeuble à logement de la rue des Oblats. De nombreuses drogues ont été saisies par les forces de l’ordre, notamment un kilogramme de cannabis en vrac, 45 grammes de hachich, de l’huile de cannabis et «une certaine quantité de drogues de synthèse». Ils ont aussi saisi de l’argent comptant ainsi qu’un faux billet de 100 dollars. Les deux occupants du logement, une femme de 38 ans et un homme de 18 ans ont été arrêtés. Ils devront faire face à des accusations de possession et de trafic de stupéfiants également en vertu de la loi sur l’impôt et le tabac. Ils ont été libérés avec promesse de comparaître. Simon Carmichael, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Soleil
Greece’s government Monday said it won't intervene to grant a prison-transfer demand by a convicted killer in a far-left extremist group who has been on hunger strike for more than seven weeks, triggering public protests as well as arson attacks. Doctors treating Dimitris Koufodinas in intensive care at a hospital in central Greece said the 63-year-old suffered a “serious deterioration” at the weekend, several days after also refusing water. Koufodinas was the chief hit man in the now-defunct November 17 group and is serving 11 life sentences for the murders of prominent Greek businessmen, diplomats and military officials from the embassies of Turkey, Britain, and the United States, and others. His victims include conservative lawmaker Pavlos Bakoyannis, brother-in-law of the current Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Koufodinas’ lawyers argue that his transfer last year from a low-security prison in Athens to a high-security facility in central Greece occurred in violation of incarceration rules. They are seeking his transfer back to the prison where he had served most of his sentence so far. The centre-right government denies it violated transfer regulations. “Mr. Koufodinas is demanding privileged treatment outside legal norms,” government spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni told reporters in an online briefing. “The state does not negotiate with convicts and will not relinquish its sovereign right to how to detain them. (He) has the ability to end the hunger strike and exercise the legal options at his disposal.” About 2,500 people held a peaceful protest in support of Koufodinas through central Athens late Monday. About as many demonstrators held a similar peaceful march through the northern port city of Thessaloniki. The leftwing Initiative for Prisoners' Rights group accused the government of engaging in “a ritual execution of a prisoner ... simply for reasons of family revenge and to impose the dogma or law and order.” The rights group warned that Koufodinas' life is “hanging from a thread” because of his hunger strike and refusal to take liquids. Koufodinas has staged another three hunger strikes in recent years, which he concluded after getting what he was seeking — including, in 2015, a demand not to be sent to the prison he is now asking to be transferred to. November 17, which mixed Marxism with nationalism, killed 23 people between 1975 and 2000. It was eradicated following a string of arrests in 2002 and subsequent convictions. The Associated Press
MILAN — AC Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic is out again with injury and could miss his side’s Europa League match against Manchester United. Ibrahimovic had to come off on Sunday in the second half of a 2-1 win at Roma after injuring a muscle in his left thigh. The Swedish forward will be re-evaluated in 10 days. That is the date of the trip to Old Trafford for the first leg of the Europa League round of 16 against his former club. The 39-year-old Ibrahimovic will definitely be out for the Serie A matches against Udinese and Hellas Verona. The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — A former hotel on the Vancouver's eastside has been purchased to create about 65 units to accommodate homeless people. The City of Vancouver, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. and the federal government say the former Days Inn on Kingsway will be ready to house people in November. Ahmed Hussen, the minister of families, children and social development, says funding from the $51.5 million program will be used to create up to 135 new affordable homes. Details on the additional housing will be released later. Hussen says in a news release that the program will quickly provide homes for vulnerable people to keep them safe. The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said a separate program would create an additional 135 housing units.
Mass vaccinations will be the key to controlling a potential third wave in Chatham-Kent, says the region’s top doctor. Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby said the highly transmissible variants are keeping public health officials on their toes. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other health officials have warned a third wave could be the worst yet, but Dr. David Colby remains optimistic. “I really think that widespread vaccination will have a significant impact to blunt the effect of the third wave,” said Colby. “The worrying factor are these variants, and that’s really what is fueling the speculation about a third wave.” Colby said there are three variants of concern. “The common variant, the B.1.1.7 variant, remains susceptible to the immune response triggered by the vaccines that we have,” said Colby. “We need to push ahead with our vaccination program and get as many people vaccinated as we possibly can.” The interval between the first and second doses is 21 days for the Pfizer vaccine and 28 days for the Moderna vaccine. However, Colby said it could be up to 45 days as there isn’t an exact answer for how long a person can go between receiving the first and second dose. “There isn’t an exact answer, we have an agreed-upon regimen for these COVID vaccines, which is up to 45 days, but the Ontario government does not want to go out that far with the elderly population,” said Colby. He added that most of the protection happens with the first dose, while the second dose is to consolidate protection and ensure that it lasts for a longer time. “All I can say is that there’s a great deal of protection that’s afforded for quite a while with even one dose of any of the vaccines,” said Colby. On Feb. 23, the John D. Bradley Convention Centre opened its vaccination clinic. There were 700 appointments for health-care workers and essential caregivers on the first two days. Colby said the clinic is running smoothly. “It’s such an important step for Chatham-Kent,” said Colby. “The Bradley Centre clinic is really doing very, very well, and they hit the ground running.” While he could not go into detail regarding more vaccine shipments, Colby said we’re heading in the right direction. “All indicators that we have right now point to the fact that vaccine supplies will be stable or increasing over the next while,” said Colby. Meanwhile, Chatham-Kent Health Alliance CEO Lori Marshall is warning the public about recent robocalls claiming to be for booking vaccinations. These calls can be dangerous as they are really aimed at collecting people’s personal information. She said these calls are not official and should be ignored. Marshall said a live person will make all vaccination booking calls. “People will be contacted by a live person, and no one should be giving out their personal information like social insurance numbers and those kinds of things on the phone,” said Marshall. CK Public Health said Chatham-Kent Police are aware of the issue, and there is no need to report these calls to them at this time. Colby said people who can’t travel to Chatham would have an opportunity to get vaccinated at pop-up clinics across the municipality when they are set up. Paramedics will be vaccinating individuals who are housebound when they’re identified through their doctors. The homeless population falls under Phase 2. Additionally, Colby said there are mechanisms in place to get to those who are missed. Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News
B.C. is moving into the second phase of its immunization plan, vaccinating seniors in the community aged 80 and up over the course of this month. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also said the second dose of the three approved vaccines—Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca—will be delayed to four months or 16 weeks, to provide more protection to more people sooner. Henry said the initial dose provides “a very high level of real-world protection.” In Phase 2, more than 400,000 people in B.C. will receive their first vaccine dose from March to early April, including: • seniors and high-risk people residing in independent living and seniors' supportive housing (including staff); • home-care support clients and staff; • Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, Inuit) peoples born in or before 1956 (65 years and older); and • seniors born in or before 1941 (80 years and older). Today, first-dose immunizations begin for those living and working in independent living centres and seniors' supportive housing, as well as home-care support clients and staff. Health authorities will directly contact those in this priority group to book appointments—there is no need to call. Beginning Monday (March 8), seniors aged 80+ and Indigenous peoples aged 65+ who are not living in independent living or seniors' supportive housing can make one call to book their appointment through their local health authority call centre according to a staggered schedule. This is to avoid long waits and system overload. Immunization clinic locations will be confirmed at time of booking, with vaccinations starting as early as March 15: • March 8: Seniors born in or before 1931 (90 years+) and Indigenous people born in or before 1956 (65 years+) may call to book their vaccine appointment; • March 15: Seniors born in or before 1936 (85 years+) may call to book their vaccine appointment; and • March 22: Seniors born in or before 1941 (80 years+) may call to book their vaccine appointment. Health authority contact information, complete call-in schedules, hours of operations and step-by-step instructions on how to call to book an appointment for yourself, for a family member, for a friend or neighbour will be available on March 8, here: www.gov.bc.ca/bcseniorsfirst "We can now see the light at the end of what has been a difficult and challenging time for us all. To get us through, we need to continue to work together and support each other," said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer. "We are working hard each and every day to make sure that everyone who wants a vaccine gets one, and my new provincial health officer order significantly expands the range of health professions and occupations who can support our immunization clinics, including dentists, midwives, pharmacy technicians, paramedics, firefighters and retired nurses." For health professionals who want to sign up to support B.C.'s immunization efforts as immunizers, visit: https://forms.hlth.gov.bc.ca/registry-covid-19 Immunizing other priority groups identified in Phase 2, many of whom have already received their first dose, is also underway, including: • Indigenous communities, Indigenous Elders, hospital staff, community general practitioners and medical specialists not immunized in Phase 1; • vulnerable populations living and working in select congregate settings; and • staff in community home support and nursing services for seniors. In mid-April, Phase 3 will begin mass vaccination of people aged 79 to 60 years, and people aged 16+ who are extremely clinically vulnerable, at community immunization clinics throughout B.C. Mobile clinics will be available in some rural communities and for people who are homebound due to mobility issues. In Phase 3, British Columbians will register and book their appointments to receive their first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine through an online registration tool. People born between 1942 and 1946 (ages 79-75), and Indigenous peoples born between the years of 1956 and 1960 (ages 64-60), will be able to register for an appointment online or by phone by March 31. As of last week, 252,373 people in B.C. have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, including 73,808 who have received their second dose. “Although there is light at the end of the tunnel, we are far from out of this,” said Premier John Horgan. “We have a long way to go.” Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
In the season première of “Let’s Talk Kindness,” a YouTube talk show series for kids, two rainbow-sherbet-coloured puppets help answer the question: What is kindness? “That is a very big and important question,” said P.I.N.K. Power. “In speaking with one another, we will be able to gain a better understanding of the thoughts, feelings and opinions of others, which will help us get along better.” The voice behind co-hosts P.I.N.K Power and P.I.N.K Passion — the “superheroes of kindness” — is Vandana Verma, a Grade 3/4 teacher at Prince of Wales Elementary School in central Hamilton. “I learned how to change my voice in Adobe Audition,” she said. “I record the whole thing in one voice and then I make it higher for P.I.N.K. Power and then lower for P.I.N.K. Passion.” Verma, inspired by ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, came up with the idea in May of last year. She wrote the script, produced the videos and designed and sewed all 17 characters in the show. “I got the pattern and then I went to Fabricland and bought the material,” she said. “Whatever material they had, I had to think of what puppets to make.” Verma and five other educators — including a principal — voice the characters. But this isn’t the superhero duo’s first appearance. In 2013, Verma launched Just One Wish, an initiative to create a more positive school culture. “I used to have kids dress up — I had capes I made, and I had masks — and they used to walk around the school and recognize children for their kindness,” she said. When the pandemic hit, Verma took the concept online. The first season, debuted in early January, will have 10 episodes, seven of which have already been produced. A second season is set to launch in September. Verma said it was important to her that the series was accessible — the series are available cost-free on YouTube. The series is currently being used by educators and parents both in class and at home, and she hopes the series will become more mainstream. “Kindness is the solution to everything,” she said. “We talk about bullying and we talk about identity and we talk about equity. To me, if we were kind to each other and ourselves, we could end all those problems.” Kate McCullough, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The Biden administration is pulling back an environmental review that cleared the way for a parcel of federal land that Apaches consider sacred to be turned over for a massive copper mining operation in eastern Arizona. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday that it likely will take several months to further consult with Native American tribes and others about their concerns over Oak Flat and determine whether the environmental review fully complies with the law. The agency cited President Joe Biden's recent memo on strengthening relationships with tribal nations, and regularly consulting with them in a meaningful way. The USDA and the U.S. Forest Service acknowledged they can only do so much. Congress mandated that the land be transferred to Resolution Copper no later than 60 days after the final environmental review was published. The document was released in the last days of Donald Trump's administration. Michael Nixon, an attorney for the Apache Stronghold group that filed the first of the lawsuits, said the USDA's decision is welcome but doesn't have much impact. “Oak Flat is still on death row,” he said. “Essentially, they're just changing the execution date.” Dan Blondeau, a spokesman for Resolution Copper, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The parcel of land in the Tonto National Forest east of Phoenix was set to be transferred to Resolution Copper by mid-March. At least three pending lawsuits have raised concerns over religious freedom rights, land ownership and violations of federal law. The land transfer was included as a last-minute provision in a must-pass defence bill in 2014 after it failed for years as stand-alone legislation. Resolution Copper would get 3.75 square miles (9.71 square kilometres) of national forest land in exchange for eight parcels it owns elsewhere in Arizona. Apaches call Oak Flat “Chi’chil Bildagoteel.” The land near Superior has ancient oak groves, traditional plants and living beings that tribal members say are essential to their religion and culture. Those things exist elsewhere, but Apache Stronghold said they have unique power within Oak Flat. San Carlos Apache Chairman Terry Rambler said Monday that the tribe will continue working to permanently protect Oak Flat. Resolution Copper, a joint venture of global mining companies Rio Tinto and BHP, has spent millions of dollars prepping the area to mine copper, but actual mining isn't expected to start for at least 10 years. Felicia Fonseca, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Ontario's long-term care minister said she didn't go public early last year with concerns about COVID-19 spreading in nursing homes because she didn't consider herself an authority on the emerging threat. Merrilee Fullerton faced criticism from all three opposition parties Monday after newly released transcripts showed she told Ontario's long-term care commission she was aware of the dangers the novel coronavirus posed to the sector long before it was declared a global pandemic but kept those concerns within government. The minister, who is a physician, said while she was worried about a number of issues and discussed them with cabinet colleagues and the province's top doctor, she was no expert. "As a long-term care minister, I understand my role," she said. "I'm not the chief medical officer. I'm not a public health expert. I'm not a scientist ... I'm a retired family doctor who cares very deeply about long-term care and the residents and the staff." Fullerton testified before the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission last week, with the transcript posted online Sunday night. The commission heard that Fullerton and her deputy advocated for stronger measures than what the government was willing to put in place. "You were ahead of the chief medical officer of health in many respects, from your notes anyway," John Callaghan, the commission lawyer questioning Fullerton, told her. For instance, Fullerton's notes from the time suggest she was concerned about asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 in long-term care homes as early as Feb. 5, 2020. That possibility wasn't publicly acknowledged by the government until much later. Fuller told the commission her personal history gave her insights into the situation that other politicians may lack. "I had suspicions early on only — well, because I'm a family doctor and spent many years dealing with the elderly," she said. "They may not present with typical symptoms, and so you always have to be watching." NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the Fullerton should have spoken out earlier, suggesting that could have saved lives. "The amount of tragedy that Ontarians have had to deal with as a result of this is unforgivable and it is unforgettable," she said. "So there's a lot of responsibility to go around here." Horwath said Fullerton's testimony also pokes holes in Premier Doug Ford's pledge from the early days of the pandemic to create an "iron ring" around nursing homes. "This iron ring never materialized, it never existed," she said. Liberal Party health critic John Fraser said Fullerton should have spoken out publicly. "It's definitely clear right now that she should have fought harder," he said. "There was a lot at stake." Fullerton said Monday that she did not consider resigning from her role in protest because she felt she could make urgently needed changes to the sector. "Why would I resigned from a position where I felt I could be a strong voice and move something that had been neglected for so many years?" she said. "Why would I resign from that duty, from that responsibility, from that obligation?" COVID-19 has devastated Ontario's long-term care system, causing the deaths of 3,865 residents and 11 staff members so far. The commission also heard that Fullerton refused to suggest the risk of COVID-19 was low in a video filmed in early March. Her notes from the pandemic's first wave, read out during the interview, also show that she advocated for locking down long-term care homes before the province did so, and was concerned about staff not wearing personal protective equipment at all times the week before the province made it mandatory. Fullerton told the commission she was also advocating for essential caregivers to be allowed back into long-term care homes as early as May. Such caregivers — usually family members — weren't allowed back into the facilities until July, and even then, the Ministry of Long-Term Care has said, the rules were being applied inconsistently until adjustments were made in September. But she said others — particularly Dr. David Williams, the chief medical officer of health — said the risk of essential caregivers bringing COVID-19 into the facilities was too great. "I was very eager to get caregivers back into the homes, because I believe it was well-being and emotional well-being," Fullerton said. "However, others understood differently and had their reasons for understanding the risks that they did, and so it was left." The commission is set to present its final report on April 30. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. Shawn Jeffords and Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — An Edmonton chiropractor has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting six female patients between 1981 and 1990. Ronald Harry Latch, who is 67, was facing multiple counts of sexual assault, sexual interference and gross indecency against eight girls and women. He was charged in March 2019 after one of his victims reported to police that she had been sexually assaulted as a child in the 1980s when she attended his clinic for appointments. Seven other women came forward to police and reported they had also been sexually assaulted. Latch pleaded guilty today to six counts in the Court of Queen's Bench. Latch admitted in an agreed statement of facts to massaging some of the patients' breasts and using a vibrating tool between others' legs. The case is to return to court for a pre-sentence report on June 2. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021 The Canadian Press
Israelis returning home from abroad have a new option that will exempt them from being sent to a quarantine hotel: They can wear a bracelet monitor that will notify authorities should they violate a mandatory isolation period. The pilot program began on Monday with 100 tracking systems available at Ben Gurion Airport, where traffic has dropped dramatically due to restrictions meant to reduce the risk of COVID-19 variants entering the country. Should someone choose the new system -- which includes an electronic bracelet, a smartphone and a wall-mounted tracker -- they can self-isolate at home.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has eased slightly more restrictions tied to COVID-19. Libraries can now open at 15 per cent capacity and gyms can now host indoors low-impact group activities, like Pilates and tai chi. Kenney had been expected to ease rules in other areas, such as retail capacity and hotels, but he says the COVID numbers have hit a plateau and they need more time to assess just to be safe.
For many energy companies, 2020 was a terrible year that started with the OPEC price war followed by the pandemic. Financial advisors have suggested a few reasons for the significant increase in M&A transactions that’s happening and expected to continue through 2021. In the case of small to medium-sized oil and gas companies, acquisitions through insolvency procedures are more predominant. Unfortunately, these companies cannot attract the capital to continue and can no longer get funding from the banks. Insolvency is the last option. For the larger companies with capital, they are looking for more growth through acquisition rather than drilling. These companies are looking for other oil and gas plays that can be purchased at a lower price and provide immediate returns on their investment. One of the most recent acquisitions announced this month is the sale of Shell Canada’s land holdings in the Duvernay field around Fox Creek. “Shell has reached an agreement with Crescent Point Energy Corp to sell its Duvernay shale light oil position in Alberta for a total consideration of $900 million.” as stated in their media release. The transaction is expected to close in April 2021. The sale includes transferring approximately 450,000 net acres in the Fox Creek Kaybob and Rocky Mountain House Willesden Green areas and related infrastructure. Well, licenses will be transferred over to Crescent Point, subject to regulatory approval. Chris Sillito,External Relations with Shell Canada, added, “Crescent Point will retain the Shell field employees and several technical and commercial roles that support the assets.” The news came as a shock to many in Fox Creek, as Shell has been a pillar of the community for many years. The company didn’t just have an interest in the Duvernay field but invested heavily into its community. Some of Shell Canada's contributions include the partnership in which Shell can use the Town of Fox Creek's treated wastewater for its operations in exchange; Shell funded the engineering and design to upgrade the town’s raw water facilities. The company has also sponsored the gymnasium in the new Multiplex, which is named the Shell Fieldhouse. Other contributions consist of making donations and sponsorships to the many smaller non-profit organizations in the community. Many contributions were also made to the Food Bank, the Friends of Fox Creek Hospital Society, to purchase medical equipment at the hospital. Other donations were made to the Fox Creek School, volunteering through the annual Day of Caring, Annual Grant Programs put out to the students to further their education, scholarships for graduates. The list could go on, but it’s a glimpse into the support Shell has given to the community over the years. Vicki Winger, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Whitecourt Press
VANCOUVER — A lawyer for the Huawei executive facing extradition to the United States says there's evidence showing the case against her is "manifestly unreliable" and he wants that evidence admitted to the record. Meng Wanzhou's lawyer Frank Addario says emails between staff at the telecom giant and international bank HSBC show the bank was well aware that Huawei controlled another company called Skycom, therefore Meng wasn't responsible for any violation of U.S. sanctions again Iran by the bank. He told the B.C. Supreme Court hearing that staff at HSBC knew that Skycom was sold to Canicula, that Canicula was Skycom's parent company and that Huawei controlled the Canicula account. Addario is asking the judge to admit affidavits including emails and bank account information into evidence to support the defence team's case at Meng's committal hearing, to be heard in May. Meng was arrested at Vancouver's airport in 2018 on a request by U.S. officials who allege she misrepresented the relationship between Huawei and Skycom, causing HSBC to violate U.S. sanctions against Iran. Both she and Huawei deny the allegations. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The Trudeau government is pressing ahead with efforts to counter economic-based threats to national security, such as theft of valuable intellectual property and damage to critical energy and information networks. In its newly published plan for the coming year, Public Safety Canada says it will lead the governmentwide development of a comprehensive framework to deal with the broad range of risks to Canada's economic well-being. The move comes as security agencies warn Canadians of the rising danger of hostile nations pilfering trade secrets and cybercriminals demanding ransom for sensitive files. The government says in a few short years, the threat landscape — once dominated by the scourge of international terrorism — has evolved dramatically as potential adversaries develop new and aggressive tactics made possible by the rapid spread of technology. Canada has already taken steps during the economic uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic to more strictly scrutinize foreign investments. National security expert Wesley Wark says the federal plan will require improved economic intelligence-gathering and related threat assessments, which currently have no central focus within the Canadian security-and-intelligence community. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press