Several international travellers arriving at Toronto's Pearson International Airport have refused to comply with a new rule requiring a three-day hotel quarantine, local police said Wednesday. Peel Region police said that while most cases were resolved after conversations with officers, some people refused to follow the rules that took effect this week and were fined $880 under Ontario regulations. Police said they will not detain anyone for breaking the hotel quarantine rule unless there are aggravating circumstances involved, such as a criminal offence. They added that the Public Health Agency of Canada would be responsible for any further potential fines for travellers under the Quarantine Act. The Quarantine Act states that anyone arriving in Canada must stay in an isolation hotel for three nights. They may only leave after a negative COVID-19 test, but are expected to self-isolate for a total of 14 days. Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel Region's medical officer of health, said Wednesday that the quarantine measures are in place to protect the public. "It's unfortunate (...) that this might be occurring," said Loh. "Please remember that it's a disease that spreads from person to person and it takes all of us to do our part." Patrick Brown, the mayor of Brampton, Ont., just north of the airport, said that people who choose to ignore the regulations are being selfish. "By not being mindful that you can bring dangerous variants into the country, you're being selfish to your neighbours, to your city," said Brown. "I hope that people do abide by the new stricter guidelines." Staying in a government-approved isolation hotel costs up to $2,000 for the three-night stay. The hotel stays, which must be paid for by the travellers, are among a series of measures that came into effect on Monday to limit the spread of COVID-19 and more contagious variants of the virus. Most incoming air travellers will need to get tested for the virus upon arrival and again toward the end of their mandatory 14-day quarantine. Travellers arriving at land borders will be given self-swab kits, and testing will be provided on-site at five high-volume border crossings. The new rules are in addition to previous orders that require a negative test result within 72 hours of arrival. Travellers will need to complete a second test on Day 10 of their self-isolation period. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the tighter border controls are meant to keep everyone safe. -- with files from Denise Paglinawan. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish police have detained a suspected Iraqi Islamic State group militant and rescued a 7-year-old girl from Iraq’s Yazidi religious minority he had allegedly been holding captive, the state-run news agency reported Wednesday. The man, identified by his initials S.O., was detained in an early morning raid in the capital Ankara, the Anadolu Agency reported. Another person, identified as N.H.R., was also detained during the raid. The suspect had once served as an officer in the Iraqi army, the agency said, adding that police and the country’s intelligence agency had been monitoring his moves. They timed the raid so that the child wasn't placed at risk, the agency reported. The girl was later placed in the care of Turkey’s social services. The IS group attacked the heartland of the Yazidi community, at the foot of Iraq's Sinjar mountain, in 2014. Hundreds of Yazidis were killed and thousands of women and children were abducted, many forced into slavery. A day earlier, police detained a French IS suspect near the French Embassy in Ankara, Anadolu reported. The woman, who was identified as Sarah Talib, was taken into custody as she approached the embassy to allegedly seek repatriation to France. The pro-government Daily Sabah newspaper said Talib joined the IS group in Syria and is believed to have illegally crossed the border into Turkey. Anadolu Agency said the woman would be deported to France following her questioning by counterterrorism police. The Associated Press
Rick Holmstrom, "See That Light” (LuEllie Records) Mask up, plug in and rock out to a stripped-down sound. That's the recipe for success on “See That Light,” the new solo album by Rick Holmstrom, who has been Mavis Staples’ guitarist and bandleader for the past 13 years. When the pandemic wiped out Staples' 2020 tour schedule, Holmstrom regrouped — so to speak — and assembled a power trio in a studio near his home in Venice, California. The happy result is a 12-song set built on garage band basics that showcases Holmstrom's enormous guitar vocabulary. Not that he's a showboat — his solos aren't so much high-flying as rooted, specifically in the blues and Chuck Berry, with lots of vibrato, twang and reverb. Some of Holmstrom's most impressive, inventive playing is as a rhythm guitarist in support of his singing. Equally appealing is the work of Steve Mugalian on drums and Gregory Boaz on bass. There's considerable variety to Holmstrom's original material. “Waiting Too Long” chugs like the El Camino he sings about, while “Look Me In the Eye” rides a sock hop beat, and the swinging “Come Along” is bracketed by a slow, sweet melody. Holmstrom sings about dysfunction in dyspeptic, dystopian times before an inquisitive child inspires the uplifting finale, “Joyful Eye.” After it ends in feedback, listeners can provide their own: great stuff. Steven Wine, The Associated Press
The latest developments on the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada (all times eastern):1:50 p.m.Manitoba health officials are reporting one COVID-19 death today and 45 new cases. However, six cases have been removed due to data corrections, so the net additional count is 39.---1:50 p.m.Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for people aged over 95, or over 75 for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines had been directed at certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes.---12:45 p.m.Newfoundland and Labrador health authorities are reporting the province's fifth death related to COVID-19.Officials say six more people are in hospital due to the disease.Public health is also reporting eight new cases, all in the eastern region, where an outbreak has been flaring for several weeks.Chief medical officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald says though case numbers have been low these past few days, the province remains in lockdown and people must stay on guard.---12 p.m.The Manitoba government has announced the location of its fourth site for large-scale vaccine distribution. Health officials say a so-called supersite will open in early March at a former hospital in Selkirk. There are similar sites already in Winnipeg, Brandon and Thompson.---11:30 a.m.Nova Scotia is reporting three new cases of COVID-19 and now has 21 active infections.The new cases are in the Halifax area.One is a close contact of a previously reported case, while the other two cases are under investigation.As of Tuesday 29,237 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, with 11,658 people having received their required second dose.---11:15 a.m.Quebec is reporting 806 new COVID-19 cases and 17 more deaths attributed to the virus, including five in that past 24 hours.Health officials say hospitalizations dropped by 25, to 655, and the number of intensive care cases rose for a second consecutive day, with 10 more patients for a total of 130.The province says it administered 8,807 doses of COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday, for a total of 376,910 since the campaign began.---11 a.m. Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says active cases of COVID-19 in First Nations communities are declining access the country.Miller says there were 1,443 active cases and a total of 20,347 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in First Nations communities on-reserve as of yesterday.Miller says vaccinations have begun in 440 Indigenous communities and more than 103,000 doses have been administered.---10:45 a.m.Ontario plans to start vaccinating residents aged 80 and older against COVID-19 in the third week of March, depending on vaccine supply. Retired Gen. Rick Hillier, the head of the province's vaccine task force, says an online booking system and service desk will become available on March 15 and people in that 80 and older age range, or those booking for them, can access it.Hillier says the task force aims to then vaccinate adults aged 75 and older starting April 15, and shots will go to those 70 and older beginning May 1.He says people aged 65 and older will be vaccinated starting June 1.---10:40 a.m.Ontario says there are 1,054 new cases of COVID-19 in the province today and nine more deaths linked to the virus.Health Minister Christine Elliott says that 363 of those new cases are in Toronto, 186 are in Peel Region and 94 are in York Region. More than 17,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered in Ontario since Tuesday's daily update.---This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
(BAE Systems Inc./Lockheed Martin Canada - image credit) Canada's budget watchdog predicts construction of the navy's new frigate fleet could cost at least $77.3 billion — a number that could rise even higher if the frequently-delayed program faces any more setbacks. Yves Giroux, the parliamentary budget officer [PBO], said the overall price tag for building 15 Canadian Surface Combatants could hit $82.1 billion in the event the program is delayed by as much as two years. The Liberal government is basing Canada's new warships on the design of the British-built Type 26 frigate. The House of Commons government operations committee asked the budget office to crunch the numbers on other designs, such as the FREMM European multi-mission frigate and the Type 31e, another British warship. The French FREMM frigate Aquitaine in an undated file photo. Those estimates show the federal government could save money by dropping the existing program and going with the other designs. It could also save money by building a fleet that includes two classes of vessel, such as the Type 26 and one of the other warships. Giroux said the idea of a mixed fleet makes sense from a fiscal point of view, but he couldn't say whether it would agree with the federal government's vision of what it wants the navy to do. "It's a good way of saving costs, if the government is interested in cutting down on its costs," Giroux said in a virtual media availability following the report's release today. Depending on the ship, the savings could be substantial. Deep cuts to construction costs possible: PBO For example, the budget office estimated that ditching the existing program and switching entirely to the Type 31 frigate would cost $27.5 billion, a projection that includes a four-year delay. The cost of acquiring an entire fleet of 15 FREMM warships is estimated at $71.1 billion — somewhat comparable to the existing program. A mixed fleet using either one of the alternate designs and the existing Type 26 also would result in savings. Giroux acknowledged that such a scenario would mean the navy would have to invest in separate infrastructure, support and supply chains — something it is reluctant to do. But it might be a good idea from a larger perspective, he added, because a mixed fleet means "you don't put all of your eggs in one basket." Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux. As of last fall, the Department of National Defence was insisting it could build all 15 Type 26 frigates, under contract with Lockheed Martin Canada and Irving Shipbuilding, for up to $60 billion. Giroux said he hopes the department is correct for taxpayers' sake, but his team stands by its numbers. The department stuck by its estimate in a statement issued today — but acknowledged the difference in the cost estimates could be explained in part by the fact that PBO includes the project's associated provincial sales taxes, while the federal government does not. The statement said the decision to select the Type 26 design was made based upon the capabilities it will bring to the navy. "As the PBO noted, the other design options that they examined would have 'more limited' and 'modest' capabilities than our selected design," the statement said. "These reductions would impede the [Royal Canadian Navy's] ability to execute its assigned roles and missions to keep Canadians safe both at home and abroad." The department also categorically ruled out scrapping the program or going with another design. "This is not an option we will be pursuing," the statement said. "Selecting a new design at this stage in the project would lead to significant economic loss for Canada's marine industry and those employed in it. "It would have major operational impacts for the [Royal Canadian Navy], due to associated project delays and life-extension requirements, as well as increasing the costs to operate and maintain more than one class of ships in the future." In their response, the Conservatives focused on the delays that led to the higher cost projections. "The increased costs of the Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) program are a direct result of Justin Trudeau's failures and the Liberals' mismanagement on this important procurement," said the statement, issued on behalf of Conservative defence critic James Bezan. "Conservatives continue to support our plan to revitalize the Royal Canadian Navy and the National Shipbuilding Strategy. But we do not support this ongoing Liberal dithering and costly delays to the CSC procurement." The latest report builds on an analysis prepared by the PBO office two years ago which projected a construction cost of $70 billion. The new numbers, Giroux said, reflect new information from the defence department about the size of the warships and the capabilities being built into them, as well as anticipated production delays. The outgoing president of Irving Shipbuilding, Kevin McCoy, told CBC News in an interview recently that the production timeline to build a Type 26 is seven-and-a-half years, which is two years longer than the five year timeline that had been built into the program. That means the navy won't see its first new frigate until 2031, on the current schedule. McCoy said in his interview that when the program started out under the previous Conservative government, the intention was to build a warship from scratch. He said it took several years and a change of government to convince Ottawa and the navy that doing so would be extraordinarily expensive — more expensive that the current program. A question of capabilities Dave Perry is vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and one of the country's leading experts on defence procurement. He said that when you look at the defence department's tax explanation and consider the delays, the projections are not too far apart. He said he believes the only fair comparison is between the existing Type 26 design and the FREMM frigate because they have similar capabilities. "To use a boxing analogy, it is in the same weight class," said Perry. He said the choice to include the less capable Type 31e in the comparison struck him as odd. The PBO report notes the difference and acknowledges that the less expensive Type 31e is designed to operate mostly in conjunction with the larger Type 26, which has air defence capabilities, among other things. A mixed fleet, he said, is something policy-makers could consider and is something Canada has had in the past — but the notion extends far beyond simple budgeting. "We would be building a different navy, a significantly less capable navy," Perry said.
Alliance Magnésium a accueilli lundi sa première cohorte de 20 employés. Des opérateurs, électromécaniciens, et responsables en santé-sécurité, des techniciens en entretien et instrumentation et des superviseurs de production travaillent maintenant pour l’entreprise valsourcienne. Ces employés amorcent donc une formation de cinq semaines en virtuel. « Du matériel informatique, des aide-mémoire, les manuels des employés et les procédures leur ont été acheminés. [...] Il y aura surtout plein de formations sur le procédé, la chimie, la technologie, le travail particulier qui doit être fait avec du métal en fusion. Il y a aussi les spécificités propres au magnésium qui est un métal aux nombreuses propriétés, mais qui demande qu’on lui porte une attention particulière lors de la fabrication », indique la directrice aux communications et affaires publiques pour l’entreprise, Karine Vallières. Plus de temps sera consacré à la formation du personnel. Mais en temps normal, ces cours théoriques auraient été mélangés avec de la pratique. « C’est comme de dire à quelqu’un qui veut faire de la soudure qu’il allait tout apprendre sur l’ordinateur. C’est assez particulier, mais ça nous permet d’éviter le retard et d’aller de l’avant dans le processus d’embauche. Ça fait longtemps qu’on dit que les emplois s’en viennent. On ne veut pas perdre l’intérêt des ressources qui veulent travailler avec nous, c’est pourquoi on va de l’avant et que nous demandons aux formateurs de bien vouloir se plier à l’exercice du virtuel pour adapter les formations, de revoir de quelle façon on les donnait et d’ajuster l’échéancier », explique Mme Vallières, assurant que la qualité de la formation sera la même. Après les formations théoriques, le personnel arrivera en usine pour suivre des formations pratiques avant de démarrer les premières coulées de magnésium recyclé. Actuellement, une quarantaine d’employés sont dans le registre du personnel d’Alliance Magnésium. Quelque 80 autres employés seront engagés. « On a été très agiles pour surmonter plein de trucs qui se sont dressés devant nous durant le déploiement de l’entreprise. On a usé de créativité pour bien arrimer l’arrivée des employés et permettre que leur formation soit faite au maximum au moment où le centre de coulée sera prêt. On les a accueillis par petits groupes à notre bureau de Val-des-Sources pour permettre le respect de la distanciation physique », mentionne Karine Vallières, rappelant que l’entreprise « bénéficie d’une banque de CV intéressante », mais qu’Alliance Magnésium « a besoin de recevoir des CV ». L’entreprise est maintenant à la recherche de techniciens de laboratoire, d’autres opérateurs et d’autres électromécaniciens. L’embauche continuera à se faire de manière progressive. Retard Le retard dans le domaine de la construction a également un impact sur l’usine. « C’est majeur, convient Karine Vallières. Non seulement sur l’échéancier, le déploiement, qu’on doit tout arrimer les embauches prévues, changer continuellement les dates. Ce n’est pas comme si on avait déjà des lignes de production. Il faut embaucher pour la formation, mais nos entrepreneurs généraux et les entreprises spécialisées reçoivent le matériel pour que l’usine soit prête dans les délais convenus. » « Ça crée des retards dans la livraison du bâtiment, ça crée aussi des pertes économiques, car on ne produit pas, alors qu’on était censés produire, renchérit-elle. Ça crée des dépenses non prévues. Beaucoup d’éléments sont à considérer et il y a un impact financier majeur sur l’entreprise à cause de ces éléments qu’on ne contrôle pas. » Les premiers lingots couleront donc au deuxième trimestre de 2021. Tommy Brochu, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
The County of Grande Prairie voted to contribute up to $104,000 Monday toward the first stage of a new Beaverlodge health complex. The project is currently seeking a P3 partner to supply capital and expertise. Consultancy commenced in April 2020 and will continue through to this fall, said Jeff Johnston, Beaverlodge chief administrative officer (CAO). Costs of that component are expected to be approximately $208,000, according to county administration. The county’s contribution will go toward that; Beaverlodge will supply the remaining $104,000, said Johnston. “This is very important to the west county and even to the county as a whole, because of the amount of emergency room access given to the whole region,” county Coun. Bob Marshall said during Monday’s meeting. “It’s a very worthy project and much needed for the west county,” reeve Leanne Beaupre added. “We’ve been advocating for it for as long as I’ve been on council.” “The relationship with the county, particularly on this project, is integral to the success of realizing a new health complex,” Johnston told Town & Country News. The Town of Beaverlodge established the Mountview Health Complex Committee (MHCC) last spring to pursue hospital replacement utilizing private funds through the company P3 Capital Partners. The health complex would be built on the 22 acres donated to the town by the McFarlane family approximately a decade ago. Once complete, the facility would be leased to Alberta Health Services. Beaverlodge mayor Gary Rycroft is an MHCC member along with town councillors Gena Jones and Judy Kokotilo-Bekkerus. The county appointed two councillors to MHCC, Peter Harris and Bob Marshall. The town issued a RFP titled “Mountview Health Care Campus” to the provincial online resource Alberta Purchasing Connection in January. The RFP is open until March 15. According to county administration, the RFP requests an operator or capital partner to contribute capital and expertise. The private partner would complete a business plan, determine a schedule for to the project and create a plan for operations, according to administration. Depending on the proposal, the developer may then “operate” the building in carrying out maintenance while AHS leases, or Alberta Health may maintain the building, Rycroft told the News in January. Coun. Marshall’s motion to provide half of the consultant costs up to $104,000 from the municipal infrastructure reserve was carried unanimously. After fall 2021 he said the partner and MHCC will move forward with a design. If a partner isn’t found as a result of the RFP, Johnston said the project will be reviewed. Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News
Nikola Dimitrov of AIS Technologies Group in Windsor, Ont., discusses how the pandemic has affected supply lines.
CALGARY — The story of why the Canadian women's curling championship is named the Tournament of Hearts starts over 40 years ago with sisters drinking wine. Robin Wilson and sister Dawn Knowles had just won a second Canadian championship with B.C. skip Lindsay Sparkes in 1979. That tournament was without a title sponsor after seven years as the tobacco-backed MacDonald Lassies. Wilson, the only female manager at Scott Paper, where she handled the diaper and feminine product line, successfully pitched sponsoring the women's championship to company president Bob Stewart. But Wilson needed to come up with a name and a brand to wow Stewart. "The name Scott Tournament of Hearts. That was actually my sister and I," Wilson told The Canadian Press from Vancouver. "We'd just had dinner at my mom and dad's. We were sitting on the living room carpet with a bottle of red wine. I said to her 'help me out here. Where do we go?' "We talked about all sorts of things. We put up a lot of names, threw them out." There was a dearth of elite female sport in North America in 1980, so the siblings couldn't find inspiration there. The motif of four hearts representing four curlers on a team came to them quickly, but what name should accompany it? They mulled variations on American college football bowl games, Wilson said. The Tournament of Roses that accompanied the Rose Bowl must have passed through their brains. "We thought the Tournament of Hearts," Wilson said. "The obvious thing was if we're going to pitch this to Scott paper we had to have the name Scott in it. "We took a lot of razzing with it too because people said it sounded like a parade in California." With the Hearts traditionally held in February, it's an easy assumption to draw a connection between the hearts theme and Valentine's Day, but Wilson said that wasn't a factor in the naming of it. The first Canadian women's curling championship held in 1961 was called the Diamond D Championship. An elite level curler herself, Wilson wanted the women's championship to have an identifier as enduring as the men's, which has been called the Brier since its inception in 1927. "The brand name part of it was important," she said. "It was creating something that would last forever and would be a pinnacle of women's sport in Canada." The Tournament of Hearts turned 40 years old at this year's national championship in Calgary. The tradition of the sponsor rewarding Hearts competitors with custom gold hearts jewelry, augmented with diamonds, emeralds and rubies for those who win or finish on the podium, was also the brainchild of Wilson and her sister. "The whole concept of jewelry, that's another thing we came up with when we were drinking red wine," Wilson said. "I think about the support we got from that one particular man, Bob Stewart. We had so much latitude to just come up with ideas and I can't recall any of them not going through." What was the Scott Tournament of Hearts eventually morphed into the Scotties Tournament of Hearts after Scott Paper was taken over by Kruger Inc. Wilson went to bat in boardrooms to keep the Tournament of Hearts name. "We fought like heck to keep it," she said. "There were attempts made to change it and some hard discussions. "Forty years, when you think about it, that's pretty good for any brand to survive. That's quite the legacy." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
Despite rising COVID-19 cases, especially in Metro Vancouver, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry didn’t announce new measures to curb the spread of the virus in a briefing today. Henry urged British Columbians to continue to stay home when sick, wear a mask in public spaces and not socialize outside their households — public health orders that have been in place for nearly five months. “It is concerning that we’re seeing an increase in our per-cent positivity and in our weekly average, particularly in the Lower Mainland,” she said. “We know what to do to manage.” The province need only stay the course to lower transmission as it continues to roll out vaccines to the most vulnerable to serious illness, she said. But recent data shows the number of people infected is beginning to climb again after a slow decline. Earlier this month, the province was reporting about 450 new COVID-19 cases each day. On Thursday, the province reported 617 new cases. Today, Henry said 559 new cases had been identified. And the rolling seven-day average of new daily cases has surpassed 500 for the first time since early January. Recent polling also suggests British Columbians are less likely to consistently follow COVID-19 guidelines than people in other provinces. Concerns have also increased after seven schools reported students and staff had been exposed to COVID-19 variants that are believed to be more easily transmitted and potentially more likely to cause serious illness. Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside acknowledged the issue in a briefing Monday. “I can appreciate the anxiety,” she said. But she added that testing has shown the variants are not being spread within schools. Henry said the province is testing all positive cases for evidence of a variant, and genomic sequencing has been ramped up to confirm the extent of variants in the community. “We are paying extra attention, so we better understand how and where these are spreading,” she said. “We’re learning about the impacts of these variants of concern,” Henry said. “But we know what we have to do to manage it.” Henry said there are signs the province’s vaccination effort has saved lives, particularly in long-term care. More than 220,000 people have been vaccinated, and at least 55,057 of those have had two doses. The province reported one death due to COVID-19 today, an individual in assisted living. There have been no new cases or deaths in long-term care in the last 24 hours, and 92 per cent of residents have had their first dose of the vaccine, Henry said. Outbreaks in long-term care have also dropped from almost 60 in December to 12. There are five outbreaks in assisted living facilities. On Monday the province will announce the plan for vaccinating seniors over 80 living in the community, Henry said, which will begin shortly. “We are in a period of vaccine hope and pandemic reality,” she said. Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
COVID vaccinations have begun at local lodges and all other seniors 75 and older can now book a COVID-19 vaccine shot, said Steve Madden, Grande Spirit general manager. Eligibility was expanded to everyone outside lodges born in 1946 or before as of Feb. 24, with availability based on supply. “We’re excited, and it’s good to see the supply catch up to the number of people waiting,” Madden said. He said Grande Spirit is aware of many relieved seniors and families. Seniors’ vaccinations began at Pioneer Lodge in Grande Prairie Wednesday morning, followed by Heritage Lodge and Wild Rose Manor later that day, he said. Vaccinations at Clairmont’s Lakeview facility will take place all today, Madden said. Amisk Court vaccinations are scheduled for March 3, and he said he is hopeful the supply will allow these immunizations to go forward. Residents will be contacted by their care teams, according to Alberta Health Services. All other seniors can book an appointment for a vaccine through AHS, by calling 811 or going to albertahealthservices.ca, though some early registrants Wednesday morning experienced system crashes due to heavy traffic. Beaverlodge resident Eleanor Lord said she began trying to book an appointment 8 a.m. Wednesday morning and at press time hadn’t succeeded. “The online system has crashed and 811 is continuously busy,” Lord said. She said they’ll keep trying, but she’s wondering if vaccines will run out. Family members can book a shot on behalf of seniors but must provide the senior’s Alberta Health Care number and date of birth, according to AHS. The continuation of the vaccine rollout adds seniors to a growing list of eligible recipients. Others include health-care workers in COVID-19 units and emergency departments. Vaccinations of elders began at Horse Lake First Nation this month, chief Ramona Horseman told Town & Country News last week. More than 29,000 long-term care residents have received two doses of vaccine to date, according to the Alberta government. The ongoing first phase of immunizations will be followed by a second possibly beginning in April, depending on vaccine supply. The vaccine will be offered to everyone 65 to 74, First Nations and Métis people 60 to 64, and supportive-living facility staff who haven’t already been immunized, according to the government. They will be followed by everyone 18 to 64 with “high-risk underlying health conditions,” then staff and residents of living facilities like homeless shelters, and then everyone 50 to 64 and indigenous people 35 to 49. Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News
Trudy Hodges, Family and Community Support Services director, and Amie Greene, FCSS program services co-ordinator, presented an update on 2020 operations to council in delegation. In 2020, Beaverlodge FCSS served 33 clients through its home support program, including 30 seniors. Home support made 232 visits, according to Hodges’ presentation. The food bank served 61 families and another 187 individuals throughout 2020, with an additional 61 Christmas hampers prepared. FCSS also helped residents complete 110 income tax returns. FCSS had 615 requests for service in 2020, from 498 town residents, 102 County of Grande Prairie residents and 15 others. City residents may be examples of “others” who used programs like babysitting courses, Greene said. Use of FCSS services was generally down in 2020; FCSS would typically complete 150 to 170 income tax returns, Greene said. Programs like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit may account for less demand for FCSS services, Hodges said. FCSS received $60,800 of its budget from the Alberta government and $30,400 from the county, with the remaining $269,000 provided by the town, Hodges said. Municipal election: Council also approved two motions to prepare for the Oct. 18 municipal election. Coun. Judy Kokotilo-Bekkerus’ motion to set two advance voting dates, Oct. 9 and Oct. 13 at the community centre, was carried. Coun. Cyndi Corbett’s motion to establish a voting station at Amisk Court from 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 18, in addition to the main voting location at the community centre 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., was carried. Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News
“Kill Shot: A Shadow Industry, a Deadly Disease,” by Jason Dearen (Avery) Lower back pain. Spinal stenosis. Cataracts. All those conditions are treated with drugs manufactured by compounding pharmacies. And those drugs can blind or kill you, due in large part to an almost total absence of regulatory oversight. In his terrific but unnerving new book, “Kill Shot,” Associated Press investigative reporter Jason Dearen explores the shadow industry of compounding pharmacies and various unsuccessful efforts to rein it in. The story centres on the New England Compounding Center, which in 2012 produced mould-infested batches of an injectable steroid that killed more than 100 people and sickened nearly 800 others across 20 states. Eventually, the lab in Framingham, Massachusetts, half an hour west of Boston, was shut down, and 13 people, including co-owner Barry Cadden and supervising pharmacist Glenn Chin, were convicted of federal crimes. But as Dearen makes clear in his gripping, tautly written narrative, the problems posed by pharmacy compounding — which accounts for at least 10% of the country’s drug supply — are far from over. Relying on transcripts, interviews, FDA inspection reports and other sources, he reconstructs this slow-moving tragedy in scenes of almost cinematic intensity. We meet the sympathetic victims, many of them elderly people living with chronic pain, who, after receiving the injections, died slow, horrible deaths from fungal meningitis and its complications. We also meet the callous lab owners, who set out to enrich themselves by cutting corners, hiring unqualified staff, running a filthy operation and relying on payoffs to drum up business. And while some NECC employees were eventually held accountable, they had a host of enablers. These included the lobbying group Alliance for Pharmacy Compounding; members of Congress, who accepted their campaign contributions and killed meaningful reform; and the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 2002 struck down a section of a law designed to give the FDA more oversight. Thankfully, there were good guys as well: mostly, the dedicated doctors and scientists in hospitals, state health labs and federal agencies, including the FDA and CDC, who tracked the mysterious outbreak of deadly infections in real time and limited its scope by alerting the public. “Kill Shot” is coming out in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exposed the overall fragility of the U.S. health care system. By calling attention to just one facet of it, Dearen has performed a tremendous public service. He includes a handy checklist of questions to ask prescribers about compounded drugs, but his takeaway is inescapable. Consumers would do well to educate themselves about treatment options and press for tougher regulations. Their lives — and those of their loved ones — may depend on it. — Ann Levin worked for The Associated Press for 20 years, including as national news editor at AP headquarters in New York. Since 2009 she’s worked as a freelance writer and editor. Ann Levin, The Associated Press
Military veteran Eric Lalonde is surprised how quickly people are responding to a GoFundMe campaign to help purchase a new service dog for his post traumatic stress disorder. “I’m actually surprised and really appreciate it, I didn’t expect that much response,” Lalonde said of reaching the half-way mark toward the $4,000 goal. His wife, Caroline, set up the fundraiser last week with a link submitted to the East Ferris Post It Facebook page. The couple has lived in Astorville for the past eight years. Lalonde said he didn’t expect the support because members of the military don’t get that much respect in his home province of Quebec. “It’s very different, they don’t appreciate the military as much,” he said. Lalonde, 42, retired from the Canadian army last February after 23 years of service, including a decade as an infantryman with tours in Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Kuwait. His last 13 years of service were spent being a supply clerk in North Bay. His current service dog, Nala, is an 11-year-old German Shepherd mix. They’ve spent several thousand dollars on her veterinarian bills and more than $1,000 on medicine for a failing pancreas and hip dysplasia. “It’s time to take her into retirement,” Lalonde said, noting they found it difficult to find a new service dog due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They explored getting a rescue dog but many of them have their own issues and groups that help veterans with PTSD get trained service dogs had long waiting lists. Money is also tight as they prepare to find a better-suited home in the area this summer. Home buyers are facing a seller’s market as residents in southern Ontario cash out of their properties and flee big cities. Lalonde said he likes this part of Canada and the quiet peace of the rural area, adding he hopes their next home is the last. “I’m not moving anymore,” he said. Caroline Lalonde described their situation in detail for the online fundraiser. “After his retirement, Eric was sure he was fine and didn’t need a service dog anymore as he was home and relaxed,” she wrote. “But after a few months, he found out the dog was doing more than just working with him every day. Nala is there to encourage him to get up in the morning and keep him moving during the day. “When Nala feels Eric is about to overreact for something or having a short fuse, she will go to see him and lick him until he takes care of her, so it changes Eric’s mind and calms him down. “She will also protect Eric from people who are approaching too fast or doesn’t reflect a good vibe while approaching,” she wrote. Nala’s health did a nose-dive starting last August when her Husky died at nine years old. “She doesn’t have the energy anymore, can’t walk more than a few minutes without having pain and every time she has to get up the stairs, we can tell on her face that she’s having bad pain,” she said. “Eric was looking to wait for the next litter, in summertime, but Nala is too sick and she needs to be able to teach the puppy how to be a good service dog and the more Eric waits, the less Nala will be able to do it,” she said. A service dog trainer introduced them to a breeder who moved Eric to the top of his list for a puppy that will be ready March 14. But they were scrambling to find the $2,500 plus HST for the purchase, special food, and related expenses while also supporting ongoing Nala’s medical care. “The training will be paid by the Citadel Canine so I’m only asking enough money to be able to pay for the dog. I will provide all the proof of payments and also show pictures when I have some,” Caroline added. “If I get more than Eric needs, that money will go for Nala’s veterinarian bill, for pain medications for her hips, and also for the puppy booster.” Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada. Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
FREDERICTON — New Brunswick's auditor general is warning of a crisis in the nursing home sector if the government doesn't address the shortage of spaces. Kim Adair-MacPherson says the number of seniors in the province is expected to double by 2036 and there are currently almost 800 seniors waiting for a nursing home placement. She says it's unclear how the province plans to address the demand. Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch says 600 new nursing home beds will be opened over the next five years. He says the procedure the government uses to request proposals for new nursing homes has been streamlined, which he says should speed things up. Cecile Cassista, executive director of the Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents Rights, says the government should concentrate on helping seniors remain in their own homes instead of putting them into nursing residences. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Paul Tukker/ CBC - image credit) Whitehorse city council has given first reading to a new bylaw considering a zoning application that would allow a new drive-thru restaurant near the top of Two Mile Hill. The proposed business — not named in council documents — would be built on an empty lot on Range Road, just off the Alaska Highway and adjacent to the airport. The lot's zoning currently allows for an eating or drinking establishment, but not with a drive-thru. That would require an amendment approved by council. Councillors have expressed concern about the development, and some say it could take business from the downtown area. But councillor Dan Boyd says that traffic is the big issue, and also let it slip at this week's council meeting what the development might be. "It would be 1,000 visits or trips potentially through a busy drive-thru, if you built a Dairy Queen, or whatever this might be, downtown or if you built it at the top of the Two Mile hill," said Boyd. Whatever the development might be, it has raised questions about long-term planning for the city. Mayor Dan Curtis says there is only so much space that can be built on, and that the city should think about long-term planning. "Quite frankly I think our downtown is outgrowing itself. That's not to suggest I want something that enables people to get what they need and keep on going. I don't want that," Curtis said. "But I think that the services in the capital city and people here and the things they can see and do is going to be the real draw, not the fact there is perhaps a drive-thru on top of the south access or on top of the Two Mile Hill," said Curtis. The bylaw to rezone the area on Range Road to allow for drive-thru services is now open for public comment. A public hearing on the proposed development is scheduled for March 22.
(Justin Tang/Canadian Press - image credit) Ottawa's medical officer of health is warning that COVID-19 transmission rates are again heading in the wrong direction, and could once again place the city on a path toward tighter restrictions. Ottawa is currently an orange zone, according to the province's colour-coded scale that influences public health directives on businesses, gatherings and other activities. But on Wednesday, Dr. Vera Etches said the city is heading toward red. We could be discussing whether we need to go ahead with [tighter restrictions] next week. - Dr. Vera Etches "We are not heading toward yellow, we are heading toward red, and that's not OK," she told city councillors. "We could be discussing whether we need to go ahead with [tighter restrictions] next week." Ottawa has never been declared a red zone since the province instituted its new colour-coded system earlier this month, but back in October the city was moved into what's known as "modified Stage 2," with restrictions on most indoor activities. If Ottawa moves into the red zone, indoor gatherings will be limited to a maximum of five people, restaurants can't have more than 10 customers indoors and cinemas will be closed. Etches said some key indicators show transmission of the virus is no longer in decline, and said the recent lifting of some restrictions might be giving residents a false sense of security. "Ottawa Public Health is seeing people who test positive, who work in offices and pharmacies and religious communities and coffee shops, grocery stores, warehouses, home care security — it is widespread," Etches said. "I just don't want people to have a sense [that] it's under control."
MONTREAL — Veteran defender Laurent Ciman has returned to Montreal, where he started his MLS playing career, this time as an assistant coach. The 35-year-old Belgian spent three seasons in Montreal before an unwanted trade to expansion Los Angeles FC in December 2017. After one season as LAFC captain, he joined Toronto FC in December 2018 after a brief stint in France with Ligue 1's Dijon. Ciman, named MLS Defender of the Year in his first season in Montreal, became a free agent after his TFC contract expired at the end of last season. For Ciman, retirement as a player means a return home. He retained his house in Montreal and wife Diana and their two kids remained there while he played in Toronto. After a successful career in Belgium, Ciman opted to come to Canada in 2015 because of the support available here for daughter Nina, who has autism spectrum disorder. "I'm very happy to be back home," Ciman said in a statement Wednesday. "It's been my wish for a long time, and this is a great opportunity for myself and my family. I just want to contribute to the club’s growth." Ciman, who won 20 caps for his country, played in the Belgian top flight from 2004 to 2015 with Charleroi Sporting Club, Club Brugge, KV Kortrijk and Standard de Liège. He played six seasons in MLS, appearing in 136 regular-season games including 126 starts. He also played in nine playoffs games, nine Canadian Championship games and eight CONCACAF Champions League matches. "We are very happy that Laurent is joining the coaching staff and that he is back with the club," said Montreal sporting director Olivier Renard. "It is a logical and beneficial association, especially knowing the attachment Laurent has always had for this club and this city. We can now count on his experience after a fruitful career in Europe, in MLS, and on the international stage." Ciman who played 515 pro matches during his career, saw limited action with Toronto but provided key backup for the injured Omar Gonzalez in the 2019 playoffs. He was a popular member of the Toronto squad. "He's got an incredible personality … a very playful personality that I think is infectious in our group," then coach Greg Vanney said during Ciman's time in Toronto. "It's something that our group needs at times, just to be able to banter, have fun, make something sometimes that is challenging or difficult into some kind of a game within the game." Ciman was a member of the Belgian squad that reached the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and saw action in Euro 2016. He missed out on the 2018 World Cup, one of Belgium's final cuts. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021 The Canadian Press
Charlie Munger, the longtime business partner of Warren Buffett, on Wednesday warned that the stock market bears signs of a bubble, reflecting a "dangerous" mentality among some investors to gamble on stocks as they would horse races. Munger, 97, lamented the recent mania for GameStop Corp, in which amateur investors encouraged each other online to buy the gaming retailer on platforms including Robinhood, and caught some hedge funds in a short squeeze. "A lot of them crowd in to buying stocks on frenzy, frequently on credit, because they see that they're going up, and of course that's a very dangerous way to invest."
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says allocating COVID-19 vaccine doses for Indigenous people in urban areas through the provinces is faster and more effective than delivery directed from Ottawa. He says he will be working with provinces and territories to ensure they prioritize Indigenous people in their immunization efforts, even as the National Association of Friendship Centres and other advocates call for more direct federal involvement.