No winning ticket was sold for the $22 million jackpot in Friday night's Lotto Max draw.
The jackpot for the next draw on Jan. 5 will grow to approximately $27 million.
The Canadian Press
No winning ticket was sold for the $22 million jackpot in Friday night's Lotto Max draw.
The jackpot for the next draw on Jan. 5 will grow to approximately $27 million.
The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Antony Blinken as America’s top diplomat, tasked with carrying out President Joe Biden’s commitment to reverse the Trump administration’s “America First” doctrine that weakened international alliances. Senators voted 78-22 to approve Blinken, a longtime Biden confidant, as the nation’s 71st secretary of state, succeeding Mike Pompeo. The position is the most senior Cabinet position, with the secretary fourth in the line of presidential succession. Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration. He has pledged to be a leading force in the administration’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which President Donald Trump questioned longtime alliances. He is expected to start work on Wednesday after being sworn in, according to State Department officials. “American leadership still matters,” Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at his Jan. 19 confirmation hearing. “The reality is, the world simply does not organize itself. When we’re not engaged, when we’re not leading, then one of two things is likely to happen. Either some other country tries to take our place, but not in a way that’s likely to advance our interests and values, or maybe just as bad, no one does and then you have chaos.” Blinken vowed that the Biden administration would approach the world with both humility and confidence, saying “we have a great deal of work to do at home to enhance our standing abroad.” Despite promising renewed American leadership and an emphasis on shoring up strained ties with allies in Europe and Asia, Blinken told lawmakers that he agreed with many of Trump’s foreign policy initiatives. He backed the so-called Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel and several Arab states, and a tough stance on China over human rights and its assertiveness in the South China Sea. He did, however, signal that the Biden administration is interested in bringing Iran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal from which Trump withdrew in 2018. Trump's secretaries of state nominees met with significant opposition from Democrats. Trump’s first nominee for the job, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, was approved by a 56 to 43 vote and served only 13 months before Trump fired him in tweet. His successor, Pompeo, was confirmed in a 57-42 vote. Opposition to Blinken centred on Iran policy and concerns among conservatives that he will abandon Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. Blinken inherits a deeply demoralized and depleted career workforce at the State Department. Neither Tillerson nor Pompeo offered strong resistance to the Trump administration’s attempts to gut the agency, which were thwarted only by congressional intervention. Although the department escaped proposed cuts of more than 30% of its budget for three consecutive years, it has seen a significant number of departures from its senior and rising mid-level ranks, Many diplomats opted to retire or leave the foreign service given limited prospects for advancement under an administration that they believed didn't value their expertise. A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School and a longtime Democratic foreign policy presence, Blinken has aligned himself with numerous former senior national security officials who have called for a major reinvestment in American diplomacy and renewed emphasis on global engagement. Blinken served on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration before becoming staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chair of the panel. In the early years of the Obama administration, Blinken returned to the NSC and was then-Vice-President Biden’s national security adviser before he moved to the State Department to serve as deputy to Secretary of State John Kerry, who is now serving as special envoy for climate change. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
BETHEL, Alaska — Residents of an Alaska village met with health officials and government agencies to consider methods to restore running water after a fire destroyed the community's water plant. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation has provided bottled water and hand sanitizer to residents of Tuluksak since the community's water plant and laundromat burned Jan. 16. Alaska State Troopers said the fire burned as residents of the Alaska Native community northeast of Bethel unsuccessfully tried to douse the flames with water hauled from the Tuluksak River. Health corporation President Dan Winkelman said in a statement that everything possible will be done to help restore Tuluksak's water service. “We understand the importance of this resource, and our staff will continue to work hand-in-hand with Tribal, state, and federal representatives to bring about solutions to restore access to it as quickly as possible,” Winkelman said. The corporation hosted a meeting last week for local, state and federal agencies. The groups discussed connecting a community well to the school, which is equipped to provide running water. Residents could temporarily use the system for laundry and to transfer water to their homes. John Nichols of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, who attended the meeting, said the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation has a portable water treatment plant in Bethel that could be operational in the village by the summer. But officials must determine if the plant can purify water from the Tuluksak River, a tributary of the Kuskokwim River. Residents have previously complained to the state Legislature about sediment making Tuluksak River water unsafe to drink. Nichols said purifying the water would require different processes than those used in other water sources. “If you were to, say, look at the waters of the Kenai River versus the Copper River versus the Kuskokwim River, you can tell just by looking that the water quality is very, very different,” Nichols said. If the corporation's purifier does not work, a portable system from the continental U.S. may be required. The tribe must verify whether the building was insured before agencies can release funds to subsidize any system. Community officials said the person who has the insurance information was not immediately available after testing positive for COVID-19. The Associated Press
TORONTO — Few things have lifted Rojhan Paydar’s spirits during the COVID-19 pandemic quite like a Netflix watch party.Isolated inside her home, the Toronto resident is too often short on social opportunities and long on streaming options. So like many people, she’s recreated the experience of watching Netflix with friends through an unofficial web browser application called Teleparty, formerly known as Netflix Party.It’s been an opportunity for Paydar to gather with pals on a virtual couch while they gasp over the twists of true crime series, “Unsolved Mysteries." Even more often, she's used the app with her boyfriend for date nights watching the dysfunction unfold on “Tiger King" and other bingeable series.“Sometimes we’d eat dinner and set up our webcams to see each other,” she said.“Knowing he was there and we were doing something in real-time — it felt really good and made me less lonely."Not long ago, viewing party technology was a tool reserved for unique situations: a long-distance couple or fans of a niche TV series searching for like-minded people.But a year into the pandemic, weekly rituals have evolved, and online watch parties have proven many of us are desperate for some semblance of connection.As the winter months stretch on, and strict stay-at-home orders grip large parts of the country, observers say the watch party, and apps that help make it happen, are due for a second wave of popularity.“I think we may have seen a cultural shift,” suggested Daniel Keyes, associate professor of cultural studies at the University of British Columbia.“The pandemic and the fact we had to self-isolate totally accelerated it. It made it more mainstream.”For younger generations raised on YouTube and Twitch, watch parties are already part of the zeitgeist. Everyone else, including streaming giants themselves, seem to be playing cultural catchup.Last year, as the pandemic wore on, Amazon Prime Video introduced group chat elements into the laptop version of its platform. Disney Plus took a more restrained approach with a feature that allows up to seven people to sync their screens, but only communicate through emojis.Other streamers, such as Netflix and Crave, have so far chosen not to launch social elements on their platforms. That move could be strategic as the companies observe a sea change in how some viewers consume television, suggested Carmi Levy, director at technology advisory firm Info-Tech Research Group."It's almost as if the snow globe has been shaken and companies like Netflix are waiting for everything to settle down before they decide where to place their bets," he said."Social TV is a thing and it isn't going anywhere. It's very much like remote work: considered the exception before the pandemic, but now the rule."Levy said the entertainment industry couldn't have predicted how quickly the change took hold with casual viewers. For years, upstart tech companies launched second-screen watch party innovations, and most of them failed miserably.That's left the door open for the latest generation of alternatives to capitalize on filling the void, among them TwoStream, a paid monthly watch party option, and Syncplay, which is free.One of the most ambitious newcomers is Scener, a venture-funded operation out of Seattle that currently supports the likes of Netflix, Disney Plus, Vimeo and horror platform Shudder. In a few clicks, viewers can react to a show through their webcam or type out thoughts on their keyboard.Co-founder Joe Braidwood said replicating the in-person experience, in particular, “the laughter, the screams and the horror,” was a goal of his company long before the pandemic. But it wasn’t always easy getting others to see the value.“Two years ago I would talk to investors about social TV and they would laugh at me,” he recalled over a Zoom chat.“They told me, ‘People don't want social experiences when they're watching television.’ But all you need to do is look on Twitter.”Even before the pandemic, he said, people were engaging over social media platforms about their favourite shows. Now, since everyone's holed up in their homes, Scener's growth has been exponential. Cumulative weekly minutes of programming watched grew nearly 42,000 per cent from March 2020 to January 2021 (57,785 minutes versus 24.2 million minutes), according to data provided by the company.“People who haven't hung out with their best friend while watching ‘The Flight Attendant’ or shared a family Christmas while watching an old classic movie on Scener, they just don't know what this feels like,” he added.“There's this real texture to it... it's warm engagement with people that you care about.”Hoovie, a Vancouver-based virtual watch party service, aims to bridge the gap between art house cinema outings and the comfort of a living room chat.Hosts can dive into the company’s independent film catalogue and book ticketed showings for small groups, typically in the range of 10 to 20 people. After the movie, they’re encouraged to engage in a webcam conversation on the platform that’s inspired by the film’s themes.Co-founder Fiona Rayher describes Hoovie as a platform meant to evoke those experiences outside the cinema where groups of people – sometimes strangers – would passionately discuss what they’d just watched and maybe head to a nearby restaurant for drinks."You’d meet new people and you’d stay connected," she said. "It was all serendipitous."Hoovie plans to debut a "book club for movies" early this year that'll build on connecting movie fans. Every month, subscribers will gather for online screenings that include a post-film conversation with members, filmmakers and critics. Each film will be rounded out with a wine pairing sent by mail.Selling nostalgia for the pre-pandemic days may sound appealing in lockdown, but the question remains on how attractive watch parties will be once a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available.It's a question Paydar said she thinks about often as she logs onto a watch party for another episode of "Unsolved Mysteries.""Whenever someone asks, 'If COVID ended right now, where would you go?' the first thing I say is, 'I'd like to go to a movie theatre,'" she said."There's something about being in a physical theatre and going with a group of friends...Those end-of-the-night goodbyes, getting late-night eats with my friends.. (we're) creating memories I get to hold on to forever," she said."I don't think that can be replaced."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern): 10:45 a.m. Another 1,740 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Ontario today, along with 63 more deaths related to the virus. More than half the new cases are in the Greater Toronto Area, with 677 in Toronto itself, 320 in Peel Region and 144 in York Region. The province says more than 30,700 tests have been completed and more than 9,700 vaccines administered since the last daily report. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Whitecaps have added a young attacker to their roster, signing Colombian winger Deiber Caicedo.The club announced Tuesday the 20-year-old has agreed to a three-year contract through 2023, with a team option for a fourth season. Vancouver bought the emerging talent's discovery rights from Nashville SC for US$75,000 in general allocation money. Caicedo comes to Major League Soccer following three seasons in Colombia's Categoria Primera A, where he amassed seven goals and 13 assists over 78 appearances, including 53 starts. He also has experience on the international stage, having been called to Colombia's U-15, U-17 and U-20 teams.Whitecaps sporting director Axel Schuster said in a statement that the club scouted Caicedo in September and saw a "very fast and aggressive left-side winger."MLS announced Monday that it is targeting April 3 as the start date for the 2021 season, but no plans have been announced for where Canadian teams will play as the border remains closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
RALEIGH, N.C. — A North Carolina state senator announced Tuesday that he's running for the U.S. Senate in 2022, hoping to flip fortunes for Democrats from his state to serve in the chamber after a string of defeats. Jeff Jackson, a Charlotte business attorney, Afghan war veteran and National Guard soldier, unveiled his bid, saying he is committed to “honest and decent politics” and “working people and working families.” Jackson, 38, is the second Democrat to enter the race to succeed three-term Republican Sen. Richard Burr, who is not seeking reelection. Erica Smith, a former state senator who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2020 to challenge Republican incumbent Thom Tillis, is in again. Tillis ultimately narrowly defeated Democrat Cal Cunningham in November. Those two campaigns and outside groups spent $287 million combined, an all-time record before the two Georgia Senate elections that went to Jan. 5 runoffs swamped that total. In contrast with North Carolina's hyper-nationalized Senate race in 2020, Jackson said he'll attempt to turn his campaign inward, by pledging to visit all 100 counties as the coronavirus pandemic has subsided. He said he'll hold town halls in each to “build an agenda that’s actually tailored to our state, not an agenda that’s imported from D.C. or from donors.” “People want a different approach. They want an approach that they can respect and one that respects them,” he said in a video that features his wife and three young children. “Look, folks, you should have higher expectations for this office than you currently do.” North Carolina Republicans have now won four consecutive Senate races dating to 2010. Cunningham’s bid for U.S. Senate was derailed in the campaign's final weeks by his acknowledgement of a recent extramarital affair. But Democrats nationally are heartened by victories elsewhere, including those for both Georgia seats. That caused a 50-50 split in the chamber that gave Democrats control because Vice-President Kamala Harris, a Democrat, breaks ties. Other Democrats are weighing whether to enter the contest, which will still require massive fundraising even in the coming months to gain the attention of voters in the March 2021 primaries. On the Republican side, former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker of Greensboro announced he's running last month and is already travelling on the GOP meeting circuit seeking support. North Carolina native Lara Trump, the daughter-in-law of former President Donald Trump, is also considering a bid. Jackson decided against running for Senate in 2020 after meeting with then-Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Schumer ultimately backed Cunningham's bid. Jackson's military career is similar to that of Cunningham. He enlisted in the Army Reserve after the Sept. 11 attacks and served in Afghanistan. He's a military attorney in a North Carolina National Guard unit and a former local prosecutor. Jackson was ordered to guard training in the final weeks of his state Senate race this past fall, handing his reelection campaign to his wife. While Jackson's file of legislative accomplishments in Raleigh is thin — largely the result of serving in the minority party — he's made splashes with recorded floor speeches and social media posts that have gone viral. That social media presence has buoyed his fundraising and profile. State Republicans already tried to link Jackson to Cunningham on Tuesday, calling him “Cal Jr.” “North Carolina needs leaders who get results and Cal Jr. believes success equals retweets,” state GOP spokesman Tim Wigginton said in a news release. Gary D. Robertson, The Associated Press
Shortly after the first state of emergency was declared by the Ontario government last March 17, municipal bylaw officers across the province were given power by the province to enforce pandemic emergency orders after “stretched” policing agencies requested assistance. Despite having the option to issue tickets under the Provincial Offences Act for violations of provincial emergency orders, municipal and regional bylaw enforcement officers focused on education rather than enforcement. But that tone has changed after the province handed down additional powers to police and bylaw officers alike to enforce a recent provincial stay-at-home order which came into effect on Jan. 14. Niagara This Week reached out to municipalities, Niagara Region and Niagara Regional Police to find out what enforcement action has been like since the start of the pandemic. Niagara-on-the-Lake has relied the most on enforcement out of the Niagara municipalities approached for data, having issued 66 tickets between March and December of last year, according to a Jan. 5 report to council. Niagara Falls has issued 28 tickets since May; Fort Erie has issued 13 since the initial orders; and St. Catharines has issued two tickets between March last year and Jan. 21. Port Colborne and Lincoln have not issued a single ticket since the beginning of the pandemic. The City of Welland did not provide information for earlier than Jan. 14. City bylaw manager, Ali Kahn, said in an email that no tickets have been issued since the province’s stay-at-home order took effect. Across the peninsula, the region has taken the most enforcement action in the shortest amount of time, according to data provided by communications consultant Andrew Korchok. Between Sept. 18, 2020 and Jan. 22, 2021, region staff have issued 134 tickets. Niagara Regional Police Service has issued 75 tickets between April 5, 2020 and Jan. 22, 2021 — with 14 having been issued since Jan. 13. The “severity” of enforcement action can vary, depending on what charge is laid under the Provincial Offences Act. A Part One offence can be a set fine settled out of court, while a Part Three offence requires a person to attend court where a conviction and penalty can be imposed. According to solicitor general spokesperson, Brent Ross, Part One fines for individuals range between $750 for “fail to comply with an order,” and $1,000 for an offence such as “obstruct any person exercising a power in accordance with an order.” But Part Three offences carry a fine of up to $100,000 and a year in prison. Corporations and their officers face harsher limits. Ross said an imposed fine could be as high as $10 million, if convicted. Those wanting to put on a party or host an event over gathering limits may also face more stringent penalties, Ross said. “On conviction, this offence carries a $10,000 minimum fine.” Niagara This Week also inquired about the amount of warnings given and complaints received, but data is tracked and reported in vastly differently ways across the region. Some municipalities group together the amount of inquiries and complaints, while others don't track certain data, like complaints or warnings, making it difficult to discern exactly how many warnings are given versus tickets, for example. Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Jan. 5 report shows 2,611 inquiries and complaints were received between March and December last year, with a total of 1,475 educational outcomes. Niagara Falls also reported a high number of complaints, at 2,946, but the data also includes “information.” There were 2,142 times where a business or the public were educated. The City of St. Catharines was unable to provide the amount of warnings given, but said 436 complaints had been received. Niagara Regional Police could not provide the number of complaints received, but said they've given 67 warnings. In Fort Erie, “in excess of 200 warnings” have been given, according to enforcement co-ordinator, Paul Chodoba. Jordan Snobelen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara this Week
The Ontario government may have temporarily paused the demolition on several heritage buildings in downtown Toronto, but a challenge to stop the work won’t be easy. Matthew Bingley looks into the powers of minister’s zoning orders and why a court challenge may not be enough to save the heritage buildings.
A Halifax church has been helping newcomers to tie the knot, with a twist of traditions from their own culture. You may think that Christian weddings at a church are all the same: mutual vows that end with till death do us part, a priest or pastor presiding over and declaring the official finalization of the ceremony. But a Halifax Christian Church begs to differ. “We get traditions that each culture has that are important to them, and we get to enjoy that experience,” said Greg Nicholson, lead pastor at Halifax Christian Church. Nicholson said the church has hosted weddings for over 40 couples from all over the world, including couples from Nigeria, the Philippines, Indian, Ukraine and many more. “They are still Christian weddings, because I'm performing them. But we're able to implement some of the different things that people have in their own culture,” he said. The pastor has presided over weddings for couples with a Hindu background where the bride was actually seated and The Seven Vows, an element in a traditional Hindu wedding that symbolizes the unity of two families, was performed. Since the church welcomed its first Filipino family, it is now the place of worship to newcomers from over 25 countries. “They will check online before immigrating and a few families have noticed pictures of others from their nationality and they decide on us. A lot are then invited by the ones already here,” he said. Carlos Medrano and his wife Grace Flores-Medrano are among the many newcomers the church helped. The couple are originally from El Salvador and had their wedding with the help of the church in 2016. “It's just amazing how many different types of backgrounds we have in the church. And you will think that it's really hard to have that mix of people in a row (or) we have nothing to talk about. No, we just we have something (in) common.,” Medrano said. Medrano said the couple lost their jobs before the wedding ceremony and it was the church that helped them to stay in Canada. “We finally found our family here in Halifax and the family that we have is a family from Halifax Christian church,” he said. Lu Xu is a local journalism initiative reporter, a position funded by the federal government. Lu Xu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle Herald
Initial doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are set to roll into the country in the next few weeks, and Canadians will be wondering where they stand in the inoculation line.Which segment of the population will get the first doses, once Canada approves them for use, and how long will it take before most of us are inoculated and we can reach that point of herd immunity?The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has already recommended early doses be given to: residents and staff of long-term care homes; adults 70 years or older (starting with those 80 and over); front-line health-care workers; and adults in Indigenous communities — but there's still some debate among experts on whether that's the best strategy for a vaccine rollout.Dr. Ross Upshur of the University of Toronto's School of Public Health, agrees with NACI's recommendations, but he says there's also an argument to be made for vaccinating those more likely to spread the virus first — including people with jobs in the community that can't work from home."There is quite a vigorous debate and ... quite a varied set of arguments about who should go first and the priority list," Upshur said. "And that's because people have very deep and different intuitions about what fairness means, and which fundamental values should illuminate the distribution of scarce resources." Upshur says prioritization, which will fall to the provinces and territories to determine, will depend on the goal of the vaccination strategy.If the main objective is to ensure economic recovery by limiting community spread, essential workers might get vaccinated first, Upshur explained. But if the goal is to limit deaths by preventing our most vulnerable populations from getting COVID, older people, especially those in long-term care, should jump to the front of the line."Each one of those aims leads to favouring a different kind of population," he said. "So priority-setting is a complex task."But because there's going to be a limited number of doses available, choices will have to be made soon."Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that up to 249,000 doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine will arrive on Canadian soil by the end of the month, with the first doses delivered next week.Canada, which is currently reviewing several vaccine candidates, has purchased 20 million doses of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine, and is set to receive four million doses — enough to inoculate two million people — by March.Kelly Grindrod, a researcher and associate professor at the University of Waterloo's School of Pharmacy, says the concept of prioritizing the COVID vaccine may be hard for some to grasp. Grindrod agrees with NACI's recommendations of where the first stage of vaccine distribution should go, but subsequent stages of rollout become trickier.Certain individuals may perceive themselves to be in a higher-risk group and therefore more deserving of a vaccine than others, she said, and it will be hard to determine for example, if a 50-year-old with asthma who works from home should be vaccinated over a taxi driver."What I always say is: if you don't know anybody who's gotten the virus, you're probably one of the last to get the vaccine," Grindrod said. "So that might mean you have a middle-class income and you don't work in a factory or a grocery store."If you're feeling like COVID is something that's not really in your world, that's probably a suggestion that you're fairly low-risk for getting the virus in the first place."Grindrod says it's important to remember that immunizing the majority of Canadians will take a long time. The first stage alone could take months, she said, estimating that Canada will be able to vaccinate roughly three million people (in a country of 38 million) in the first quarter of 2021. "If we're all vaccinated by next Christmas, we will have done a great job," she said.Upshur agrees that getting to herd immunity will take time, but having multiple vaccine candidates reporting high efficacy rates should speed up that process — at least in theory."As exciting as it is to have these studies showing really good results, there's still a lot more questions," he said. "There's a lot more that needs to be done before we can be sure that these vaccines are going to achieve the goals that we hope."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2020. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
The B.C. government is investing up to $3 million in a grant program to help increase sustainable and regenerative food production in the province. The agritech grant program is part of the province’s economic recovery plan to accelerate the growth of B.C.’s agritech sector and help the province’s agritech companies grow and develop technologies to increase domestic food production. Grants of up to $500,000 are available to B.C.-based agritech and agrifood companies or agricultural producers, and the program is accepting applications till Feb. 12. “With the use of technology, they will be better equipped to enhance B.C.’s food security, strengthen our supply chains and keep people healthy,” Ravi Kahlon, minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation, said in a press release. Agricultural technology, or agritech, aims to improve farming by supporting regenerative agriculture and farm management practices that promote conservation and farmland rehabilitation. Examples include agricultural biotechnology, farm robotics, drones, satellite photography and sensors, automated irrigation, pest and disease prediction or soil management, phase tracking, weather forecasts and lighting and heat control. Lenore Newman, director of the Food and Agriculture Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley, says agritech will play a large part in climate change mitigation and adaptation over time. “One of the only ways we can really make a dent in climate change is in the food system. And to me, that's about using agritech to localize production year-round, in intensive methods, so we can return more of the planet's land to primary forests,” Newman said. The agritech grant program will also benefit farmers and agricultural producers, technology companies, private investors, academia and all levels of government involved in food production, processing and distribution, thereby improving the farming industry. Countries like the Netherlands, Singapore, Taiwan and Israel are currently leading the agritech industry. And Newman believes B.C. has great potential to join the ranks. “We have a lot of resources, we’ve got great people, we're a desirable destination for big tech companies. We need to move away from clinging to the past in agriculture and really embrace what we can do in the future,” she said. Investment in agritech will also redefine what it means to be a farmer and help a new generation of farmers adapt to a high-paced, rapidly evolving agriculture industry. “I hope it isn't a one-off, but that we see a series of investments because the jurisdictions that really lead this are going to play a key role in building a sustainable food system,” Newman added. “And I really want to see B.C. be a part of that.” However, in a report prepared by the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, critics state purported advances in the agritech sector to mitigate climate change are unexamined and unsubstantiated and, therefore, have to be applied to farming with great caution. In B.C. greenhouses, most emissions are associated with heating uninsulated structures during winter. Therefore, vertical farming for food production, which takes place in a highly controlled environment, can increase the demand for energy and its dependence in the agricultural sector. It also reveals that soil-based production systems have consistently shown far superior environmental performance when compared to high-tech, soil-less production in terms of land, water and energy use as well as carbon and water footprints. For example, greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel-heated hydroponic greenhouses have been found to be about six times higher than emissions from soil-based farming operations producing equivalent products. The report mentions that technological advances can improve agricultural practices and efficiencies and also lead to greater food production in B.C., but the primary cause of food insecurity is poverty and economic inequality. Therefore, it calls for food security strategies that can address poverty and economic inequality. Abra Brynne, policy advisor for FarmFolk CityFolk, says farmers should identify their own needs, not tech companies with a pecuniary interest in selling their own products. She has seen farmers all over the province innovating every single day by adapting what they've got and seeking out new technologies in response to the particular circumstances of their farm. “There are certainly common issues and needs that arise across the province and across different sectors. It's really important that it (agritech) not be sort of an externally formulated concept but something that's genuinely going to meet a proven need on the farm,” she added. Priya Bhat / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Priya Bhat, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Le bilan quotidien de ce mardi 26 janvier mentionne qu’il n’y a aucun cas suppléentaire dans la région, et 3 guérisons supplémentaires. Le nombre de cas actifs est actuellement de 6 et il y a 1 hospitalisation en cours. NOTE : Confinement du Québec et instauration d’un couvre-feu entre 20 h et 5 h pour la période du 9 janvier au 8 février 2021 : Restez à la maison et consultez la page Confinement du Québec pour connaître les détails. Vous pouvez aussi consulter toute l’information sur la COVID‑19. *En date du 26 janvier 2021 – 11 h Nombre de cas confirmés : 340 Répartition par MRC : Cas guéris : 331 (+3) Décès : 3 Cas actifs : 6 (-3) Cas actifs provenant d’une autre région : 0 Hospitalisation en cours : 1 Éclosions en cours : Éclosions terminées récemment : Vaccination contre la COVID-19 :Pour consulter le nombre de doses administrées sur la Côte-Nord (Les données concernant la vaccination sont disponibles chaque jour dès 13 h.)Karine Lachance, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord
Ani Di Franco, "Revolutionary Love” (Righteous Babe Records) Pioneering folkie activist Ani Di Franco is a standout instrumentalist whose guitar could kill fascists. Alas, on “Revolutionary Love,” her six-string doesn’t play a major role — or many notes. Not that Di Franco has gone mellow. With characteristic passion on her first studio album since 2017, she makes the personal universal, and the political personal. Her title cut is a seven-minute pledge to propel social movements with love and forgiveness, the message underscored by a slow-burn soul groove. Elsewhere Di Franco quotes Michelle Obama, skewers an ex-president and calls for resilience in the wake of depressing news headlines. Such topics are mixed with couplets about personal pain and bliss, sometimes within the same song. The best of “Revolutionary Love” is very good. Di Franco's acoustic guitar is most prominent on “Metropolis,” and it's beautiful — a love ballad with shimmering reeds that evoke her description of “fog lifting off the bay.” The equally compelling “Chloroform” laments domestic dysfunction as a string quartet creates dissonance of its own. Elsewhere Di Franco blends elements of folk, jazz and R&B, and makes music suitable for a rally. She's at her most politically vociferous on “Do or Die,” singing about “Yankee Doodle Dandy” to a Latin beat. Di Francophiles will find it positively patriotic. Steven Wine, The Associated Press
Plusieurs pays ont pris l’engagement de réduire leurs émissions de gaz à effet de serre à zéro d’ici le milieu du siècle. Mais de nouvelles recherches montrent que ce n’est pas suffisant.
A new provincial task force has been set up to determine how transportation will work in Southwestern Ontario going forward. The Southwestern Ontario Transportation Task Force is being led by London Mayor Ed Holder, with Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens as vice-chair. The committee has been tasked with advising Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney on transportation, roads and transit needs in the region. That includes the prioritization of a draft master plan released last year. That plan includes 40 recommendations including widening Hwy. 3 to Leamington and improving local public transit and train service between communities. The Ministry of Transportation confirmed to CBC News that preliminary work is underway along parts of Hwy. 3 to widen the road. "Windsor is the focal point of so much goods movement, but we are also part of a broader area which is increasingly facing inter-regional transit and transportation challenges," Dilkens said in a statement.
If supplies of COVID-19 Pfizer vaccines to Manitoba don’t resume, appointments at the Brandon vaccination supersite may need to be postponed. That’s according to Dr. Joss Reimer, a member of the province’s vaccination task force, who joined Dr. Brent Roussin for the daily COVID-19 update on Monday. "As you already know, last week, we were informed about a third reduction in our Pfizer vaccine shipments. Manitoba has been responsible in managing our vaccine supply, but we continue to see the effects of the supply reductions," said Reimer. The planned Feb. 1 supply dropped from 5,850 to 2,340 doses. "We had to stop making appointments for the supersites, both in Winnipeg and in Brandon. So far, we’ve been able to weather the supply disruptions better than most other jurisdictions based on the strategic approach that Manitoba has taken. However, we’re now in a position where we’re still concerned about ongoing supply and may have to postpone some of our appointments if the supplies don’t resume. Reimer said the province will receive an update from the federal government — which is responsible for vaccine deployment to provinces and territories — on Friday. The postponement decision will depend on what the province receives from the federal government on Feb. 8. "We will update Manitobans as soon as possible, most likely on Friday, to let them know if we are expecting that shipment to come in and what the implications are for people who have appointments coming up beginning next week," said Reimer. "We are going to be contacting everybody who has an appointment coming up to let them know about this unknown, as well. So, for now, we’re asking people to plan to keep their appointments for next week and the week after, but to keep your eye on the bulletins and on the website." As for the Northern health region, which has seen half of Manitoba’s new case counts, vaccines are headed up. Reimer said the phone line opened Monday morning to book appointments for the supersite in Thompson. Immunizers will begin putting needles in arms beginning Feb. 1. "This is a slight adjustment from our original plan because instead of using Pfizer, we’re using Moderna temporarily in Thompson," said Reimer. "Also building on feedback from the Northern health region, we will be scheduling appointments for eligible workers in The Pas and Flin Flon for the week of Feb. 8." Vaccination teams are on track to complete first doses at personal care homes by the end of this week — a week ahead of schedule — with enough doses to deliver a second round beginning the following week. The province also plans to release a priority list of all Manitobans Wednesday, with a tentative schedule for the entire vaccine rollout, which will depend on vaccine supply. "The dates that will be attached to that list will have to remain quite fluid because we still don’t know exactly when to expect the Pfizer numbers to change. But we will come up with at least the sequence for Manitobans," said Reimer. Reimer said, so far, there is a 70 to 80 per cent uptake in eligible health-care workers. She said there are various reasons some are taking the vaccine, including having health conditions, such as autoimmune conditions. That made them ineligible until the enhanced process was put in place. "Some people may have other health conditions or allergies that made them concerned and want to seek some opinion from their health-care provider before booking an appointment. Those folks may be in the process right now of discussing with their health-care provider whether or not the vaccine is the right decision," said Reimer. "We’ve also heard of health-care providers who wanted to let other people go first. They felt that their exposure or their own health status was such that they didn’t want to take up an appointment, when there’s other people who might be at higher risk because of their own health, their age." Reimer added 70 to 80 per cent is a high uptake rate for an immunization campaign. In personal care homes so far, the uptake is more than 90 per cent. Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
Orangeville Hydro plans to borrow $1 million to sustain its capital works plan, half the amount it originally planned, as it attempts to cut costs. A report, presented to Grand Valley council on Jan. 12, states this is done to fund regulatory-related payments, such as increased Hydro One low voltage, network and connection charges. “Historically, Orangeville has provided safe and reliable and cost-effective power to our customers, and our business plan shows that,” said Rob Koekkoek, president of Orangeville Hydro. A $2-million loan was previously budgeted in 2021, but with some expenditures deferred due to COVID-19, as well as a corporate-wide attempt to reduce expense, including financing costs, the forecasted loan was reduced to $1 million. The business plan calls for another $1 million increase in borrowing in 2022 and $2 million in borrowing in 2024. In terms of revenue, the total cost per customer is calculated as the sum of Orangeville Hydro’s capital and operating costs and dividing this cost figured by the total number of customers it serves. Orangeville Hydro’s cost performance increased in 2019 to $568 per customer, above the cost performance in 2018 at $551 per customer. Koekkoek states the number of the company’s customers go up, as the population continues to grow, and infrastructure is constantly upgraded. Orangeville Hydro’s service areas have a population of about 32,000 and are expected to grow to 42,540 by 2036, according to forecasts contained within the Dufferin County Official Plan. Koekkoek said he understands the devastating impacts COVID-19 may have had on customers' budgets and he discussed a way for them to save money. “For businesses and residential that are struggling with their bills, that have been economically impacted by COVID-19, we have the energy response program available for residential and business customers,” he said. “They can get, basically a rebate, on their electricity bills to help them with their costs if they are falling behind.” Joshua Santos, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Orangeville Banner
There’s a small shop that sells healthy lotions, potions and pills on Mill Street. Tucked inside, behind the till and a thick sheet of Plexiglas, sits Essa Mayor Sandie Macdonald. She talks fast and has handy notes about the pandemic and how it will cost each household worth $500,000 another $6.87 per month ($82.64 annually) on their municipal taxes this year. Feeling the pinch of a $680,000 shortfall, Macdonald said staff and council had little choice but to approve a three per cent tax increase on the 2021 budget. “When you take a budget and start off that far behind, it is a challenge,” Macdonald said, from her Naturally For You shop, where she’s down two staff members due to the pandemic. “We tried to take a proactive approach to control our budget expenditures.” Macdonald says the shortfall consists of three things: $180,000 due to lost parks and recreation revenue from lack of rentals; another $250,000 in lost revenue in the planning and economic development office due to shortfalls blamed largely on COVID-19; and another $180,000 lost on bank interest on the town’s investment savings, when interest rates dropped from around seven per cent to a much lower rate. In the 2021 budget, cuts were made to the library’s renovations and staff’s hours, as well as the spraying of calcium only once during the summer to keep dust down on work sites. Simcoe County and neighbouring Springwater Township have announced zero increases on their 2021 budgets. Essa Township — where Statistics Canada says the average household income is $87,543 — will hardly feel the pinch. Yet with the costs of heat, hydro and insurance increasing for not just homes, but the township as well, Macdonald said this isn’t the time to take on loans to cover the cost of the shortfall and possibly rob from next year’s budget. “It’s a needs not wants budget,” agreed Essa CAO Colleen Healey-Dowdall. Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
It was a bit chilly as Dave Vettese, his son Matteo and daughter Maya were dashing around an ice rink Tuesday afternoon. The young family was one of many laughing joyously as all six skating ponds opened up at the Island Lake Conservation Area for the season. “Outdoor skating on a natural lake or pond is different from a man-made rink in terms of that skating may not always be available,” said Sandy Camplin of Credit Valley Conservation (CVC). “If we get warmer weather or certain precipitation, snow can build up and create slush around the rinks.” Crews have to monitor the conditions of the ice surface, plow snow off and ensure there’s no flooding. Three rinks are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, while three other ones are open for a $20 reservation. To book, visit the conservation authority’s website at CVC.ca or call 905-877-1120. No same-day reservations can be made. “We’re asking people limit their time to an hour if there is anybody waiting for a rink because there is only the five people limit,” said Camplin. “If you are at the rink with someone outside of your household, we ask you to wear a mask while on the rink as well, because you can’t guarantee your proximity if someone happens to skate by you.” The authority planned to have another surprise in store, but weather conditions have not been favourable. “We are working on a skating trail around our new natural playground, but winter has not been super co-operative to us this year with the lack of snow,” said Camplin. “That is still under construction right now. Hockey is not allowed, at this time, as all municipalities in the province remained under lockdown. “That can change depending on what the province says with certain advisories and recommendations,” said Camplin. “We’re following everything the government has put in place." Residents are able to leave their home to skate on the pond as exercise is considered essential by the provincial government. Joshua Santos, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Orangeville Banner
Calgary's real estate board is predicting home sales, prices and new listings will be on the rise in 2021, but their growth will be restricted by the continued impacts of COVID-19 and reduced demand for oil. The Calgary Real Estate Board says in its annual outlook report that overall sales in the Albertan city and its surrounding neighbourhoods will reach 16,928, a five per cent increase from 16,151 in 2020. CREB is forecasting that prices will edge up by 1.3 per cent to hit $423,307. While new listings fell by nearly nine per cent last year and resulted in the slowest year for new listings since 2002, CREB is expecting they will rise in 2021 as owners who delayed sales during the early stages of the pandemic put their homes on the market. CREB says the market will be helped along by low lending rates and pent-up demand for homes, but persistently high unemployment could spell trouble for the region. CREB believes the region's housing supply would see big gains if layoffs continue and people need to adjust their housing to match their new employment situation. The board warns that consolidation in the energy sector is expected to continue, which would hamper employment and housing activity in the higher price ranges. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press