Nova Scotia expands vaccination program delivering first shots to health workers at Cape Breton Regional Hospital.
Nova Scotia expands vaccination program delivering first shots to health workers at Cape Breton Regional Hospital.
The A-list is back. How A-list? Try Lady Gaga and J. Lo. Inauguration officials announced on Thursday that the glittery duo would appear in person on Jan. 20, with Gaga singing the national anthem as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, and Jennifer Lopez giving a musical performance. Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen will offer remote performances, and Eva Longoria and and Kerry Washington will introduce segments of the event. Later that day, Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating Biden’s inauguration. Other performers include Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Ant Clemons. Despite a raging pandemic that is forcing most inaugural events online, it was a sign that Hollywood was back and eager to embrace the new president-elect four years after many big names stayed away from the inauguration of President Donald Trump, hugely unpopular in Hollywood. The question: How would the star wattage play across the country as Biden seeks to unite a bruised nation? Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant and former Reagan administration official, predicted reaction would fall “along tribal lines.” “I think it all comes down to the reinforcement of pre-existing beliefs,” Dezenhall said. “If you’re a Biden supporter, it’s nice to see Lady Gaga perform.” But, he added, “what rallied Trump supporters was the notion of an uber-elite that had nothing to do at all with them and that they couldn’t relate to.” Presidential historian Tevi Troy quipped that the starry Gaga-J. Lo lineup was not A-list, but D-list — "for Democratic.” "When Democrats win you get the more standard celebrities,” said Troy, author of “What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House.” “With Republicans you tend to get country music stars and race-car drivers." Referring to Lady Gaga’s outspoken support for the Biden-Harris ticket, he said he was nostalgic for the days when celebrities were not so political. “Call me a hopeless romantic, but I liked the old days when Bob Hope or Frank Sinatra would come to these events and they were not overtly political,” he said. Still, he said, Biden’s unity message won’t be derailed. “In the end, I don’t think having Lady Gaga or J. Lo is all that divisive,” he said. Attendance at the inauguration will be severely limited, due to both the pandemic and fears of continued violence, following last week’s storming of the Capitol. Outside the official events, one of the more prominent galas each inauguration is The Creative Coalition's quadrennial ball, a benefit for arts education. This year, the ball is entirely virtual. But it is star-studded nonetheless: The event, which will involve food being delivered simultaneously to attendees in multiple cities, will boast celebrity hosts including Jason Alexander, David Arquette, Matt Bomer, Christopher Jackson, Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Keegan Michael-Key, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Patinkin and many others. Robin Bronk, CEO of the non-partisan arts advocacy group, said she's been deluged with celebrities eager to participate in some way. The event typically brings in anywhere from $500,000 to $2.5 million, and this year the arts community is struggling like never before. Bronk noted that planning has been a challenge, given not only the recent political upheaval in the country but also the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic. Given all that, did a celebration make sense? “I was thinking about this when we were trying to phrase the invitation,” Bronk said. “Do we celebrate? This is the most serious time of our lives.” But, she said, especially at a time when the arts community is suffering, it’s crucial to shine a spotlight and recognize that “the right to bear arts is not a red or blue issue. One of the reasons we have this ball is that we have to ensure the arts are not forgotten." The Presidential Inaugural Committee also announced Thursday that the invocation will be given by the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia. There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware. On the same platform, Biden sat in 2013 behind pop star Beyoncé as she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama's second inauguration. James Taylor sang “America the Beautiful,” and Kelly Clarkson sang “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.” At Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the anthem was performed by 16-year-old singer Jackie Evancho. A number of top artists declined the opportunity to perform at the festivities, and one Broadway star, Jennifer Holliday, even said she’d received death threats before she pulled out of her planned appearance. There was indeed star power in 2017, but most of it was centred at the Women’s March on Washington, where attendees included Madonna, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Emma Watson and many others. This year, signs are that Obama-era celebrities are returning. Dezenhall said that in the end, it's logical for organizers to go with the biggest talent. “Lady Gaga is as big as you can get, and she is very talented,” he said. “If I were being inaugurated and I could have Lady Gaga, I would take it.” Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
A proposed wastewater extension project in the Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) could cost Camperdown-area residents $50,000 each. “This service extension will allow for the replacement of older septic systems adjacent to Georgian Bay,” said Shawn Carey, director of operations for TBM at a public meeting held on Monday evening. Details for the project are outlined in TBM’s 2021 draft budget under the Camperdown Service Area – Wastewater Servicing project. The project is expected to be rolled out in two phases – the first phase will see the installation of a wastewater system on Bayview Avenue, Fieldcrest Court and Lakeshore Road, with engineering to begin in 2021 and construction starting in 2023. Phase two will see wastewater infrastructure installed along Hoover Lane, Tesky Drive and Gibson Way. Engineering will start in 2023 and construction is forecast to begin in 2025. Phase one of the project has a projected budget of $3,310,000. And, as outlined in the draft budget, $3,060,000 of that expense is expected to be covered by the property owners on Bayview, Fieldcrest and Lakeshore Road. Although in its initial stages, the project is asking each resident on these streets to fork over $53,800 in order to move from an existing septic system to the municipal sewer service . “The funding request is the second-highest of all identified projects in the wastewater plan from 2019. And, I don't understand why,” said Larry Bentley, Bayview Avenue resident. Area residents gathered virtually at a public meeting held on Monday evening to voice their concerns over the project's affordability, communications and level of service. “The town affordability policy is 10 per cent of the household income, and so the maximum amount allowed was $42,130. This is a non-starter at $53,800,” Bentley continued. TBM’s affordability policy was created in 2017 to ensure there was a limit on how much expense could be offloaded from the municipality to a resident through their tax bill. The policy outlines that if the annual household cost of extending services is equal-to or greater-than 10 per cent of the median after-tax, single household income, the project would be deemed unaffordable for both the town and the benefitting property owners. “If a project came in over what is outlined in the policy, council and the public would have to look at it and ask, is this affordable? Does the town have to put money towards it? Or perhaps, the project could be approved over the affordability policy, if the residents so chose and wanted it,” said Ruth Prince, director of finance and IT for TBM. Prince noted that impacted residents can pay for the expense upfront, finance it through the town or look at options to defer. Carey explained that the project has been pursued for several reasons, including environmental concerns. “It can be an environmental concern, depending on the state of some of the septic systems throughout our shoreline. It would be difficult for tile beds and those septics to operate properly, depending on the age of the structure of the system, when we have a perched water table through high water levels,” he said. However, according to Bill McKetrick, a Bayview Street resident, nearly half of the homes on his street are new or have upgraded their septic systems within the past seven years. “Forty-two per cent of the homes on the street have brand new septic systems,” McKetrick said. “They have made sizeable financial commitments and investments in their property with a new septic system. I can't see why these homes should be forced to undertake another financial investment and make their system obsolete.” According to Carey, TBM has a policy in regards to homeowners who have previously invested infrastructure. The policy outlines exceptions for those who have undertaken the upgrades within the past five years. McKetrick said he doesn’t understand why the town and council are putting such an “unnecessary financial hardship on so many residents for something that they don't want and, in all appearances, don't need.” John Packwood, who owns a lot on Bayview Drive but has yet to build his home, said he was also concerned about the affordability of the project, but more importantly, would like to see the town explore a plan to see cost-sharing with the lots in the area that have yet to be developed. “If there's additional development that occurs in our area, and others are able to benefit from tapping into the sewer system for the first time, they need to pay their fair share. And then maybe there's a rebate that goes back somehow to the investors of this public infrastructure,” Packwood, suggested. Bentley agreed, stating that under this proposed plan, “the vacant property is being serviced for development by the existing property owners.” Plans for the expansion were initially brought to council in 2019, and direct notice of the project was sent to residents on Dec. 21, 2020. “We are very preliminary at this point,” Carey said. “There is more to come as the project details unfold but we felt it was better to be upfront with residents and say here's our very preliminary cost estimate versus not stating that in the letter.” TBM CEO, Shawn Everitt added that the town is making an effort to communicate plans around capital projects earlier than it has in the past in order to better engage the public through the entire process. “This is preliminary. No engineering has been done. This is basically giving residents, all members of the public and council the information that staff are proposing this project to move forward,” Everitt said. A staff report from the public meeting held on Jan. 11 is expected to be presented to the council by the end of January. In the report, staff will explore a number of requests from the public, including the suggestions of exploring septic tank inspections in areas where the age of the structure or environmental issues are a concern. TBM council will vote on how to proceed with the Camperdown service area wastewater project at a council meeting scheduled for Feb. 8. Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his entire Cabinet resigned Friday to take political responsibility for a scandal involving investigations into child welfare payments that wrongly labeled thousands of parents as fraudsters. In a nationally televised speech, Rutte said he had informed King Willem-Alexander of his decision and pledged that his government would continue work to compensate affected parents as quickly as possible and to battle the coronavirus. “We are of one mind that if the whole system has failed, we all must take responsibility, and that has led to the conclusion that I have just offered the king, the resignation of the entire Cabinet,” Rutte said. The move was seen as largely symbolic; Rutte’s government will remain in office in a caretaker mode until a new coalition is formed after a March 17 election in the Netherlands. The resignation brings to an end a decade in office for Rutte, although his party is expected to win the election, putting him first in line to begin talks to form the next government. If he succeeds in forming a new coalition, Rutte would most likely again become prime minister. The Netherlands is the third European country thrown into political uncertainty this week in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. In Estonia, the government resigned over a corruption scandal, while Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte’s governing coalition is at risk of collapse after a small partner party withdrew its support. Rutte said earlier this week that his government would be able to keep taking tough policy decisions in the battle against the coronavirus even if it were in caretaker mode. The Netherlands is in a tough lockdown until at least Feb. 9, and the government is considering imposing an overnight curfew amid fears about new, more contagious variants of the virus. “To the Netherlands I say: Our struggle against the coronavirus will continue,” Rutte said. On Thursday, the leader of the Dutch opposition Labor Party stepped down because he was minister of social affairs in a governing coalition led by Rutte when the country’s tax office implemented a tough policy of tracking down fraud with child welfare. Lodewijk Asscher’s decision put further pressure on Rutte ahead of Friday's Cabinet meeting. Ministers were to decide on their reaction to a scathing report issued last month, titled “Unprecedented Injustice,” that said the tax office policies violated “fundamental principles of the rule of law.” The report also criticized the government for the way it provided information to parliament about the scandal. Many wrongfully accused parents were plunged into debt when tax officials demanded repayment of payments. The government has in the past apologized for the tax office’s methods and in March earmarked 500 million euros ($607 million) to compensate more than 20,000 parents. One of those parents waited near parliament as the Cabinet met and said she wanted it to resign. “It's important for me because it is the government acknowledging, ‘We have made a mistake and we are taking responsibility,’ because it's quite something what happened to us,” Janet Ramesar told The Associated Press. Rutte plans to lead his conservative People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy into the March election, and polls suggest it will win the most seats. That would put Rutte, who has been in office for a decade at the head of three different coalitions, first in line to attempt to form the next ruling coalition. Deputy Prime Minister Kajsa Ollongren, who serves as interior minister, said as she entered Friday's meeting that “it is very important to be accountable and also to show responsibility in the political sense, and we are going to talk about that in the Council of Ministers today.” Mike Corder, The Associated Press
On Agenda Middle East we speak to political commentator and best-selling author, Fareed Zakaria about the takes from his new book: 'Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World'. We also delve into what the future holds for the Middle East.View on euronews
MILAN — Italy’s fashion chamber is opening on Friday the first Milan Fashion Week that won't have VIPS populating runway front rows, as the reality of Italy's persistent resurgence of the coronavirus has forced an all-virtual format for presenting menswear previews. The National Fashion Chamber maintained a live element during the July and September fashion weeks in Milan. But after planning to stage live shows with guests during this round, Fendi, Etro and outdoor brand Kway announced their events will be livestreamed from behind closed doors. Dolce & Gabbana cancelled its runway show entirely, citing restrictions in place due to COVID-19. The other 36 participating fashion houses on the pared-down calendar -- including Zegna and Prada -- will all have digital-only presentations. “We did everything to preserve some runway shows, but the anti-COVID norms in this moment don’t allow us to have guests, and therefore, the runway shows will be closed-door,” fashion chamber president Carlo Capasa said. The organizers of Paris Fashion Week plan to hold audience-free men’s and haute couture shows later this month. Prospects for Milan's February shows of mostly womenswear previews remain unclear; the Italian government on Friday announced a new round of virus-control restrictions through Feb. 15 that extend a ban on travelling between regions. Capasa acknowledged that closed-door shows deprive fashion of some of its energy. But the pandemic, which has all but shut down global travel and closed retail stores for long periods , has made fashion houses quickly update their digital communication strategies and e-commerce platforms, he said. There is some evidence the investments are paying off, with one-quarter of online luxury sales last year to consumers who went high-end for the first-time, Capasa said. The Italian fashion chamber found that 45 million people streamed Milan Fashion Week shows in September, a number that Capasa said was beyond his wildest dreams a year ago. Still, the fashion industry is in dire financial straits. The Italian industry recorded a 25% drop in revenues to 50.5 billion euros ($61.2 billion) in 2020 compared with 2019, with exports down 22% to nearly 43 billion euros ($52.1 billion). A more drastic decline was avoided thanks to so-called “revenge shopping” in China, with eager consumers returning to luxury shopping as soon as lockdowns expired, and moves toward e-commerce and a bump in global luxury sales in October, Capasa said. In Europe, where governments have ordered new lockdowns, the market remained weakest. Capasa said the industry, one of the biggest generators of Italy's gross domestic product, is seeking a share of the government’s recovery funds to help improve innovation and to keep small artisanal businesses from failing. He said he hopes to see a gradual return to normality in fashion show calendars and travel this summer, as vaccines reduce the threat of the coronavirus. “For now, we need to do the best we can, in the moment we are living,’’ Capasa said. Colleen Barry, The Associated Press
Ce n’est rien de moins qu’une onzième victoire consécutive qu’a mérité il y a quelques jours le groupe Robert, de Boucherville, en raflant encore une fois le « TCA Fleet Awards » C’est évidemment avec beaucoup de fierté que Groupe Robert, spécialisé dans l’industrie du camionnage et du transport, s’est vu décerné le premier prix de sa catégorie pour une 11e année consécutive. Le prix a été créé par la Truckload carriers association, qui regroupe plus de 200 000 camionneurs en Amérique du Nord. Ces prix identifient les entreprises de camionnage qui ont démontré un engagement sans précédent envers la sécurité. Groupe Robert est donc l’entreprise de sa catégorie avec le ratio de fréquence d’accidents le plus bas par million de miles parcourus depuis 11 ans. « La sécurité étant au centre de toutes nos initiatives, ce prix est à l’honneur de tous nos employés » a indiqué la direction du groupe lors de l’annonce de leur nomination Le groupe Robert, qui emploie environ 3500 personnes, est bien implanté à Boucherville, sur le boulevard Marie-Victorin avec un important centre de distribution et de transit de camion. Il possède également d’importantes installations à Rougemont, là même ou la famille Robert possède aussi un domaine viticole. François Laramée, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped nine of her most trusted allies in the House to argue the case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats, all of whom are lawyers and many of whom have deep experience investigating the president, face the arduous task of convincing skeptical Senate Republicans to convict Trump. A single article of impeachment — for “incitement of insurrection” — was approved by the House on Wednesday, one week after a violent mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. At the time, lawmakers were counting the votes that cemented Trump’s election defeat. As members of the House who were in the Capitol when it was attacked — several hiding under seats as rioters beat on the doors of the chamber — the Democrats are also witnesses to what they charge is a crime. So are the Senate jurors. “This is a case where the jurors were also victims, and so whether it was those who voted in the House last night or those in the Senate who will have to weigh in on this, you don’t have to tell anyone who was in the building twice what it was like to be terrorized,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the managers. It is unclear when the trial will start. Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. It could be as soon as next week, on President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office. The managers plan to argue at trial that Trump incited the riot, delaying the congressional certification of the electoral vote count by inciting an angry mob to harm members of Congress. Some of the rioters were recorded saying they wanted to find Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the count. Others had zip ties that could be used as handcuffs hanging on their clothes. “The American people witnessed that,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the managers. “That amounts to high crimes and misdemeanours.” None of the impeachment managers argued the case in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when the Senate acquitted the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 after he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family while withholding military aid to the country. Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, another manager, says the nine prosecutors plan to present a serious case and “finish the job” that the House started. A look at Pelosi’s prosecution team in Trump’s historic second impeachment: REP. JAMIE RASKIN, MARYLAND Pelosi appointed Raskin, a former constitutional law professor and prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, as lead manager. In a week of dramatic events and stories, Raskin’s stands out: The day before the Capitol riots, Raskin buried his 25-year-old son, Tommy, after he killed himself on New Year’s Eve. “You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in the Congress” than Raskin, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead manager during Trump’s first trial. He worked closely with Raskin on that impeachment investigation. “I know that part of what gives him strength to take on this burden that he now carries is knowing that this is something that would be enormously meaningful to his son.” REP. DIANA DEGETTE, COLORADO DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to to control the passions on the floor.” She says she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” she says. REP. DAVID CICILLINE, RHODE ISLAND Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence and public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the Judiciary panel. He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of three original authors of the article that the House approved on Wednesday. He and California Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning, writing that “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.” REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, TEXAS Castro is a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs panels, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump's handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and came to Congress, where he is in his fifth term. Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, is the former mayor of San Antonio and served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development. Julian Castro ran in the Democratic primary for president last year. REP. ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA Swalwell also serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary panels and was deeply involved in congressional probes of Trump’s Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019. “The case that I think resonates the most with the American people and hopefully the Senate is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said. REP. TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs panels. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. DEL. STACEY PLASKETT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Because she represents a U.S. territory, not a state, Plaskett does not have voting rights and was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her legal experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the Justice Department — and as one of Raskin's former law students. “As an African American, as a woman, seeing individuals storming our most sacred place of democracy, wearing anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy logos on their bodies and wreaking the most vile and hateful things left not just those people of colour who were in the room traumatized, but so many people of colour around this country," she said Friday. REP. JOE NEGUSE, COLORADO Neguse, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House Judiciary Committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office. “This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said Thursday. “Clearly the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.” REP. MADELEINE DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA Like Neguse, Dean was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is a former lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment" with a conviction. “I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma," Dean said. "And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.” Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
The order has been delivered, and now it’s up to Niagara’s police and bylaw officers to enforce it. The province’s new stay-at-home order came into effect just after midnight on Thursday, requiring people to remain at home unless leaving for “essential trips” to access medical services, pick up groceries, exercise outdoors or go to work. In multiple responses to questions from Niagara This Week about what enforcement of the order will look like across Niagara, “collaboration” was the keyword as municipalities, police, the Region and public health work together to hammer out details of how the stay-at-home order will be enforced. The province has handed down additional power to police and bylaw officers, allowing for officers to disperse gatherings over the allowable limit of five people and to order temporary closures of premises in violation of the order. The Niagara Regional Police Service has received “clarification and direction” from the province about changes to regulations and enforcement during what is now Ontario’s second state of emergency, communications manager Stephanie Sabourin said in an emailed response. Sabourin did not provide specifics but said “there is no one correct answer” to what enforcement will look like because circumstances vary with each incident. “When appropriate, [officers] will educate individuals on the legislation and the compliance requirements. When and where appropriate to do so, the legislation will be enforced with fines and penalties,” Sabourin said. “The service is working diligently to ensure our members understand their responsibilities and the limitations of their authority to enforce this order,” Sabourin said, without providing specific detail on what those responsibilities or limitations are. Joe Couto, spokesperson for the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, said during a phone call Thursday, that a government memo was sent to police chiefs across the province on Wednesday giving clarity to police powers. Police cannot stop a person exclusively to find out whether they are complying with the stay-at-home order, Couto explained. “It’s very clear we don’t have those powers,” he said of the province’s memo. “We wouldn’t be just randomly pulling people off the street and going, ‘Why are you here?’” According to Sabourin, police are also not permitted to stop a vehicle “for the sole purpose of determining whether a person is acting in compliance” with the order. Since the early stages of the pandemic, staff have been redeployed from the Region’s business licensing and tobacco enforcement teams to enforce the province’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and the Re-Opening Ontario Act. An educational approach to enforcement of the stay-at-home order will still be the common approach across Niagara’s municipalities, with some shifting attitudes as reviews of the order are ongoing. In Lincoln, a security company has been retained to “assist with monitoring of a park space that contains an outdoor ice rink to disperse gatherings,” according to communications manager, Liliana Busnello. St. Catharines has made enforcement of pandemic-related orders a priority for bylaw officers. In Fort Erie, bylaw patrols have already increased 33 per cent since entering into the red stage, said Town enforcement manager, Paul Chudoba, in an email. Niagara-on-the-Lake’s community engagement coordinator, Lauren Kruitbosch, said decisions have yet to be made about whether by-law enforcement efforts will be increased but noted council has appointed staff from other departments to supplement officers if needed and that “the province is expecting enforcement at this point.” In an emailed statement to Niagara This Week, Niagara’s acting medical officer of health, Dr. Mustafa Hirji, said he believes “further measures are needed to nudge the population to stay home, break off social contacts outside of one’s household, and stop the spread of COVID-19.” Hirji noted similar orders have been used with success elsewhere, but said success in Niagara will depend on “whether the public voluntarily adheres to the order” and the province effectively enforcing the order. Questions submitted by Niagara This Week to the Premier’s Office about the stay-at-home order went without responses at the time of publishing. Jordan Snobelen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara this Week
Signal said on Friday it was experiencing technical difficulties and working to restore the service, as it dealt with a flood of new users after rival messaging app WhatsApp announced a controversial change in privacy terms. Along with another encrypted app, Telegram, Signal has been the main beneficiary of online outrage around the policy changes announced by WhatsApp last week. Telegram said on Wednesday it had surpassed 500 million active users globally.
South River and Machar residents should have a better idea over the next few weeks what will happen to the ice at their arena in the wake of the province's 28-day stay-at-home order. South River council will discuss the issue at its Jan. 25 meeting. South River clerk-administrator Don McArthur says the municipality developed COVID-19 protocols for the arena's four user groups that were working prior to the latest lockdown. The arena was used by the Junior A Spartans, boys' minor hockey, girls' minor hockey and figure skating. The protocols were explained to the users last fall and McArthur says when the arena opened in October, everything “worked wonderfully. “We really felt comfortable with the protocols and with the cooperation of the groups where they took on a lot of the responsibilities,” McArthur says. “They looked after their own contact tracing and what we did was buy disinfectant and sanitized the equipment.” This approach worked well, he says, and the municipality didn't have to put any extra staff at the arena. It would have been a different story had council opened the arena to public skating. “If we allowed public skating, protocols like who's coming and going would have to have been done by us,” McArthur says. “So the staffing level would have gone up considerably in order to police and look after all that information flow.” That would have become too expensive for the municipality, he says. The protocols the municipality has in place are good and “everyone feels confident that we can operate safely. “But we don't have that option (to operate) under the lockdown,” McArthur says. The South River-Machar Community Centre and Arena has been closed since Dec. 21. Assuming there's a reopening in the near future, the user groups will operate under the same protocols in place prior to Dec. 21. McArthur says staff and council are looking at various scenarios depending on when the latest lockdown ends. In the best-case scenario, the lockdown could be lifted earlier in the North, in which case “if we're delayed only two to four weeks then maybe we can add that time and run the season a little later into March or to the end of March. “Council's challenge is we don't know if or when we'll get a green light,” McArthur says. “So at what point does it become too late or no longer economically feasible for us and the user groups?” This is now a waiting game and it's not easy as options are weighed. “The big cost, beyond wages, at the arena is maintaining the ice,” he says. “If there isn't going to be anyone using it and no revenue coming in, then how long do we maintain that ice for?” McArthur adds the arena isn't only used for winter activities. It's also used for a hockey opportunity camp during the summer. In fact, the arena is at its busiest during the eight to 10 weeks of the hockey camp. The facility is only without ice from mid April to mid June. When the lockdowns first started last March, McArthur says the hockey camp “was one of the first (activities) to take a direct hit.” With the arena in shutdown mode, staff were able to carry out considerable maintenance at the site that normally would not be achievable. But with the arena down for the entire summer, it meant no revenue to the municipality. McArthur says 2020 saw the arena lose about $40,000 over and above its normal expenses. McArthur says the province's safe restart agreement helped offset part of the arena loss and council is grateful for that. Council also was able to offset the remainder of the loss by reducing the number of capital projects it had scheduled for 2020. One of those projects involved a compressor rebuild at the arena. So, while the village will still have a balanced budget for 2020, it comes at a cost because it now has to delay some of the scheduled capital projects into the future, McArthur says. Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget
Tanya Bogatin's once pristine home is no longer quite so organized, and she's waiting a little longer between loads of laundry, but it's no skin off her back. Her priorities have shifted now that she'll be helping her two young kids attend classes from their home in Vaughan, Ont., for another month. "Things are gonna fall to the backburner," she said. "I tell my kids, don't stress about it ... relax, relax. We're happy, we're safe, we're healthy." With online learning extended until late January across southern Ontario, and for even longer in Toronto, York, Peel, Durham and Windsor-Essex, parents like Bogatin are finding a litany of strategies to manage all their responsibilities. She said she briefly panicked when she found out her kids would be learning remotely until at least Feb. 10, but then she came up with a game plan. Each morning, she and her kids get up at around 8:20 a.m., with half an hour to spare before classes begin. Once classes start, her son -- who is in Grade 4 -- stations himself in the dining room, and her daughter -- in Grade 2 -- sets up her laptop at the desk in the toy room. Bogatin sits on the stairs between them, listening in case they call for help. At recess, she said, she bundles them up in winter gear and sends them out to play in the backyard. Right after classes end, they get to work on homework. Bogatin works part-time, and as of this week she's able to do that from home. "I'm very, very lucky that I have a very flexible job," she said, noting that she's mostly able to set her own schedule, and will sometimes retreat into her bedroom for online meetings. Her days are busy, she said, but they're "good busy." Parents are making it work, said Rachel Huot with the Ontario Parent Action Network, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's easy. "It's extremely challenging to try and support children learning remotely," she said. "Your kids are not meant to learn sitting in front of a computer screen for six hours a day." Parents who have to juggle supervising kids and working -- either in or out of the home -- are stretched even thinner, she said. "Then there's the fact that we're watching the government fail us day after day. And there's no clear end in sight," she said. Huot echoed calls from teachers' unions that are requesting broader testing of asymptomatic students, smaller class sizes and better ventilation systems in schools so that kids can safely return to the classroom. A spokeswoman for Education Minister Stephen Lecce said student safety is the government's top priority. "We know that parents want their children back in class and we firmly agree, and our commitment to deliver on that is to further enhance our safety protocols and provincewide targeted surveillance testing to ensure our students can safely go back to class," she said. The government has cited rising COVID-19 positivity rates amongst children as well as soaring daily infections for its decision to have students learn virtually for longer. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
Councillors are fed up with inflammatory emails and they’re not going to take it anymore. A motion by Oro-Medonte Coun. Cathy Keane to create a code of conduct for members of the public that would allow staff to refuse to respond to “disrespectful, intimidating, vexatious and/or defamatory actions or comments” passed at a council meeting last month. Mayor Harry Hughes said there is a small group of “aggressive offenders” who target councillors’ email boxes with annoyance requests. “This local group will send out misinformation and bombard officials’ (mailboxes) and overload the system,” said Hughes. “We’ve been turning a blind eye to it, but, with COVID-19, we’re not in normal times now.” With staff working from home or redeployed to other departments, the additional workload is onerous, he said. Two members of the public spoke at a council meeting Jan. 13 indicating their concern about the new code. Liz Kirk said she wondered how the motion was passed without input from township residents. “As a resident of Oro-Medonte, I feel my opinions are important and the taxpayers need a voice,” she said. Resident Dave McNabb said he feels the new recommendations go too far. “The structure of the code, with its sanctions, appears to overreach, giving the perception of council compelling the behaviour of the public,” he said. Yet the mayor of Oro-Medonte isn’t the only municipal official complaining about rude residents. Pamela Fettes, clerk and director of legislative services for the Township of Clearview, said one local individual has requested 790 items through the freedom-of-information process since 2011. Fettes said one request demanded proof of each staff member’s Law Society of Ontario designation. “The staff directory is published online and they wanted everyone’s — from those in public works to the CAO’s — designation,” Fettes said. “Under the current legislation, the municipality is required to respond to all and any requests for information, including this one.” If a municipality doesn’t respond, it is deemed a refusal when appealed and the municipality must eventually honour the request, she said. The legislation has not been updated for more than 30 years and can be a frustrating experience for both requesters and administrators, she added: “When it was written, it talked about saving files to floppy disks.” Fettes is a member of the Time for Change working group, which includes staff from the County of Simcoe, Town of Wasaga Beach and Township of Georgina. It is currently reviewing the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act in an effort to modernize the legislation. Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Founded by entrepreneur Greg Wyler in 2014, OneWeb aims to provide high-speed broadband internet services globally using low earth orbit satellites, taking on a similar offering by Elon Musk's SpaceX. The funding would allow OneWeb to cover the costs for its network of 648 satellites, expected to be ready by the end of 2022. SoftBank Group, a former investor in OneWeb, had pulled the plug on funding earlier, forcing OneWeb to file for bankruptcy protection in March.
WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have signed star running back Andrew Harris to a one-year contract extension. The Winnipeg native returns to the Blue Bombers for a fifth season. The 33-year-old Harris has led the CFL in rushing the past three years. He was named the game MVP and most valuable Canadian in Winnipeg's Grey Cup win over Hamilton in 2019. During the 2019 season, Harris passed Ben Cahoon to become the CFL's career leader in yards from scrimmage by a Canadian. He also moved past Normie Kwong as the Canadian career rushing leader. A five-time CFL all-star, Harris also was named the league's most outstanding Canadian in 2017. REDBLACKS SIGN FOUR The Ottawa Redblacks have signed Canadian linebacker Brad Cowan and defensive back Dagogo Maxwell and American defensive backs Brandin Dandridge and Marcus Roberson. Cowan was Ottawa's sixth-round pick in the CFL draft. He played university football at Wilfrid Laurier in Waterloo, Ont. Maxwell was Calgary's fifth-round pick in 2018 out of UBC. He had six special-teams tackles with Calgary in 2019 before signing with Ottawa. Dandridge had 12 defensive tackles and four pass breakups in four games in 2019 with Ottawa. Roberson had 20 defensive tackles in 11 games for Toronto in 2018, his last action in the CFL. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
After 11 years in the trades – from scaffolding and metal work, to her current role in concrete forming – Mulisius Joe has also become skilled at navigating the male-dominated construction industry. “I've worked with a few men who didn’t think I should be there,” she said, citing times when empty reasons were given to exclude her from contributing to a job. “It’s never said out loud but you could feel it…where you don't know if it’s racist or it’s sexist, but you know it's something.” Calls for equity among construction labourers in the GTA were made decades ago, with African-Canadian carpenters and their allies protesting the exclusion of Black workers from trades unions and construction companies in the early ‘70s. Trade union programs are now slowly helping to change that. Joe said she has seen a shift in how journeypersons, or mentors for trade apprentices, are increasingly focused on the treatment of women and visible minorities on site, and are better prepared to foster an equitable environment. These changes make her hopeful the industry will develop a similar awareness around issues of discrimination and equity, especially after the racist incidents this past summer, when five nooses were found tied onto scaffolding or hanging in view at GTA construction sites. Despite police and union investigations – and the firing of at least one worker – another two nooses were found at Michael Garron Hospital in East York in late September. “It didn't just go away because we said how we feel,” said Brampton resident Chris Campbell, of the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario. In November, Campbell became the union’s first Equity and Diversity Representative. He will work to include racism in the scope of “toolbox talk” – trades-speak for frank discussions about safety issues – in an attempt to change the culture of silence around workplace discrimination in the construction industry. The Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario represents more than 30,000 workers across 16 affiliated trades unions. Campbell completed his apprenticeship in the early ‘90s, and became a project supervisor at various sites across the GTA before teaching at the College of Carpenters and Allied Trades, based in Woodbridge. An active member in the Jamaican Canadian Association and other Black community organizations, Campbell went on to become a Local 27 Toronto Carpenters’ Union rep prior to his current appointment. Following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last spring, Black Lives Matter demonstrations underscored the urgent need to confront anti-Black racism in the workplace. Campbell said he and other union representatives marched in the downtown Toronto protests in June, sporting the union flag. Mulisius joined the marches, and commended the union for making their presence visible. “It feels good, because as a woman on site, and also as a Black person, I’m always the minority. To see our union jump behind this, it makes me feel so much prouder to be a Local 27 member,” she said. But later that month, the first noose was found at the Eglinton Crosstown LRT job site. Campbell said one of the union’s members admitted to tying it and was fired, had his union membership revoked and was banned from working on projects operated by Crosslinx Transit Solutions. “It’s not just a noose for some people. It’s a health issue, because they’re traumatized, they can’t mentally handle it,” Johnson said, adding that there were Black workers at the site. “Some people, they become emotional and they cannot go back to work because to them, it symbolizes an extreme aggression. To them, it symbolizes what their grandparents went through a few decades ago.” According to 2016 Census data, close to one-fifth of Brampton’s workforce was in the trades, transport and equipment operations industry, compared to about 12 percent in Mississauga. Peel Region also has the highest proportion of immigrants compared to its bordering regions – at about 52 percent of the population – and the highest proportion of visible minorities, at 62 percent, compared to 51 percent in Toronto, and the GTA average of 48 percent. The booming construction industry holds the potential to dramatically improve the employment prospects of Peel’s large visible minority communities. Many of these residents have not been well represented in the trades, traditionally. The BOLT (Building Opportunities for Life Today) program was launched by construction giant Tridel in 2009, and in 2013 it was established as a charitable foundation aimed at introducing career opportunities to marginalized and other “under-resourced” youth across the GTA. It has provided more than 400 post-secondary scholarships for construction-related programs, in an effort to help young people from all backgrounds pursue a career in the trades. Opening up one of Ontario’s largest industries to reflect the province’s population, is a challenge the unions are now taking up as well. Whether it’s because of cultural issues, for example the view among some South Asian-Canadian communities that trades jobs are not traditionally socially acceptable, or because of discriminatory dynamics within the industry, the lack of representation means many Peel residents are being cut off from highly lucrative careers. In 2018, the average wage of workers in the construction industry across the country was almost $32 an hour, according to Statistics Canada. The average minimum wage in the country (which is what many newcomers earn) at the time sat at about $12 an hour. A 2016 Peel-Halton Workforce Characteristics Report notes that women, racialized minorities and newcomers face disadvantages when holding precarious positions in Peel, with the largest proportions of people earning lower incomes located in Brampton and Mississauga compared to Halton municipalities. In the construction and industrial sectors, about 97 percent of Peel and Halton journeypersons and apprentices are male, though there is no race-based data provided or notes on discrimination trends in the workplace. The recent rash of racist incidents raises questions about what the industry is doing to confront discrimination. At the large LRT construction site where the Fairbank Station in Toronto, near Dufferin Street and Eglinton Avenue will open in 2022, Campbell said the union interviewed people on site and had a “toolbox talk” after a noose was tied there. The union has partnered with the Toronto and York Region Labour Council to create a charter document and establish standards for an inclusive workplace that rejects racism, xenophobia and discrimination. The document is now posted at some construction sites, Campbell said, adding that the union is planning to address racism in the workplace through new educational initiatives and training for members and senior leadership. In his new role, Campbell will be notified and involved in the complaints resolution process related to racism in the workplace, and encourages workers to report these incidents. “It’s a health and safety issue,” he said. With the work of craft and trade unions based in skill development, at the forefront of efforts to address racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination is the question of whose skills are being recognized, said Tania Das Gupta, a professor in the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at York University. As part of her research into racism in the labour movement, Das Gupta interviewed visible minority workers in leadership roles within larger unions, who expressed feeling obstructed in their work. “In other words, you could have diversity, but sometimes it becomes tokenism and the [union] structures are not conducive to inclusion,” she said. Education is integral to making anti-racism programs a success, she added. “If the workers are prepared, and they’re educated on why these changes are happening, then they're likely not to feel threatened.” Professional associations and developers such as Tridel and Ellis Don have launched anti-racism campaigns in response to the incidents this past summer, including quarterly roundtable discussions with 21 industry partners, spearheaded by the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON). The group is meeting for the second time this month. “These incidents didn’t happen in isolation, and it wasn’t just one incident…so we realized that this is an issue that we need to dive deeper into combatting,” said Amina Dibe, manager of government and stakeholder relations at RESCON. The collective launched the Construction Against Racism Everyone (CARE) Campaign, distributing more than 2,000 hardhat stickers for workers to show their solidarity, while launching educational webinars and subcommittees to tackle education, communication and training within the industry. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @LaVjosa COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you.Vjosa Isai, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
Windsor Regional Hospital is dealing with a third active outbreak of COVID-19. The new outbreak was declared at the hospital's Met Campus on Thursday. Seven cases have been identified among staff members in the 4N unit, the hospital said in a press release. No patients have been affected. A previous outbreak on the same unit was declared in mid-December and later rescinded. There are currently 32 cases in total associated with three active outbreaks at the hospital this month. The outbreak declared on Jan. 6 on Unit 4M of the Ouellette Campus has eight patient cases and five staff cases. Another outbreak, declared two days later on Unit 6E, currently has affected eight patients and four staff. In a media release on Thursday, the hospital said further testing is being done on Friday and outbreak control measures are in place. The hospital started testing all patients for COVID-19 on admission last month. Admissions to the units in outbreak continue, with "proper cohorting" of COVID-19-positive patients, though patients from other areas of the hospital can't be sent there without approval from the infection prevention and control department, according to the hospital. Karen Riddell, the hospital's chief nursing executive and chief operating officer, said Windsor Regional expects to see these outbreaks as COVID-19 spreads in the community. "We continue to remain vigilant in ensuring that we have the correct infection prevention and control guidelines and precautions in place to reduce spread of the COVID-19 virus," she said in a media release Thursday. The hospital outbreaks are among 45 currently active across Windsor-Essex in various settings including workplaces and seniors' homes. Earlier this week, the region surpassed 10,000 COVID-19 cases.
JUNEAU, Alaska — A proposal to split the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services into two organizations has been criticized by health care workers, social service organizations and tribal governments. Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced the reorganization plan Dec. 22, saying the department had become too large and its administration too burdensome to operate as a single entity, The Juneau Empire reported Thursday. Dunleavy issued an executive order to establish the Department of Health and the Department of Family and Community Services. The order will be submitted in the legislative session that starts Jan. 19. The order must be approved by a majority vote in a joint session of the Legislature to go into effect. Richard Chalyee Eesh Peterson, president of Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, expressed concern the reorganization would complicate providing services for child welfare programs, particularly because the majority of children under state care are Alaska Native. During testimony Wednesday to the state House Health and Social Services Committee, Peterson said Tlingit and Haida traditionally partnered with the state in social services administration. “It is hard to discuss the bifurcation of DHSS without talking about negative impacts,” Peterson said. The state and certain tribal governments reached a 2017 agreement to work together toward better child welfare programs, but Peterson said there was no outreach from the state to Tlingit and Haida, which represents about 32,000 tribal citizens. Health department spokesperson Clinton Bennett said in an email Wednesday that the reorganization plan fulfills the conditions of the 2017 agreement. “There is no substantive change or impact to the compact with the departmental split," Bennett said. "Other than changing the name of DHSS to the correct corresponding new Department names, all rights and responsibilities as outlined in the Compact remain unchanged.” The department consulted stakeholder groups and will continue to do so, Bennett said. Tanana Chiefs Conference Chairman P.J. Simon said the organization was willing to work with the administration on an alternative to reduce bureaucracy, but the current proposal would negatively affect social services. The proposed split would produce “worse outcomes than the status quo," Simon said. Lynn Biggs of Casey Family Foundation, who also testified Wednesday, said several states tried reorganizing departments as a way of producing better social service outcomes. But research showed every model of providing social services comes with pros and cons, and better outcomes are more often produced by greater levels of collaboration, Biggs said. The Associated Press
Regina– On Jan. 14, the Saskatchewan Health Authority provided an update on its COVID-19 immunization campaign and delivery plan, as part of the regular COVID-19 update delivered from the Legislature in Regina. Derrick Miller, Executive Director of Infrastructure Management with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, said by phone, “Our immunization campaign goals include minimizing serious illness and death, protecting those that are most vulnerable, protecting our healthcare capacity, minimizing spread and also protecting our critical infrastructure. There really guide us in what we're trying to achieve with our overall campaign.” He noted, “Our supply limitations that are being experienced with the COVID-19 vaccine require us to take a very diligent approach to sequencing the vaccine rollout.” This requires establishing priority populations, which are based on the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommendations. In Phase 1, there are approximately 109,000 in that group. “And based on federal allocations that have been identified, so far, going to the end of March this year, that’ well have enough vaccines to vaccinate approximately 50 per cent of this group. That’s short about half, obviously, of immunizing all of the priority populations approved in this framework.” On Jan. 13, there were 1,393 doses of the vaccines delivered, the highest to date. The average per day, so far, as been just over 1,000 doses per day. He said they anticipate running out of doses before the next allocations, as the speed of delivery means they get it out as quickly as possible and wait for the arrival of the next delivery. Miller said there are “three key planks to our strategy as part of our vaccine campaign.” “The first one is faster. Speed really maters in this. Every day counts to save lives and reduced the overall impact of COVID-19.” They are establishing distribution hubs throughout for the different type of vaccines. “We're adopting an all-hands-on-deck approach to delivery, leveraging all of our appropriate health care providers that can deliver vaccines, as well as looking for and seeking support from external resources to really bring all resources to bear, as part of this strategy,” he said. This includes mobile immunization teams to go to places like long-term care and personal care homes. Locally, they are testing different delivery methods. He said, “Being able to forecast vaccine distribution, with more accuracy will help us be more prepared for rapid distribution. And we know a stable, predictable and large volume allocations will really enable us for rapid delivery.” Every corner of the province is ready, in a posture of readiness, to administer the vaccine as it is received. “The second plank of our strategy is ‘smarter,’ Miller said. “Learning matters. Using improvement is already resulting in more rapid delivery and we can see that just by the results over the last week. The health system is very experienced in delivering the influenza vaccine and other vaccinations. And we're going to leverage that as we go forward, because we know how to do this. “However, we also recognize that this is different. And there are pretty significant differences that are impacting this campaign. We do have limited variable and unpredictable allocations. They vary from week to week, and the timing varies as well. We need to sequence priority populations, based on that. We’re not able to offer a mass immunization right off the start.” This includes multiple vaccines with different logistical challenges across a geographically dispersed province. Transportation changes allow them to move vaccines in a more efficient manner. Being a single health authority makes it easier, he noted. Miller said we are learning from our partners, including Metis and First Nations partners. The third plank is safety. “Safety matters. High uptake requires strong communications to ensure the public knows the vaccine is safe. We know the COVID vaccine is safe. It is Health Canada-approved and has gone through the various regulatory reviews, and approval processes. We also know that it's effective, or 90 per cent effective, in reducing the risk of infection. And it's simple. It's just like getting a flu shot for Saskatchewan residents, our health care workers are highly experienced and have many years of successfully delivering flu vaccine to the residents of Saskatchewan, and ensuring that all safety requirements are achieved.” Challenges include delivery to high-risk populations in remote areas. The Pfizer vaccine has temperature constraints and special handling needs. The consent process can be time-intensive, especially in long-term care homes. Unpredictable allocations should hopefully be resolved in coming weeks. Adverse weather can be an issue. “At the same time, we are preparing for widespread immunization in Phase 2, or we will open up access to the general population and conduct Saskatchewan’s largest-ever immunization campaign. One of our key tasks is to ensure that our teams are ready to deliver the vaccine as soon as possible on arrival, and enhance speed of delivery. This is true in Phase 1, as we're focusing on those priority populations, and it will also be true when we go into Phase 2, and get to the point where we’re vaccinating the general public,” Miller said. He added that “Currently, our health system is at its most fragile point yet for their highest hospitalization rate, and a high case count.” Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingston added, “We want to make sure we're getting the vaccine out as quickly as we can to those vulnerable populations and get vaccine in arm as quickly as possible. So, it won't be in the freezer as long. As the vaccines come in, we will get them out and they will go and get administered as fast as we can in the arms of those who need it very most.” He pointed out that limited supplied are limiting their capabilities, but they are focussing on the most vulnerable. Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
Kw’umut Lelum Child and Family Services’ drum circle was forced online last year due to COVID-19 social restrictions, but the facilitators have been working hard to keep the group connected. “We could all use some connection this New Year — to each other, to the land, to our own spirit,” reads the drum group’s recent Zoom invitation. Organized by their culture team, coordinator Frank Shaw from Stz’uminus, says everyone is welcome to join. Participants range from “toddlers bobbing along to the drumming, to Elders,” and all ages between, he says. “We are led through traditional songs and maybe even some dances if anyone’s feeling up to it, and sharing stories, sharing laughs. It’s a way to connect while we can’t connect in person,” says Shaw. Kw’umut Lelum is a family services agency and fully Delegated Aboriginal Agency (DAA). It serves nine Coast Salish Nations who signed an agreement with B.C. and Canada in 1997, on Vancouver Island, from Qualicum down to Malahat. Shaw describes his cultural programming work as being on the non-delegated side of operations. “Our team puts together various programming for the nine nations,” he explains. There is a range of community programs offered — for families, youth, cultural wellness, and more. COVID-19 has moved a lot of the programs online, but the drum circles continued in person until November when case numbers started to rise in the area. Qualicum carver and artist Xwulq’sheynum, Jesse Recalma is hosting Kw’umut Lelum’s online drum circle this week. Recalma’s grandpa was a drum maker so he grew up around drumming. He got even more into drumming a decade ago after attending Tribal Journeys, a celebrated canoe journey started in 1989 to unify communities across the Northwest Pacific Coast. A full time artist and part time language teacher, Recalma teaches Hulq’umi’num to students in School District 69. He’s been a cultural resource in schools for over 20 years. “I do drum practices with our canoe family and usually I would be one of the ones leading songs,” Reclama says. “And then I started doing some drumming with my K’omoks family as well.” When Kw’umut Lelum put out the call for drummers and singers to lead the online circle, “they called, and I answered,” says Recalma. “I really enjoy singing. It’s something that I’ve not really been able to do a lot of over the past year. And so I’m happy that I can actually have this place to sing with people,” says Recalma. Shaw has organized several drummers to host sessions. Patrick Aleck has very close connections to Snuneymuxw, Stz’uminus, and Penelakut. Jesse Recalma will be joining, and on January 21st, Stz’uminus singer Nate Harris will facilitate the circle, Reclama says. Shaw says the circle seeks to address social isolation and strengthen cultural continuity. “Indigenous and Coast Salish culture, it’s all about connection and gathering and with COVID and everything, we just haven’t been able to do it, to bring people together and connect as best we can,” Shaw says. “It’s on Zoom, but it’s still a great time.” Reclama agrees, emphasizing the importance of practicing his culture during these difficult times of separation. “We’re used to being in a lot of situations where we can hear drumming and singing,” he says. Normally, there are a variety of ways the need for social connection is met — through powwows with bone games, or during smoke house season. Some attend tribal journeys, where Recalama says, “there’s just as much true drumming and singing as there is paddling in the canoe.” The online drum circle is an ongoing series that takes place on Zoom every Thursday evening. To get the link, Shaw says people can email him at email@example.com. “A drum circle helps you feel warm and comforted, especially for those who are in sorrow,” says Recalma. He says hearing the drumming and singing can be good medicine, and brings joy in a way that might be hard for some to find during the pandemic.Odette Auger, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
The deal will be largely paid through cash and Lazy Audio's management team will get post-acquisition equity-settled awards, Tencent said. The acquisition comes at a time when the music streaming site is looking to bolster its content library in order to put it behind a paywall and add more paid users.