The Seahawks QB has tossed 37 TDs in 2020, but Matt Harmon explains why Wilson will struggle vs. the Rams.
The Seahawks QB has tossed 37 TDs in 2020, but Matt Harmon explains why Wilson will struggle vs. the Rams.
WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservative groups opposed President-elect Joe Biden's forthcoming immigration plan Tuesday as massive amnesty for people in the U.S. illegally, underscoring that the measure faces an uphill fight in a Congress that Democrats control just narrowly. In a further complication, several pro-immigration groups said they would press Biden to go even further and take steps such as immediate moratoriums on deportations, detentions and new arrests. Coupled with the discomfort an immigration push could cause for moderate Democrats, liberals' demands illustrated the pressures facing Biden as four years of President Donald Trump's restrictive and often harsh immigration policies come to an end. “It simply wouldn't have happened without us," Lorella Praeli, co-president of the liberal group Community Change, said of Biden's victory. “So we are now in a powerful position." Biden plans to introduce the legislation shortly after being inaugurated Wednesday, a move he hopes will spotlight his emphasis on an issue that's defied major congressional action since 1986. Its fate, as written, seemed in doubt. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will become Senate majority leader this week, said Trump's impeachment trial, confirmation of Biden's Cabinet nominees and more COVID-19 relief will be the chamber's top initial priorities. “I look forward to working together with him" on the measure, Schumer said — a choice of words that might suggest changes could be needed for it to pass Congress. Biden's proposal would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, set up a processing program abroad for refugees seeking admission to the U.S. and push toward using technology to monitor the border. The measure was described by an official from Biden's transition team who described the plan on condition of anonymity. With an eye toward discouraging a surge of immigrants toward the U.S.-Mexico boundary, the package's route to citizenship would only apply to people already in the U.S. by this past Jan. 1. But it omits the traditional trade-off of dramatically enhanced border security that's helped attract some GOP support in the past, which drew criticism on Tuesday. “A mass amnesty with no safeguards and no strings attached is a nonstarter,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., often a central player in Senate immigration battles. “Total amnesty, no regard for the health or security of Americans, and zero enforcement," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who like Rubio is a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, said in a Monday tweet. That view was shared by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, which favours curbing immigration. “Past proposals at least accepted the concept of turning off the faucet and mopping up the overflow. This is nothing but mopping up and letting the faucet continue to run," Krikorian said. Rosemary Jenks, top lobbyist for NumbersUSA, which also wants to limit immigration, said the measure seems likely to fail in the Senate. It would need at least 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats to overcome a filibuster that would kill the measure. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said, “Moving an immigration reform bill won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible." He cited a 2013 massive overhaul that narrowly passed the Senate, only to die in the GOP-run House. Menendez and Rubio were part of a bipartisan “Gang of 8" senators that helped win Senate approval. Under Biden's legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization if they pursue citizenship. For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements. Biden is also expected to take swift executive actions, which require no congressional action, to reverse other Trump immigration actions. These include ending to the prohibition on arrivals from predominantly Muslim countries. The legislation represents Biden's bid to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of Trump's restrictive policies and mass deportations. It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years. Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with the GOP to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades. That kind of major win, even if it involves compromise, could be critical for Biden. He'll be seeking legislative victories in a Congress where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities, like rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending. Democrats will control the 50-50 Senate with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. Democrats currently control the House 222-211, with two vacancies. ___ Barrow reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego also contributed to this report. Alan Fram, Lisa Mascaro And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — A man and woman have each been fined for pretending to cough on customers in a gym just steps from Vancouver police headquarters. A statement from police says the owner of the gym flagged down two passing constables outside the business Saturday night. He said a man and woman, who were not wearing masks and were not members of the gym, were inside coughing in the general direction of patrons and equipment. A 60-year-old man and his 25-year-old girlfriend told the officers they were only pretending to cough. Police say the couple claimed they reacted because gym members were staring at them. The police statement says both people left the business after being handed $230 tickets for violating the Emergency Program Act by failing to wear a face covering. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — Quebec Premier Francois Legault is calling on the federal government to ban all non-essential flights to Canada.Legault said Tuesday he's worried that people travelling to vacation destinations will bring new variants of COVID-19 back to the province.While the premier said it may be difficult to determine which flights are essential, he said it's clear that flights to sun destinations are non-essential.His comments came after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier in the day urged Canadians to cancel any plans they have for an international trip in the near future. Trudeau warned the federal government could at any time, and without warning, enforce new restrictions on travellers returning to Canada.Quebec on Tuesday revised its COVID-19 vaccination schedule as a result of the expected slowdown in Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipments.The Health Department said it would lower its target of administering 250,000 doses by Feb. 8, to 225,000 doses, adding it expects to have received 1,203,100 doses of approved vaccine by March 29.Last week, Canada learned production of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine would be reduced over the next month in order for Pfizer to expand its facilities.Quebec says it will maintain its plan to deliver booster shots within 90 days of the first injection.The vaccination announcement came as public health authorities in the province reported the lowest number of new infections in a single day since early December.Quebec today reported 1,386 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and 55 additional deaths linked to the virus, including 16 deaths within the preceding 24 hours.The number of hospitalizations rose by nine from the day before to 1,500, the Health Department said, while the number of people in intensive care declined by five from the previous day, to 212.Quebec has reported 245,734 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 9,142 deaths linked to the novel coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic.Health Minister Christian Dube on Monday boasted the province had met its target of vaccinating 75 per cent of long-term care residents, with the remainder expected to be inoculated by Jan. 25.Officials say people living in private seniors residences across the province are next in line to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
Ontario Premier Doug Ford says all long-term care and high-risk retirement homes will receive vaccinations by Feb. 15 despite a shortage of Pfizer vaccines. As Morganne Campbell reports, the backlog is causing a delay in the province's rollout plan.
The United States swore in its 46th President on Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attended their inauguration in Washington, D.C. with a slew of distinguished guests, but few onlookers as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a need for social distancing.Several past presidents were in attendance, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr., however the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, did not attend. Trump flew to his golf club in Florida earlier in the day. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence did attend the ceremony with his wife.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
A huge dump of snow at Marmot Basin kicked off this year’s Jasper in January and staff are continuously monitoring conditions as well as keeping up with COVID protocols. Lasting until Jan. 31, Jasper in January includes virtual and private events at the ski resort along with deals on lift tickets. Although COVID-19 has altered the format of the festival and the overall operations of Marmot Basin, staff say the recent snowfall has proven to be a significant boon. “The recent snowfall has been fantastic - we've had 29 centimetres in the last two days - and conditions are absolutely superb,” said Alyssa Golbeck, active content producer, said in an email on Jan. 14. “I can personally attest to the fact that there is still tons of powder and there is some really great skiing up here right now.” Although Saturdays and weekends aren’t as busy as last year, there is a steady flow of skiers from Monday to Friday. With that pace, staff are managing COVID protocols with the visitors. “Business has been good,” said Brian Rode, vice president. “We are now seeing quite a few people who haven’t been to Marmot for a number of years or who haven’t skied for a number of years. Right now, we’ve had more skiers visit this year than last year.” He attributed these numbers to Albertans staying closer to home and the warmer weather. Chalets run at 15 per cent capacity, and Rode said people have been patient and complying with health restrictions. “Outside, people wear masks and naturally spread out when they’re skiing,” he said. Upon arriving to work, staff must sign in and declare they have not come to work with symptoms. “All of our supervisors are talking with and monitoring the staff. Our staff body is healthy,” Rode said, noting staff have a personal responsibility to monitor their health. Golbeck said the avalanche team has been hard at work the past few days, and staff were able to open much of the upper mountain on Jan. 14. Rode said Marmot Basin’s safety team monitors conditions regularly “to ensure all of the runs are safe to ski, without any risk of avalanches occurring.” “To do that, they’ve got patrols in place,” he said. The team makes sure the main runs are ready to use first thing in the morning, then the higher runs are tackled later. Factors to monitor include the amount of snowfall, wind, temperature and moisture content. “All of these affect the type of snowpack we have,” Rode said, adding any runs with an avalanche risk are kept closed until the ski patrol team checks the conditions. They do ski cutting, or “traversing the slope” as Rode called it. “Without fail, they do it in such a way so you can traverse from point to another,” he said. “They ski across the slope. That knocks the air out of it. They start at the top at a safe point - a rock outcrop (for example) - and ski across to the other side. That will give them a good sense of what that slope is like.” That measure sometimes releases the snow without having to use explosive charges. For slopes higher in the alpine region, explosive charges are thrown in and detonated, which knocks the risky snow down. “All slope angles are charted on every single run - 91 of them - some long and (some) short,” Rode said. “Below the treeline, the runs are risk-free of avalanches. The slopes above the treeline, where there’s a risk of avalanches, if the slope doesn’t avalanche, they’ll continue to monitor it, looking for trigger points.” Slopes are only opened once staff determine them as safe. While the scenery may be beautiful, Rode noted boundaries are in place for a reason. “If people stick to runs that are open and don’t go into areas that are closed, they’re safe,” Rode said. With avalanche control, there are temporary closures, but there are other areas around the mountain, outside the ski area boundaries, that are permanently closed. “We don’t patrol those areas,” Rode said. “Some areas are closed because they’re caribou closures. It’s illegal to be in that area.” Rode warned the public not to duck under any ropes or enter these closed areas. “Not only are you putting yourself in danger and the ski patrol team in danger, you’ve established a trail that other people may follow,” he added. Rode said people went outside the boundaries twice this year so far. “We sent a ski patrol in,” he said. “They knew where (they) were going, and that they’d have difficulty going through a particular area.” Wearing snowshoes themselves, the team brought in a pair of snowshoes for the wanderer to wear out. “Often, a person will report to ski patrol that one of their buddies ducked under,” he said. “That’s typically what happens. Invariably, we can determine where they’ve gone.” Rode recalled there have been incidents where it’s dark before people get back to safety, such as one incident a few years ago where a male didn’t get out until the following day. Marmot Basin is also posting a series of videos about avalanche safety at the hill this week, which can be viewed on its Facebook page. Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
Empty shelves at the grocery store, products out of stock, the soaring price of fresh produce and meat products: that was our “wake-up call” that we have to take the food industry seriously. “We need to make sure we have a system that will always be there and can always supply food: enough farmers, enough processors, enough distribution systems that we don’t run into food shortages. We take food security for granted,” said Craig McLaughlin, a beef farmer from Renfrew county. Often faced with the unpredictability of Mother Nature and “geopolitical” turmoil, including the rail blockages last year and China’s recent suspension of canola, soy, beef and pork products, farmers often end up paying the price, explained Keith Currie, vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. “The other aspect to agriculture that people don’t understand is that we don’t get to set the price on our product. We are price takers, not price setters. Any time there’s an expense (such as the carbon tax), we can’t pass that on. We have to absorb that,” Currie said. The pandemic has also exposed challenges such as labour shortage. “(It’s) not just a lack of people, but a lack of people with skills to operate machinery,” said Debra Hauer, a labour market intelligence manager at the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) in Ottawa. “We did a 10-year labour forecast for the country up to 2029. Even with 60,000 temporary foreign workers, there will be 16,500 unfilled vacancies in agriculture, with an estimated loss of sales at $2.9 billion,” Hauer said. “We understand the frustration of the industry. It is a pervasive shortage. Our role is to help employers develop their skills in terms of recruiting and retaining (farm) workers,” said Jade Reeve, agri-jobs manager at CAHRC, an organization focused on addressing human resource issues in agriculture. CALL TO ACTION “The time for farmers to really have the general public with us, to get us the tools we need — is now,” Currie said. “We need society to put the pressure on the government, to make sure they’re taking care of agriculture.” “Everybody has a role to play: government, educational institutions, industry, farmers’ associations, individual farmers,” Hauer said. Tyler Armstrong, a sheep farmer from Renfrew, suggests reducing “red tape” for abattoirs (slaughterhouse for livestock) and meat processing plants to reduce wait-lists of up to six months. “I’m sure there are a few things (the government) could do to reduce the burden for abattoirs,” he said. Angie Hoysted, co-owner of Valley Custom Cutting, a meat processing plant in Smiths Falls, said “there’s next to no schools teaching (meat processing). They need to put ‘butcher’ back on the list of trades, and give them support like other trades.” Reeve talked about a government program running until May 2023 called ‘The Agri-Food Pilot program,’ which helps address labour needs and provides a pathway to permanent residence for experienced, non-seasonal workers in industries such as meat processing. “There are lots of interesting jobs in agriculture that are year-round, full time and have benefits,” Hauer said. “It includes jobs in greenhouses, pig farms, dairy farms, chicken barns, egg farms and service jobs such as fixing and manufacturing farm equipment and supplies.” THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT “I’m very hopeful and optimistic about agriculture in Canada: there is room to grow in a variety of ways. The opportunity is there, and the future is bright,” Hauer said. Currie said agriculture is recession-proof and that “there’s a real opportunity for agriculture to be a real economic driver. Let’s put our heads together to see how we can capitalize on these opportunities, to have all our tools in place to make sure that we can drive the economy coming out of COVID-19.” For more information about Agri-jobs and the Agri-Food Pilot program, visit https://cahrc-ccrha.ca and https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/agri-food-pilot/eligible-industries.html. Yona Harvey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Smiths Falls Record News
TORONTO — Premier Doug Ford appealed to U.S. president-elect Joe Biden today for help securing more COVID-19 vaccines for Ontario. Ford expressed frustration about a delivery slow down of the Pfizer-Biotech shot that will see Ontario receive no doses next week and thousands less over the next month. Ford appealed to Biden to share a million doses of the Pfizer shot, which is manufactured in Michigan. He also expressed frustration with Pfizer executives about the delays and urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to ramp up pressure on the company to deliver more of the shots to Canada. Ontario says its weekly deliveries of the Pfizer-BioTech COVID-19 vaccine will be cut by as much as 80 per cent over the next month. The federal government says shipments are expected to get back to normal levels in late February and early March. The province still expects to meet its goal of providing the first dose of the vaccine to all of its long-term care residents, workers and essential caregivers by Feb. 15. That goal has already been achieved in COVID-19 hot spots including Toronto, Peel Region and York Region. A total of 224,134 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the province. Ontario reported 1,913 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 46 more deaths linked to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott said that due to a technical issue at Toronto Public Health, there was likely an underreporting of cases today. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
Skoflek Electric is a Merritt-based electrical company which offers both residential and commercial services. Company owner Bela Skoflek and Head Electrician Bryan Tolmie tackle electrical projects big and small in the Nicola Valley, providing quality workmanship at a price that won’t break the bank. Already a working electrician, Skoflek found himself feeling unfulfilled with the direction his life and career were taking. When he suddenly faced a huge personal hurdle, he decided it was time to make a change. “My goal in the trade was always to get to the point of having my own company,” said Skoflek. “The catalyst that actually made me follow through was getting sick. I was diagnosed with lymphoma a few years ago. At that point I re-evaluated where I was at and where I wanted to be.” Although Skoflek made a decent wage as a certified tradesman, he felt that there was more to life than punching a clock for someone else. “I was at a pretty good point in my career, had full time work with a local contractor, but still didn't feel fulfilled,” explained Skoflek. “Working long hours, making good money, but sacrificing time with my son and family. I was off work for nearly a year doing treatment and used that time to plan the company. I didn't have much money, but I had time. So, I got the extra education I needed, came up with a company logo and design, learned about bookkeeping, taxes, etc.” Skoflek beat lymphoma and was able to return to work after finishing his treatment period. It was at this time that Skoflek launched his company in Sept. 2019. “It was terrifying and exciting all at once,” said Skoflek. “It was a slow start but I had enough to make overhead. I had learned to live a bare bones lifestyle while sick. My first jobs were from friends and family who were supporting me, something I will forever be thankful for, and my focus was to provide quality work without price gouging.” Through word of mouth from satisfied clients and the use of social media marketing and advertising, Skoflek began to see requests for his services increase and his business become busier. “Word of mouth and Facebook marketing helped me start getting new clients and my mission stayed the same, quality work, reasonable rates. Everything snowballed from there, but I maintained the low overhead lifestyle,” said Skoflek. “This allowed me to pour all the income back into the company. Getting better tools and equipment to streamline work. Radio ads and better marketing to bring in more customers. Soon it became bigger than I could handle alone.” Suddenly, Skoflek Electric saw its first expansion, bringing in Bryan Tolmie to help shoulder the workload. “Bryan joined the team, and he was a perfect fit,” said Skoflek. “He had ample experience in the trade and is great with client interaction. We were very like-minded.” Both were of the same opinion that they should be a solid company providing reliable work at reasonable rates, and that family should always come first even alongside business responsibilities. “We are able to achieve this by streamlining workflow and keeping overhead low,” explained Skoflek. “The end goal of every job is to have the customer satisfied with the work performed, it has never been about money. I am able to take my son to school and pick him up every day. That's what it is all about. Going forward we want to sustain the same mindset and grow it. We want to help Merritt grow and give back to the community that fostered our company.” When it comes time to relax and blow off steam, the lifelong Merrittonian still keeps up with his favourite hobby – skateboarding. “I usually go around two times a week in the summer,” said Skoflek. “The non-competitive aspect is what drew me to it, I was never big on team sports. Skateboarding was a way to do something together with friends while everyone is doing completely independent things.” That ability to be successful and have fun independent of others has helped Skoflek build a business others have already come to trust in the less than two years since he started. If you are in need of an electrician, you can contact Skoflek Electric at 250-315-3507, or find them on Facebook at ‘Skoflek Electric’. Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commented on Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole seeking to have MP Derek Sloan expelled from caucus after accepting a donation from a white supremacist.
CHARLOTTETOWN — Prince Edward Island's premier says public health orders should soon be eased across the province because of its low COVID-19 infection rate. "At a time when other jurisdictions are experiencing tightening restrictions and increased lockdowns, we are in the very fortunate and enviable situation to be looking at the days ahead to see an easing of restrictions within our borders," Dennis King told reporters Tuesday. But King said it won't be until at least mid-February before the Island re-enters the Atlantic bubble, which allows residents to travel freely between regional boundaries. "At this time, as a province, we are not comfortable moving forward with re-entering the Atlantic Bubble," King said. Health officials in Prince Edward Island reported two new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Heather Morrison said the new cases involved a woman in her 40s who is a contact of a previously reported case, and a woman in her 20s who recently travelled outside Atlantic Canada. She said there are now seven active reported cases on the Island. Morrison, however, said she's concerned by the situation beyond P.E.I.'s borders. "The situation in Canada remains concerning, with over 715,000 cases and 18,000 COVID-related deaths," she told reporters. "Since Jan. 1, New Brunswick reported 372 new cases, Nova Scotia 60 new cases, P.E.I. has had 12 since Jan. 1, and Newfoundland and Labrador reported six new infections. "Our friends and neighbours in New Brunswick are working hard to contain the spread of COVID-19, reporting 89 new cases in the last three days. They currently have over 300 active cases — the most since the pandemic began," she said. P.E.I. has reported 110 COVID-19 infections since the start of the pandemic. Indoor private gatherings are limited to members of a household plus ten people, while most businesses are still required to operate at 50 per cent capacity. The restrictions are scheduled to remain until Jan. 25. Morrison said that as of Monday, 5,910 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been administered on P.E.I., including 1,407 second doses. "By the end of this week, everyone living and working in long-term care and community care facilities will have received their first dose of the vaccine," she said. "They will start receiving their second dose next week." Morrison said the anticipated slowdown in the delivery of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will have very little impact on the Island. "The Pfizer slowdown means that we may not get a shipment of the product for one week, on Jan. 25. That shipment contains 975 doses. However, we will get two shipments of that same amount in the middle of February," she said. "Given the fact that we have been holding back the second dose of vaccine, and we expect the increased supply in February, we are confident that we have enough vaccine to continue with our original plan." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. — By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton. The Canadian Press
A North Battleford man arrested by the RCMP Gang Task Force pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and weapons charges. Trevor Cummer, 39, entered guilty pleas in North Battleford Provincial Court Jan. 19 to possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, possession of a knife for a dangerous purpose, and possession of proceeds of crime. At the federal Crown prosecutor’s request, Judge Daniel O’Hanlon stayed all charges against Cummer’s co-accused Ashlyn Paules. Cummer and Paules were arrested after RCMP executed a search warrant at a residence in the 700 block of 100 Street in North Battleford in October 2020. Police say when Cummer was arrested he had 22 grams of crack cocaine on him, hydromorphone, cash and weapons. During the search police say they found more evidence of drug trafficking. Paules was arrested at the residence and Cummer was arrested on his way to the residence. The search warrant came after a drug trafficking investigation the North Battleford RCMP Gang Task Force/Street Enforcement Team began at the end of September 2020. The Crown told the court they are proceeding by way of Indictment, instead of the less serious summary conviction. Judge O’Hanlon told Cummer there, “will be jail” time. Defence lawyer Jonathan Bodvarson asked the court for a sentencing date of March 9 “so (Cummer) can get his affairs in order.” Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced that the province would be easing some of the current COVID-19 public health restrictions during a joint press conference on Jan. 14, 2021. Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer, and Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw also took part in this address. Starting on Jan. 18, 2021: · Outdoor social gatherings of up to 10 people will be permitted. · Personal and wellness services will be able to reopen by appointment only. These services include hair salons, nail salons, massage, tattoos, and piercing services. · Funeral service attendance will be increased to 20 people, although funeral receptions still will not be permitted. While these restrictions have loosened from when they were implemented in December, Albertans will still need to continue to follow guidelines such as social distancing and wearing masks while indoors. All of the other restrictions and guidelines that were put in place in December remain in effect. Tyler Shandro said, “Albertans have done a good job of staying the course and abiding by public health measures, but we are still seeing high hospitalizations and case numbers, and this continues to put a serious strain on our health-care system. How much further we can ease restrictions depends on our collective efforts over the coming days and weeks to limit the spread of the virus.” Expanded Small and Medium Business Supports Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer announced that the province will expand the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant to allow businesses that started operating between Mar. 1 and Oct. 31, 2020, to apply. Starting in February, eligible businesses could qualify to receive up to $15,000. COVID-19 Reporting in Schools Updated Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, announced that the terminology used to describe case numbers of COVID-19 in schools would be updated to make it more transparent and easier to understand. Starting on Jan. 18, the following terms will be used: · Alert: One to four cases · Outbreak: Five or more cases Many parents reported finding the term “watch” confusing, and it will no longer be used. Dr. Hinshaw stressed that this change in terminology would not change the level of public health support that will continue to be provided to students, staff, and families. Parents will still be notified if there is a single case in their child’s school, and further supports will be put in place if there are two or more cases in a school. Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
Qu’est-ce qui provoque la marée ? Et où va l’eau ?
Mono Council once again had to deal with the ongoing debate as to who is responsible for enforcing regulations in the matter of resident Mark Bates’ request to have Council enforce the Town By-law concerning lighting interfering with a neighbours enjoyment of their property. This issue was previously discussed at the last Council Meeting, where the consensus was that, as the issue involved neighbours in a condominium complex, the condominium board should be responsible to enforce their own regulations regarding the matter. At Tuesday’s Mono Council meeting, Mr. Bates returned and indicated that the board was unwilling to enforce the regulations and asked Council to enforce the Town by-law to correct the problem. CAO Mark Early, at that meeting, said that he would refer the matter to the Town solicitor for a legal opinion. Subsequently, the opinion provided indicated that the issue should be dealt with according to Provincial regulations, by the condominium board and not the Town. However, as the issue was not dealt with, Mr. Bates had once again con-tacted the councillors and Councillor Fred Nix raised the question to the CAO. Upon hearing the solicitors response, Mr. Nix appeared satisfied though he stated that they were still receiving emails from Mr. Bates.The latest of these emails was presented to Council during the Public Question Period and in it, he requested that as the neighbour was still in non compliance, could Council please notify the condominium board of the solicitors response and request that they deal with the issue. Mayor Ryan referred the question to the CAO and Mr. Early replied that the condo-minium board had been made aware of all of Councils discussions and decisions on the matter but that he could certainly notify them of the solicitors and Councils latest response. Councillor Nix then asked what the solu-tion would be should there be a conflict between the Town rules and by-laws and the condominium rules, who should pre-vail? Mr. Early responded that based on his understanding and the solicitors response, it would be the condominiums responsibility to resolve the matter so that there was con-sistency within their subdivision. Peter Richardson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Citizen
ATCO began the process of changing out all of the town’s streetlights to LED lights last week as per their agreement with the Town of Swan Hills. There isn’t an exact date available for the end of this project, but it will more than likely take a couple of months to accomplish. The streetlights would usually be switched out when they had to be replaced, but this process is generally haphazard and could take a few years until all of the streetlights in town had been changed out. The Town of Swan Hills entered into the agreement with ATCO to change all of them out at once to avoid having a random spattering of LED streetlights here and there amongst the traditional streetlights for an extended period of time. Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
Health officials in B.C. have not detected a single case of influenza circulating in the community since flu season began, continuing an "exceptional" nationwide trend even as the province sits in the thick of its regular flu season. The B.C. Centre of Disease Control (BCCDC) confirmed the non-existent seasonal flu numbers to CBC News on Monday. "It's still a big goose egg in terms of influenza detection provincially. It's really quite exceptional how low the influenza activity is," said Dr. Danuta Skowronski, the lead for influenza and emerging respiratory virus monitoring at the BCCDC. "I've been on the influenza beat for 20 years and I've never seen anything like this ... and that's not for lack of trying." The BCCDC has tested 30,000 samples for influenza this year. Only a dozen of those tests came back positive and all were linked to people who'd received a vaccine, which doesn't count as community spread. By comparison, the centre found 861 positive tests last year with roughly one-third of the testing. B.C.'s experience is reflected across the country. A report from the Public Health Agency of Canada on Thursday said there hasn't been enough influenza cases to even declare that the 2020-21 flu season has begun in Canada. The statistics have calmed fears of health experts across Canada who worried a second wave of COVID-19 would arrive just as seasonal flu infections began to spread, creating an overwhelming "twindemic" this winter. "We are trying to find that [influenza] virus, but so far, nothing — which is good news," said Skowronski. COVID-19 measures caused 'dramatic drop-off' The 30,000 tests run for the flu this year is four times the average number of tests B.C. has done over the past five flu seasons. The dozen positive results were all connected to people who'd received the "live attenuated" flu vaccine, which is made from weakened influenza virus and delivered by nasal spray. "It's not unusual to pick up the vaccine virus in the nose swab," Skowronski said. "What is unexpected is to find no influenza viruses otherwise at all in the province." Flu season typically peaks in B.C. in December and January. Skowronski said public health measures taken to slow COVID-19 — like handwashing, physical distancing, mask-wearing and reduced travel — are likely what's thwarted the regular flu. "We saw a dramatic drop-off in influenza activity almost as soon as we implemented those public health measures last March. We were experiencing an influenza epidemic then and as soon as those measures were in place, it was like influenza fell off a cliff ... and it's been like that ever since," she said. Influenza and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. The flu comes from influenza viruses, while COVID-19 is caused by a novel coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. As for whether the public health measures should remain in place to ease flu season even after COVID-19 is under control, Skowronski said it's an idea for health officials to consider. "I think it would be useful to take stock of the measures and what's worked, but it's a balance. Some of those measures are quite extreme and are put in place because, ultimately, the SARS-COoV-2 virus is not the influenza virus," she said. "It takes a much greater toll in terms of hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths than typical influenza season virus does. "We'll have to weigh the benefits and the costs of those measures."
January Is The Right Time Of Year For Ice Fishing January is an excellent time of year to go ice fishing in Alberta! The lakes usually are well frozen at this time of year, and it’s a fantastic way to get out and enjoy the outdoors during the winter. It’s also an excellent way to get some more use out of your fishing license before it expires at the end of March. There isn’t a whole lot of equipment that is absolutely required, but like most hobbies, the extra “bells and whistles” can add up fairly quickly. There is a common misconception from people that have never tried ice fishing that it is a cold and miserable experience that nobody in their right minds could enjoy, but in actuality, it can be an absolute blast if you’re adequately prepared. Ice safety is of the utmost importance. Please do not take any chances! The ice thickness determines the general guidelines for whether the ice is safe to walk, ride, or drive on. These are the guidelines from the Alberta Conservation Association (https://www.ab-conservation.com/go-fish/learn-to-fish/?section=ice_safety): · 2”/5 cm thick or less: Stay off! · 6”/15 cm thick: Foot traffic and ice fishing. · 10”/25 cm thick: Snowmobiles or light ATVs (less than 1,100 lbs/500 kg). · 16”/41 cm thick: Mid-size cars and light trucks (2,200 – 4,400 lbs/1,000 – 2,000 kg), · 18”/46 cm thick: Mid-size trucks (4,400 – 6,600 lbs/2,000 – 3,000 kg). · 21.5”/55 cm thick: 3/4 ton 4x4 trucks (up to 11,000 lbs/5,000 kg). Here are six easy steps to get started: 1. The first thing you will need for your Alberta ice fishing adventure is an active Wilderness Identification Number (WIN) card. A WIN card is necessary to be able to buy a fishing license in our province, which you will also need. The new virtual WIN card was introduced on April 27, 2020, and no longer has an expiry date. A virtual WIN card costs $8.00 + GST and is available online (AlbertaRelm.com) or at point-of-sale retailers. WIN cards and fishing licenses are available in Swan Hills at the Esso and Husky gas stations. A physical WIN card isn’t necessary, but you can order one for $3.00 if you prefer to have one. 2. Next, you will need to get a fishing license. Fishing licenses are required for people between the ages of 16 and 64 and cost $28 + GST for Alberta residents. You will need to have your fishing license with you while fishing, or you could be subject to some pretty hefty penalties. Fishing licenses are available online (AlbertaRelm.com) or at point-of-sale retailers. *You can purchase your WIN card as well as hunting and fishing licenses through the AlbertaRELM smartphone app. This app also keeps track of your WIN card and licenses and can be used as an electronic fishing license instead of keeping a paper copy with you. 3. Familiarize yourself with the Alberta Guide To Sportfishing Regulations (https://albertaregulations.ca/2020-Alberta-Fishing-Regs.pdf). A hardcopy of this document is usually available at the retailers that sell fishing licenses. This guide covers the general regulations for all locations in Alberta as well as the specific regulations for every body of water (the times of year that you can fish, what equipment or bait is or isn’t allowed, the type and number of fish that you can keep, etc.). Make sure that you’re following the regulations for your fishing location. 4. Now that you have the legal and regulatory side of things handled, it’s time to make sure that you have the gear you need. Here are the basics: a. An ice fishing rod. These are designed to handle the downward force from ice fishing and are shorter than regular rods, making them easier to manage. Luckily you can get a pretty good, basic ice fishing rod for a very reasonable price. b. Fishing lures/hooks. While there are fishing lures that are designed specifically for ice fishing, many people make out just fine with regular lures or hooks. Give it a try and see what works for you in your chosen fishing spot. c. An ice auger. The auger is used to make a hole in the ice so that you can fish. Hand powered augers are the most economical, but there are gas-powered augers if you really get into the sport. A lot of people have augers in Swan Hills. There’s a good chance that someone might lend you one if you ask around. d. An ice skimmer/scoop. This is pretty much just a giant ladle used to remove slush and ice from the water in the hole. Otherwise, it tends to build up and get in the way. e. Chairs. You’re going to want something to sit on while you fish. A camp chair works great, but some people are quite content with an overturned 5-gallon pail to sit on. f. A sled for your gear. This is a much more convenient way to get your equipment onto the lake (or pond) than trying to carry it out by the armload. 5. Good winter clothes/gear. This one’s a given, you’ll want to make sure that you’re dressed for the weather, or you’re not going to have a very good time. 6. Attach your lure or hook to the line on your ice fishing rod and drop it down through your hole in the ice. Have a seat while you wait for the fish to bite. Those are the basics. Feel free to bring some snacks and drinks if you’d like; just make sure that there’s a designated driver if you’re having adult beverages. A cooler is an excellent addition; you can keep your drinks cold, you have a place to put your catch, and it’s an extra place to sit while you fish. Bring a camera or your cell phone to capture some memories. Have a great time out there, and stay safe! Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
The Better Business Bureau is warning British Columbians about a scam making the rounds offering one free year of Netflix. So far, BBB has received more than 100 reports via Scam Tracker about a text message tricking consumers by offering the streaming service for free. “You receive a text message that says: “Due to the pandemic, Netflix is offering you a free year of service to help you stay at home. Click the link to sign up.” The link takes consumers to a website where they are asked to fill out personal information and add a method of payment,” reads a release from BBB. However, the website is not associated with Netflix, and those signing up are sharing their personal information with scammers, running the risk of payment fraud and identity theft. “[The scammers] said no other money would be taken out of my account again,” one victim reported. “Then, about a week later, they took $51.02, and I called and asked for a refund. They told me three days at first. Then, after three days I called back, and they told me seven to ten business days. It’s been ten business days. And now I have no refund.” To avoid being scammed, the BBB recommends consumers do their research and take precautions. Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald
Quebec Premier François Legault says no exemption from the province's mandatory overnight curfew will be given to people who really are homeless, despite calls to do so from advocates and Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante. In a news conference Tuesday, Legault said he's concerned an official exemption could encourage people to "pretend" to be homeless. He said police forces have already been told to use their judgment when it comes to fining homeless people and said he fully trusts they are being fair. "Right now, the police are doing a very good job," said Legault. "They're using their judgment and if we change the rule and say 'you cannot give tickets to somebody who says they are homeless,' you may have some people that will pretend to be homeless." Legault was responding to calls made by Plante earlier today. She said the curfew has added unnecessary stress to already struggling homeless shelters in the city. "The [curfew] has a direct impact on the homeless ecosystem, both on those who are homeless and on those who work with them," said Plante. "I want people to feel safe in Montreal. I don't want to exacerbate their vulnerability." Plante's pleas come just days after the death of Raphaël André, a homeless Innu man whose body was discovered in a portable toilet in the Plateau, Sunday morning. André, 51, had spent Saturday evening at The Open Door, a Montreal drop-in centre just steps away from where his body was found, but couldn't stay as the shelter was forced to close at 9:30 p.m. following an outbreak of COVID-19 last month. It used to be open 24/7. "Like many Montrealers, I'm deeply shocked by what happened to Raphaël André," Plante said. Plante claims the city offered to work with the shelter from the start, and was willing to help build extra walls to better separate clients. It offered to help get the shelter larger cleaning crews. But according to John Tessier, an intervention worker at the Open Door, that simply isn't true. Tessier says the shelter added physical barriers to the shelter, hired extra security and implemented new measures to make sure clients could keep two metres apart weeks ago, but he says public health officials have yet to respond to their calls and emails and to give the green light to reopen the shelter at night. "We've invited them in to come see what's been done. We've sent them pictures and we've had no response to any of that," said Tessier. "The fact that somebody passed away within a stone's throw from our building is traumatic, it's disheartening and if it was up to us, we would just stay open right now." In a statement, the CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal said it had provided the Open Door with training sessions on public health regulations last month. The regional health authority said it will continue to work with the centre so that it can reopen at night. "We are happy that the Board of directors of the Open Door has decided to take a few weeks to implement these measures before opening again at night," the statement says. "The CIUSSS West-Central Montreal, [Montreal Public Health] and the Service régional de l'itinérance will continue to assist the organization during that period." Mourning a 'good friend' Annisee Papialuk has been a client at the Open Door for some 13 years now. For her, the shelter's overnight closure coinciding with the province's mandatory curfew has been next to impossible to navigate. "When it closes down during the night, it's really hard for us to find a place. We end up sleeping on the street and workers kick us out so it's hard," said Papialuk. "If there was a place for us homeless people, I would love to go." André was a friend of Papialuk's and she says her anxiety over staying in the streets at night has been worse since his death. "He was a good friend, a tender man, never argued with anybody. He didn't deserve to be seen like that," she said. Legault unrealistic about police, advocates say Upon hearing Legault's claims that police forces have been acting fairly in giving out the curfew fines, Jessica Quijano, co-ordinator of the Iskweu project at the Native Women's Shelter of Montreal, grew frustrated. "That's just not the reality. … Police do not have a positive relationship with the homeless community," said Quijano. Quijano said Montreal's homeless population already deals with racial profiling on a regular basis and the introduction of this curfew has only made matters worse. She said the city and province have both been too slow to provide homeless people with the resources they need during the pandemic, and she says André's death last weekend is just one example of that. "We warned public health. We warned the mayor. We knew people would die," said Quijano. "The non-action is sending a message that those people's lives don't matter." More shelter spaces coming, Plante says Plante said that while the city and province have added hundreds of beds in homeless shelters in recent months, there is still work to be done. "There are a lot of beds but there are nights where there are no beds, so we need to work to create more options," Plante said. "I want people to have access to a bed, a place where it's warm, where there's food, where there's services for them." Plante said the city will be announcing the addition of 100 more beds in the next few days.