Check it out as this one-man quartet beautifully covers Handel's Messiah Part 39. Enjoy!
Check it out as this one-man quartet beautifully covers Handel's Messiah Part 39. Enjoy!
Canada added a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine to its pandemic-fighting arsenal on Friday, approving Johnson & Johnson's product a week after it was authorized in the United States. That gives Canada four distinct vaccines — along with Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca — and it adds flexibility to the country's plan to immunize the majority of its residents by September. Health Canada includes a fifth vaccine, Covishield, which is a separate brand name for doses of the AstraZeneca product made at the Serum Institute of India. The U.S.-based Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for emergency use on Feb. 27. Canada has already secured 10 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine through previous negotiations with the company, with the option to buy another 28 million. The 10 million pre-purchased doses will be delivered before September, but they're not expected to start flowing into Canada until at least April. Here's what we know about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine: HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT? Johnson & Johnson announced promising results from its Phase 3 clinical trials at the end of January, suggesting its vaccine reduced severe COVID-19 disease by 85 per cent, and prevented 100 per cent of COVID-related hospitalization or death. The vaccine had a 72 per cent efficacy in preventing COVID infections after 28 days in the company's U.S. trials. The efficacy dropped to 66 per cent when averaging in results from other global trials, including a South African study that factored in more transmissible variants of the COVID virus. An FDA report last month said the vaccine was 64 per cent effective in preventing infection in South Africa about a month after the vaccines were administered. Pfizer and Moderna showed 95 per cent efficacy in their respective trials, but those were both tested against previous dominant strains of the virus and didn't account for the variants that have popped up since. Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca also had zero hospitalizations and deaths in their trials. The FDA report said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was similarly effective across age, race and people with comorbidities. The agency added that effectiveness appeared to be lower (42.3 per cent after one month) in people over 60 with comorbidities such as diabetes or heart disease. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THIS VACCINE? The potential ease of distribution offered by a one-and-done shot, and its ability to be stored in a regular fridge are among its biggest strengths. Vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca all require two doses. Johnson & Johnson's vaccine can be stored in a regular fridge for up to three months, the company says. Pfizer's vaccine initially required ultra-cold storage temperatures between -60 C and -80 C, though Health Canada said this week it could be stored in a regular freezer for up to 14 days. Moderna's vaccine can also be stored at regular freezer temperatures while AstraZeneca can be stored in a fridge. WHAT KIND OF VACCINE TECHNOLOGY IS USED? Unlike the mRNA technology used in Pfizer and Moderna's products, Johnson & Johnson is a non-replicating viral vector vaccine similar to AstraZeneca's. That means it uses a different harmless virus, which can't copy itself, as a vector to give our cells the instructions they need to make the coronavirus's spike protein. The immune system recognizes the protein and makes antibodies, which then allow us to fend off attack from the same virus if exposed in the future. WERE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS NOTED? No specific safety concerns were identified in participants of the trials, regardless of age, race and comorbidities. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said in a press conference Friday that almost 20 per cent of participants in the Johnson & Johnson trials were 65 years of age and older, and "no differences in safety or efficacy were seen compared to the younger groups." The FDA said the most common reported side effects were headache and fatigue, followed by muscle aches, nausea and fever. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
NASA's Mars rover Perseverance has taken its first, short drive on the surface of the red planet, two weeks after the robot science lab's picture-perfect touchdown on the floor of a massive crater, mission managers said on Friday. The six-wheeled, car-sized astrobiology probe put a total of 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) on its odometer on Thursday during a half-hour test spin within Jezero Crater, site of an ancient, long-vanished lake bed and river delta on Mars. Taking directions from mission managers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles, the rover rolled 4 meters (13.1 feet) forward, turned about 150 degrees to its left and then drove backward another 2.5 meters (8.2 feet).
The 2021 Pink Shirt Day campaign, organized by the Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters, closed the month of February on a positive and encouraging note. Pink Shirt day was celebrated on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, but the organizers say its message of inclusion and diversity is a part of the Boys and Girls Club programs every day of the year. "We are happy to say we have sold over 2,600 shirts this year, surpassing even previous years' sales," said Amanda Guarino, Supervisor, Community Engagement, Boys and Girls Club of Kingston & Area. "This is incredible amid the pandemic and really shows how Kingston is a giving, caring, and supportive community. All pink shirt sales fund our year-round anti-bullying and positive mentoring programs, adding healthy relationship components to our after-school, summer camps, and specific education programs." Guarino said they had over 700 community members interacting with them, and had spread their anti-bullying message to more than 4,000 people in Kingston. “We are especially thankful to our title sponsor, Terra Nova Truss, and the support received from annual partners like Kawartha Credit Union and McDonald’s,” Guarino added. “This allowed us to provide over 270 pink shirts to the children and youth we serve, making our members feel a special sense of belonging to their peers and to the campaign.” Proceeds of pink shirt sales are going straight into anti-bullying and positive mentoring programs for children and youth in Kingston. “On Pink Shirt Day, we ran a workshop with our youth members that had them reflect on their bullying experiences, and even got them to talk about instances when they themselves were unkind to others and what they learned,” said Devin Reynolds, Senior Manager at the West End Hub of the Boys and Girls Club. “We focused our programs with younger children on cyber-bullying, social media, and how to stay safe online,” Reynolds continued. “It really brings our campaign to life to hear kids saying ‘kindness means sticking up for people’ and ‘kindness means not being mean to someone else for liking different things’.” The funds raised will keep programs like these operating and reaching more than 400 children and youth in Kingston after-school everyday, throughout the year. “All of us had an important part in making the campaign have this transformative character,” Guarino said. “Thank you, Kingston, for standing with us against bullying and showing that our community leads with kindness.” “With your support, children are learning and growing into confident, supportive and inclusive leaders,” she said. To watch a brief video on the 2021 Pink Shirt Day campaign and to support year-round anti-bullying programs, please visit www.bgckingston.ca Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
TORONTO — Friends and fans remembered Chris Schultz as a gentle giant, who became a respected TV and radio analyst after a successful playing career with the Dallas Cowboys and Toronto Argonauts. Schultz, a native of Burlington, Ont., died Thursday after suffering a heart attack. He was 61. At six foot eight and 277 pounds during his playing career, Schultz was hard to miss on and off the field. The former offensive tackle was a big man with a grip to match. "He was a genuine personality. He was himself," said TSN broadcaster Rod Smith, a longtime friend and colleague. "There was no pretence to him. "He could be gentle with people. He always asked about my family. But at the same time, he was strong, he was imposing. And oh that handshake. It was the most crushing handshake — and I've got big hands — that I've ever experienced in my life. "I think of him right now and I just think of shaking his hand. You always had to be ready." In an era when a Canadian in the NFL was something special, Schultz turned heads when he was drafted by America's Team in 1983. Taken in the seventh round (189th overall) after a college career at the University of Arizona, Schultz played 21 games for the Cowboys from 1983 to 1985 under Hall of Fame coach Tom Landry before returning home to play for the Argonauts in 1986. Toronto had selected Schultz in the first round (seventh overall) of the 1982 CFL draft. Schultz played for Toronto from 1986 to 1994 and was named a CFL all-star twice (1987 and '88) and East all-star three times (1987, '88 and '91). He was named to the Argonauts all-time team in 2007. "Chris Schultz was made to play football, or football was made for Chris Schultz," Argonauts GM Michael (Pinball) Clemons said in a statement." Either way it was a symbiotic relationship … His passion reverberated on radio, television, coaching kids or walking the dog. He was always willing to talk football. "I'm disappointed because he had more to give, and my fervent hope is he knew how much he was loved," he added. Clemons, Schultz and quarterback Matt Dunigan, who joined Schultz as a TSN analyst, combined to win the 1991 Grey Cup for the Argos, capping a season to remember under the ownership of Wayne Gretzky, John Candy and Bruce McNall. Schultz also played in the 1987 Grey Cup, which saw the Argos lose on a last-second Edmonton field goal. After his playing career, Schultz moved into radio before spending 20 years as an analyst for TSN. He spent the last two seasons as colour commentator on the Argos' radio broadcasts. Smith recalls interviewing him back for a broadcast position in 1998. "I remember doing this audition with him and immediately being impressed by not only his knowledge and his passion but just his presence. He was a big man with a big presence," he said in an interview. "And I could tell instantly how good he was going to be on television." Schultz got the job and became a fixture on TSN's CFL panel. Bell Media senior vice-president Stewart Johnston called Schultz "a gentle giant who brought passion, dedication, and energy to his coverage of the game. “Chris was a unique voice in Canadian football broadcasting, and an iconic figure to fans across the country." "A big bear of a man but so funny, warm and welcoming," added TSN hockey analyst Bob McKenzie, who shared the same seat as Schultz when football turned to hockey in the network's studio. Schultz took his broadcast duties seriously. Part of a panel that could occasionally take a comedic detour, he would look to stick to football and ensure everyone had their say. "He was a real student of the game," said author/CFL historian Paul Woods. Schultz would be one of the last Argos to leave the locker-room, staying to work out or watch film. It would serve him well in his role as analyst. Woods is author of "Bouncing Back: From National Joke to Grey Cup Champs," which tells the story of the Argos in the early '80s. He interviewed Schultz for his next book, expected out this year, which focuses on the years around the '91 Grey Cup victory. Woods, a former Canadian Press reporter and manager, says while the 1991 Argos were a relaxed bunch who liked to have fun during their pre-game walkthroughs, Schultz was all business. He told Woods he had to operate on the field as a robot, in a zone. "He was an intense guy," said Woods, noting Schultz was once ejected from a pre-season game after getting into a fight with several Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Away from the job, Schultz was a private man. Mike Hogan, who shared the Argo radio booth with Schultz, called his friend a "complex" person who "liked to separate work life from real life." On the job, he shone brightly. "We called Chris Schultz the Big Man for so many reasons beyond the obvious," CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie, who played with Schultz with the Argos, said in a statement. "He had a big personality. He could make you think as easily as he could make you laugh. "He had a big presence on CFL on TSN, breaking down each game with incredible passion, insight and joy … But most of all, my teammate and friend had a big heart. It was oversized even for his frame." Schultz started his football career in the Burlington Minor Football Association and played for the Aldershot Lions during high school. While he also played basketball, he looked south of the border for football opportunities, travelling by bus to Michigan State and Syracuse to gauge interest. He earned a scholarship at the University of Arizona, where he started life as a defensive lineman before switching to the offensive line as a senior. His played for the Wildcats from 1978 to 1982, appearing in the 1979 Fiesta Bowl. Football took a toll on Schultz's body. The big man walked with a shuffle, paying the price for past knee injuries. Away from football, he made the Purolator Tackle Hunger program a cause close to his heart. "When he spoke publicly about working at and with food banks, and what it meant to him and to families in need, Chris’s sincerity and empathy moved everyone," said Ambrosie. "Those moments not only made the program stronger. They made everyone who experienced them want to be better, to be more like Chris." Schultz was inducted into the Burlington Sports Hall of Fame in 2015 and the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 2016. "The CFL is filled with countless men and women who make it spectacular, and we lost one of them (Thursday)," said Blue Bombers coach Mike O'Shea. --- Follow NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
A prominent medical journal’s provocative tweet was meant to prompt interest in a podcast on racism. Instead, the Twitter post and the podcast stoked backlash and admonishment from the doctors' group that publishes the journal. The tweet from the Journal of the American Medical Association said in part, “No physician is racist, so how can there be structural racism in health care?" It was promoting a podcast episode featuring two white doctors: a deputy journal editor and a physician who runs a New York City health system. They were discussing how structural racism worsens health outcomes and what health systems can do to address it, JAMA said in an online description. The episode, designed for doctors, was first posted last week and was billed as a discussion for skeptics. It included comments that racism is illegal and a term that should be avoided because it evokes negative feelings. The journal later removed the tweet. Its top editor, Dr. Howard Bauchner, issued an apology Thursday for the tweet and for portions of the podcast. Outcry continued Friday on Twitter. Some called the podcast “cringeworthy? and said physicians who have experienced racism should have been involved. The American Medical Association, which owns and publishes JAMA but has no editorial control over its content, tweeted Thursday that the podcast “was wrong, false and harmful." The association's CEO, Dr. James Madara, said in a statement that “structural racism in health care and our society exists and it is incumbent on all of us to fix it." The AMA’s chief equity officer, Dr. Aletha Maybank, who is Black, called the JAMA tweet and podcast “absolutely appalling.” Dr. Brittani James, a Black Chicago physician who co-founded the Institute for Anti-Racism in Medicine, accused the journal of “whitesplaining racism." Dr. Uche Blackstock of Advancing Health Equity tweeted that, “Yes, physicians can absolutely be racist”’ and that JAMA should not have deleted the tweet. Her group works to confront racism in medicine. A journal spokeswoman said Friday that Bauchner would have no additional comment. ___ Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner at @ LindseyTanner. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Lindsey Tanner, The Associated Press
While discussing the EU and Italy's decision to block an AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine shipment to Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison outlined his position on vaccine nationalism.
Tofino, BC - For the majority of Steve Howard’s life, he lived by the phrase, “real men don’t cry.” “Back in my day we were always taught not to cry,” he said. “We were always taught not to feel. So, we grew up kind of tough. Whatever we held in, we kept in.” It’s a mindset that the Tla-o-qui-aht man is trying to shift by encouraging his four sons to openly share their feelings. And yet, his past traumas of physical, mental and sexual abuse continue to hold him back. “We all have troubles and we all have flaws,” he said. “We don’t share our stories. Sexual abuse is a really big thing that happened to First Nations people – not just in Tla-o-qui-aht, but all over Canada and the United States. We as men don’t express that feeling of being raped, not just by a priest but by [our] own family members.” Noticing a gap in men’s support, Howard, Chris Seitcher, Dwayne Martin, Craig Devine and William Goodbird formed a men’s group and started hosting informal men’s circles in Ty-Histanis in the Fall of 2017. While they noticed options for women, youth and elders, there wasn’t a place for men to come together. For Howard, the men’s circle provided him a safe space to share his story without fear of judgement. In turn, he encouraged the men around him to “feel strong enough to express who they are.” “Everybody’s story helped my journey,” he said. “It’s the growth of knowing that I’m not alone in this world.” In those early stages, the men’s group struggled to host regular circles because they didn’t have a consistent space to gather in. The setback meant attendance was scarce and yet its impact started to pulse throughout the nation. “One of the key things that we noticed was it started a conversation in and around the community,” said Devine. “These men would [return] home from our men’s gathering and be totally high as a kite on the good vibe of everything. They brought that energy back home with them and their wives noticed it and their kids noticed it. We started really wanting to build on that.” Eventually, the group of volunteers secured a space within the nation’s health centre and three to 18 men started regularly attending. Through sweats, brushings, singing, drumming and talking circles, the group aimed to integrate a more ancestral approach to dealing with trauma. “We communicate our emotions in a different way, or the way that we were taught,” said Seitcher, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation cultural support worker. "Sometimes expressing them will come out through yelling, swearing or causing harm to another person.” While there is no excuse for that behaviour, Seitcher said the men’s group is trying to shift those forms of expression through connection and ceremony. “If we are able to truly work on ourselves and truly heal, we are able to be in the moment,” he said. “We are able to live for today. We’re able to see and be connected with the people that we meet and talk to – with our families and loved ones. We won’t sit with the things that were done in the past. We won’t sit with the hurts that have happened in the past. It will come up – those hurts and those pains – but we have to allow it to flow through our bodies so that we can let it go.” As momentum started to build, the First Nations Health Authority stepped in last year and provided a significant amount of funding for the group. Despite being unable to gather due to COVID-19 restrictions, Seitcher, Devine and Naomi Seitcher, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation community services manager, have been working to formalize the group, which has been named, ƛ̓iik̓pitap taqumł. Levi Martin offered the name, which means “to build a solid foundation for the community.” “It always makes me feel good when people are wanting to do something to make changes in themselves, in their families and communities,” he said. They landed on the name because the structure of a house cannot stand without the foundation, said Seitcher. “Each one of us in the community can be that foundation,” he said. “If one person heals, the hope is that the next person heals too. If we heal as a community, the next generation will be that much better off.” By letting go of the past, Seitcher said the community will be able to “move forward in a good way.” Looking ahead, ƛ̓iik̓pitap taqumł plans to provide an open, consistent space where Tla-o-qui-aht men can gather and grow through ceremony, health programming and cultural learning. By supporting men in their healing journey through connection, Howard said the men’s group is a tool “to speak your mind.” “A lot of us are too scared to speak,” he said. “But once you learn how to speak, then you learn how to stand. And once you learn how to stand, you learn how to walk. It’s learning how to move forward again.” Melissa Renwick, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Ha-Shilth-Sa
VANCOUVER — British Columbia's highest court has sided with the largest private landowner in the province in a dispute over public access to public land. In a unanimous ruling, a panel of the B.C. Court of Appeal overturned a lower-court order and gives the Douglas Lake Cattle Company the right to block access to Crown-owned Stoney and Minnie lakes, which are within the huge ranch east of Merritt, B.C. The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company, owned by U.S. billionaire and sports franchise owner Stan Kroenke, blocked road and trail access to the lakes. Writing for the court in a decision posted online Friday, Justice Peter Willcock says the province's lack of public access legislation entitles the ranch to restrict access, even though public fishing is still allowed on each lake and a portion of a road near one of the lakes remains public. Willcock says the "truly divided" decision also affects a lower-court order awarding special costs to the small, privately funded fish and game club. The club and ranch must now pay their own costs of the lengthy legal battle, while costs of the appeal are awarded to the cattle company because its arguments "substantially succeeded." The judgment says the club's argument of the right to cross private land to a Crown-owned, public lake could not succeed. "In my view, while this argument may attract considerable public support, it has no support in our law," Willcock says. The lack of public access legislation in the province "reflects a policy decision by the legislature that is the focus of some debate," says Willcock. But the debate does not alter current laws, and Willcock says the lower-court judge instead "added his voice to the chorus of those seeking to limit the rights of private property owners." "In doing so, he was not describing the law but advocating for a right of public access to lakes on private land," says Willcock, ruling there is "no statutory or common law right" to cross the ranch property to reach the lakes. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Beth Leighton, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Canadian actor Patrick J. Adams is defending his "Suits" co-star Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, as she and husband Prince Harry square off against media critics and the British Royal Family. Toronto-raised Adams has posted a series of tweets praising Meghan and admonishing what he calls "the endless racist, slanderous, clickbaiting vitriol spewed in her direction from all manner of media across the U.K. and the world." Adams also criticizes the Royal Family in his tweets, which end with him telling Meghan's detractors to "find someone else to admonish, berate and torment," adding she is way out of their league. Meghan and Harry, who live in California after stepping back from royal duties, are set to speak about life at Buckingham Palace in a TV special with Oprah Winfrey on CBS and Global on Sunday. Teaser clips from the two-hour prime-time interview show Meghan saying "the firm" — a nickname for the Royal Family — is playing an active role "in perpetuating falsehoods about" herself and Harry. Harry also talks about his fears that history would repeat itself after his mother, Princess Diana, died in a car crash while pursued by paparazzi. Meghan, a biracial former actor who is pregnant with the couple's second child, has faced relentless criticism in the British press since marrying Harry in 2018. As Sunday's interview clips circulate, new accusations have surfaced against her in the Times of London, with a former aide accusing her "bullying" Royal Family staff in 2018. Buckingham Palace said Wednesday it was launching an investigation into the allegation. The royal rift comes as Prince Philip, Harry's 99-year-old grandfather, recovers from a heart procedure in hospital. Adams and Meghan played a couple working in the legal world on "Suits," which was shot in Toronto from 2011 to 2019. Adams said Meghan "was an enthusiastic, kind, co-operative, giving, joyful and supportive" friend and colleague, and remained so as her "fame, prestige and power accrued." "She has always been a powerful woman with a deep sense of morality and a fierce work ethic and has never been afraid to speak up, be heard and defend herself and those she holds dear," Adams wrote on Twitter. "Like the rest of the world, I have watched her navigate the last few years in astonishment." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
The provincial government has appointed former Toronto police chief Mark Saunders as a special adviser to help oversee the redevelopment of Ontario Place. In a news release issued Friday, Lisa MacLeod, Ontario's minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, said Saunders's intimate knowledge of the diverse communities in Toronto — and across Ontario — will bring "important perspectives" to the project. "Mr. Saunders will provide guidance and expert advice ... while working closely with the City of Toronto and Indigenous communities, as well as stakeholders and businesses involved in the redevelopment project," the province said in the release. The release says Saunders's senior-level experience in a major organization, and experience in large-scale "transformation change management," will allow him to effectively advise MacLeod and Premier Doug Ford as they make decisions about the future of the 155-acre plot of land. Saunders announced his resignation from the Toronto Police Service on June 8 of last year, and officially stepped down on July 31. In December 2020, he was also appointed to Ontario's COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force. What Ontario Place looked like in the fall of 2019.(Michael Wilson/CBC) Announcement about Ontario Place expected this spring The province accepted bids in 2019 for who would transform Ontario Place into a "year-round" destination. While the provincial government remains tight-lipped about the future of the site, MacLeod has confirmed that the vision does not include casinos or condos, the land will not be sold and the key heritage and recreational features of the site will remain. In Friday's release, MacLeod said the province will be sharing more news in the spring about plans for the redevelopment. "The 50th anniversary of Ontario Place is the perfect time to provide the people of Ontario with a preview of the tremendous plans for the site's future," she said.
CALGARY — Projects that qualify to sell federal greenhouse gas emission credits to offset industrial carbon taxes will have to have been started in the past four years and go "beyond business-as-usual practices" under proposed regulations unveiled by Ottawa. To qualify for federal GHG credits, projects must be situated in Canada, have been started after Jan. 1, 2017, and offer "real, additional, quantified, unique and permanent GHG reductions," Environment and Climate Change Canada said Friday. Some of those provisions are concerning for Canadian farmers because they mean the sector won't be rewarded for responsible practices they've been adopting for decades, said Drew Spoelstra, a grain and dairy farmer who is also a vice-president with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. "Farmers have been doing a lot of good environmental work for a number of years. This didn't just happen overnight," he said on Friday. "We've been doing things like following no-tilling and best management practices for a generation almost." He added there's a potential for farmers to be a "huge generator of credits" if the federal program is set up properly, adding the OFA intends to take part in a 60-day comment period ending May 5. Final regulations are to be established by next fall. In a briefing, department officials said Friday the federal program will not compete with credits generated under similar programs offered in provinces such as Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec but will instead complement provincial programs. Approved carbon offsets can only be used once, they said, adding one credit will be issued for each tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent reduced or removed from the environment. The projects will have to be registered, approved, monitored and face third-party verification before credits can be sold to industrial buyers for use to offset their applicable greenhouse gas emissions and thus reduce their carbon tax costs. In December, Ottawa announced a $15-billion plan to meet its climate change commitments that included steady annual increases to its carbon tax from $50 per tonne in 2022 to $170 per tonne by 2030. Canada wants to get to a 32-per-cent reduction in emissions by 2030, slightly more than its 30-per-cent Paris agreement commitment. The department said Friday it will be developing protocols going forward to govern regulations for various types of offsets. On Friday, it unveiled proposed protocols for advanced refrigeration system upgrading, landfill methane reductions, and forest and agricultural land management. It said the duration of the crediting period would be up to 30 years for forestry projects, up to 20 years for other biological sequestration projects and eight years for all other project types. Monitoring for the biological carbon sequestration projects will have to be submitted annually for the crediting period and 100 years after, it said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Dan Healing, The Canadian Press
Countless people all over the world have stories of meeting him. This is mine.
VANCOUVER — Dentists, teachers and bus drivers are among the essential workers who hope to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in British Columbia, as a provincial committee determines who should be prioritized for the shot. BC Teachers' Federation president Teri Mooring says her members should be included in the plan expected to be released by the B.C. Immunization Committee by March 18. Mooring says teachers have put in the second-highest number of COVID-19-related claims to WorkSafeBC, behind only health-care workers, and have faced difficult conditions in schools with some of the most lax mask policies in Canada. The BC Dental Association says dentists and their teams cannot treat patients remotely, they work in very close proximity to the mouth and often use aerosol-generating procedures. Balbir Mann, president of Unifor Local 111, which represents Metro Vancouver bus drivers, says his members should receive the vaccine because passengers come very close when they enter and exit the bus. BC Trucking Association president Dave Earle, meanwhile, says he represents both long-haul truckers and local drivers who return home every night, so he wants to hear from the province about where the COVID-19 hot spots are in the transportation system. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
Five local health coalitions continued their efforts to transform Ontario’s long-term care home policies and funding structure with a virtual protest held this week. Chatham-Kent long-term care (LTC) representatives and family members of LTC residents shared stories from the front lines. The event was organized by the Ontario Health Coalition and joining them were other Southwestern Ontario LTC representatives. “Mr. Ford announced back in December that there will not be any increase in funding for staffing until April of 2022. That's woefully inadequate and it doesn't help our long-term care loved ones now,” said Shirley Roebuck, chair of the Chatham-Kent and Sarnia chapters. “So what we are pushing for is for the government to make legitimate realistic increases in funding and mandate better staffing and staff mixes, as well as infection control and safety.” The event was held via Zoom and live casted on Facebook. The protest received more than 1,600 views. Lucinda Allaer, a Sarnia resident whose 88-year-old dad, George, is currently living at Fairfield Park long-term care home in Wallaceburg, spoke of her experiences. “He's always filled with the joy of life and he has a wicked sense of humour. He used to carry around a fake finger in his pocket, which he would joyfully slip into his friend's sandwich and then just sit back and wait for the enduring drama to subside...I mentioned that because it's such a big difference to who he is today. My dad no longer laughs at all since he transitioned into long-term care.” The Wallaceburg home recently underwent a COVID outbreak affecting 100 people. Two people died from COVID-19 and two other residents passed away from other causes after testing positive. “My dad cries all of the time,” Allaer said. “He talks about suicide. He asks me to help him to die.” The organizers also held a tribute for all residents and staff that died of COVID-19. To date 146 LTC residents and one staff member passed away from the virus in Southwestern Ontario. In Ontario, 3,756 of its 7,024 COVID-19 deaths have been in long-term homes. Eleven of those individuals were staff members and the rest residents. The protest made a call-to-action, asking residents to email their local MPPs demanding better staffing and funding for long-term care. Rick Nicholls, MPP for Chatham-Kent-Leamington was sitting in the house and unavailable for comment. Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition, called the province’s staffing plan “woefully inadequate” and said it should look to Quebec where 10,000 personal support worker equivalents were brought in over the summer, trained in three months, and deployed in homes before the second wave hit. “(Staffing) was in crisis prior to the pandemic, and we have lost a significant proportion of the staff during the pandemic,” she said. “Staffing levels are now the lowest that we've ever seen across Southwestern Ontario.” Mehra said the government’s staffing plan, released in December, “embraces” what the health coalition has been lobbying for in the past decade which is a minimum care standard of four hours of hands on care for residents each day. However, the beginning of those changes, which is expected to add 15 additional minutes of care per resident per day, will only be implemented in April 2022. The full plan will be implemented by 2025. “It's about the same number of staff that get trained each year anyway. And we have lost at least a third of the staff in the first wave and more in the second wave. So we've lost more than 15 minutes of care through the pandemic, on average per resident anyway. So this is cruelly slow,” Mehra said. She added that the average lifespan of residents in long-term care homes is between 18 months and two years, so many will pass away before these changes are implemented. Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice
Toronto's former police chief has been appointed special adviser to the province for its redevelopment of Ontario Place. The government says Mark Saunders will offer input on plans for the former waterfront theme park in Toronto. The province closed the park to the public in 2012 due to falling revenues and tight finances. The current Progressive Conservative government has said it wants to make the space that first opened in 1971 an impressive attraction. A government news release says Saunders will consult with the City of Toronto, local stakeholders and Indigenous communities. Saunders faced criticism in his tenure as police chief from both the LGBTQ and Black communities over his handling of various cases. He retired from the police force last year, and the search for his permanent replacement is ongoing. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — While the Wyoming National Guard was sending more than 100 troops to Washington, D.C., to help with security around President Joe Biden's inauguration in January, Gov. Mark Gordon quietly mobilized dozens of Guard troops and others in case of violence at the state capitol in Cheyenne. The all-but-undisclosed local deployment Jan. 15-21, specifics of which came to light Friday after an inquiry by The Associated Press, stood in stark contrast with the state's contribution to U.S. Capitol security praised by Gordon and other top Wyoming officials. “Thank you to the @wyoguard members who are serving our country by providing support at today’s Presidential inauguration. Wyomingites are grateful for your service,” Gordon, a Republican, tweeted on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20. Wyoming's congressional delegation — Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis and Rep. Liz Cheney, all Republicans — likewise have posed in photos with and lauded the Wyoming troops at the U.S. Capitol but not those working similar duty back home. The governor didn't previously disclose details of the deployment of 60 Army National Guard and 13 Air National Guard members in the Cheyenne area because it was a “security operation,” Gordon spokesman Michael Pearlman said Friday. “They basically were prepared to do backup in case there was some sort of violent action at the Capitol,” Pearlman said. “They can’t perform law enforcement duties, so they were purely as support.” While other states such as Utah made high-profile increases to security after an FBI warning of “armed protests” in all 50 states that week, security in Cheyenne appeared light. In fact, the Guard troops weren't far away at an “undisclosed location," Pearlman said. Wyoming Highway Patrol, Laramie County Sheriff's Department, Cheyenne Police Department and Wyoming state park personnel also were on standby, Pearlman said. The Cheyenne deployment was announced in the vaguely worded last line of a Wyoming National Guard news release Jan. 14 that announced the troops headed to Washington, D.C., Pearlman added. “Additional National Guard Soldiers and Airmen will be made available to provide support to Wyoming authorities, should the need arise,” the release said without elaboration. The added security proved unnecessary. Hundreds of protesters prompted a lockdown of the Wyoming Capitol on Jan. 6, the same day a mob of President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, resulting in five deaths. Hundreds turned out again Jan. 28 to hear Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz rail from the Capitol steps against Cheney for voting to impeach Trump for the riot. Both gatherings were peaceful and no protests of note happened in Cheyenne between those dates. The extra use of Guard troops, Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers, local police and sheriff’s officers and state park personnel in Cheyenne came to light with an Associated Press request for costs associated with additional security at the state capitol this year. The extra security that week cost $163,531, including $128,815 incurred by the Wyoming Military Department. The military expenses included $70,179 for pay, $36,864 for lodging, $10,742 for equipment costs and $11,030 for food, according to the governor's office. The Wyoming Highway Patrol meanwhile spent an extra $29,374, the Cheyenne Police Department $4,000, the Laramie County Sheriff’s Office $645 and the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources $697 on extra security at the ready that week, Gordon's office said. Besides the National Guard troops, six sheriff's deputies were placed on standby for security in Cheyenne. Wyoming Highway Patrol and Cheyenne police officials didn't immediately respond to requests for comment Friday on how many of their officers were placed on standby for security. ___ Follow Mead Gruver at https://twitter.com/meadgruver Mead Gruver, The Associated Press
The Northwest Territories government must do more to eliminate systemic racism, its politicians declared during a session dedicated to the subject at the territorial legislature this week. Members of the N.W.T. Legislative Assembly ended Wednesday’s session by passing a motion requesting that the government, known as the GNWT, review its policies and determine where any racial and cultural bias may exist. Moved by Thebacha MLA Frieda Martselos, the motion requests an examination of policies related to education, health and social services, justice, housing, and government hiring. “This motion is very much in line with my entire life philosophy of improving government for the people we serve. I have been fighting my entire adult life for the betterment of Black, brown, and Indigenous people,” said Martselos, the former chief of the Salt River First Nation. “Racism takes many different forms, especially in government. Gaps in cultural barriers have always been a problem. Affirmative action and the procurement policy are prime examples of bureaucratic systemic racism. This has to change. Only then, we will make a difference.” Premier Caroline Cochrane and her six fellow cabinet members abstained from the vote on Martselos' motion, as is convention for such motions brought to the House by regular MLAs, but said they were in favour of it. The territorial government has about four months to respond to the motion. What that response may look like remains unclear. Some MLAs used Wednesday's themed session to address personal experiences of systemic racism, while others discussed how to make policies more equitable. Steve Norn, the MLA for Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh, said action must follow Wednesday's discussion to ensure real change occurs. Deh Cho MLA Ron Bonnetrouge, who seconded Martselos' motion, said he had felt racism first-hand from a range of institutions, describing "lots of racist overtones happening to our people." Lesa Semmler, the Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA, said recent steps in the right direction had still to eliminate many barriers. “It’s very hard, steering this ship in a new direction with the obstacles that we have. We have not enough money from our federal government to correct the past policies that were created to try to eradicate or assimilate Indigenous people, that caused more damage,” Semmler said. “There is much more that needs to be done to correct the damage history has caused to the Indigenous people of this territory.” Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been on the 19th Legislative Assembly’s to-do list since this set of MLAs was elected in 2019. That process has moved slowly. In November, a Special Committee on Reconciliation and Indigenous Affairs said it was working to begin the process of implementing the declaration. On Wednesday, Premier Caroline Cochrane reinforced the need to adopt the declaration and to “ingrain these principles into our legislation, policies, and institutions.” “We are committed to learning from the mistakes of the past and moving on from colonial and outdated ways of thinking," Cochrane said. "We must embrace the principles of the United Nations declaration and the principles of anti-racism in the way that we approach all of our mandate commitments." Great Slave MLA Katrina Nokleby questioned how the GNWT is combating racism in hiring practices. She asked whether hiring targets will be implemented for senior levels of management. Finance minister Caroline Wawzonek, who carries responsibility for human resources, said an Indigenous recruitment and retainment framework would in the coming year introduce departmental hiring targets that extend beyond entry-level positions. She said the territory will launch an anti-racism campaign from March 16 to April 21 that “will encourage all GNWT employees to challenge their beliefs and attitudes around racism.” “Systemic racism hides in plain sight," Wawzonek said. “We recognize that, in order to eliminate systemic racism in the N.W.T., we must build a culture of anti-racism within the public service.” The implementation of mandatory cultural awareness training for employees has yet to be completed. The N.W.T.'s affirmative action policy is under review. Health minister Julie Green vowed to address racism in all its forms in the N.W.T.’s health department and health authorities. “Research shows that Indigenous peoples experience a disproportionate amount of negative health and social outcomes in comparison to non-Indigenous people,” Green said. “It is our responsibility as a government to address this inequity directly by making sure that all aspects of the Health and Social Services system are culturally respectful and safe for Indigenous peoples. "This also includes respecting Indigenous understandings of health and wellness and finding ways to accommodate traditional healing in our system.” Green said a cultural safety action plan released in 2019 had so far resulted in 13 cultural safety training sessions involving 225 healthcare or social services workers. The sessions teach people about Indigenous medicine, residential schools and intergenerational impacts, and racism at interpersonal and systemic levels. Green said an N.W.T. cultural safety framework being developed will be reviewed by health and social services staff as well as an Indigenous advisory board. Most of that work, the minister said, will come from a unit of almost entirely Indigenous staff from across the territory. Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
Kim Kardashian on Friday called out those who bully and body- shame others, recalling her embarrassment when she was attacked for gaining 60 pounds during her first pregnancy. In an Instagram stories posting, Kardashian detailed how she had been compared to a killer whale during the later stages of her pregnancy in 2013, and how her figure was contrasted unfavorably to Prince William's wife Kate, who was also pregnant at the time. The cosmetics businesswoman and social media star said she was reminded of those months while watching a recent documentary about Britney Spears, tracing the meteoric rise of the pop star and the media coverage of her mental health breakdown in 2007.
NEW YORK — A new national study adds strong evidence that mask mandates can slow the spread of the coronavirus, and that allowing dining at restaurants can increase cases and deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the study Friday. “All of this is very consistent,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing on Friday. “You have decreases in cases and deaths when you wear masks, and you have increases in cases and deaths when you have in-person restaurant dining.” The study was released just as some states are rescinding mask mandates and restaurant limits. Earlier this week, Texas became the biggest state to lift its mask rule, joining a movement by many governors to loosen COVID-19 restrictions despite pleas from health officials. “It’s a solid piece of work that makes the case quite strongly that in-person dining is one of the more important things that needs to be handled if you’re going to control the pandemic,” said William Hanage, a Harvard University expert on disease dynamics who was not involved in the study. The new research builds on smaller CDC studies, including one that found that people in 10 states who became infected in July were more likely to have dined at a restaurant and another that found mask mandates in 10 states were associated with reductions in hospitalizations. The CDC researchers looked at U.S. counties placed under state-issued mask mandates and at counties that allowed restaurant dining — both indoors and at tables outside. The study looked at data from March through December of last year. The scientists found that mask mandates were associated with reduced coronavirus transmission, and that improvements in new cases and deaths increased as time went on. The reductions in growth rates varied from half a percentage point to nearly 2 percentage points. That may sound small, but the large number of people involved means the impact grows with time, experts said. “Each day that growth rate is going down, the cumulative effect — in terms of cases and deaths — adds up to be quite substantial,” said Gery Guy Jr., a CDC scientist who was the study's lead author. Reopening restaurant dining was not followed by a significant increase in cases and deaths in the first 40 days after restrictions were lifted. But after that, there were increases of about 1 percentage point in the growth rate of cases and — later — 2 to 3 percentage points in the growth rate of deaths. The delay could be because restaurants didn't re-open immediately and because many customers may have been hesitant to dine in right after restrictions were lifted, Guy said. Also, there's always a lag between when people are infected and when they become ill, and longer to when they end up in the hospital and die. In the case of dining out, a delay in deaths can also be caused by the fact that the diners themselves may not die, but they could get infected and then spread it to others who get sick and die, Hanage said. “What happens in a restaurant doesn't stay in a restaurant,” he said. CDC officials stopped short of saying that on-premises dining needs to stop. But they said if restaurants do open, they should follow as many prevention measures as possible, like promoting outdoor dining, having adequate indoor ventilation, masking employees and calling on customers to wear masks whenever they aren't eating or drinking. The study had limitations. For example, the researchers tried to make calculations that accounted for other policies, such as bans on mass gatherings or bar closures, that might influence case and death rates. But the authors acknowledged that they couldn't account for all possible influences — such as school re-openings. “It's always very, very hard to thoroughly nail down the causal relationships,” Hanage said. “But when you take this gathered with all the other stuff we know about the virus, it supports the message” of the value of mask wearing and the peril of restaurant dining, he added. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Mike Stobbe, The Associated Press
TORONTO — The recent approval of new vaccines will accelerate Ontario's immunization plan, the province said Friday as the man in charge of the rollout expressed optimism all adults could receive the first dose by June 20. The government said under the current plan, seniors aged 75 and older will start getting the shot in April, while everyone 60 and older will receive the first dose by the end of May or early June, if not earlier. Officials made the announcement after Health Canada approved a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. "We've had a seismic shift in our vaccination opportunities and the program to roll it out," said retired general Rick Hillier, the head of the province’s vaccine task force. A spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott said the timelines would depend on supply. "If we receive more vaccines than currently planned for — as will likely be the case with today’s approval of Johnson & Johnson and increased shipments of Pfizer — we will be able to further accelerate these timelines," Alexandra Hilkene said in an email. She said Hillier's comments about the June 20 timeline were a goal based on the Johnson & Johnson approval. Hillier said the approval of two more vaccines, expected increases in supply and the extension of the interval between first and second doses will allow the province to "crush those timelines really tightly." "... our aim would be to allow the province of Ontario to have a first needle in the arm of every eligible person who wants it by the first day of summer," Hillier said. "Please be patient a little while longer." The province says 113 mass vaccination clinics will start operating this month, with maximum capacity of four million doses per day across public health units, though officials administration will vary based on supply and local considerations. The vast majority of deaths from COVID-19 in Ontario, and across the country, have been among people aged 60 and older. Other risk factors including neighbourhood, existing health conditions and inability to work from home will be prioritized in the second phase of the rollout. A recent report from experts advising Ontario on COVID-19 said a vaccination plan based on age and neighbourhoods hit hardest by the virus could reduce cases by the thousands and prevent deaths. Thirteen public health units will receive additional doses for virus hot spot neighbourhoods during Phase 2. Those health units include Durham; Halton; Hamilton; Niagara; Ottawa; Peel Region; Simcoe Muskoka; Waterloo; Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph; Windsor Essex; York Region; Southwestern and Toronto. Doses will also be offered starting in April to people with specific health conditions like transplant recipients, and to residents and staff in congregate care settings including correctional facilities, shelters and developmental facilities. People with other high-risk conditions including obesity, treatment that suppresses the immune system, and intellectual disabilities will follow the first group, and then people considered at greater risk that include dementia, cancer and diabetes. Essential workers who can't work from home will be offered doses at the end of the second phase, though the timeline is subject to change. The province laid out more details on which essential workers will be eligible to receive their shots first. Vaccinations among that group will start with school staff, first responders, childcare workers, food manufacturing workers and agriculture workers. Then shots will go to workers in retail, manufacturing, social workers, the justice system, financial services, waste management, mining, oil and gas, warehousing and distribution. The union representing correctional workers applauded the news on that members would be included in the second phase of vaccinations. “This is absolutely the right thing to do, and the government deserves credit for ensuring our Corrections members get vaccinated,” Ontario Public Service Employees Union President Warren Thomas said in a statement. “This will go a long way to making our correctional facilities safe, protecting both staff and inmates." Hillier said the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine may be useful in getting shots to people who are difficult to reach, such as migrant farm workers and homeless individuals. Ontario is expecting 194,500 doses of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine next week. Those shots will be administered to residents between the ages of 60 and 64 starting with a pilot project in Toronto, Kingston and Windsor-Essex pharmacies. Officials said the timeline for younger individuals may speed up based on supply of that vaccine. Others criticized the timeline for the rollout as still too slow. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said an April start date for at-risk residents prioritized in the second phase of the rollout is too late. "Where’s the urgency? These folks are at grave risk right now, and getting them their shots is critical to stopping the spread," This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press