The challenges and urgency facing an ambitious plan in Ontario schools to test 50,000 asymptomatic students a week.
The challenges and urgency facing an ambitious plan in Ontario schools to test 50,000 asymptomatic students a week.
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).
A warrant has been issued for a man accused of violating New Brunswick's COVID-19 emergency order by failing to self-isolate last year. Tristan Gregory Baillie, 24, of Moncton faces charges of failing to comply with New Brunswick's Emergency Measures Act as well as criminal charges of mischief, failing to appear in court, obstructing a police officer, and uttering death threats. He was scheduled to enter pleas during an appearance in Moncton provincial court on Friday morning, but he wasn't present when his name was called. Provincial court Judge Paul Duffie issued a warrant for his arrest. It's alleged that on April 5 last year in Aulac, Baillie provided a false name and address to a peace officer stationed at a provincial border checkpoint. Baillie then allegedly failed to self-isolate for 14 days after entering the province. The other charges allege that on July 21 last year he damaged a 2010 Buick Enclave belonging to another person and uttered a death threat to that person. He also failed to appear in court on Sept. 4, leading to another charge.
Dysart et al council has some concerns with a proposal that would see the Lakeview Motel, located along County Road 21, converted into a 15-unit affordable housing complex. This particular project has been in the works for several months, as a collection of municipalities and community groups work together in an attempt to increase the supply of affordable housing across the region. Back in 2019, a ten-year housing and homelessness plan was adopted by both Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes, with an aim to create 750 new units by 2029. In a delegation to council last Tuesday [Feb. 23], Michelle Corley, affordable housing target program supervisor with the City of Kawartha Lakes, indicated the proposal for Lakeview Motel, brought forth by Places for People, was a vital part of the early stages of the plan. Corley’s report notes that, this year, there is the potential for 47 new affordable housing units to be created in Haliburton County. Roughly a third of those, 15 units in total, will be situated at the site that currently houses the Lakeview Motel. As is the case with almost every affordable housing development, Corley explains, there needs to be some level of investment from the municipality that stands to benefit from their creation. Often, developers are offered various incentives to ensure projects such as these are financially feasible. With that in mind, Corley asked Dysart council to consider waiving approximately $45,000 in permit and application fees to help push through the project. That was a tough pill for some of the community’s elected officials to swallow. Mayor Andrea Roberts was concerned about the $32,900 exemption requested to cover ERU – or equivalent residential unit – fees. “I really struggle with that. ERU is a user-pay system. We can’t actually waive that. We would have to actually put money into our own capital contribution for the year. It’s a hard dollar figure,” Roberts said. While Dysart set aside $10,000 to set up an economic development reserve fund in 2021, that wouldn’t be enough to completely cover the requested ERU exemption. Ward 2 Coun. Larry Clarke was concerned that Dysart could potentially be investing thousands of dollars into a project that would likely benefit residents from outside the community. Corley previously informed council that the units would be filled by individuals who are currently on a waiting list for community housing, and may not be from Haliburton. “Around 80 per cent of the applicants [on our waiting list] are local. When I say local, I’m talking about folks from across our service region, so the City of Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton County,” Corley said. That wasn’t the only issue brought up. Ward 4 Coun. John Smith worried about the impact essentially removing a motel from the community could have on local tourism. “Nobody can argue against the need for more affordable housing… The concern I have with this proposal is all it’s doing is taking one type of housing, called a hotel, and converting it into more permanent accommodation,” Smith said. “Our community suffers from a shortage of housing and accommodations of any type, especially during the summer season. If we were to take taxpayers money and help fund this conversion, we would be creating housing, but that may not even be addressing the real need in our community.” Smith pointed towards students who participate in the Haliburton School of Art and Design’s popular summer programming as one group that would suffer through the closure of Lakeview Motel. “These people are often scrambling for all types of accommodation, and stay anywhere in our community… To take this place that, today, is home for many of those people who come to our community for a week or two, or three in the summer and take it off the market… We’ll be scrambling to find a place for tourists to stay.” With council leaning towards delaying making a decision, Corley said a prolonged wait would be detrimental to the long-term intermunicipal plan. “We really are working towards this program having a quarterly intake. We want to be able to bring recommendations [regularly] if there are potential projects landing in Dysart. We’re working hard towards meeting and achieving these targets,” Corley said. “We know the need for affordable housing is great, and we’re hoping to be able to attract a lot of interested parties to build this much-needed housing. A lot of times, these types of housing can’t be made affordable unless there are incentives applied to it to make all the budgets work.” She added, “I’m hoping this will become a regular program, and I’m hoping to seek regular approval for these incentives in the future.” Wanting further clarification on some points from staff, council elected to push this decision until March 9, when they gather for a committee of the whole meeting. It is expected a final decision over whether or not to support this proposal will be made then. Mike Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Haliburton County Echo
IQALUIT, Nunavut — Nunavut's health minister says all 25 communities in the territory are to receive by the end of the month enough COVID-19 vaccine so every adult who wants a first dose will get one. Lorne Kusugak says the territory will receive its expected allotment of 38,000 Moderna doses by mid-March. He says although the goal was to have first and second doses administered by the end of March, shipment delays mean second-dose clinics will extend into April. A community-wide vaccination clinic will also launch in Iqaluit on March 15. Starting March 10, people in the capital who are 18 and older can book an appointment to get a shot. To date, 8,767 first doses have been administered in Nunavut and 5,144 people have received two doses. "It is the best protection we have in Nunavut to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death," Kusugak said Friday. "This vaccine is a way to get things back to normal. It will allow us to gather, have fishing derbies, do community feasts, square dances and visit our elders more safely." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — Two people have been transported to hospital in serious but stable condition after a helicopter crash on Bowen Island, B.C. B.C. Emergency Health Services says in a statement that they received a call at about 10 a.m. Friday morning for reports of a downed helicopter on the island off the coast of West Vancouver. Ground paramedics as well as an air ambulance responded to the call. Emergency Health Services says two patients have been airlifted to hospital. Capt. Chelsea Dubeau with the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre says a helicopter was initially sent to help in the rescue, before the call was cancelled. She says the incident has been turned over to the RCMP for investigation and co-ordination. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
Mourners left flowers and hockey sticks outside the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre in Brantford, Ont., on Friday. The city is mourning Walter Gretzky, a fixture in the community, who died Thursday at age 82.
All Walpole Island First Nation elementary students have been sent home after a student tested positive for COVID-19 Friday. In a letter to the community, Walpole Island First Nation Council said that all Bkejwanong Kinomaagewgamig and Anishinaabeg Kinomaagewgamig students are being immediately dismissed and will return to remote learning "as a precaution." No known or suspected transmission of COVID-19 has occurred within the school, but a second student is awaiting test results, according to council. If no further concerns arise, Walpole said students will go back to in-person learning on March 17. The reopening day will allow for 14 days since the last day that the disease could have spread within the school. Any potential contacts from the classrooms and buses will be notified by Lambton Public Health. Learning devices will be handed out, according to the letter from council. More from CBC Windsor
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
Haliburton’s Friends of the Rail Trail [FoRT] are hoping to kick-start a brand new annual event. Pamela Marsales, a FoRT member, says the organization want to organize a family-friendly bike challenge that would take place during the second weekend in September. She spoke to Dysart Council last week to explain the group’s plans. “The event will be after Labour Day and before Hike Haliburton – we’re just sneaking in there [when] there’s nothing else happening in the village,” Marsales said. “We believe this could become a signature event for Dysart and Haliburton, and can be developed almost as a self-guiding tour.” The event itself was initially conceived around 10 years ago by Marsales herself, but a safe and complete route couldn’t be finalized. However, the opening of Barnum Creek Nature Reserve late in 2020 presented a new opportunity. Outlining a route, Marsales says participants would begin in downtown Haliburton, by the skate park, before climbing the Sky Slider path. Travelling through the woods, bikers would eventually reach Skyline Park and continue on to Skyline Park Road, turn onto Parish Line through ‘Four Corners’ and go to the end of Cowan Road. Entering Barnum Creek through a “back gate”, riders will then travel along forestry road before reaching the Heritage Hike marked trail. They will then exit Barnum Creek, onto a multi-use trail – the site of Haliburton’s oldest pioneer road. This eventually transitions into Gould Crossing Road and, later, the Haliburton County Rail Trail. Eventually, after crossing Gelert Road, participants will come out near Haliburton Highlands Secondary School, cross Highland Street, and complete their ride by travelling along the shore of Head Lake, coming to a final stop at Head Lake Park. “This is an opportunity to show how different routes in and around our community can be connected to create one big loop,” Marsales said. Various community groups have already voiced their support for the event, including the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust, Rails End Gallery, Sir Sam’s Ski/Ride and both the Real Easy Ryders Cycling Club and Haliburton Highlands Trekkers. The Haliburton Highlands Museum is also interested in taking part, largely in an attempt to shed some light on and educate participants on the various historical sites scattered throughout the loop. “The crazy history of the Sky Slider, the history of a pioneer farm in Barnum Creek, and of course the oldest road in Haliburton – the unopened road allowance between Cowan Road and Gould Crossing Road,” Marsales said. “The museum really wants to help convey some of our local history.” In operation since 2007, FoRT has regularly provided public programming to the community either free of charge, or for a nominal fee. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the group has had to cancel two seasons of its Sunday Rambles, which, Marsales says, is where they get most of their membership renewals. “This is a first-time fundraiser for us. We’ve been around for a lot of years, and have always provided public programming for free, or very affordably. If we ever had to do a ticketed event, it was designed to break-even because we wanted to welcome the greatest number of people,” she said. Marsales expects a registration fee for the ride will run around the $20 or $25 mark. All money raised will help support the Haliburton County Rail Trail Linear Park project. Dysart et al Mayor Andrea Roberts said the event has some potential. “It seems a really great route… I’m sure it will be a very successful event. People will be looking forward to doing something fun like this in September,” Roberts said. Council directed township staff to assist FoRT with planning the event. Mike Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Haliburton County Echo
No chemical contaminants were found in Kanesatake’s drinking water, according to a recently released report from Indigenous Services Canada (ISC). The Mohawk Council of Kanesatake disclosed the final study on February 17 on their Facebook page. The report stated that between September and October 2020, 17 sites in and out of the community were selected to have their water tested. “Routine chemical analyses were performed, to screen for the presence of different chemicals in the groundwater,” said Eugene Nicholas, director of Kanesatake’s environmental department in a statement. According to Leslie Michelson, the ISC spokesperson, the water assessment was conducted as a way to determine the presence of selenium, ammonia nitrogen, a variety of phenol compounds and lead that may have a negative impact on the surrounding environment. “In the spring of 2020, the Quebec Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MELCC) carried out surface water testing along the Gratton Creek towards Lac Deux-Montagnes,” said Michelson, explaining that those contaminants were found in the surface water. “The ISC testing was conducted in order to determine if there were any possible impacts on the groundwater.” Back in August 2020, an unknown leak was found in Gratton’s creek, a small body of water that flows from the G&R recycling site into the lake. The nature of the spill remains confidential but the Quebec government retracted G&R’s license a few months later in October, due to a breach of environmental regulations. “The question is to see if what they find in the water is related to G&R or not,” said the grand chief of Kanesatake Serge Otsi Simon. The ISC plan to have water testing was developed in collaboration with Kanesatake Health Centre (KHC), which selected a series of private wells, according to the documents. Community members along Etienne Road, Bonspille Road, the northern end of Mountain Road and the western end of Ste. Philomene granted permission to have their water wells sampled. According to KCH spokesperson Robert Bonspiel, the 17 houses were randomly selected within proximity to the creek. However, ISC wouldn’t confirm whether or not those sites followed the water flow from the recycling site. When asked if it was possible that other harmful contaminants that were not tested could be found in tap water, ISC’s response was unclear and didn’t mention the possible report’s oversight. “Based on the results, it is determined that at the time of analysis, there is no direct influence from the Gratton Creek on the groundwater of the sites analyzed,” said Michelson. The analysis comes at a time where the discussion surrounding drinkable water in Onkwehón:we communities has been at the forefront of Canadian media for the past few weeks. A joint collaboration between six media outlets coordinated by the Institute for Investigative Journalism revealed information regarding the water problem in communities across the country - despite the 2015 electoral promise by the Liberals to eliminate all long-term drinking water advisories in First Nations by March 1, 2021. The Liberal’s promise followed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the United Nations’s Human Right to Water recommendations demanding access to clean water in Onkwehón:we communities as a way to restore relationships impaired by years of colonial policies. While the ISC report revealed no toxic elements in Kanesatake, many sources told The Eastern Door that they do not trust their wells and prefer to opt for bottled water. “I haven’t drunk tap water in over 30 years,” said the grand chief. firstname.lastname@example.org Virginie Ann, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door
NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo's health department confirmed reports late Thursday that members of his COVID-19 task force altered a state Health Department report to omit the full number of nursing home patients killed by the coronavirus, but insisted the changes were made because of concerns about the data's accuracy. The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, citing documents and people with knowledge of the administration’s internal discussions, reported that aides including secretary to the governor Melissa DeRosa pushed state health officials to edit the July report so it counted only residents who died inside long-term care facilities, and not those who became ill there and later died at a hospital. It's the latest blow for Cuomo, who's been besieged by a one-two punch of scandals involving his handling of nursing home deaths and accusations that he sexually harassed two former aides and a woman that he met at a wedding he officiated. Cuomo had apologized Wednesday for acting “in a way that made people feel uncomfortable” but rejected calls for his resignation and said he would fully co-operate with the state attorney general's investigation into the sexual harassment allegations. Federal investigators are scrutinizing his administration’s handling of nursing home data. Top Democrats in the state have said they want those investigations to conclude before they make a judgment about Cuomo's conduct, but in the wake of Thursday night's report, a few state lawmakers renewed calls for the governor to either resign or be ousted. “And Cuomo hid the numbers. Impeach,” tweeted Queens Assembly member Ron Kim, who said Cuomo bullied him over the nursing home response. The July nursing home report was released to rebut criticism of Cuomo over a March 25 directive that barred nursing homes from rejecting recovering coronavirus patients being discharged from hospitals. Some nursing homes complained at the time that the policy could help spread the virus. The report concluded the policy played no role in spreading infection. The state's analysis was based partly on what officials acknowledged at the time was an imprecise statistic. The report said 6,432 people had died in the state's nursing homes. State officials acknowledged even then that the true number of deaths was higher because of the exclusion of patients who died in hospitals, but they declined at the time to give any estimate of that larger number of deaths, saying the numbers still needed to be verified. The Times and Journal reported that, in fact, the original drafts of the report had included that number, then more than 9,200 deaths, until Cuomo's aides said it should be taken out. State officials insisted Thursday that the edits were made because of concerns about accuracy, not to protect Cuomo's reputation. “While early versions of the report included out of facility deaths, the COVID task force was not satisfied that the data had been verified against hospital data and so the final report used only data for in facility deaths, which was disclosed in the report,” said Department of Health Spokesperson Gary Holmes. Scientists, health care professionals and elected officials assailed the report at the time for flawed methodology and selective stats that sidestepped the actual impact of the directive. Cuomo had refused for months to release more complete data. A court order and state attorney general report in January forced the state to acknowledge the nursing home resident death toll was higher than the count previously made public. DeRosa told lawmakers earlier this month that the administration didn't turn over the data to legislators in August because of worries the information would be used against them by the Trump administration. “Basically, we froze, because then we were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice or what we give to you guys, what we start saying was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,” DeRosa said. Cuomo and his health commissioner recently defended the March directive, saying it was the best option at the time to help free up desperately needed beds at the state’s hospitals. “We made the right public health decision at the time. And faced with the same facts, we would make the same decision again,” Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said Feb. 19. The state now acknowledges that at least 15,000 long-term care residents died, compared to a figure of 8,700 it had publicized as of late January that didn’t include residents who died after being transferred to hospitals. The Associated Press
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia welcomed Ottawa's go-ahead for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Friday as health officials geared up for the opening of the first of 10 community inoculation clinics across the province next week. Premier Iain Rankin called the approval of Canada's fourth vaccine a "positive step forward." "As you can see this is a very dynamic situation that is dependent on the federal government's regulatory approval process," Rankin said. "Our vaccine rollout is ramping up as more clinics open and we receive more doses from the federal government." Rankin confirmed that Nova Scotia would be adopting a 16-week interval between first and second shots as recommended by the national panel of vaccine experts, meaning all Nova Scotians who want vaccine will get one shot by the end of June. "We are committed to being ready to getting shots in arms when it is available," the premier said. He added the province's goal remains to achieve full immunity by this fall. Keeping with its aged-based approach to vaccine distribution, Nova Scotia will open community clinics for those 80 and over in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro on Monday. Clinics are also scheduled for Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth on March 15, and Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth on March 22. Frustrations mounted earlier this week when the province's appointment booking web page had to be temporarily taken off-line after traffic was double what had been anticipated. About 48,000 people aged 80 and over in the province are eligible to receive vaccinations. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang said booking for new appointments would resume online and by telephone on Monday for those who were born between Jan.1 and April 30. Those with later birthdays will be informed when they can register later this month. "It is early days, and our supply is still limited, but we are on the cusp of rapidly expanding the volume of vaccine we'll get," Strang said. Officials said they would also have more specific details next week on the rollout of the 13,000 doses the province is receiving of the recently approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The shipment must be used by April 2 and is targeted for those aged 50 to 64 years. It will be administered starting March 15 at 26 locations. Health officials said that as of Thursday, they had administered 38,676 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, with 14,395 people having received a booster shot. Meanwhile, the province reported two new cases of COVID-19 Monday in the Halifax area. Health officials said one case involved a close contact of a previously reported infection and the other was under investigation. The province has 31 active reported cases of novel coronavirus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Keith Doucette, The Canadian 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
NEW YORK — With Merrick Garland poised to be confirmed as attorney general as early as next week, one of the first major questions he is likely to encounter is what to do about Rudy Giuliani. A federal probe into the overseas and business dealings of the former New York City mayor and close ally of former President Donald Trump stalled last year over a dispute over investigative tactics as Trump unsuccessfully sought reelection and amid Giuliani’s prominent role in subsequently disputing the results of the contest on Trump’s behalf. But the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan has since returned to the question of bringing a criminal case against Giuliani, focusing at least in part on whether he broke U.S. lobbying laws by failing to register as a foreign agent related to his work, according to one current and one former law enforcement official familiar with the inquiry. The officials weren't authorized to discuss the ongoing case and spoke on the condition of anonymity. The arrival of a new leadership team in Washington is likely to guarantee a fresh look at the investigation. No matter how it unfolds, the probe ensures that a Justice Department looking to move forward after a tumultuous four years will nonetheless have to confront unresolved, and politically charged, questions from the Trump era — not to mention calls from some Democrats to investigate Trump himself. The full scope of the investigation is unclear, but it at least partly involves Giuliani's Ukraine dealings, the officials said. Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, was central to the then-president's efforts to dig up dirt against Democratic rival Joe Biden and to press Ukraine for an investigation into Biden and his son, Hunter — who himself now faces a criminal tax probe by the Justice Department. Giuliani also sought to undermine former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was pushed out on Trump's orders, and met several times with a Ukrainian lawmaker who released edited recordings of Biden in an effort to smear him before the election. The Foreign Agents Registration Act requires people who lobby on behalf of a foreign government or entity to register with the Justice Department. The once-obscure law, aimed at improving transparency, has received a burst of attention in recent years, particularly during an investigation by former special counsel Robert Mueller that revealed an array of foreign influence operations in the U.S. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan pushed last year for a search warrant for records, including some of Giuliani's communications, but officials in the Trump-era Justice Department would not sign off on the request, according to multiple people familiar with the investigation who insisted on anonymity to speak about an ongoing investigation. Officials in the deputy attorney general's office raised concerns about both the scope of the request, which they thought would contain communications that could be covered by legal privilege between Giuliani and Trump, and the method of obtaining the records, three of the people said. The Justice Department requires that applications for search warrants served on lawyers be approved by senior department officials. “They decided it was prudent to put it off until the dust settled, and the dust has settled now,” said Kenneth F. McCallion, a former federal prosecutor who represents Ukrainian clients relevant to the inquiry and has been in contact with federal authorities about the investigation. McCallion declined to identify his clients, saying he had not been authorized to do so. He previously has represented former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Giuliani's attorney Robert J. Costello told The Associated Press he has “heard nothing” from federal prosecutors concerning Giuliani. It is possible that Giuliani could try to argue that his actions were taken at the behest of the president, as his personal attorney, rather than a foreign country, and therefore registration would not be required under federal law. Giuliani wrote in a text message Thursday to the AP that he “never represented a foreign anything before the U.S. government.” "It’s pure political persecution,” he said of the investigation The U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment. McCallion said federal authorities were asking questions concerning a wide range of Giuliani’s international business dealings, and that “everything was on the table” as it pertained to his work in Ukraine. He said the inquiry was not entirely focused on Ukraine, but declined to elaborate. The investigation of Giuliani's lobbying first came to light in October 2019, when The New York Times reported that federal prosecutors were investigating Giuliani's efforts to oust Yovanovitch, who was recalled amid Trump’s bid to solicit dirt from Ukraine to pressure Ukraine into helping his reelection prospects. Federal prosecutors also have investigated Giuliani as part of a criminal case brought against his former associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, Soviet-born business partners from Florida who played key roles in Giuliani’s efforts to launch the Ukrainian corruption investigation against the Bidens. Parnas and Fruman were charged in a scheme to make illegal campaign donations to local and federal politicians in New York, Nevada and other states to try to win support for a new recreational marijuana business. Giuliani has said he had no knowledge of illegal donations and hadn’t seen any evidence that Parnas and Fruman did anything wrong. ___ Tucker and Balsamo reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Larry Neumeister contributed to this report from New York. Jim Mustian, Eric Tucker And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Les entreprises Pronature Blackburn & fils et Plenty Humanwear d'Alma s'unissent afin de lutter contre l'itinérance. Ils ont ainsi donné généreusement une partie de leur inventaire vendredi au service de travail de rue d'Alma afin de permettre aux personnes sans domicile fixe de demeurer au chaud cet hiver. Gants, manteaux d'hiver, tuques, sacs de couchage, bas, chandails et plus encore, les deux entreprises croient ainsi pouvoir habiller près de 50 personnes. Les dons seront ainsi distribués dès lundi non seulement à Alma, mais partout dans la région. "Ici, la devise, c’est "Inspiré par tous". Cette année, c’est très difficile pour beaucoup de gens, notamment les personnes en situation d'itinérance. De plus, on prône beaucoup la notion d'écologie. Ça nous permet d'éviter de faire du gaspillage", explique Daniel Gagné, copropriétaire de Plenty Humanwear. Itinérance bien présente "Dans ma tête, l'itinérance, c’est surtout dans les grands centres. Quand j’ai discuté avec Guillaume Bégin, qui est travailleur de rue, il m’a expliqué qu’il y en avait quand même plusieurs dans la région. Juste à Alma, on parle d'une trentaine. J’ai été surpris de voir à quel point ça touchait le Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean plus que je le pensais", explique celui qui est aussi à la barre des émissions Roadfish et Roadhunt à TVA Sports. Il espère également que ce geste incitera d'autres entreprises à faire de même. "J’aimerais qu’à un moment donné, un mouvement comme ça prenne de l’ampleur et que d’autres entreprises embarquent, que ce soit dans la région ou au Québec", conclut-il. Julien B. Gauthier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Lac St-Jean
The federal government announced today that it's developing a greenhouse gas carbon offset program it says will help to generate new ideas to reduce emissions. The Greenhouse Gas Offset System will allow municipalities, farmers, Indigenous communities, businesses and others to earn credits for projects that reduce carbon emissions or take them out of the atmosphere. "This system will encourage cost-effective emissions reductions right here in Canada and create new economic opportunities, particularly in the forestry, agriculture and waste sectors," said Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson in a media statement. The federal government wants the new program to help industries and sectors regulated under the Output Based Pricing System to meet their compliance obligations. Under the federal Output-Based Pricing System, facilities that exceed their emissions limits can either pay a fee for each tonne of carbon dioxide emitted over a given facility's limit or trade in a surplus offset credit. Each offset credit in the proposed system will be equivalent to one tonne of carbon dioxide or the equivalent reduction of that amount of emissions. The government says that to earn an offset credit, the emissions reductions must occur in Canada and be real, quantifiable, unique, verifiable and permanent. A project has to first be approved and registered. Once it is built or in operation, emissions must be monitored and reported regularly. Those reports must then be verified by a registered third party before the credit is granted. Four areas to earn credits The proposal for the offset system is now open for a 60-day public comment period. The final regulations are expected to roll out in the fall. The offset system will allow participants to earn credits in four areas: projects that reduce or avoid the use of fluorinated refrigerants such as HFCs in refrigeration systems; projects that reduce methane from landfills; activities that improve storage management; farming practices that enhance carbon sequestration in soils. "For projects that involve biological sequestration, monitoring and reporting must continue for 100 years after credits have been issued to ensure the permanence of GHG reductions," said a statement from Environment and Climate Change Canada. A municipality that was able to capture methane emissions that normally spread into the atmosphere, for example, would be able to earn offset credits it could then sell to regulated industries to reduce their emissions. "The development of the federal Greenhouse Gas Offset System will mean farmers can be recognized and rewarded for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions on their farms by implementing practices that improve the carbon sequestered in their soil," said Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau in a media statement. NDP environment critic Laurel Collins told CBC News by email that her party fears the plan will give emitters a loophole allowing them to avoid reducing emissions. "This offset program might help a little – but the federal government has bigger levers it could be using to meaningfully fight climate change at the level Canadians expect and our economy needs," she said. Conservative environment critic Dan Albas said the program will only prove to have merit if it delivers the desired results. "Any offset regulations must ensure genuine GHG reductions and promote job creation here in Canada. We will be studying and reviewing these regulations to ensure the well-being of Canadians is protected," Albas said.
Premier Iain Rankin announced a $3 million compensation fund Friday to speed up efforts to address land ownership in historic African Nova Scotian communities. "Today we are moving in the right direction and I am so pleased that we have been able to make this happen," Rankin said in a news release. "We have learned from working with communities over the last few years that we need to remove barriers and do more to ensure the success of the Land Titles Initiative." This fund will be used to resolve cases that involve competing land claims and help speed up those efforts under the Land Titles Initiative, which was established in 2017, to provide clear land titles to residents of the communities of East Preston, North Preston, Cherry Brook/Lake Loon, Lincolnville and Sunnyville who qualify for help. "African Nova Scotians from our historic Black communities are entitled to clear title to the land they live on. Nova Scotia has a long, painful history of systemic anti-Black racism," said African Nova Scotian Affairs Minister Tony Ince. "These changes will improve access to justice and resolve more land titles claims without residents having to go to court, which can be a costly and intimidating process for many people." The Land Titles Initiative helps title claimants with their legal fees and other costs associated with clarifying land ownership. Two African-Nova Scotian jurists, Judge Corrine Sparks and Valerie Miller (retired), have been appointed as commissioners to adjudicate disputes. Lawyer and community leader Angela Simmonds was named as the executive director of the Land Titles Initiative. Lu Xu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle Herald
American authorities have recovered a body in the Grand Canyon believed to be the Kentucky man who recently made headlines in Alberta when he was charged for breaching quarantine rules in Banff. After a days-long search and rescue operation, the National Park Service (NPS) located and recovered what are believed to be John Pennington's body and motorcycle on Wednesday. Last summer, Pennington, 40, who was travelling through Alberta from Alaska to the lower 48 states, was arrested under Canada's Quarantine Act while staying at a Banff hotel with a woman. He was accused of failing to follow COVID-19 public safety rules twice while in Banff but those charges were stayed by the Alberta Crown last month. On Sunday, American authorities asked for the public's help finding missing person John Pennington. Just two weeks before he disappeared, Pennington's Alberta charges for breaching the Quarantine Act were dropped by the Crown.(Facebook/National Park Service) 'Grateful for life' On Feb. 23, two weeks after Pennington's Canadian charges were dropped, Pennington is believed to have entered Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona officials say. Earlier that day, Pennington posted a video of his first skydiving experience. "Thankful and grateful for life and another day," said Pennington from the airplane. On Sunday, rescue officials initiated a missing person search and asked the public for help finding Pennington. The park service said he was travelling alone and was likely on a yellow motorcycle. It said he had left his vehicle near one of the trailheads. Rescue turned recovery On Wednesday, park rangers recovered the body about 140 metres below the rim and transported it by helicopter to the local medical examiner's office. "Based on evidence found with the body, the individual is believed to be missing person John Pennington," said the National Park Service in a press release. The 40-year-old, who called himself "Mr. Collagen" on social media, posted many self-esteem affirmations on his Facebook page. That page is now full of friends expressing their condolences. Alaska loophole In late June, Pennington entered Canada from Alaska. Non-essential travel between Canada and the United States is prohibited, but Americans are allowed to come through Canada to get home to or from Alaska. They are required to use the most direct route under rules enforced by the Canada Border Services Agency. Americans are not allowed to drive through national parks, leisure sites and tourist locations. Last summer, some Banff residents started calling the rule the "Alaska loophole" after spotting American licence plates around the resort town. A spokesperson for the Public Prosecution Service of Canada declined to explain why Pennington's charges were dropped last month.
OTTAWA — A member of the Canadian Armed Forces has died in Afghanistan. The Defence Department says Master Warrant Officer Guy Adam Law was found dead in his quarters at the Canadian Embassy in Kabul on Feb. 25. A statement says the cause of death is under investigation and is being assessed as "non-operational." Law was originally from Saskatoon and had been working at the Embassy since last August as a facility operations and maintenance officer. He had joined the Armed Forces in 1991 and had deployed on four operational tours. The Defence Department says his body will return to Canada on March 7. "Our thoughts are with the family, friends and loved ones of Master Warrant Officer Law, and our focus remains on providing them support during this difficult time," the department said in a statement. "The Canadian Armed Forces is a family and it is heartbreaking when we lose one of our own. We stand together, we grieve together, and we will always remember them." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press