Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips is back in Canada. This, after a much criticized Caribbean vacation. Phillips travelled despite guidance from his government to stay home. Travis Dhanraj has the latest on this controversy.
Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips is back in Canada. This, after a much criticized Caribbean vacation. Phillips travelled despite guidance from his government to stay home. Travis Dhanraj has the latest on this controversy.
In announcing a planned phone call on Friday between U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the White House's intended message was clear: Traditional allies are back in favour while despots, dictators and the killers of dissenters are on the outs. The way press secretary Jen Psaki announced the scheduled call with Trudeau was revealing, as it came in response to a question that had nothing at all to do with Canada's prime minister. She was asked about Vladimir Putin. Specifically, she was asked when Biden would speak with the Russian leader. Psaki replied that it wasn't an immediate priority. "[Biden's] first foreign leader call will be on Friday with Prime Minister Trudeau," she said. "I would expect his early calls will be with partners and allies. He feels it's important to rebuild those relationships." U.S. plans to investigate Russia Psaki elaborated on Putin in a separate news conference where she described Russia as "reckless" and "adversarial." She said Biden has tasked the intelligence community with reporting on a variety of alleged Russian transgressions: cyberattacks on U.S. companies, interference in U.S. politics, the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and Russian-paid bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Yet the goal of rebalancing relationships away from rivals toward like-minded countries has been tested already. Some Canadians, notably Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, want trade retaliation against the U.S. following the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline on Day 1 of the new administration. The decision undermines Canada's No. 1 export to the United States: oil. WATCH | The National's report on Keystone XL: Biden's foreign policy ambitions will keep being tested as international relationships undergo unwieldy twists on any given issue due to practical and political considerations. Here is what we already know about the Biden administration's approach to other countries after its first couple of days in office. The moves so far The administration will release a report on suspected Saudi government involvement in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, an issue the last administration showed little interest in pursuing. It is also threatening to cancel support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. It is willing to consider new NATO expansion on Russia's doorstep, into Georgia, and in fact is staunchly supportive of the international military alliance. And Biden has rejoined previous alliances the U.S. was either scheduled to exit (the World Health Organization) or had already left (the Paris climate accord). These activities are intended to signal a dramatic change in foreign policy from Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, who frequently bashed the leaders of democracies and international institutions while simultaneously cultivating friendly relationships with non-democratic leaders in the Middle East, Russia and North Korea. There will be contradictions in Biden's approach — as there were in Trump's. For example, while Trump often had kind words for dictators, he also sanctioned their countries on occasion, including Russia and China. Also, don't count on an ambitious foreign policy from Biden. Early on, the new administration will be busy juggling domestic crises, said Edward Alden, an expert on Canada-U.S. relations. "I think we are going to see an approach to alliances that looks a lot like [Barack] Obama's — engaged, respectful, but not overly ambitious," said Alden, a senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. "The United States has enormous problems at home, and those are going to take priority for some time." Alden said he does expect some new international initiatives, such as more active co-operation on global vaccine distribution. Biden wants changes on Canada-U.S. pandemic travel On COVID-19, Biden also wants to immediately connect with Canada and Mexico to establish new rules within 14 days for pandemic-related travel safety measures. Alden also expects an attempt to rework and revive the international nuclear deal with Iran, and establish greater co-ordination with other countries in confronting China. For example, Biden has proposed a summit of democracies where countries can share ideas for countering autocracies. Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told his confirmation hearing this week that the last administration had a point in reorienting policy toward Beijing. "President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China," Blinken said. "The basic principle was the right one, and I think that's actually helpful to our foreign policy." He got into a testy exchange at that hearing with Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-minded Republican who favours a hands-off approach on foreign affairs. When Blinken said he was open to expanding NATO membership to Russia's neighbour Georgia, Paul called that a recipe for war with Russia. Blinken argued the opposite is true. After years of Russian incursions in non-NATO Georgia and Ukraine, recent evidence suggests Russia is most belligerent with countries outside NATO's shield, he said. Keystone XL: The early irritant Biden and Trudeau are expected to discuss new travel measures to control the spread of COVID-19, as well as Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion that would run south from Alberta to Nebraska. So far, Trudeau has shown little desire to escalate the pipeline issue. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, on the other hand, has demanded retaliatory action, and some trade experts say potential legal avenues do exist. WATCH | Kenny on the fate of Keystone XL: But they're skeptical they will achieve much. Eric Miller of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, a cross-border consulting firm specializing in trade and government affairs, said the best that pipeline-backers can hope for is to sue the U.S. government for financial compensation for the cancelled project. He said the Alberta government and the project's developer, TC Energy, can try suing under the investor-state dispute chapter in the old NAFTA, which will remain in effect for two more years for existing investments. "[But] nothing is going to force the Biden administration to deliver the permit," Miller said. "One has to be clear that there is no world in which Joe Biden [retreats on this]." Canada-U.S. trade lawyer Dan Ujczo said he doubts complaints from Canada will make a difference. He said the most politically effective argument for the pipeline would come from Americans — from the companies and unions that would have serviced the project. The Ohio-based lawyer said challenges under U.S. laws, such as the Administrative Procedures Act, could potentially work, but he cautioned: "They're high hurdles."
TORONTO — Ontario's COVID-19 numbers are showing improvement, but it's too soon to say if that's the start of a downward trend, one of the province's top doctors said Thursday. Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario's Associate Medical Officer of Health, said the provincial case rate has started to decline for the first time since November – sitting now at 145.4 cases per 100,000 people – although that figure is still high. The average per cent positivity rate on COVID-19 tests has also dropped – down to 5.3 per cent from 6.3 per cent last week – and 26 of the province's 34 public health units have seen case rates decline, the government said. "We're seeing some improvement," Yaffe said. "But we do need to see more data to determine if those decreasing rates are a real trend." The positive numbers come a week after Premier Doug Ford's government imposed a state of emergency and issued a stay-at-home order to bring soaring rates of COVID-19 under control. Schools throughout much of southern Ontario remain closed for in-person learning because of high community transmission and the government has not provided a timeline for a return to class. Yaffe warned that there are still 1,533 people in hospital with COVID-19 across the province and 388 in intensive care units. The province is also reporting 15 cases of the so-called U.K. variant of the COVID-19 virus, with four that have no travel history, indicating there could be community spread of the more contagious strain. "We do certainly expect to see more as our laboratories test for this, and for other variants," she said. Yaffe also noted that a yet-to-be identified variant has been found in six cases at a Barrie, Ont., nursing home where 122 residents and 69 staff have been infected. Nineteen residents have died. She said the province is working with the local health unit to identify the variant and take action to halt the outbreak at Roberta Place. "We know there is a mutation in there ... that's associated with increased transmissibility, about 56 per cent more transmissible," she said. "We don't know which mutant it is." Ontario reported 2,632 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 46 more deaths linked to the virus. Meanwhile, Premier Doug Ford continued to express frustration at COVID-19 vaccine delivery delays from Pfizer amid a production slowdown at the company. "It's absolutely critical that Pfizer steps up to the plate and not leaves us behind the eight ball, which they have," he said Thursday. Canada was to get more than 417,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week and next, but will now get just 171,093 doses this week and nothing the next week. The federal government and Pfizer have said shipments of vaccine are expected to get back to normal levels in late February and early March. Canada's doses of the Pfizer-BioTech vaccine are coming from a factory in Belgium that is being upgraded to ramp up production in the coming months. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press
Since fall 2020, students in P.E.I. schools have been able to pay what they can for a school healthy lunch program — usually, hot meals that require cutlery. Since the kids were using single-use plastic cutlery, they were creating a lot of waste that was going into the landfill. Now, students are being asked to bring their own cutlery. "What we're trying to do is reduce waste as much as possible. We've been asking students for a while now to bring their own cutlery and now we're just making it official," said Brad Trivers, P.E.I.'s minister of education. Feb. 12 will be the last day vendors will provide plastic cutlery with meals. 'Going to make a difference' "It's about reduce, reuse and recycle, and really the most important thing is to reduce," Trivers said. "We're trying to make sure students realize if you can reduce the plastic that is needed, then that's a big help to the environment. "Every plastic spoon or fork that you save means that much less is going into our waste. That's the lesson here, and I think it's really going to make a difference." The cost savings to the vendors will be minimal, he said, because plastic cutlery is very cheap. Families are being notified now so they can prepare. Trivers notes there will be a small amount of cutlery on hand at schools for students who forget. More from CBC P.E.I.
The Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen (CFSOS) is announcing $80,000 in grants to local organizations supporting gender equality. IndigenEYEZ, Foundry Penticton and the South Okanagan Women in Need Society (SOWINS), whose projects are working towards advancing gender equality in local communities, each received part of the funding to advance their work. “Our investment in their work is key in working towards equity and inclusion and in supporting women who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic,” said Sarah Trudeau, manager of grants and community initiatives with CFSOS. The Fund for Gender Equality is a collaboration between Community Foundations of Canada and the Equality Fund which is supported by the Government of Canada. “The organizations who received funding have demonstrated a commitment to empowering women, girls, Two-Spirit and gender-diverse people through their mission, activities or partnerships,” said Trudeau. IndigenEYEZ was awarded $40,000 for their Stepping Up Together program, empowering women leaders in the South Okanagan. The Indigenous-led leadership program is inclusive of women, gender diverse and two-spirit people with the goal of developing skills and supportive alliances to increase capacity to act as leaders in the South Okanagan-Similkameen. SOWINS was awarded $15,000 for the Explore Pre-Employment Program, a workshop-based, pre-employment program for women who have experienced gender-based violence to help them achieve economic empowerment and financial security. Foundry Penticton was awarded $25,000 to build a team-based approach to gender-affirming care in the South Okanagan. “Advancing the gender-affirming model will promote health and positive development for trans and gender-diverse youth aged 12 to 24. By integrating primary gender-affirming care, mental health, peer support and social services, the program will work towards eliminating health disparities, discrimination and stigma,” states a press release from CFSOS. To learn more about the national fund, click here. Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
MADRID — Ousmane Dembélé scored early in extra time after missing a penalty late in regulation as Barcelona defeated third-division club Cornellà 2-0 in the round of 32 of the Copa del Rey on Thursday. Martin Braithwaite also scored for Barcelona, which had already seen Miralem Pjanic miss a penalty in the first half. In the Spanish league, Luis Suárez scored twice as leader Atlético Madrid came from behind to defeat Eibar 2-1 and open a seven-point gap to second-place Real Madrid. Barcelona avoided an upset in the Copa del Rey a day after Madrid lost 2-1 to third-division club Alcoyano in extra time. Atlético had already been stunned by Cornellà in the second round. Barcelona advanced despite playing without Lionel Messi, who was suspended for two matches after hitting an opponent away from the ball in the team’s 3-2 loss to Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Super Cup final on Sunday. Dembélé scored with a right-foot shot from outside the area two minutes into extra time. He had his 80th-minute penalty saved by Cornellà goalkeeper Ramón Juan Ramírez, who also stopped Pjanic's spot kick just before halftime. Barcelona controlled possession but struggled to capitalize on its many scoring chances on the artificial turf at the small Cornellà stadium in Catalonia. The hosts threatened a few times on counterattacks. Cornellà went a man down when Albert Estelles was sent off with a second yellow card in the final minutes. Braithwaite's goal came on a breakaway just before the final whistle. SUÁREZ SAVES ATLÉTICO Suárez scored a goal in each half after Eibar had taken the lead with a penalty converted by goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic in the 12th minute. Suárez equalized in the 40th with a low cross shot from close range after the Eibar defence failed to clear the ball from inside its area. The Uruguay striker netted the winner by converting an 89th-minute penalty after he was fouled inside the area. It was the sixth league win in a row for Atlético, which still has a game in hand compared to Real Madrid and third-place Barcelona, which is 10 points off the lead. “We have to understand that it's very difficult to win these matches,” Suárez said. “We need to keep playing at a high level if we want to achieve our goals.” Eibar, winless in three matches in all competitions, was in 15th place, two points from safety. Lacklustre DRAW In a match between clubs fighting against relegation, Valencia was held to a 1-1 draw against Osasuna. Jonathan Calleri put the visitors ahead with a volley in the 42nd and Valencia equalized with an own goal by Osasuna defender Unai García in the 69th. Winless in 13 consecutive league games, Osasuna stayed second-to-last in the 20-team standings. Valencia was 14th, three points from the relegation zone. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni Tales Azzoni, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Julie Payette resigned as Canada's Governor General Thursday, saying that to protect the integrity of her office and for the good of the country, it was time for her to go. Clouds of controversy have hung over Payette since she took over the post in 2017 but a storm was poised to break out with the imminent release of the results of an investigation into allegations of a toxic workplace at Rideau Hall. Payette apologized for the tensions at Rideau Hall in the last several months, but in a statement announcing her historic resignation — a first for a Governor General — she also suggested she disagreed with the characterizations of her leadership. "We all experience things differently, but we should always strive to do better, and be attentive to one another’s perceptions," she said. "I am a strong believer in the principles of natural justice, due process and the rule of law, and that these principles apply to all equally. Notwithstanding, in respect for the integrity of my viceregal office and for the good of our country and of our democratic institutions, I have come to the conclusion that a new Governor General should be appointed," she continued. "Canadians deserve stability in these uncertain times." She also suggested the move was made for personal reasons, citing her father's declining health. "So it is with sureness and humility, but also with pride over what was accomplished during my tenure as Governor General and in my service to the country for the past 28 years, that I have submitted my resignation," she wrote. In a terse statement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged he had received her resignation. “Every employee in the Government of Canada has the right to work in a safe and healthy environment, and we will always take this very seriously," he said. "Today’s announcement provides an opportunity for new leadership at Rideau Hall to address the workplace concerns raised by employees during the review." Trudeau had previously defended Payette, even as the Privy Council Office hired a third-party investigator to examine allegations of workplace harassment in the office of the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. That came after CBC reports alleged that Payette belittled and publicly humiliated employees, reducing some to tears and prompting some to quit. Payette had welcomed the review at the time, saying she was deeply concerned about the allegations. Payette, a former astronaut, was named to the position in 2017. Her predecessor David Johnston had been selected by the previous Conservative government using an ad hoc committee that was later turned into an official panel on viceregal appointments. But upon forming government in 2015, Trudeau abandoned that approach and moved the selection process inside his office. Payette's appointment was controversial from the outset. Shortly after she took the job, it emerged that she'd been charged with second-degree assault while living in Maryland in 2011. She called the charged unfounded, and it has since been expunged. But as details of that incident emerged, so did revelations that she was involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident that same year. The case was closed without charges after a police investigation. Both incidents raised immediate questions about how thoroughly she had been vetted for the job, and accusations she wasn't the right fit for it have dogged her ever since. She did not move into the official residence of Rideau Hall when she took the job, and nearly two years in, still wasn't living there, citing privacy concerns linked to ongoing renovations. The cost of those renovations became one of several issues that dogged her, as questions were raised about whether they were necessary or being done out of preference and at too high a cost to the taxpayer. Instead, Payette based herself in her home province of Quebec, where she has also spent a great deal of time during the COVID-19 pandemic. As reports of how she was allegedly treating her staff emerged, Trudeau expressed his confidence in her abilities, dismissing the idea of replacing her. During an interview on RED FM's The Harjinder Thind Show in Vancouver in September he said she was excellent. "I think on top of the COVID crisis, nobody's looking at any constitutional crises," he said. In the event a Governor General can't carry out the job, is removed, or dies, the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada assumes the office's powers as long as necessary. "A recommendation on a replacement will be provided to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and announced in due course, ” Trudeau said. While the Governor General is a largely symbolic position, it does have some constitutional importance, particularly during a minority government such as the one Canada has now. In 2008, former prime minister Stephen Harper asked then-governor general Michaëlle Jean to prorogue Parliament to avoid a non-confidence vote he was expected to lose — a decision that was controversial at the time but in keeping with constitutional tradition. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
U.S. regulators have approved the first long-acting drug combo for HIV, monthly shots that can replace the daily pills now used to control infection with the AIDS virus. Thursday’s approval of the two-shot combo called Cabenuva is expected to make it easier for people to stay on track with their HIV medicines and to do so with more privacy. It’s a huge change from not long ago, when patients had to take multiple pills several times a day, carefully timed around meals. “That will enhance quality of life” to need treatment just once a month, said Dr. Steven Deeks, an HIV specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, who has no ties to the drug's makers. “People don’t want those daily reminders that they’re HIV infected.” Cabenuva combines rilpivirine, sold as Edurant by Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit, and a new drug — cabotegravir, from ViiV Healthcare. They’re packaged together and given as separate shots once a month. Dosing every two months also is being tested. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Cabenuva for use in adults who have had their disease well controlled by conventional HIV medicines and who have not shown signs of viral resistance to the two drugs in Cabenuva. The agency also approved a pill version of cabotegravir to be taken with rilpivarine for a month before switching to the shots to be sure the drugs are well tolerated. ViiV said the shot combo would cost $5,940 for an initial, higher dose and $3,960 per month afterward. The company said that is “within the range” of what one-a-day pill combos cost now. How much a patient pays depends on insurance, income and other things. Studies found that patients greatly preferred the shots. “Even people who are taking one pill once a day just reported improvement in their quality of life to switch to an injection,” said Dr. Judith Currier, an HIV specialist at the University of California, Los Angeles. She consults for ViiV and wrote a commentary accompanying one study of the drug in the New England Journal of Medicine. Deeks said long-acting shots also give hope of reaching groups that have a hard time sticking to treatment, including people with mental illness or substance abuse problems. “There’s a great unmet need” that the shots may fill, he said. Separately, ViiV plans to seek approval for cabotegravir for HIV prevention. Two recent studies found that cabotegravir shots every two months were better than daily Truvada pills for keeping uninfected people from catching the virus from an infected sex partner. ___ 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. Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. There are 731,450 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 731,450 confirmed cases (67,099 active, 645,729 resolved, 18,622 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 5,955 new cases Thursday from 102,162 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.8 per cent. The rate of active cases is 178.51 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 42,555 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,079. There were 160 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 1,040 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 149. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.4 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 49.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 16,895,320 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 397 confirmed cases (nine active, 384 resolved, four deaths). There was one new case Thursday from 284 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.35 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been three new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 77,326 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 110 confirmed cases (seven active, 103 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Thursday from 419 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 4.46 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of six new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 87,989 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,565 confirmed cases (21 active, 1,479 resolved, 65 deaths). There was one new case Thursday from 939 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.11 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.16 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 17 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 199,703 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,057 confirmed cases (325 active, 719 resolved, 13 deaths). There were 32 new cases Thursday from 1,457 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.2 per cent. The rate of active cases is 41.84 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 198 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 28. There were zero new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.02 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.67 per 100,000 people. There have been 132,168 tests completed. _ Quebec: 248,860 confirmed cases (18,260 active, 221,327 resolved, 9,273 deaths). There were 1,624 new cases Thursday from 8,900 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 18 per cent. The rate of active cases is 215.2 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,033 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,719. There were 65 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 397 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 57. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.67 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 109.29 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,687,068 tests completed. _ Ontario: 247,564 confirmed cases (26,063 active, 215,887 resolved, 5,614 deaths). There were 2,632 new cases Thursday from 67,959 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 178.92 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 19,254 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,751. There were 46 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 379 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 54. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.37 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 38.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,826,459 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 28,089 confirmed cases (3,205 active, 24,091 resolved, 793 deaths). There were 196 new cases Thursday from 2,090 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 9.4 per cent. The rate of active cases is 234.03 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,135 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 162. There were five new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 38 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.4 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 57.91 per 100,000 people. There have been 446,640 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 21,338 confirmed cases (3,099 active, 18,000 resolved, 239 deaths). There were 226 new cases Thursday from 1,157 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 20 per cent. The rate of active cases is 263.87 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,005 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 286. There were 13 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 33 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.4 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 20.35 per 100,000 people. There have been 325,825 tests completed. _ Alberta: 119,114 confirmed cases (10,256 active, 107,358 resolved, 1,500 deaths). There were 678 new cases Thursday from 14,378 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.7 per cent. The rate of active cases is 234.62 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,529 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 647. There were 16 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 111 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 16. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.36 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 34.31 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,048,875 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 62,976 confirmed cases (5,847 active, 56,010 resolved, 1,119 deaths). There were 564 new cases Thursday from 4,334 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. The rate of active cases is 115.3 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,368 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 481. There were 15 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 81 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 22.07 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,040,843 tests completed. _ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (zero active, 69 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Thursday from seven completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,210 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 31 confirmed cases (seven active, 24 resolved, zero deaths). There was one new case Thursday from 77 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.3 per cent. The rate of active cases is 15.62 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been seven new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 8,959 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 266 confirmed cases (zero active, 265 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Thursday from 161 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 7,179 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — Nothing illustrates the political passions of a television network's audience quite like ratings for a presidential inaugural. The 6.53 million people who watched President Joe Biden take the oath of office and deliver his inaugural address on MSNBC Wednesday was a whopping 338% bigger than its audience for Donald Trump's swearing in four years ago, the Nielsen company said. On the flip side, Fox News Channel's audience of 2.74 million for Biden on Wednesday represented a nearly 77% drop from its viewership for Trump in 2017, Nielsen said. A preliminary Nielsen estimate shows Biden's inaugural viewership on the top six networks beat Trump by 4%. Nielsen said it doesn't have a complete estimate for inaugural viewing because it is still counting people who watched on other networks or outside their homes. CNN, with 10 million viewers, easily beat ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and Fox during Biden's big moment, Nielsen said. That's 196% more than watched Trump four years ago. CNN, which has been on a hot streak in the ratings since Biden's victory, also topped all the others for its coverage of the primetime inaugural celebration. MSNBC, meanwhile, said it recorded the highest daytime ratings of the network's nearly 25-year history on Wednesday. ABC had 7.66 million viewers for the oath-taking (up 10% from 2017), NBC had 6.89 million (down 12%) and CBS had 6.07 million (down 13%), Nielsen said. David Bauder, The Associated Press
VICTORIA — Health officials have called off the regular COVID-19 briefing in British Columbia as they prepare to update the province's strategy for immunization against the virus. An advisory from the premier's office Thursday said the briefing by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix was cancelled. Instead, they will join a news conference Friday with Premier John Horgan and Dr. Penny Ballem, who is leading B.C.'s COVID-19 immunization rollout. The four are expected to comment on the next steps in the immunization program that has been complicated by a hiccup in vaccine supply from Pfizer-BioNTech. Nearly 31,000 doses of vaccine the province expected by Jan. 29 could be curtailed due to production issues. Two doses of the vaccine are needed to ensure immunity from the virus that causes COVID-19, and Dix said Tuesday that B.C. was set to begin delivery of second doses and remains committed to ensuring all those who have had the first shot get a second within 35 days. Dix and Henry said in a joint statement on Wednesday that 98,125 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have already been administered. Interior Health said in a statement Thursday that 215 people in the Cariboo-Chilcotin region have tested positive for COVID-19 since Jan. 1. It said many of the infections are associated with social events or gatherings in Williams Lake, B.C. But 74 cases have been identified in people living in nearby First Nations, with one Indigenous community in the Cariboo region dealing with a quarter of its population testing positive for the virus. Chief Helen Henderson, of the Canim Lake Band, said the community has been in lockdown since Jan. 5, with crowded housing contributing to the outbreak, and one elder has died from the virus. She said there 60 cases among the 234 people living in the community. Henderson said all its members have now received a vaccination and she hopes the band is turning the corner on the outbreak. — With files from CHNL. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — British Columbia's Liberal party took the first steps Thursday towards selecting a new leader while also addressing a constitutional technicality that still has Andrew Wilkinson as party leader. The party appointed former cabinet minister Colin Hansen as co-chair of an organizing committee to oversee the campaign. A date hasn't been set yet to choose a new leader. Hansen, known as a stalwart in the governments of former premier Gordon Campbell, will co-chair the seven-member committee with Victoria lawyer Roxanne Helme. Interim Liberal Leader Shirley Bond said she is energized by the formation of the campaign oversight committee and downplayed the fact Wilkinson hasn't followed the protocol to resign under the party's constitution. "I just have to say this, that British Columbians this morning didn't wake up and worry about whether or not there was constitutionally a technical issue with who's the leader of the B.C. Liberal Party," she said at a news conference. Wilkinson announced his resignation after the Liberals lost the election last fall and dropped seats that were once considered safe for the party. In the days following the Oct. 24 election, Wilkinson held a brief news conference where he said he planned to resign, but would remain leader until a replacement is chosen. About one month later he posted on Facebook: "It is now time for me to leave the role as Opposition leader as voters in B.C. have made their preference clear." Although Wilkinson hasn't official resigned, Bond said she is leading the Liberals. "I'm speaking to you today as the leader of the Opposition, make no mistake about that," she said. Wilkinson is not receiving any leadership benefits from the party and he has no leadership responsibilities, Bond said. "I can assure you this, Andrew Wilkinson is focusing on his role as an MLA," she said. "He has no responsibilities, no stipend, nothing like that related to the B.C. Liberal Party. We certainly expect a letter of resignation at some point in the next few weeks, but the fact of the matter is I lead the official Opposition." Wilkinson was not immediately available for comment. Bond, who has already ruled herself out of the Liberal leadership race, said 2021 will be a year of reflection, renewal and rebuilding for the party. "In the meantime, the party will continue to create and unveil the leadership contest rules and how it will work," she said. "I'm quite energized looking at what candidates might emerge and eventually they will transition to take on the role that I have now." Other members of the organizing committee to help pick a leader include legislature members Jackie Tegart, Derek Lew, Sarah Sidhu, Don Silversides and Cameron Stolz. The committee's mandate includes determining the timeline for the leadership election, establishing the campaign's rules and implementing the election process for party members. — By Dirk Meissner in Victoria This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
Newfoundland and Labrador is celebrating the one-year anniversary of a record-breaking snowstorm with... another storm. As of late afternoon Thursday, it was tough to see across the street in St. John's as an expected 30 centimetres of snow began to accumulate. This time last year, the capital city was under a state of emergency after the infamous 'Snowmageddon' blizzard shut down the city for a week.
Interior Health is ordering a review for “lessons learned” from the outbreak at McKinney Place long-term care in Oliver, after 17 residents died in just over a month. The focus of the review will be around multi-bed units in long-term care facilities, according to Carl Meadows, South Okanagan executive director of clinical operations for Interior Health. “With McKinney, I’ve requested a review for lessons learned,” Meadows told the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Hospital District Board while giving an update on COVID-19 in the South Okanagan at their Jan. 21 meeting. A total of 55 residents tested positive at the facility out of the 59 who lived there at the beginning of the outbreak in December, 2020. Interior Health has previously stated the spread of COVID-19 at the facility was partially due to a lack of single-bed rooms to isolate residents who have tested positive. McKinney Place is an older facility which does have more congregation areas and has fewer private rooms than some newer long-term care facilities, which may have contributed to the spread, Interior Health officials previously stated. “There’s going to be more awareness around these four-bed long term care units and how to do something about them in the near future because it was very difficult to cordon off or cohort infected patients with four-bed units,” Meadows said. In the South Okanagan, including Penticton and Summerland, COVID-19 case numbers are down, but so are the number of tests, Meadows said. “Our COVID numbers in the community are dropping but we have had obviously some significant events at places that have been made public so it has been a very long few months, we’re still in an incident command structure in the South Okanagan,” Meadows said. “Our numbers are going down, what we don’t know is our testing numbers are also down, so we don’t know if people are getting tested and of course now we’ve got the Pfizer vaccine that has been delayed and Moderna.” Right now, Interior Health’s primary focus is on the vaccination of long-term care and assisted living staff and residents with priority vaccinations for emergency/intensive care staff and COVID units in Penticton, Meadows said. “(COVID-19) has tested our health system like we’ve never experienced and McKinney was the latest example where it was very challenging. But I can assure you our teams are nothing short of amazing, you’re in very good hands in the South Okanagan,” Meadows said. Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — A Newfoundland and Labrador ferry company has confirmed a second case of COVID-19 among the crew of one of its vessels that travels to Nova Scotia. The company and provincial health officials reported the second infection today and said the affected person is isolating. Authorities in Newfoundland and Labrador say the employee is a man in his 60s. Marine Atlantic reported the first infection among the crew of the MV Blue Puttees on Wednesday. The Newfoundland and Labrador company suspended service along the vessel's route between North Sydney, N.S., and Port au Basques, N.L. The company said today the Blue Puttees is still out commission and the MV Atlantic Vision will pick up its route. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla by phone Thursday, the same day the company informed Canada delays to its shipments of COVID-19 vaccines are going to be even worse than previously thought. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander now overseeing the vaccine logistics for the Public Health Agency of Canada, said last week a factory expansion at Pfizer's Belgium plant was going to slow production, cutting Canada's deliveries over four weeks in half. In exchange, Pfizer expects to be able to ship hundreds of millions more doses worldwide over the rest of 2021. Tuesday, Fortin said Canada would receive 80 per cent of the previously expected doses this week, nothing at all next week, and about half the promised deliveries in the first two weeks of February. Thursday, he said the doses delivered in the first week of February will only be 79,000, one one-fifth of what was once expected. Fortin doesn't know yet what will come the week after, but overall, Canada's doses over three weeks are going to be just one-third of what had been planned. Trudeau has been under pressure to call Bourla, as the delayed doses force provinces to cancel vaccination appointments and reconsider timing for second doses. Fortin said some provinces may be hit even harder than others because of limits on the way the Pfizer doses can be split up for shipping. The vaccine is delicate and must be kept ultra frozen until shortly before injecting it. The company packs and ships specialized coolers, with GPS thermal trackers, directly to provincial vaccine sites. Ontario Premier Doug Ford said earlier this week he doesn't blame the federal government for the dose delays but wanted Trudeau to do more to push back about it. "If I was in (Trudeau's) shoes ... I'd be on that phone call every single day. I'd be up that guy's yin-yang so far with a firecracker he wouldn't know what hit him," he said of Pfizer's executives. Trudeau informed Ford and other premiers of the call with Bourla during a regular teleconference to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic. Until Thursday, all calls between the federal cabinet and Pfizer had been handled by Procurement Minister Anita Anand. Ford also spoke to Pfizer Canada CEO Cole Pinnow Wednesday. Trudeau didn't suggest the call with Bourla made any difference to the delays, and noted Canada is not the only country affected. Europe, which on the weekend thought its delayed doses would only be for one week after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke to Bourla, now seems poised to be affected longer. Italy is so angry it is threatening to sue the U.S.-based drugmaker for the delays. Mexico said this week it is only getting half its expected shipment this week and nothing at all for the next three weeks. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain also reported delays getting doses. Pfizer Canada spokeswoman Christina Antoniou said more countries were affected but wouldn't say which ones. Fortin said Pfizer has promised to deliver four million doses to Canada by the end of March and that is not going to change with the delay. With the current known delivery schedule, the company will have to ship more than 3.1 million doses over 7 1/2 weeks to meet that commitment. Deliveries from Moderna, the other company that has a COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Canada, are not affected. Canada has received about 176,000 doses from Moderna to date, with deliveries arriving every three weeks. Moderna has promised two million doses by the end of March. Both vaccines require first doses and then boosters several weeks later for full effectiveness. Together Pfizer and Moderna intend to ship 20 million doses to Canada in the spring, and 46 million between July and September. With no other vaccines approved, that means Canada will get enough doses to vaccinate the entire population with two doses by the end of September. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
Capturing planet-warming emissions is becoming a critical part of many plans to keep climate change in check, but very little progress has been made on the technology to date, with efforts focused on cutting emissions rather than taking carbon out of the air. The International Energy Agency said late last year that a sharp rise in the deployment of carbon capture technology was needed if countries are to meet net-zero emissions targets.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Democratic National Committee elected Jaime Harrison of South Carolina as chair on Thursday, signifying an early alignment between newly inaugurated President Joe Biden and state party leaders around the country. The party’s post-inauguration meeting, with election of a full slate of new officers, took place virtually, reflecting continued concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. Vice chairs on the roster include Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth and U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela Jr. of Texas. Harrison — a former chair of South Carolina's Democrats who proved his mettle as a fundraising powerhouse in his 2020 challenge to Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham — already has been anointed by Biden, continuing the tradition of sitting presidents choosing their own party’s chair. “We are all a part of a movement that you all started, and we are nowhere near done,” Harrison said Thursday, thanking the party's outgoing leaders. “I have no intention of letting victory turn into complacency. ... There is important work ahead of us." A Yale and Georgetown Law graduate, Harrison succeeds Tom Perez, who won an unusually contentious open election in 2017, when Democrats were out of power. After Harrison dropped out of that race to back him, Perez tapped him as a deputy chair. Harrison was a key liaison with state party leaders with whom Perez sometimes had rocky relationships. “I am confident that Jaime will ... take us to even higher heights,” Perez said during Thursday's meeting, noting that the slate passed on a vote of 407-4. Harrison, 44, comes into the job with overwhelming support from state party leaders, making his elevation a sign of relative unity in a party organization often beset by infighting among state leaders and Washington power players. “We know Jaime will commit to keep supporting state parties, and what we all need to do on the ground, to do more than just elect Joe Biden,” said Texas Chair Gilberto Hinojosa, who saw disappointing local results in November as Republicans did a better job of turning out voters, including Latinos in south Texas. Biden has committed to supporting state parties, with his inner circle assuring Democrats he won’t let infrastructure wither after his victory over President Donald Trump. Many rank-and-file party leaders remain wary after the down-ballot beating Democrats took even as President Barack Obama, with Biden as his running mate, won two national elections. During their eight years in the White House, Democrats lost control of the House and Senate and lost nearly 1,000 legislative seats around the country. Jen O’Malley Dillon, a deputy White House chief of staff and Biden’s campaign manager, pointed to Democrats’ recent Georgia Senate runoff victories as proof Biden will not preside over a repeat. Georgia Democrats had been building their own infrastructure for years, but DNC aid boosted efforts heading into the presidential election. To help Raphael Warnock’s and Jon Ossoff’s runoff bids, Biden’s team helped fund at least 50 staff positions, worked closely with the campaigns’ digital teams on voter contact strategy and messaging. Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris also each made trips to Georgia. Party building, O’Malley Dillon said in an interview before the inauguration, “is part of who he is.” Harrison also comes in with the backing of House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, a close Biden ally and the top-ranking Black member of Congress, who has said Harrison's experiences “have uniquely prepared him for this moment and this mission.” Harrison, who is also Black, found his footing in national politics as a top Clyburn aide on Capitol Hill and has often referred to Clyburn as his “political dad.” The pick is also in part a nod to South Carolina, where Black voters make up a majority of the Democratic electorate and which played a major role in Biden's win. Following lacklustre performances in the other early voting contests, and a key endorsement from Clyburn, Biden won the first-in-the-South primary by more than 30 points, a victory that helped propel him to big wins on Super Tuesday and rack up the votes needed for the nomination. “My buddy, Jim Clyburn, you brought me back,” Biden said after his South Carolina victory, acknowledging the lifeline. Sure to be up for debate among Democrats in the coming months is the early voting calendar and whether the lineup of states might be shuffled after an Iowa caucus fiasco. Party leaders said bad decisions, technological failures and poor communications created a mess that humiliated Democrats, undermined confidence in the outcome and threatened to end the tradition of Iowa getting to pick first. Some party leaders, including Clyburn, have argued that a more diverse state like South Carolina should be the first to vote. Thursday's meeting also included a video tribute to Don Fowler, a former national party chair and mainstay of South Carolina politics, who died last month at age 85. ___ Barrow reported from Washington. ___ Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP. Meg Kinnard And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
For the second straight day, a truck became stuck under Moncton's subway underpass which crosses Main Street at Foundry Street. On Thursday at approximately 2:25 p.m., a transport truck that had been driving west on Main Street hit the CN Rail bridge, said Moncton Fire Department Platoon Chief Brian McDonald. Police were the first to respond as it is a motor vehicle incident, said McDonald, while the fire department came to assess the situation. "Codiac RCMP contained and secured the scene," said McDonald. Police cruisers blocked off Main Street in both directions, Codiac RCMP also called CN Rail to advise them of the collision so engineers can inspect the bridge, which belongs to CN, McDonald said, adding this was done as a precaution. No injuries were reported. Pulling the truck out from under the bridge was a loud affair, but the truck was removed successfully just before 4 p.m. While vehicles exceeding the posted height restrictions getting stuck under the bridge is not an uncommon occurrence, Wednesday's collision was the second in as many days. McDonald said a 5-tonne truck also got struck under the bridge on Wednesday. MFD and RCMP also attended that collision, he said, but it was determined the fire department were not needed early into the incident, and there was no fluid leak. Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal
The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) is adding its voice to a chorus of protest from communities and companies impacted by a federal decision to shut down salmon farming in B.C.’s Discovery Islands. In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau the umbrella organization called for the immediate development of a growth plan for B.C. salmon aquaculture to provide clarity and certainty for investors. CFA says a federal department other than Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) also needs to champion the economic growth of the sector. “DFO’s mandate seems to preclude this,” the letter reads. “Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada should be a better home, but would need an expanded mandate.” The 2012 Cohen Commission inquiry into the collapse of Fraser River sockeye recommended the removal of all salmon farms in the narrow waterways of the Discovery Islands by September 2020 if they exceeded minimal risk to wild stocks. DFO risk assessments on nine pathogens last year found the impacts were below that critical threshold, but public pressure resulted in three months of consultation with area First Nations and the eventual decision of Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan to phase out the 19 farms by June 2022. During the transition farmers are prohibited from adding new fish to the pens. The industry estimates the move jeopardizes 25 per cent of farmed salmon production and 1,500 jobs. CFA accuses the government of contradicting it’s promise of making science-based decisions with transparency and thorough public consultation when it ignored its own scientists’ favourable risk assessments of salmon farming last year. “Because the farms passed this high bar of performance, the process for renewing federal licences should have been fair and taken into account this performance, the science, and community impact,” the letter read. “Unfortunately it did not. CFA’s disappointment follows a stream of letters from mayors and Conservative MPs angry that coastal communities and industry were not consulted equally as area First Nations. On Jan. 18 B.C.’s three major salmon farm operators filed for separate judicial reviews of the decision with the Federal Court. They are, in part, hoping for a reversal of the conditions barring them from transferring a final generation of young salmon from land-based hatcheries to the ocean pens for rearing and harvest. Homalco First Nation Chief Darren Blaney said this week it was disappointing to see “unanimous support” coming from city halls to fish farms, cautioning a judical review would be a direct challenge to reconciliation and Aboriginal rights. “If they (aquaculture industry) want to reinstate the farms they will have to consult with First Nations going all the way up to the end of the Fraser and every other person who gets impacted on the B.C. coast,” Blaney said The Homalco and other nations are discussing the matter with the BC Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN). Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View
LIVERPOOL, England — Liverpool's 68-match unbeaten streak at Anfield in the Premier League ended with a 1-0 loss to Burnley on Thursday. Ashley Barnes scored from the penalty spot in the 83rd minute after the forward was brought down by goalkeeper Alisson Becker as Burnley became the first team to win in the league at Anfield since April 2017. It was Burnley's first win at Liverpool since 1974 and it leaves Jürgen Klopp's side six points behind leader Manchester United halfway through its title defence, having not scored in four successive games. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press