Criticized for being too slow, Ontario’s vaccine rollout plan now includes an online tool, but it’s one that’s raising concerns about accessibility. Shallima Maharaj explains.
Criticized for being too slow, Ontario’s vaccine rollout plan now includes an online tool, but it’s one that’s raising concerns about accessibility. Shallima Maharaj explains.
Canada's health officials spoke about the recent change in guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on the time between two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and how that may contribute to vaccine hesitancy in Canada.
LIVERPOOL, England — Liverpool’s woeful home form is developing into a full-blown crisis after Chelsea’s 1-0 victory on Thursday inflicted a fifth straight league loss at Anfield on the Premier League champions — the worst run in the club’s 128-year history. With Liverpool's title defence already over, this was billed as a battle for a Champions League place and Mason Mount’s 42nd-minute goal lifted Chelsea back into the top four. Chelsea’s previous win at Anfield, in 2014, effectively ended the title hopes of Brendan Rodgers’ side. This one was a blow to Liverpool’s chances of a top-four finish under Jurgen Klopp. Klopp’s side is four points adrift of Chelsea and with Everton and West Ham also ahead. Liverpool has now gone more than 10 hours without a goal from open play at Anfield. The hosts failed to register an effort on target until the 85th minute and Georginio Wijnaldum’s weak header was never going to beat Edouard Mendy. They have taken one point from the last 21 on offer at home since Christmas and scored just two goals, one of which was a penalty. None of Liverpool's established front three — Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino — impressed but the sight of Salah, the Premier League’s leading scorer, being substituted just past the hour mark was baffling. The Egypt international certainly thought so as he sat shaking his head, having been replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Chelsea, by contrast, looked full of threat with Timo Werner — a player Liverpool was interested in but decided it could not afford last summer — a constant problem. Despite one goal in his previous 17 league outings, he caused problems with his movement, drifting out to the left then popping into the middle to give Fabinho a real headache on his return to the side. The Brazil midfielder, replacing Nat Phillips after he became the latest centre back to pick up an injury, was partnering Ozan Kabak in Liverpool’s 15th different central-defensive starting partnership in 27 league matches. Faced with a statistic like that, it is perhaps understandable why there was a lack of cohesion at the back and Werner should really have profited. He fired one early shot over and then failed to lift his effort over Alisson Becker, back in goal after the death of his father in Brazil last week. Even when Werner did beat Alisson, VAR ruled the Germany international’s arm had been offside 20 yards earlier in the build-up. Liverpool’s one chance fell to Mane but Salah’s first-time ball over the top got caught under his feet and Mane missed his shot with only Mendy to beat. Chelsea was still controlling the game and caught Liverpool on the counterattack when N’Golo Kante quickly sent a loose ball out to the left wing, from where Mount cut inside to beat Alisson having been given far too much time to pick his spot. All five of Mount’s league goals have come away from home. Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel spent the first five minutes of the second half screaming at his players to press harder and play higher up the pitch but Liverpool’s players were equally vocal when Firmino’s cross hit the raised arm of Kante from close range. No penalty was awarded. Andy Robertson cleared off the line from Hakim Ziyech after Alisson parried Ben Chilwell’s shot as Chelsea continued to look more dangerous. Klopp’s attempt to change the direction of the game saw him send on Diogo Jota for his first appearance in three months, along with Oxlade-Chamberlain. Jota’s first touch was a half-chance from a deep cross but he was not sharp enough to take it. Werner, meanwhile, was doing everything but score as Alisson’s leg saved another shot as he bore down on goal. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
TORONTO — Cash-strapped municipalities in Ontario will receive an additional $500 million to help address pandemic-related costs.Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark said on Thursday the money can be used to pay for community services and ongoing capital projects.The province said the new funding comes in addition to nearly $1.4 billion received from the federal government and given to communities earlier in the pandemic.Clark said the new funding will be split between 444 municipalities in the province.Toronto Mayor John Tory thanked the federal and Ontario governments for their financial support."I am continuing up to and including today to have discussions with the other governments about further support," Tory said in a statement. "The funding provided this week, just days after City Council approved the 2021 budget, demonstrates all governments are working together to protect services and keep capital projects and jobs on track."Ontario municipalities are not allowed to run deficits by law, so they have laid off thousands of staff and contemplated deep service cuts to offset pandemic-related costs.Local leaders have said that without continued financial aid from the federal and provincial governments they will be forced to raise taxes.The Residential Construction Council Of Ontario has advocated for further financial support for municipal infrastructure projects throughout the pandemic. Nadia Todorova, interim executive director of RCCAO, said that her organization was "delighted" at the news and added that it was good timing as municipalities are finalizing their 2021 budgets."This kind of funding is also vital for municipalities as it provides them with a financial certainty so they can proceed with state-of-good-repair projects across Ontario, " said Todorova.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
Universal Pictures has delayed the global debut of the "Fast & Furious" movie "F9" by one month until June 25, the company said on Thursday, the latest shift by Hollywood studios trying to gauge when moviegoers will return to theaters in large numbers. The move signaled that Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp, is confident of a summer rebound as coronavirus vaccines become more widely available in the United States and Canada, which combined make up the world's largest film market. Theater operators including AMC Entertainment, Cineworld Plc and Cinemark Holdings Inc are hoping they will have blockbusters movies to show this summer, typically their most lucrative season.
One of Canada's top public health officials sought to reassure Canadians today that a recommendation from a federal vaccine advisory committee to stretch out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses is a sound one. Yesterday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended that the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months due to limited supplies. Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said the advice is based on real-world data that shows doing so would lead to more people being protected from COVID-19 in a shorter time period. "This recommendation is based on clinical trial reports and emerging real-world evidence from around the world. Data shows that several weeks after being administered, first doses of vaccines provide highly effective protection against symptomatic disease, hospitalization and death," Njoo told a technical briefing today. Confusion over conflicting advice Njoo's comments appeared to be addressing the confusion created by the fact that NACI's recommendation conflicts with those issued by Health Canada when it granted regulatory approvals for the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines. Regulatory documents provided by Health Canada upon approval of each vaccine state that the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech should be taken three weeks after the first, the second Moderna shot should come four weeks after the first, and the second AstraZeneca dose should be delivered between four and 12 weeks after the first. All of those recommendations are in line with the product monograph provided by the manufacturers. Adding to the confusion, NACI recommended on Monday against giving the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to people 65 and older, although Health Canada has authorized it for use in adults of all ages. But Njoo said the discrepancies can be explained by the fact that Health Canada is a regulator and NACI is an advisory body made up of medical experts. "You have likely noticed that NACI's recommendations are sometimes different, possibly broader or narrower than the conditions of vaccine use that Health Canada has authorized. As the regulator, Health Canada authorizes each vaccine for use in Canada according to factors based on clinical trial evidence, whereas NACI bases its guidance on the available and evolving evidence in a real-world context, including the availability of other vaccines," Njoo said. "What we expect is that NACI recommendations will complement — not mirror — those of Health Canada." WATCH: Njoo comments on NACI recommendation to delay second COVID-19 vaccine doses The issue burst into the open on Monday when B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Some medical experts questioned that decision. Canada's chief science adviser, Mona Nemer, said doing so without proper clinical trials amounts to a "population level experiment." Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the U.S., told the Washington Post that the science doesn't support delaying a second dose for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. He said there isn't enough evidence to determine how much protection is provided by one dose of those vaccines, and how long it lasts. Despite those warnings, several provinces followed Henry's lead and even more have indicated they intend to stretch the dosage interval. While it appeared to some at the time that Henry was moving faster than the science, Njoo said that NACI's experts briefed provincial medical officers of health over the weekend on the results of their analysis before releasing their recommendations publicly. NACI concluded that stretching the dosing interval to four months would allow up to 80 per cent of Canadians over the age of 16 to receive a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of June, without compromising vaccine effectiveness. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. As for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, Njoo said it is safe and that evidence shows it provides protection against very serious disease and death in people of all ages. He said Health Canada has a rigorous scientific review process and only approves vaccines that meet high standards for safety, efficacy and quality. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said expert advice will continue to change as more data becomes available from ongoing mass vaccination campaigns, and she urged provinces and territories to consider recommendations and evidence from both bodies when making decisions about their vaccine strategies. "The messaging would be simpler if we had one set of data and we had one message and it never changed, but that's not what science does," said Sharma. Decision on Johnson and Johnson imminent At today's briefing, health officials also indicated that a regulatory decision on whether to approve Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine is expected soon. "The review of the Johnson & Johnson submission is going very well, it's progressing, and we're expecting to have that completed and a decision in the next few days. I would say in the next seven days or so," said Sharma. The company has said its vaccine is 66 per cent effective at preventing moderate to severe illness in a global clinical trial, and much more effective — 85 per cent — against the most serious symptoms. Canada has agreed to purchase up to 38 million doses if it is approved. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it for use in that country last Saturday. The approval of a fourth vaccine would give a significant boost to Canada's vaccine rollout. Johnson and Johnson's vaccine is widely seen as one of the easiest to administer because it requires only one dose and can be stored for long periods of time at regular refrigerator temperatures. Njoo said additional vaccines, coupled with the NACI recommendation on dosage intervals, could allow Canada to meet the goal of inoculating all adults who want a vaccine "several weeks" before the current target date of the end of September. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading Canada's COVID-19 vaccine logistics, said that while more vaccines would be good news, the current target remains the end of September.
A benefit program meant to help vulnerable households with rent will leave most recipients still living in unaffordable, crumbling, or overcrowded housing because of a mismatch between what the benefit provides and the depth of need, Ontario’s financial watchdog says. In a report released on Thursday morning, the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario projected that 45,200 households will use the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit — a portable rent supplement announced in late 2019 — by 2027-28. But the report estimates that just 12,000 of those recipients will be able to access housing that has enough bedrooms for their household, that isn’t in need of major repairs and costs less than 30 per cent of their income. “Certainly, if you look at a top level, it would appear that more funding might make a difference,” Financial Accountability Officer Peter Weltman told reporters, while cautioning that his office didn’t analyze specific solutions for those left in housing need. To access the benefit, which pays the difference between 30 per cent of the household’s income and the average market rent in the area, households must be either living in community housing, on a social housing waitlist or be eligible for a spot on those lists. The payments continue if a household moves addresses, and are based on income, household size and local market rent — with a focus on vulnerable groups like domestic violence survivors, seniors and those with disabilities. The report considers the benefits’ focus on especially high-needs households, and an estimate that vulnerable households in Ontario will require an average of $7,600 a year — or $630 per month — in order to afford acceptable housing by 2027-28. By that year, the FAO projects the average annual level of support provided to households through the joint housing benefit will fall short — to $6,600, or $550 per month. To Alejandra Ruiz Vargas, who chairs an East York chapter of the low-and-moderate income community group ACORN, the report speaks to a lack of adequate, affordable housing supply, even with a supplement to bring monthly costs down. “It’s not enough,” she said Thursday. While the FAO projects the benefit won’t lift most recipients out of housing need, it does expect the benefit to reduce the number of Ontarians at heightened risk of homelessness. By 2025, the FAO estimates the benefit will bring down the number of households spending more than half their income on shelter costs by 19,600, leaving an estimated 159,800 still at risk. Asked about the FAO’s findings, Ontario Housing Minister Steve Clark’s office said it was “excited about the difference” the benefit made, and called on Ottawa to accelerate rollout. The federal government did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication. Victoria Gibson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has continued to send stunning images of the red planet back to Earth. In this moment, an incredible shot of the Sun from the Martian surface was captured. Credit to "NASA/JPL-Caltech".
Current promotional program fees for Hinton’s pool at the recreation centre have been reduced by 50 per cent until at least April 6, 2021. On April 6, Council will review the fees and make adjustments as they see fit. The recent increase in fees made it difficult for some families to afford using the facility, stated council during the regular council meeting on March 2. The fees were implemented by administration to make up for lost revenue due to COVID-19 restrictions only allowing one household to use the pool area at a time. “A full facility rental rate is very cost prohibitive. The daily rates are established on more than one to three occupants in the pool or other recreation facility at a time. It’s not enough to offset the cost of operating,” said CAO Emily Olsen. Administration created the promotional program to allow at least some costs to be recouped through an additional fee. Daily rates stay the same but the program offsets the costs of lifeguards on duty, administrative staff, and minimizes the losses seen with the daily rate, Olsen explained. “It was a creative response or solution to allow opening under the restrictions as best as we can to promote health and wellness in the community and allow for families and individuals to utilize the facility,” said Olsen. Reservation fees for 30 minute increments were $10 for pass holders and $20 for non pass holders. This will now be half the price. Currently, there are half hour or one hour time slots available at the pool from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm and 6:30pm to 7:30pm. To abide by provincial COVID-19 restrictions, these reservations allow one individual or one household access to the entire main pool and steam room for fitness purposes. “I appreciate the work that administration has put into opening the facility and trying to come up with an operating plan and pricing that keeps it within the 2021 budget, but we also have some unallocated MOST funds that I feel might be able to offset these additional costs,” said Coun. Tyler Waugh. Council made a direction to recoup lost revenue from the Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST) Program. The Town of Hinton, along with many other municipalities, received funding through MOST from the provincial government to help offset the COVID-19 related losses for 2020. A portion of the MOST funds was put into a reserve and council is set to make a decision on how to use these funds in April. Not all councilors were immediately on board with spending MOST dollars on subsidizing the pool rates as there are several other initiatives that require support from the funds. “I certainly struggle with limiting the types of people that have access to a public facility, especially one that encourages better physical and mental health. That said, I’d rather be open than closed, I like that we’re going to have an opportunity to get some data on usage and potentially more creative solutions down the road as restrictions continue to change,” said Coun. Dewly Nelson. He suggested looking at the data to discount certain time blocks at the pool that see less usage. Mayor Marcel Michaels stated that many families were priced out of using the facility, and that making a decision on lowering the rates was pressing. By lowering the rate, the pool may also see better usage, he added. Without a report or knowing the financial repercussions of lowering the rates Coun. Trevor Haas and Coun. Albert Ostashek felt it was difficult to slash the rates in half at this meeting. Olsen noted that while it will have a financial impact, it’s unclear what that impact will be. “We’re looking for a price point that can hit the economic reality of the citizens in our community and I think that’s what we’re struggling to find,” said Coun. Ryan Maguhn. High rates won’t generate any usage and revenue in the facility, Maguhn added. Olsen added that Step three of Alberta’s plan to lift restrictions is also set for three weeks from now, which may change restrictions for the pool. Laura Howarth, Hinton director of community service noted that the Town offers support for families that need support. “We work with FCSS or people contact us directly. Please encourage families that you are aware of that really want to come to the rec centre but it’s not affordable, and any other time it’s not affordable either, we definitely have the opportunity and are willing and supportive of those families,” Howarth said. To reserve a spot at the pool, register online at hinton.ca/rec or contact Customer Service at 780-865-4412. Reservations have to be made one day prior to the time slot. Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice
SALT LAKE CITY — With Democrats controlling the presidency and Congress, Republican state lawmakers concerned about the possibility of new federal gun control laws aren't waiting to react. Legislation in at least a dozen states seeks to nullify any new restrictions, such as ammunition limits or a ban on certain types of weapons. Some bills would make it a crime for local police officers to enforce federal gun laws. That can create confusion for officers who often work with federal law enforcement, said Daniel Isom, a former chief of the St. Louis Police Department who is now a senior advisor for Everytown for Gun Safety. Federal law plays a big role in some areas, such as keeping guns away from domestic violence offenders. Putting local officers in a position to decide which laws to enforce is the last thing police need at a time when cities such as St. Louis are experiencing a rise in violent crime, Isom said. “This has been an extremely challenging year for both communities and law enforcement, and to ask any more mental strain on officers at this point in time seems to be quite displaced," he said. Gun sales also have set monthly records nationwide since the coronavirus pandemic took hold. Isom is concerned about a Missouri measure passed by the state House that would allow police departments with officers who enforce federal gun laws to be sued and face a $50,000 fine. It's not the first time Missouri has considered such a bill, but supporters pointed to President Joe Biden taking office as a reason to pass it now. In Utah, Republican Rep. Cory Maloy also referenced the incoming administration after the state House passed his bill with a similar provision forbidding the enforcement of federal gun laws. Many Republican state lawmakers see attempts to pass federal firearms restrictions as a threat to the Second Amendment. “We really feel the need to protect those rights,” he said. Several states passed similar laws under then-president Barack Obama, although judges have ruled against them in court. Most of the latest crop of federal nullification proposals focus on police officers inside their states who primarily enforce state rather than federal laws. While Biden has called for a ban on assault weapons, any new gun legislation will likely face an uphill climb given the political polarization that has tripped up past administrations. Democratic lawmakers from conservative-leaning states also could join Republicans in opposing new gun restrictions. Any measures likely to pass would have broad support, like background checks on all gun sales, said Everytown President John Feinblatt. Those dynamics haven't stopped state lawmakers who want to make the first move to protect gun rights in their states. Federal nullification bills have been introduced in more than a dozen other states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wyoming, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Iowa. In Texas, the governor has called for the state to become a Second Amendment sanctuary. In Arizona, a Senate proposal that passed the chamber on Wednesday would allow officers to be sued for enforcing federal gun restrictions that the state considers violations of the Second Amendment. They potentially could face criminal charges. A bill in the House doesn't include those punishments, but its sponsor, Republican Rep. Leo Biasiucci, said it would be a clear rejection of federal restrictions on assault-style weapons, high-capacity magazines or other firearms. "They can do that at a federal level, but in Arizona it’s not going to fly,” he said. His proposal passed the state House last week over the objections of Democrats such as Rep. Daniel Hernandez of Tucson, who was present at the 2011 shooting that severely injured former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords. If signed into law, the measure would be unconstitutional and lead to an expensive court fight, he said. Biasiucci compares his plan to Arizona voters' move to legalize recreational marijuana even though it remains against federal law. Gun-control groups see it differently. “Guns kill people and are used to create a public safety issue, whereas marijuana is really not,” said Allison Anderman, senior counsel with the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “What is likely to happen if gun laws are not followed is people get killed as a result.” Similar measures passed by the Republican Legislature in Montana were vetoed in previous years by the former Democratic governor. Now working with a Republican governor, the state House passed a bill last week to bar state officials from enforcing federal bans on certain firearms, ammunition or magazines. Under Obama's presidency, the Legislature passed a law in 2009 that made guns and ammunition manufactured in Montana exempt from federal law. It eventually was struck down in court, but several states still followed with their own nullification measures. In 2013, two Kansas men tried to use that state's nullification law to overturn their federal convictions for possessing unregistered firearms, but the challenge was rejected. “The main issue there is the Supremacy Clause," the part of the Constitution that says federal law supersedes state law, said Jacob Charles, executive director of the Center for Firearms Law at Duke Law School. Even so, the bills focused on what local police can and can't do could pass legal muster. “States have no obligation to enforce federal law," he said. ___ Associated Press writer Bob Christie in Phoenix contributed to this report. Lindsay Whitehurst, The Associated Press
A nearly $4 million investment into Newmarket-Aurora will help victims of human trafficking access the services and supports they need to recover. On Friday, Jill Dunlop, Ontario’s Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, announced an infusion of $3.8 million over the next five years to two Newmarket-based organizations: BridgeNorth and Cedar Centre. Their community-based programs will help the organizations create two new programs “to provide more young victims and survivors of human trafficking in York Region with access to the supports they need.” “These new programs will help more people who have experienced sexual exploitation heal and rebuild their lives,” said Minister Dunlop in a statement following the virtual announcement. “Victims and survivors of human trafficking need specialized, trauma-informed supports to help them recover. Providing more dedicated services for children and youth will help address critical needs in this Region.” With their share of the pot, BridgeNorth will provide a survivor-led peer mentoring and day program for children and youth, providing supports from early intervention through to stabilization, transition and reintegration. Cedar Centre will provide trauma-specific, rapid-response therapy to help children and youth who have experienced sexual exploitation. “Our government has made it a priority to end human trafficking and protect our most vulnerable from this terrible crime,” said Newmarket-Aurora MPP Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier of Ontario and Minister of Health. “We are proud that this investment will create new critical programs in Newmarket to provide victims and survivors of human trafficking with the help they deserve and support their recovery.” Last week’s announcement is part of Ontario’s $46 million investment to increase supports, with a special emphasis on survivor-led programming. “Voices of survivors and those with lived experiences are being heard,” says Cassandra Diamond, Survivor and Founder of BridgeNorth. “For years, we have been asking to have peer-led services, and today, because of our government’s strong and wise leadership, it is a reality.” Added Alison Peck, Executive Director of Cedar Centre: “We are very excited by this opportunity and humbled by the trust in us to work in partnership with the government to provide this critically-needed service for children and youth who are at risk of, or have experienced human trafficking in York Region.” More than 70 per cent of known human trafficking victims identified by police Ontario-wide are under the age of 25 and 28 per cent are under the age of 18, according to the Ministry. Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
Les 7000 pi2 du 425, rue Robinson Sud qu’occupait jadis la Lumen, permettent à la compagnie de prendre ses aises et de doubler ses effectifs. Dix personnes travaillent aujourd’hui pour cette entreprise qui se spécialise dans l’usinage, la découpe, le pliage, l’assemblage et la soudure des métaux. Parmi ses clients, Blue Solutions du groupe français Bolloré, les alumineries Alouette et Arcelor Métal, de même qu’Ecotuned laquelle se spécialise dans la conversion de véhicules thermiques en véhicules électriques. Industries Romy vient aussi de lancer sa propre gamme de boîtes sécurisées de réception de colis sous sa nouvelle bannière de RomyTek. L’entreprise souhaite la déployer sur le marché canadien, même si elle est déjà présente aux États-Unis et au Royaume-Uni. «On est en train de développer ces produits pour les grandes surfaces, les quincailleries», ajoute Robin Langlois, président et seul actionnaire des Industries Romy. «Notre plan de match est de continuer à développer nos boîtes sécurisées et des produits connexes. On est en train de négocier avec des partenaires potentiels.» Originaire de Baie-Comeau, Robin Langlois a fait ses études à Sherbrooke. Il s’installe à Granby en 2013 lorsqu’il dégote un poste d’enseignant au département des techniques industrielles et mécaniques du Cégep de Granby. Il lancera les Industries Romy quelques années plus tard. Pour y arriver, une seule manière de faire. «On fonce», affirme M. Langlois. «On travaille très fort. On ne fait jamais ça tout seul.» M. Langlois affirme pouvoir et devoir compter sur son équipe, d’autant qu’il ne travaille pas lui-même à l’usine. «J’ai choisi les bonnes personnes comme Frédérick Gougeon, mon directeur d’opérations, natif de Granby et qui joue un rôle extrêmement important. Et des copains de longue date avec qui j’ai travaillé dans le domaine de l’aéronautique, comme Nancy Pickering et Alain Massé. Ils ont les idées, moi je les soutiens.» Des machinistes et une diversité d’opérateurs ont gonflé les rangs de l’entreprise. Une progression prudente et réfléchie Les Industries Romy souhaitent investir plus avant tout dans la filière des énergies renouvelables et de l’environnement et travailler pour des clients qui ont un effet positif sur la société au niveau du développement durable, espère M. Langlois. «On comble un besoin pour des produits qui étaient souvent fabriqués à l’étranger. On ramène des emplois qui étaient perdus. On voudrait consolider nos acquis et poursuivre notre diversification sur le moyen terme.» Boris Chassagne, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix du Sud
The temporary pandemic shelter Tipinawâw at the Edmonton Convention Centre on Jasper Avenue will remain open until the end of April, city council agreed unanimously at a meeting Thursday. The extended operations will cost $2.2 million, an amount available in a COVID-19-specific fund set aside in the city's stabilization reserve. This is in addition to the $8 million the city invested in the shelter last fall. The 24/7 shelter accommodates 300 people a night, with meals, laundry, shower facilities, as well as counselling and housing services. Three agencies have been contracted to run the shelter since October: Boyle Street Community Services, the Bissell Centre and the Mustard Seed Society. The Bent Arrow Society helps with cultural programming and counselling. Mayor Don Iveson said there's a clear need to continue the operations through the end of the spring. "I don't regret at all establishing this facility," Iveson said. Indigenous elders gave the facility the name Tipinawâw, a Cree wording meaning shelter from outside elements. From October 2020 to mid-February, nearly 4,200 different people accessed daytime services at the facility, and about 2,300 people used the overnight shelter, says a city report. At the beginning of the meeting, Coun. Scott McKeen asked about security at the shelter — saying he's received emails from residents concerned about what's happening in the area. Rob Smyth, deputy manager of citizen services, said there were some "significant challenges" early on and the city has been working with police and private security to increase presence around the facility. Temporary encampments have cropped up around the shelter, Smyth noted. "It's not perfect, but we certainly have tried to increase our activity to make it as safe and secure as we possibly can," Smyth said. A second temporary 24/7 shelter at Commonwealth Stadium is being run by Hope Mission, while a third near 99th Street in the Ritchie neighbourhood is operated by the Mustard Seed. @natashariebe
A Chihuahua sporting a First Nations dog blanket captured hearts across Canada for his small stature and enormous sense of pride. Now, seven-year-old Rikki can savour the glory of Internet stardom with treats and toys as one of five furry winners at this year's Yukon Rendezvous festival. "I was excited that he was one of the winners," said his owner Velma Olsen, who beaded the dog blanket specifically for the contest. The pet parade is one of the popular events organized as a part of the annual Whitehorse winter festival. Like many contests this year as a result of pandemic, it was held online. "The great thing about going virtual is that we got entries that we normally probably couldn't have seen such as a little hedgehog and a snake," said festival executive director Saskrita Shresthra. "It was a really great way to make it inclusive of all animals, and considering the response we got on all of those posts, it was very successful. Everybody did a phenomenal job, and it was a great activity to do in the winter during these times. It brought a lot of smiles to a lot of people's faces." Olsen, who is Northern Tutchone and a member of the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun, said she's been overwhelmed with joy to the reaction Rikki and the dog blanket received online. "Quite a few people were feeling inspired to make dog blankets now. There's someone locally here who made one for her Chihuahua, too, so it was quite nice to be an inspiration," said Olsen. Rikki, a seven-year-old Chihuahua, compared to one of the sleds used in the annual Yukon Quest dog sled race. (Submitted by Velma Olsen) Dog blankets are embellished fabric that drapes over a sled dog's back and are a longstanding tradition among First Nations across the Yukon and Northwest Territories. "It makes me feel all warm inside because it's a part of our history and to have it be responded to like that with Rikki's dog blanket it was heartwarming," said Olsen. As for next year's festival, Olsen said she's ready to sign Rikki up for another pet parade. "I've got to come up with something bigger and better next year," she said.
The United Conservative Party (UCP) government released their provincial budget on February 25th, and it’s looking different than what was projected this time last year. COVID-19 created the largest economic downturn since the Great Depression, and it seems that temporarily increased funding to municipalities could be part of a provincial strategy to reinvigorate the market in 2021. The province’s budget looks like it will effectively lean on municipalities to create jobs now, and yet significantly decrease funding to local governments over the following years. Most municipalities function with a combination of funding from property tax, applicable federal and provincial grants, and levies when necessary. One grant that municipalities have been relying on since 2007 is called the Municipal Sustainability Initiativeli (MSI), which is received from the province to help support local infrastructure funding. This includes both capital funding, which goes towards the actual building of projects, and operational funds, which support day-to-day functions. Each year, with the announcement of the provincial budget, municipalities across Alberta find out just how much they are allotted in MSI funding for the year, and what is projected for future years. A community does not have to use all of their funds that year, but the amount is set aside for them to apply for as projects come up, and they can earmark funding for future projects or projects on the go. In 2019 it was announced that the MSI would be phased out and replaced by the Local Government Fiscal Framework Act (LGGF) in the 2021 budget. According to the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA), “municipalities are seeking long-term stable and predictable funding” which they hoped would be delivered by the LGFF. Some municipalities were disappointed to see the MSI extended and the LGFF decisions put off until the 2024-25 budget. According to AUMA’s preliminary findings regarding the budget, “While MSI will increase by $233 million this year, declines in the next two years mean that municipalities will lose out on approximately $414 million in funding over the next three years.” In a recent news conference, NDP Municipal Affairs critic Joe Ceci warned that last Thursday’s budget would mean “less money, less stability, less predictable long-term funding by this UCP government.” He shared “the front-loading of the MSI is certainly something to help municipalities with jobs in their communities, but it won’t provide them the predictable money over the long term”. It is likely that communities will have to cut services or raise taxes to address the reduction. The province has found other ways to support local government during these difficult times, including a recovery plan of $500 million in municipal stimulus funding, and maintaining a freeze on the education property tax. Education property tax is a provincial tax that municipal governments are mandated to collect on behalf of the provincial government, which had been expected to increase this year. The town of Cardston, along with every other municipality, is now tasked with creating their budget and five year capital plan based on the funding numbers coming down from the province. It will be interesting to see if communities attempt to spread the funding over the next few years, or if 2021 will see municipal budgets stimulating the economy through large capital projects like the proposed recreation facility. Elizabeth Thompson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temple City Star
Hinton’s Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) is encouraging Hintonites to get outside in the spring air and visit a neighbour as part of the new Saturday Driveway initiative. For those who want to participate, all they have to do is set up some lawn chairs and maybe a propane campfire in their front yard and wait for a neighbour to come by for a visit. People can freely decide if they’d like to go walking around their neighbourhood on a Saturday afternoon or evening with a curiosity if they’ll encounter a host. “The number one goal is always going to be social connection. We recognize that we’re having less in-person conversations than we probably did prior to the pandemic. We just appreciate how important it is to talk to other people,” said Lisa Brett, FCSS community connections coordinator. Secondly, the initiative is about building neighbourhoods, Brett added. FCSS hopes this neighbourhood project will help strengthen trusting relationships between neighbours. “A lot of us don’t know our neighbours. So this is an opportunity to introduce ourselves and if we do know our neighbours then this is an opportunity to build on that,” Brett said. The Saturday Driveway initiative kicks off this Saturday, March 6, and FCSS hopes to promote it for the next three months. Brett hopes the initiative will help individuals get used to the idea of hanging out in their front yard on Saturday afternoons and evenings, being neighbourly, and respecting COVID-19 restrictions. Hinton’s FCSS reached out to St. Albert who had a similar project early in the pandemic, and they shared their positive experience and resources. Brett noted the initiative can play an important role in combating isolation that has become more prevalent the past year. “I recognize you can be isolated and not feel lonely. In other scenarios people feel lonely where they’re feeling more empty and separated and that emotion can be quite powerful,” Brett said. Positive interactions among neighbours can also help individuals feel safer in their neighbourhood and realize they can rely on a neighbour in an emergency, she added. She hopes the idea will help the community stave off loneliness, foster connection, and boost happiness in a time where everybody is pulling back due to government mandated COVID-19 restrictions. People can now gather with a group up to 10 while social distancing and wearing masks. “It’s just really about sparking an idea in people rather than telling them what to do. This might only attract certain people or certain personalities but the outcomes are unknown. It’s a hopeful project, it’s about kindness and being welcoming to all people,” Brett said. The Town offers posters to promote the initiative and also one that individuals could hang on their door or mailbox to let others know when they will be hosting a Saturday Driveway event. Hintonites can participate on their own and self-manage their driveway event. “There’s a lot of freedom and liberty involved as long as they recognize that we’re still under COVID-19 [restrictions],” Brett said. RCMP and Fire Department are aware of the project and COVID-19 restrictions were also considered when putting the concept together. A portable fire pit is permissible but if someone chooses to have a real fire, they must read the fire bylaw link on hinton.ca/fcss and adhere to its fire safety precautions. Posters to participate are available at the FCSS office to pick up or for print from the Town of Hinton website. The principle way to know if someone is hosting a Saturday Driveway is that a participant is visibly set up in their driveway or front yard welcoming neighbours to stroll by and have a chat. Being masked and remaining six feet apart must be part of the interactions. Currently, outdoor gatherings allow up to 10 people. Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice
A large parking lot that's become a canvas for graffiti in Halifax's North End is being converted into a pair of low-rise buildings that will provide 57 affordable apartment units. But it will take two years or longer before people can move in, according to the housing co-op that acquired the land from the federal government through a national housing initiative. The project will be constructed in an underutilized parking lot on Maitland Street near Portland Place, and it's expected that ground breaking will begin in early 2022 with occupancy about 12 to 18 months later, said Karen Brodeur, president of Compass Nova Scotia Co-operative Homes. She participated in a virtual news conference with Halifax MP Andy Fillmore on Thursday. Dubbed the North-End Neighbourhood Development, the property is located behind a bakery, a restaurant and a pub on Gottingen Street, and across the street from townhouses. The project will build two six-storey apartment buildings with one-, two- and three-bedroom units. "This will mean that the development is accessible to a huge range of household types, something that we desperately need in the HRM," said Brodeur. The parking lot is a popular spot for graffiti artists.(Dave Laughlin/CBC) The federal government is providing Compass with $1.5 million in funding through the National Housing Strategy Federal Lands Initiative to purchase the property, while the Nova Scotia government is committing $3 million toward the development. The city also provided rebates on some fees to help move the project forward. Fillmore praised the project for turning the usually empty parking lot that's "kind of a blight" in the neighbourhood into homes. Jim Graham, executive director of the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia, welcomed the announcement, but said it's not a silver bullet to fix the city's affordable housing crunch. "Every little bit helps, it's just a shame that things take as long as they do," he said, citing the challenges of navigating federal, provincial and municipal agencies to make affordable housing proposals a reality. He added the 57 units will barely make a dent in the demand for affordable housing. Graham said some European cities have achieved a balanced housing market in which 12 to 15 per cent or more of rentals are non-profit compared to market-priced units. In Halifax, non-profit rentals are running at about two per cent of the overall rental housing stock, he said. Graham is the executive director of the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia. The non-profit's website says 'decent, affordable and sustainable housing is a basic human right and the first step toward personal, social, economic and cultural well-being and empowerment.'(Jim Graham) "It's very small. So there's a long hill to climb here," said Graham. He said the city's affordable housing supply is low because successive provincial governments haven't built a public housing project since the 90s. This project is being developed under a housing co-operative model, in which residents are members of the co-op and vote on decisions. Brodeur said Compass wishes to draw upon the co-operative's values of "sustainability, inclusion and collaboration" from the project's construction right through to occupancy. She said individual housing charges have not been determined, but Compass is "committed to maintaining average rents at 75 per cent of the median market rent for the area and time." Currently, the median monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in north-end Halifax is $1,100, a two-bedroom is $1,195 and a three-bedroom is $1,200. Under its lands initiative, Ottawa will spend $200 million over 10 years to offload surplus federal properties at discounted or no-cost rates to encourage development of affordable, sustainable, accessible and socially inclusive housing. The parking lot is surrounded by a new development and townhouses.(Dave Laughlin/CBC) MORE TOP STORIES
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting five new COVID-19 cases today, four of which are in the eastern health region that includes St. John's. Health officials say the four cases in the eastern region involve people between the ages of 40 and 69; three involve close contacts of prior cases while the fourth is related to domestic travel. Officials say the fifth case is located in the western health region, involves a person between the ages of 20 and 39 and is related to international travel. Eight people are in hospital with the disease, including two in intensive care. Officials say they are still investigating the source of an infection involving a health-care worker at a hospital in the rural town of St. Anthony, located on the Northern Peninsula. Newfoundland and Labrador has 121 active reported COVID-19 infections. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
1. “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” by Charlie Mackesy (HarperOne) 2. “The Four Winds” by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin’s Press) 3. “Believe IT” by Jamie Kem Lima (Gallery Books) 4. “Firefly Lane” by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin’s Griffin) 5. “I Love You to the Moon and Back” by Amelia Hepworth (Tiger Tales) 6. “A Court of Silver Flames” by Sarah J. Maas (Bloomsbury) 7. “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss (Random House) 8. “The Kaiser's Web” by Steve Berry (Minotaur) 9. “Guess How Much I Love You” by Sam McBratney (Candlewick) 10. “Kingdom of Shadow and Light” by Karen Marie Moning (Dell) 11. “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish” by Dr. Seuss (Random House) 12. “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster” by Bill Gates (Knopf) 13. “Bridgerton: The Duke and I” by Julia Quinn (Avon) 14. “Fox in Socks” by Dr. Seuss (Random House Books for Young Readers) 15. “Dr. Seuss's ABC” by Dr. Seuss (Random House Books for Young Readers) 16. “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch (Firefly Books) 17. “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss (Random House) 18. “Bridgerton: The Viscount Who Loved Me” by Julia Quinn (Avon) 19. “Are You My Mother?” by P.D. Eastman (Random House Books for Young Readers) 20. “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig (Viking) 21. “The Pegan Diet” by Mark Hyman (Little, Brown Spark) 22. “Atomic Habits” by James Clear (Avery) 23. “Keep Sharp” by Sanjay Gupta (Simon & Schuster) 24. “Think Again” by Adam Grant (Viking) 25. “Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder” by Joanne Fluke (Kensington) The Associated Press
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Efforts to ban applying Kentucky's death penalty to some people with severe mental illnesses ran into resistance Thursday, but the bill mustered just enough votes to be sent to the full state Senate. The measure was advanced by the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 6-4 vote, leaving it potentially one step away from being sent to the governor. But that final hurdle could be a formidable one in the Senate after the bill won 75-16 House passage this week. Republicans control both chambers. Afterward, the committee’s chairman, Republican Sen. Whitney Westerfield, said the bill’s prospects in the Senate appeared to be “dimmer.” Westerfield, who supports the bill, put its chances of passing the Senate at “50-50,” adding: “I’m not as confident as I once was.” The measure would block use of the death penalty for people who, at the time of the offence, have a documented history of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder or delusional disorder. “This is not, despite all the rhetoric we’ve been hearing, going to do away with the death penalty," said Republican Rep. Chad McCoy, the bill's lead sponsor. "It is a very, very narrow bill.” The bill reflects a long-running goal of mental health advocates in Kentucky. The measure drew opposition from prosecutors Thursday. Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Cohron objected to the bill's reference to a person's documented history of disorders. He said it's too “loose a term” that would cause more legal disputes in cases that already can drag on for years. The bill's critics worry that a decades-old diagnosis could prevent that person from being held accountable for a heinous crime later in life. Disorders listed in the bill are seen frequently in criminal cases, and defence attorneys could try to have the proposal applied to existing death row cases if the measure became law, Cohron said. “The odds of this not being challenged and litigated retroactively is zero,” he said. McCoy insisted the bill applies only apply to future cases where the death penalty might be considered. “I don’t think we could be more clear on the retroactivity,” McCoy told the committee. Offenders with a history of such disorders would still face severe punishment if the bill became law, he said. “This is not a decision of whether somebody’s not going to be tried or not going to be punished,” McCoy said. “They’re still going to get life in prison without parole.” ___ The legislation is House Bill 148. Bruce Schreiner, The Associated Press
Vancouver's parks board is taking action to control the increasing numbers of messy and aggressive Canada geese. A statement from the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation says it is developing a management plan to reduce the number of geese in city parks, beaches and on the seawall. The board is particularly concerned about humans feeding the birds, saying it brings flocks of geese to high-traffic areas such as Stanley Park and the beaches of English Bay and Sunset Beach. A key part of the management plan asks residents to identify Canada goose nests on private property so they can be removed or the eggs can be addled, and left in the nest so adults continue to brood, rather than lay again. The board estimates Vancouver's population of more than 3,500 Canada geese grows every year because the habitat is ideal and the birds have no natural predators. Several Okanagan cities are asking permission to cull growing flocks of Canada geese that foul area beaches and parks, but Vancouver's board says egg addling, a measure supported by the SPCA, is its only control measure. In addition to calling for public help in identifying nests, which can be on roofs, balconies or in tall, topped trees, the park board is urging people not to feed Canada geese. “Supplemental feeding by humans can also contribute to geese being able to lay more than one clutch of eight eggs per season; meaning that if one clutch does not hatch, they can replace it," the statement says. "In nature, without food from humans, this wouldn’t happen." Canada geese have inefficient digestive systems and the parks board says the birds produce more excrement for their size than most other species. The park board says it hopes to step up egg addling, saying wildlife specialists believe the practice must be tripled in order to cut Vancouver's goose populations. A web page has been created on the City of Vancouver website to report the location of nests so they can be removed or the eggs can be addled. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press