Ontario Premier Doug Ford says new models forecasting coronavirus cases will show the province is in 'a desperate situation' and he warns new measures are coming to try to curb the spread.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford says new models forecasting coronavirus cases will show the province is in 'a desperate situation' and he warns new measures are coming to try to curb the spread.
The U.S. House of Representatives delivered to the Senate on Monday a charge that former President Donald Trump incited insurrection in a speech to supporters before the deadly attack on the Capitol, setting in motion his second impeachment trial. Nine House Democrats who will serve as prosecutors in Trump's trial, accompanied by the clerk of the House and the acting sergeant at arms, carried the charge against Trump to the Senate in a solemn procession across the Capitol. Wearing masks to protect against COVID-19, they filed through the ornate Capitol Rotunda and into the Senate chamber, following the path that a mob of Trump supporters took on Jan. 6 as they clashed with police.
Recent developments: A highly transmissible COVID-19 variant has been found in the Kingston, Ont., area. What's the latest? Ottawa is reporting 48 new COVID-19 cases and no more deaths Monday. The Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) health unit said it's detected a case of the more easily transmitted B117 COVID-19 variant. The KFL&A health unit is asking anyone in the wider region who has travelled, or who has been in contact with someone from outside the area, to get a COVID-19 test. Facing a temporary shortage of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Ontario says it's going to give available doses to its most vulnerable care home residents and delay them for health-care workers. How many cases are there? As of Monday, 12,977 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 869 known active cases, 11,689 resolved cases and 419 deaths from COVID-19. Public health officials have reported more than 24,000 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 20,800 resolved cases. One hundred and fourteen people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario and 150 people have died in western Quebec. CBC Ottawa is profiling those who've died of COVID-19. If you'd like to share your loved one's story, please get in touch. What can I do? Ontario says people must only leave home when it's essential to avoid more COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Some places, like Kingston, Ont., have started taking on patients from other regions struggling with hospital capacity. People who leave home for non-essential reasons can now be fined, though police won't stop people just for being outside. Travel within Ontario is not recommended. Residents who leave the province should isolate for 14 days upon returning. Private indoor gatherings are not allowed, while outdoor gatherings are capped at five. It's strongly recommended people stick to their own households and socializing is not considered essential. People who live alone are still allowed to interact with one other household. Students in areas covered by four of eastern Ontario's six health units can return to the classroom, but not in Ottawa or the area covered by the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU). Most outdoor recreation venues remain open, although in Ottawa the city has closed one of the most popular sledding hills. The Rideau Canal Skateway is expected to open this week under pandemic rules. In-person shopping is limited to essential businesses. Others can offer pickup and delivery. The lockdown rules are in place until at least Feb. 11. Health officials say there are signs they have slowed COVID-19's spread and there's been talk about what it will take to lift them. In western Quebec, residents are also being asked to stay home unless it's essential and not see anyone they don't live with to ease the "very critical" load on hospitals and avoid more delayed surgeries. An exception for people living alone allows them to exclusively visit one other home. Quebec's 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew is now in effect, with fines of up to $6,000 for breaking the rules. The province has shut down non-essential businesses, but has brought students back to classrooms. Like in Ontario, travel from one region of Quebec to another is discouraged. Those rules are in place until Feb. 8. Distancing and isolating The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person speaks, coughs, sneezes, or breathes onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air. People can be contagious without symptoms. This means it's important to take precautions like staying home while symptomatic, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don't live with — even with a mask on. WATCH | COVID-19 'long-hauler' suing insurer after disability claim rejected: Masks, preferably with three layers, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec. OPH says residents should also wear masks outside their homes whenever possible. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their public health unit. The length varies in Ontario and Quebec. Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible and get friends and family to help with errands. Anyone returning to Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days. Air travellers have to show recent proof of a negative COVID-19 test. WATCH | Feds considering further measures to limit travel: Symptoms and vaccines COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and loss of taste or smell. Children can develop a rash. If you have severe symptoms, call 911. Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic, and resources are available to help. COVID-19 vaccines have started being given to health-care workers and long-term care residents in most of the region. Renfrew County expects its first doses in early February. Local health units have said they've given more than 33,600 doses, including about 23,900 in Ottawa and more than 8,400 in western Quebec. The fact Pfizer is temporarily slowing its vaccine production to expand its factory, however, means some jursidictions can't guarantee people will get the necessary second dose three weeks after the first. It may take four to six weeks. Ontario is giving its available doses to care home residents and delaying them for health-care workers. Its campaign is still expected to expand to priority groups such as older adults and essential workers in March or April, with vaccines widely available in August. Ottawa believes it can have nearly 700,000 residents vaccinated by then. WATCH| Family doctors unsure when they might get a vaccine: Quebec is also giving a single dose to as many people as possible, starting with people in care homes and health-care workers, then remote communities, then older adults and essential workers and finally the general public. Before Pfizer's announcement, the province said people would get their second dose within 90 days. It has had to delay vaccinating people in private seniors' homes. Where to get tested In eastern Ontario: Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment. Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, if you've been told to by your health unit or the province, or if you fit certain other criteria. The KFL&A health unit now says people that have left southeastern Ontario or been in contact with someone who has should get a test as they track one of the new COVID-19 variants. People without symptoms but part of the province's targeted testing strategy can make an appointment at select pharmacies. Travellers who need a test have very few local options to pay for one. Ottawa has 10 permanent test sites, with mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high. The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Alexandria, Casselman, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Rockland and Winchester. People can arrange a test in Picton over the phone or Bancroft, Belleville and Trenton, where online booking is preferred. The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile clinic. Kingston's main test site is at the Beechgrove Complex, another is in Napanee. Renfrew County test clinic locations are posted weekly. Residents can also call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 with health questions. In western Quebec: Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts. Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 ave. Buckingham. They can check the wait time for the Saint-Raymond site. There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Maniwaki, Fort-Coulonge and Petite-Nation. Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby. First Nations, Inuit and Métis: Akwesasne has had more than 140 residents test positive on the Canadian side of the border and six deaths. More than 270 people have tested positive across the community. Its curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. is back and it has a COVID-19 test site by appointment only. Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days. Kitigan Zibi logged its first case in mid-December and has had a total of 20. The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte had their only confirmed case in November. People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603. Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays. For more information
MONTREAL — On January 25th, 2020, Canadians were still living their lives like they always had: commuting to the office, visiting friends, dining out, hugging loved ones, vacationing. But the announcement that day of Canada's first COVID-19 case set in motion a chain of events that would soon change everything. By March, with cases climbing, health officials began implementing a series of measures that would fundamentally alter how many Canadians live. Lockdowns and calls for physical distancing led to companies shifting to work from home, travel restrictions, mask-wearing rules, cancellation of major events, and video meetings replacing in-person interactions as people were asked to avoid seeing anyone, even loved ones. Jack Jedwab, the president of the Association for Canadian Studies, says the biggest change to Canadians' daily lives has been the isolation from friends, family and co-workers. "I think at the root of a lot of that change is these limits on our mobility, which take different forms, whether it's interacting with family and friends, or seeing people that we're accustomed to seeing in our daily lives in person as opposed to on screens," he said. An online survey conducted for Jedwab's group in September found that over 90 per cent of the 1,500 people polled said COVID-19 had changed their lives, with most citing the inability to see family and friends as the biggest factors. While few Canadians have been untouched by the pandemic, Jedwab says women, newcomers to Canada and people who were already economically and socially vulnerable appear to have been among the most deeply affected, particularly by job losses. Here's a look at how COVID-19 has changed daily life for some Canadians of different groups: Seniors For Bill VanGorder, a retired 78-year-old from Halifax, the pandemic put a temporary halt on his active social life and his favourite pastimes of volunteering in the local theatre and music scenes. "Theatre people, as you may know, are people who love to hug, and not being able to hug in these times probably has been one of the most difficult things," he said in a phone interview. He considers himself lucky, because at least he and his wife Esther have each other, unlike many of his single friends who are completely isolated. Many older people, who are more at risk of severe complications from COVID-19, are struggling to stay connected with family or finding people to help them with household tasks. VanGorder, who works with the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, also believes unclear government messaging, particularly on when older adults will get access to the vaccine, is "creating huge anxiety and mistrust in the system," among already-nervous seniors. But while the pandemic has been hard, he says there have also been silver linings. He and many of his friends have been learning to use platforms such as Zoom and FaceTime, which help seniors stay in touch with relatives and connect with their communities. "We think the positive thing is that, of course, this knowledge will continue after COVID and will be a real step forward, so that older adults can feel more involved in everything that's going on around them," he said. The first thing he'll do when things get back to normal is to hug his grandchildren and theatre friends, he said. --- University students As classes have moved online, many students have had to adapt to living and studying in small spaces and being isolated from friends and campus life at a stage when forging lifelong friendships and social networks can be crucial. Small living quarters, the inability to travel home, financial fears and uncertainties about the job market have contributed to a "greater sense of isolation" for many students, according to Bryn de Chastelain, an Ontario resident studying at St. Mary's University in Halifax and the chair of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. While he believes schools have done their best to support students, de Chastelain says many students have seen their mental health suffer. "A number of students are really struggling with having to learn from home and learn online, and I think that a number of strategies that students are used to taking up are very difficult to replicate in the online environment," he said. --- Parents Schools across the country were shut down for several months in the spring, ushering in a challenging time for parents who were suddenly forced to juggle full-time child care, work and keeping their families safe. The reopening of schools in the fall brought different challenges depending on each province's COVID-19 situation and approach. In Ontario, some parents opted for full-time online learning, while others were forced into it when Premier Doug Ford chose to extend the winter break. In Quebec, which doesn't allow a remote option for most students, some reluctant parents had no choice but to send their children back to class. "I think uncertainty, not only for kids but for everything -- work, life relationships and everything -- that has certainly been the theme of COVID," said Doug Liberman, a Montreal-area father of two. Liberman said the biggest challenge has been trying to balance the health and safety of his family with keeping his food manufacturing business going and maintaining a sense of normalcy for his two girls, ages 10 and 12. For his family, that has meant trying to spend time outside but also accepting more screen time, and ultimately, taking things day-by-day. "I certainly think that we certainly don't have the answer, and I think we've done as best as we could, like everybody else has," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2020 Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
A St. John's man is still looking for answers more than seven years after he filed a complaint with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary's Public Complaints Commission. Billy Earle filed a complaint with the commission after police responded to a mental health call at his house in October 2013. The commission is a civilian body, which is independent from the Department of Justice and police. It investigates and hears public complaints against members of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. But years later, Earle says he still doesn't have answers about his complaint. Earle, who is a survivor of physical and sexual abuse at the Mount Cashel orphanage, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. "I was very inebriated — alcohol, drugs — just wanted to end it all, get it over with, I couldn't handle it any longer," Earle said of the 2013 incident. He said eight officers responded to the call and blocked the road around his home. "I ended up getting into an altercation with them," he said. "They ended up putting me in hospital." Earle said he has surveillance video of the altercation, which he said shows police beating him with a baton and using what he believes was excessive force. "They hit me across my wrist, they opened up my knee cap," he said. "Then when they finally got me down, subdued, well, I was under control once I was down, but then to roll me over and jump on my knee cap and squat it into the asphalt?" Earle said he spent four and a half hours in surgery, requiring 60 staples in his knee. He said the injury still bothers him. "There was no need for the force endured on me," he said. Earle said he was arrested after the incident and then charged with uttering threats and possessing a weapon, but later received a complete discharge from the courts. More mental health training needed, Earle says In the meantime, Earle said police are only just beginning to learn how to deal with mental health calls. "Why would they send down eight officers to a mental health call?" he asked, adding that he believes police need more training on mental health. Earle said he's asked police and the commission for updates, but still doesn't have an answer and he feels like his complaint has fallen by the wayside. "They always come up with an answer, we're doing our investigation, we're looking into certain things," he said. "One of the inspectors that did the investigation, I gotta say did a very thorough, very well job … [but] I'm not going to let go until this is put to bed," he said. After the lengthy wait, Earle said he's losing trust in the process, a process that he'd like to move past so he can get on with his life. "I'd like to see justice," he said. Earle also wants to know if he's entitled to a copy of the reports about the incident after the investigation is complete. Commission can't talk specifics Meanwhile, the province appointed Twila Reid as the new public complaints commissioner on Oct. 30, replacing John Rorke who left the commission in July of last year. Reid says the commission receives about 50 complaints a year. Once they accept a complaint, it is forwarded to the RNC's professional standards division, where an investigation begins and must be completed within three months. The results of that investigation are then delivered to the chief of police. "The chief of police can either dismiss a complaint or assign discipline to the officer," said Reid. Earle believes his complaint is tied up with the police chief, because he said there's no time limit dictating how long the chief has to conclude a complaint. When it comes to what's been stalling Earle's complaint, Reid said she can't speak to individual complaints or confirm if a person has a complaint filed with their office. But she did say that the commission's process is suspended if there's an ongoing criminal investigation under Section 43 of the RNC Act. In the meantime, Reid said if the complainant isn't satisfied with the outcome they can file an appeal. "If an appeal is filed with our office, we will do our own civilian led investigation. And then I can choose whether to dismiss a complaint or refer to a hearing for adjudication," she said. Reid said an adjudicator can decide to suspend or remove an officer from duty, if wrongdoing is found. She said decisions from an adjudicator's hearing are posted to their website. But the commission hasn't publicly published a decision on its website since June 2014, because there have been no final decisions since that time. Meanwhile, the RNC said they won't comment on matters before the public complaints commission, leaving Earle with few answers. In a statement before the election, the province's Department of Justice said they also won't comment while an investigation or review is ongoing. "We are committed to accountability in dealing with serious incidents that involve our police agencies which is why we established a provincial Serious Incident Response Team," the statement read. Earle said he is also pursuing a civil case against the force for the injury to his knee. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
When Ken Oguzie arrived in Nova Scotia in 2014, he was faced with the challenge of convincing prospective employers that his previous work experience counted for something. Like many new Canadians in Nova Scotia, Oguzie had a wealth of work and life experience. Born in Nigeria, he lived in Malaysia, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States before deciding to move to Nova Scotia with his family. He was very well qualified academically, with a bachelor's degree in business management from a U.K. university and a masters degree in social policy and development from the London School of Economics. But even with this background, Oguzie said his early job-hunting experience was like a "roller-coaster." 'It didn't mean a lot' "It was kind of challenging because ... you have all of these things, education and experience," he said, "and then you come in here and it didn't mean a lot. "I have all this stuff on my resumé and then I came here and every day I kept having to drop the standards." He was eventually hired by Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia in a role that allowed him to coach other new immigrants on the ins and outs of job hunting in the province. Oguzie described the opportunity to help others at ISANS as one of the "most fulfilling jobs" he's had. He said having gone through the experience himself helped him to relate to clients and have a "direct impact." Today, he is a diversity consultant and CEO of Africa Canada Trade and Investment Venture, which promotes trade between Canada and West Africa. Oguzie's experience will have a familiar ring for many. Ann Divine was born in Guyana, raised in England, and moved to Canada in 2004. She runs Ashanti Leadership — a company that works with organizations on professional development and increasing diversity. Divine said there was no consideration given for her qualifications or work history when she arrived in Canada. She said she had to start at the bottom and ended up teaching English to other immigrant women. "Their experiences were no different from mine because they were highly educated women and they couldn't find jobs," she said. Overcoming bias She said one of the problems she encountered was that employers didn't trust foreign qualifications. She said another issue in Nova Scotia was that "many individuals were not used to seeing Black and brown people in a high-profile position." The situation is improving, Divine said, but there is always a challenge of overcoming unconscious, and sometimes overt, bias in organizations. She believes the key is in approaching job applicants with an open-minded approach and having a conversation with them to see what is below the surface and "what they can bring to the table." "Change is happening gradually," she said, "but we need to move a little faster if we're going to grow our economy in the way that we want it to grow and to be more inclusive, particularly of those individuals who are not from Nova Scotia." The problem of obtaining employment even affects new immigrants who are allowed express entry into Canada under the Federal Skilled Workers program, according to Halifax-based immigration lawyer Lee Cohen. He said he has clients who successfully immigrated to Canada because they qualified under the "occupations-in-demand category" and were shocked to discover they had difficulty finding employment. "The truth of the matter is it doesn't make sense. And you have to come up with an answer. Well, one of the possible answers is — wrong last name, wrong accent." Cohen said many professionals such as doctors, nurses, engineers and pharmacists get frustrated that their qualifications are not recognized in Canada. 'Closed-shop syndrome' Calling it a "closed-shop syndrome," Cohen said many immigrants can't get past the regulatory bodies that govern their profession in Canada. He said immigrants are reluctant to spend five to 10 years going back to school to learn a profession that they already know. "I think it is very paternalistic," Cohen said. "It's also condescending. I also think there's bigotry and discrimination associated with this as well." Nabiha Atallah is an adviser for strategic initiatives at ISANS and has been working with the organization for 25 years. Atallah said the organization offers programs to help immigrants adjust to workplace culture in Canada and also works with employers to make them aware of cultural differences. One of the programs offered gives job seekers a six-week unpaid job placement in an area where they want to work, and allows them a chance to get Canadian work experience and a job reference. "Often the employer is very happily surprised by the ability of the immigrant," she said, "And in many cases they have actually offered jobs, although that's not part of the program." Atallah said she has seen a change over the years and an increasing "openness" on the part of employers to embrace the diversity that hiring an immigrant can bring to the workplace. "I think that we are realizing and we are seeing more and more the wonderful contributions that immigrants make to our community," she said. "And it's not totally new. "The numbers are new, but we've had immigrants contributing to Nova Scotia for many years." Strategic job hunting Oguzie offered some practical advice for new immigrants when it comes to job hunting. He said the immigrant journey is often "a step backwards to get to move three steps forward" and he urges job seekers to be strategic in their approach to finding employment. If someone can't get a job at the level they were used to in their previous country, he said, they should think carefully about what job they take in order to pay the bills. Drawing an example of someone with 10 years of experience in investment banking, Oguzie said it is better to take a temporary job in retail banking rather than in a completely different area like a call centre or Walmart — even if it pays a little less. "That way is easier for you to find ways, when the right investment manager job, which is what you used to do, comes along," he said, "it's easier for you to align your resumé." MORE TOP STORIES
WASHINGTON — Federal law enforcement officials are examining a number of threats aimed at members of Congress as the second trial of former President Donald Trump nears, including ominous chatter about killing legislators or attacking them outside of the U.S. Capitol, a U.S. official told The Associated Press. The threats, and concerns that armed protesters could return to sack the Capitol anew, have prompted the U.S. Capitol Police and other federal law enforcement to insist thousands of National Guard troops remain in Washington as the Senate moves forward with plans for Trump's trial, the official said. The shocking insurrection at the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob prompted federal officials to rethink security in and around its landmarks, resulting in an unprecedented lockdown for Biden's inauguration. Though the event went off without any problems and armed protests around the country did not materialize, the threats to lawmakers ahead of Trump's trial exemplified the continued potential for danger. Similar to those intercepted by investigators ahead of Biden’s inauguration, the threats that law enforcement agents are tracking vary in specificity and credibility, said the official, who had been briefed on the matter. Mainly posted online and in chat groups, the messages have included plots to attack members of Congress during travel to and from the Capitol complex during the trial, according to the official. The official was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation publicly and spoke Sunday to the AP on condition of anonymity. Law enforcement officials are already starting to plan for the possibility of armed protesters returning to the nation's capital when Trump’s Senate trial on a charge of inciting a violent insurrection begins the week of Feb. 8. It would be the first impeachment trial of a former U.S. president. Though much of the security apparatus around Washington set up after the Jan. 6 riot and ahead of Biden’s inauguration — it included scores of military checkpoints and hundreds of additional law enforcement personnel — is no longer in place, about 7,000 members of the National Guard will remain to assist federal law enforcement, officials said. Gen. Dan Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said Monday that about 13,000 Guard members are still deployed in D.C., and that their numbers would shrink to 7,000 by the end of this week. John Whitley, the acting secretary of the Army, told a Pentagon news conference that this number is based on requests for assistance from the Capitol Police, the Park Police, the Secret Service and the Metropolitan Police Department. Whitley said the number is to drop to 5,000 by mid-March. Thousands of Trump’s supporters descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress met to certify Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential race. More than 800 are believed to have made their way into the Capitol during the violent siege, pushing past overwhelmed police officers. The Capitol police said they planned for a free speech protest, not a riot, and were caught off guard despite intelligence suggesting the rally would descend into a riot. Five people died in the melee, including a Capitol police officer who was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher. At least five people facing federal charges have suggested they believed they were taking orders from Trump when they marched on Capitol Hill to challenge the certification of Biden’s election victory. But now those comments, captured in interviews with reporters and federal agents, are likely to take centre stage as Democrats lay out their case. More than 130 people have been charged by federal prosecutors for their roles in the riot. In recent weeks, others have been arrested after posting threats against members of Congress. They include a Proud Boys supporter who authorities said threatened to deploy “three cars full of armed patriots” to Washington, threatened harm against Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and who is accused of stockpiling military-style combat knives and more than 1,000 rifle rounds in his New York home. A Texas man was arrested this week for taking part in the riot at the Capitol and for posting violent threats, including a call to assassinate Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y ___ Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report. Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
The Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S) and Saskatchewan Cancer Agency signed an agreement which will allow both parties to explore the Métis experience with cancer in Saskatchewan. The agreement signing, announced last Thursday, was the culmination of years of work, Marg Friesen, MN-S health and well-being minister, said. "This is more specific now, to talk about a specific cancer strategy for Métis citizens," Friesen said. She said the agreement allows both parties to use health data to determine what exactly the Métis experience with cancer is in Saskatchewan. The data, she said, exists through a variety of different health agencies and will be collected to determine if Métis people in specific areas in Saskatchewan are more prone to cancer, various kinds of cancer or more rare kinds of cancers. Developing culturally responsive strategies That information will then be used, Friesen said, to develop targeted, culturally responsive strategies for Métis people in Saskatchewan from diagnosis to treatments for cancer. She said as it stands there is no definition or defined approach to specific programs or service delivery for Métis people, a fact she hopes to change with the work the Memorandum of Understanding sets out. She used language as an example where a culturally-targeted treatment plan could be applied and said in northern Saskatchewan, where English may be a second language for Métis residents. "We're looking at possibly preparing for a cancer treatment plan that would include a translator, or a care provider who speaks the language, or a navigator who speaks the language and can communicate with the patient in their own language," she said. Freisen said the idea sounds simple but it's a quite complicated approach because there may be barriers Métis people face in early detection or screening, or in following a treatment plan all the way through to larger issues within the health-care system. She said now that the relationship exists with the Cancer Agency, the hope is to identify and address those barriers. The nation, she said, was open to exploring agreements with other interested health agencies or organizations to define their approach or service delivery in a "more distinct" way. Freisen said the MN-S already has a Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, which she said allows the nation to provide input on health-care services in the province, particularly primary or acute health-care. In a press release published on Thursday, the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency's president and CEO Jon Tonita said the signing formalized a relationship years in the making through joint work on cancer surveillance, prevention activities and community consultations. "The Saskatchewan Cancer Agency is committed to moving forward with the Métis Nation to identify, understand and address the barriers that contribute to health inequities for Métis people in this province," Tonita said.
BERLIN — Austrian authorities stopped a man at Vienna airport as he tried to smuggle 74 protected chameleons from Africa into the country. They said in a statement Friday that a 56-year-old man, who was not further identified, had hidden the animals in socks and empty ice-cream boxes when he was caught at customs control in Vienna. He had travelled to Austria from Tanzania via Ethiopia. The chameleons were taken to the Austrian capital's Schoenbrunn Zoo, which said that three of the animals did not survive. All the animals were from the Usambara Mountains in Tanzania and ranged in age from 1 week old to adult animals. On the black market they would sell for for about 37,000 euros ($44,9700), officials said. The man who smuggled the animals into Austria has to pay a fine of up to 6,000 euros, the Austrian finance ministry said in a statement. The Associated Press
Banks, grocery stores, pop makers — it seems like every day, another company is pledging to become a "net-zero" emitter of greenhouse gases — at some point years or decades in the future. But a pair of Alberta companies say they've not only achieved the mark but are actually storing more emissions underground than they are producing from their operations. Enhance Energy and Whitecap Resources both use carbon capture technology to stash emissions far below the surface. For Enhance, the company buys the CO2 from a refinery and a fertilizer plant in central Alberta. The CO2 is transported through a pipeline to its facility north of Red Deer, where it is pumped into an old oil reservoir. The CO2 helps to free up more oil and increase the amount of crude produced at the site, a process known as enhanced oil recovery (EOR). The private Calgary-based firm began operations last fall. So far, executives say about 4,000 tonnes of CO2 is stored underground every day, which they say is the equivalent of taking 350,000 vehicles off the road — a point of pride for the company. Because they're getting the CO2 from the two large plants but only extracting a small amount of oil at this point, on balance, they say they're burying more CO2 than their oil will produce. "I get a warm feeling when I come on site and see that injection well," said chief executive Kevin Jabusch. "That's very rewarding. It makes the 10-year effort to put this project together worth it." Federal goal is net zero by 2050 Many in the industry, as well as some environmental groups, support the development of carbon capture technology, although there are concerns about how emission reductions are calculated and whether capturing carbon disincentivizes industries from taking action to produce fewer emissions in the first place. The federal government has set a target of reaching net zero by 2050 and released a blueprint to achieve that goal in December, including hiking the carbon tax from the current price of $30 per tonne to $170 by 2030. The world should be looking for the cheapest, lowest-carbon source of energy. - Kevin Jabusch, Enhance Energy Instead of calling Enhance an oil company, Jabusch describes it as a "carbon mitigation company" and said if the carbon tax rises as expected, the day might come when Enhance no longer will need to produce oil anymore to be profitable. Currently, the company generates revenue from oil production and from selling the carbon credits it gets for sequestering emissions. Alberta charges a carbon tax on heavy industrial emitters, but the province also has a system for companies to earn credits by reducing or storing emissions. Jabusch said the Alberta government's carbon tax program for large industrial emitters measures and monitors the carbon they sequester, but that data is not available publicly. Injecting CO2 to increase output Production from Enhance's Clive field is around 200 barrels of oil per day, but with CO2 injection, the company expects output to gradually grow to between 4,000 and 5,000 barrels per day over the next five years. "We're very negative today over the full cycle of our of our operation," said Jabusch, "and in the long term, we think it would be very close to zero. "Where carbon pricing is headed, we think there's going to be a strong incentive to maximize the amount of CO2 we put in the ground." Whitecap has a similar, but much larger, carbon capture project in Saskatchewan. Emissions from a coal power plant in the province and from a coal gasification facility in neighbouring North Dakota are transported to an oilfield near Weyburn, south of Regina. In each of the last two years, about two million tonnes of CO2 were injected and stored, executives said. The figures are currently being audited. The Weyburn facility has operated since 2000 and was acquired by Whitecap in 2017. With growing focus on sustainability and climate change, investor interest in the project has intensified over the last year, said chief executive Grant Fagerheim. "We're starting to get some of the bigger funds, not just from Canada, but in the U.S. for sure, and around the world," he said. Unlike Enhance, Whitecap does not account for the emissions that will be generated from the eventual use of its oil, saying it has no control over how it is used, making it difficult to calculate. Varying definitions of 'negative' emissions How a company determines whether it claims net-zero or net-negative status varies across the industry and can depend on the emissions that a given company is counting, which are often broken into three groups, or scopes: Scope 1 includes direct emissions from the activities of an organization, such as its industrial operations or the heating of its buildings. Scope 2 refers to indirect emissions, such as if the company uses electricity from a CO2-generating source, such as a gas-fired power plant. Scope 3 also includes indirect emissions, but ones that are out of the organization's control. For an oil company, Scope 3 includes tailpipe emissions from vehicles or when oil is converted into plastics. The combustion of fuel is often the largest source of emissions from a barrel of oil, compared to production, transportation and refinery activity. For Enhance, the company said it is net negative on Scope 1, 2 and 3 while Whitecap said it's net negative on Scope 1 and 2. By that definition, Whitecap expects to remain net negative even as its oil production increases by an estimated 65 per cent this year following deals to acquire Torc Oil & Gas and NAL Resources Management. "We will still be a net-negative emitter," he said. "It is nice to be in this position at this particular time." Projects can carry hefty price tag Fagerheim says he would like to build new carbon capture facilities but that they can be complex projects requiring a large capital investment and new infrastructure, including pipelines. "I believe that people will see the light of day, but ultimately, we're doing what's best for ourselves, and carbon capture utilization and storage is potentially a way into the future," he said. The two largest carbon capture projects in Alberta, including the Carbon Trunk Line that Enhance is part of, cost more than $1 billion to develop, and both required hundreds of millions of dollars in government support. There's growing interest in carbon capture projects. Last week, Tesla chief and billionaire Elon Musk promised a $100 million US prize for development of the "best" technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions. In Canada, one of the challenges with investing in a carbon capture project is the uncertainty about the level of carbon tax in the future since the approach to carbon pricing varies by political party. WATCH | Is carbon capture a solution for the oil industry and climate change? Environmental concerns Environmental leaders have often had mixed feelings about carbon capture facilities because while harmful emissions are stored underground, the technology may just be enabling industries to maintain the status quo and not focus enough on reducing the use of fossil fuels. "The science is fairly clear: we are going to need carbon capture in order to tackle the climate crisis," Jan Gorski, an analyst with the Pembina Institute, a non-profit organization that produces research, analysis and recommendations on policies related to Canadian energy. "Enhanced oil recovery is a way to ramp up carbon capture and drive down the costs and improve the technology as we work to eventually deploy that to tackling these more challenging sources where we really don't have a great way to deal with the emissions right now." Knowledge gained from carbon capture projects operating now could eventually help reduce emissions in tougher-to-tackle industries such as cement plants and steel production, he said. Some environmental groups suggest the investment in carbon capture facilities would be better spent elsewhere, such as building renewable energy projects. For example, a company could slash emissions in producing the oil, but consumers would still pump out emissions when they use it as a fuel for transportation or heating. 'The devil is really in the details' There is also the issue of double counting. Experts say it's important for any action toward reducing emissions to be properly assessed. For instance, if the emissions from a power plant are used by an oil company to increase the production of an oilfield, both companies can't take credit for the carbon-capture project. "I think the key thing is to be clear-eyed about the end goal," said David Keith, a Harvard University professor of applied physics and public policy based in Canmore, Alta. Keith also founded and sits on the board of Carbon Engineering, which aims to capture emissions directly from the atmosphere. "For me anyway, the end goal has to be driving emissions down to zero to protect us from climate disaster and also doing it in a way that does the least damage to our economy and, in Alberta, trying to find a way forward to provide good jobs for people," he said. "Enhanced oil recovery can play some role, but I doubt if it's going to be very big." If oil can actually be entirely net neutral or net negative from its production all the way to its end use, such as powering a vehicle, that would truly be fantastic, said Keith, but "whether or not those companies are doing it, I don't know. The devil is really in the details." Both companies see a strong future for carbon capture and EOR technologies, especially as demand for oil remains robust around the globe. "The world should be looking for the cheapest, lowest-carbon source of energy, and we believe we compete very well with that," said Jabusch, with Enhance.
The San Francisco 49ers will take a greater role in the running of English Premier League club Leeds after raising their stake to 37% on Monday. Paraag Marathe, the president of 49ers Enterprises, will become vice chairman of the northern English club under Andrea Radrizzani, who remains the majority owner. The 49ers first bought 15% of the team from Radrizzani in 2018 and the club has since secured promotion back to the Premier League after a 16-year absence — making increased investment from the NFL franchise more desirable. “Our investment two-and-a-half years ago was to dip our toes in the water," Marathe told The Associated Press. "We really felt like Leeds had the bones of a powerful big global club and just from their global fan base and the supporter base and everything that they have. “As we’ve spent more time there we’ve realized that to be very true, and the opportunity to be very great and so it didn’t take us very long to realize we wanted to be involved in a much deeper way.” Leeds has won admirers with its style of football under Marcelo Bielsa, who has guided the team to 12th in the 20-team standings halfway through the season. “We want to be competitive and not just a flash in the pan competitive, but we want to be sustainably competitive,” Marathe said from San Francisco. "This is really about a deeper engagement. And not just me, but all of us at the 49ers, deploying our resources and expertise and blueprints for success over to Leeds and enable that club (to) really transform itself as well.” That means sharing resources and best practices. “We’re one big family now and it’s really about … and we’ve gone through a transformation at the 49ers over the last decade, decade and a half, and we feel like Leeds, LUFC is in the nascent stages of exactly that,” Marathe said. "First is showing we belong (back in the Premier League), next is competing in Europa (League) and eventually is competing in Champions League. That’s the goal. We’re just on the first step of that matriculation. But like I said, I think we’ve already shown that we belong.” ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Rob Harris, The Associated Press
One student poll in France found 72% had suffered recent psychological distress and more than a third had had depressive symptoms. View on euronews
TAIPEI, Taiwan — It didn't take long for relations with China to become an issue for new U.S. President Joe Biden. A show of force by the Chinese air force off Taiwan last weekend prompted a U.S. response, even as Biden and his administration focus on the COVID-19 pandemic and other pressing issues at home in what is still their first week in office. WHAT HAPPENED? Taiwan's Defence Ministry reported that China sent a dozen bombers and fighter jets into Taiwan's air defence identification zone on Saturday. Such a sizeable show of force is relatively rare, and the U.S. State Department issued a statement urging China “to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan" and expressing concern about “the pattern of ongoing ... attempts to intimidate its neighbours.” China then sent 16 military aircraft into the same area on Sunday, Taiwan said. China has not commented on the reports. WHAT SPARKED CHINA'S ACTIONS? It's unclear. China may have been responding to Taiwanese military drills last week against a hypothetical Chinese invasion. It also may have been testing Biden, after the de facto Taiwanese ambassador to the U.S. attended his inauguration. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Monday that China is determined “to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity” and urged the U.S. to “refrain from sending wrong signals to the Taiwan independence forces.” Tiehlin Yen, the deputy director of the Taiwan Center for Security Studies, said China's moves may give it some bargaining chips as it prepares to deal with a new U.S. president and any adjustments he may make to China policy. But Chinese international relations expert Zhao Kejin at Tsinghua University in Beijing said the actions are not aimed at the U.S. but at Taiwan, and its opposition to unification with the mainland. “China needs to show its determination,” he said. WHAT IS THE UPSHOT? The U.S. response reflects what is expected to be continued U.S. support for Taiwan under Biden. His administration may refrain from the more provocative steps taken under his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, but it will abide by American legal requirements to ensure Taiwan can defend itself. China will no doubt continue to demand the self-governing island come under its control. Given their respective positions, the issue will likely remain a source of friction in U.S.-China relations. WHY THE DIVIDE OVER TAIWAN? Taiwan, an island of 24 million people about 160 kilometres (100 miles) off China’s southeast coast, separated from China in 1949, when the Communist Party took power. For three decades, the U.S. recognized the Nationalist government in Taipei, Taiwan, as the government of China, though it had no actual control over the much larger mainland. The U.S. switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979, but now-democratic Taiwan still enjoys strong bipartisan support in Washington. The Associated Press
After months struggling with the symptoms faced by COVID-19 "long-haulers," Chantal Renaud faces the prospect of having to sell her home to pay the bills. The Clarence-Rockland, Ont., woman has had her long-term disability claim rejected by her employer's insurance company. And she can't access federal COVID-19 support programs because they don't acknowledge the condition. Renaud has now launched a lawsuit against the insurer, joining the growing list of long-haulers fighting in court for recognition of the post-viral illness. "I'm feeling very hopeless and anxious," said Renaud about the symptoms that have left her mostly bedridden for months. "It can not only destroy your life, but you can also start losing everything you worked for." 'It makes you panic' The 48-year-old communications manager living east of Ottawa said she contracted COVID-19 in March during the first wave from her construction worker husband. Renaud continued working until early June, when she came down with a more severe set of symptoms, including debilitating fatigue, shortness of breath and a racing heartbeat. For seven weeks, when her illness was at its worst, Renaud said she thought she'd die in her bed. Her husband also developed many of the same symptoms, she said, leaving them both unable to work. "When you're unable to breathe, it makes you panic," she said. "We had a few episodes where we were freaking out and called the ambulance because we couldn't breathe." WATCH | Renaud describes her symptoms: Left in the lurch Renaud tried several times to return to work in the fall, but each time, the severe symptoms came flooding back. She now hasn't worked since November. And while she managed to successfully appeal her workplace insurer's rejection of her short-term disability benefits, her long-term disability claim was rejected in November. That's when she decided to hire lawyer David Brannen. Brannen said Renaud's case is part of a growing number of lawsuits launched against insurance companies for not recognizing the post-viral illness, also known as chronic COVID syndrome (CCS) or "long COVID." Those patients, Brannen said, are trying to seek support at a time when the medical community hasn't established a protocol for how to recognize, diagnose and treat sufferers — leaving them in the lurch when it comes to accessing insurance benefits and income assistance. Medical condition 'in its infancy' "There needs to be some attention here, because this is having real effects on people — to the point they're losing their homes," Brannen said. "Because they're not able to work, and they're stuck trying to prove a medical condition that's really in its infancy." Unlike the United Kingdom, Canada has yet to establish federal guidelines recognizing and defining long COVID, something Brannen said would go a long way to improving sufferers' lives. The U.K. recognizes the condition regardless of whether the sufferer has had a positive test, using other criteria to diagnose and treat the illness. In Canada, people like Renaud and her husband, who came down with COVID-19 during the first wave without needing to be hospitalized were often ineligible for testing. By the time Renaud got a test, the virus had run its course. The U.K. is also building a network of post-COVID-19 clinics to give sufferers access to specialized care. There are only a handful of such clinics in Canada, however. "My concern with long-haulers is that they are really at risk of falling through the cracks," said Brannen. "These people will be left in the dust." Challenge recognizing long COVID Renaud has now joined a new initiative at The Ottawa Hospital called "Stop the Spread," one of the few research projects underway in Canada that involve COVID-19 sufferers with long-lasting symptoms. Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the hospital is actively recruiting 1,000 people, half of whom have been infected with COVID-19. A cohort of that group will be long-term sufferers, said Dr. Curtis Cooper, an infectious disease specialist at the hospital. "We really don't understand who these people are, and why them and not others," said Cooper. Figuring out why their immune systems react differently, Cooper said, could one day "help us develop therapies to try to assist these people." But that won't provide immediate help to sufferers like Renaud. "Not only are we not getting the financial support we need, but we're not really getting the care that we need to recover," said Renaud. Renaud's short-term disability ends in a couple of weeks, and after that, she said she'll be forced to put the family home up for sale. And she's already used up the 15 weeks of employment insurance sick benefits she was eligible for. She said she's speaking out because she wants people to know the risks long-haulers face. "It's a lot more debilitating than just fighting an illness," she said. "You have to be ready to lose everything."
Improved access and quicker turnaround times for COVID-19 testing are essential if schools in Ontario's hardest-hit regions are to open again safely, experts say. Yet as the province delays in-class learning again for students in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton regions, Windsor-Essex and Ottawa, the bulk of 4.6 million rapid COVID-19 tests sent to Ontario by the Public Health Agency of Canada sit unused. It's still unclear whether — or how — they might be used as part of the provincial safe school reopening strategy. In an interview with CBC News on Friday evening, Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce said that as other southern Ontario schools open on Monday, the province is ready to provide whatever testing capacity is needed. But he said it would be up to local public health units to make the call. "Both tests and people can be deployed when the public health unit deems it right," Lecce said. "We are not involved as a ministry or politicians in deploying it. We leave that up to the medical officers locally." Lecce also said that rapid tests could be "layered into" a school testing program, but that decision would be up to the province's chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams. When asked at a news conference on Thursday about the potential use of Ontario's supply of rapid tests in schools, Ontario's associate chief medical officer of health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, said she and Williams were working with the Ministry of Education and "other partners ... to figure out what the best way to do this is." Yaffe made reference to a school testing pilot project in November and December on asymptomatic students, staff and families in high-risk areas of Toronto, Ottawa and York and Peel regions. That voluntary asymptomatic testing identified COVID-19 cases that may otherwise have been missed, including an outbreak of more than 20 cases at a Toronto school. The pilot used the traditional nasopharyngeal PCR test to diagnose COVID-19, in which a long swab is used to collect the sample from the back of the nose and throat and is then analyzed in a lab. At the news conference, Yaffe said there were questions about the accuracy of rapid tests versus that "gold standard," but she noted that they were "looking at" the possibility of using them. 'Test that is done is the best test' But experts say that testing rates are too low and and wait times for results are too long as Ontario struggles with high case numbers — an indication that it's time to make greater use of Health Canada-approved rapid PCR tests and rapid antigen tests, which can be analyzed on the spot and provide results within minutes. "Right now we should be using all of the tools we have," said Dr. Irfan Dhalla, co-chair of Canada's COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel. "While a rapid antigen test is not as accurate as the laboratory-based PCR test, a rapid antigen test is certainly better than no test at all," said Dhalla, who is also a general internal medicine specialist and vice-president at Unity Health Toronto. WATCH | Dr. Irfan Dhalla on importance of rapid COVID-19 tests in safe school reopening: That's especially true in areas where community spread is high, he said, because getting as many people as possible tested quickly — and therefore isolating positive cases faster — is key to preventing them from spreading the virus to others. The fact that rapid tests can be less accurate than the lab-analyzed counterpart fostered skepticism about their usefulness earlier in the pandemic, but Dhalla said that thinking has shifted. "What they lose in accuracy can be gained back through the rapid turnaround time and through frequency" that isn't possible in lab-based tests, he said. That means rapid antigen tests could be helpful in preventing COVID-19 outbreaks in schools, Dhalla said, because students, teachers and staff could be tested repeatedly and regularly throughout the school year. Those who test positive would get a PCR lab test to confirm the diagnosis but would already be isolated while awaiting confirmation. "If we adopt the view — and I think most of us do have this view — that schools should basically be one of the last communal settings to close and one of the first communal settings to reopen, then it makes sense that when community transmission is still an issue and we are just reopening schools, that we should try to reopen schools ... in such a manner that we can detect these outbreaks either, you know, before they occur [and] prevent the outbreak altogether, or detect them when they are really, really small," he said. "And so the rapid antigen tests do have a role to play." Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist at McMaster University in Hamilton, said rapid testing in schools can also help public health experts understand where COVID-19 is circulating in the broader community. That's especially true, he said, in areas where there's high community transmission but a low number of people getting the traditional tests — either due to difficulty in accessing testing centres or reluctance to go to them because they feel stigmatized. "At the end of the day, the objective is to get more positive people identified and isolated to break chains of transmission," Chagla said. "The test that is done is the best test. Not the one that we think is the best on paper. It's the one that actually gets done." Rapid tests in long-term care homes, workplaces As of Monday, the Public Health Agency of Canada had distributed about 15 million rapid COVID tests across the country — most going directly to the provinces and territories, a spokesperson told CBC News in an email. Ontario has received 4,625,084 of those tests. According to updated numbers provided by the province's Ministry of Health to CBC News on Monday, it had deployed about one million of those tests. More than 159,000 rapid PCR tests have gone to rural and remote communities, including First Nations, the ministry said, and about 850,000 rapid antigen tests have been distributed to long-term care homes and workplaces. According to the ministry, more than 150 long-term care homes are using them to test staff and visitors more frequently to better protect long-term care residents — something both Dhalla and Chagla agree is a critical use for rapid tests. The Health Ministry also said it has distributed rapid tests to more than 150 workplaces — including Air Canada, Magna and Ontario Power Generation. In an email, the ministry told CBC News that it would also be distributing more rapid tests in a pilot program "for participating employers in the private, public and non-profit sectors, prioritizing access for health-care settings, essential front-line settings and congregate settings." Through that program, the provincial government aims to "learn about the value of antigen screening for asymptomatic workers in a range of workplace settings, and [the program] will inform future decisions about safely and fully reopening the economy." A couple of provinces are using some of their federally distributed rapid COVID tests for students or teachers, but in a limited way. However, Quebec is launching a study in two Montreal high schools to determine how effective rapid tests are at identifying COVID-19 cases in school settings. Manitoba has started a "fast pass" system for teachers and staff in five school divisions, which allows them to get a rapid test at a centralized location. Nova Scotia is not doing rapid COVID-19 testing in elementary or secondary schools, but the province has trained volunteers to help at a pop-up rapid testing clinic that travels the province and frequently sets up at Dalhousie University, providing easy access for students there.
Nunavut's main internet service provider has secured more satellite capacity to fix a shortage that forced them to stop taking on new customers. SSi has joined a multi-year agreement with a European satellite network SES to increase their internet capacity. SSi Canada runs the internet service Qiniq— which is the main provider for Nunavut communities outside Iqaluit. "They [SES] have actually liberated a satellite, a whole satellite that was already in space, and pointed it north," said Dean Proctor, SSi's chief development officer. Proctor says the satellite covers all of Canada and will allow SSi to continue to provide the same quality service to existing customers while being able to take on new customers. In the fall, Qiniq had to stop taking on new customers because they didn't have the bandwidth to take on more users without the quality of the existing service going down. "We have been running out of [internet] capacity in Nunavut because there are only so many satellites that deliver service there," said Proctor. "It has been a real issue." The deal with SES is the solution to that problem. "This is providing much more than we had, but there is much more to be done," said Proctor. However, Proctor says satellite is still a much more costly service than other internet options like fibre optic, DSL, or cable — options that don't currently exist in Nunavut because of a lack of infrastructure. "We're still not at a point where we can deliver the same capacity for the same price as you would find in southern Canada," said Proctor. Proctor says this deal is another step in closing the digital divide in the North and improving connectivity. "This is an essential step," said Proctor. "It's one that comes in the time of COVID where more than ever we need this."
Families battered by the pandemic recession soon may discover that the tax refunds they’re counting on are dramatically smaller — or that they actually owe income tax. Congress offered a partial solution, but the fix hasn’t been widely publicized, consumer advocates say. Refunds are crucial to many lower- and moderate-income households, which use the money to catch up on bills and medical treatments, pay down debt and boost savings. But the unemployment insurance that kept many people afloat last year may cause problems at tax time this year. Unemployment benefits are taxable, but tax withholding is typically voluntary — and many people who lost jobs either didn’t know their unemployment checks would be taxed, or they decided against withholding. (Relief checks, such as the $1,200 sent out last year, are not taxable.) Further, unemployment benefits are not earned income and so don’t count toward two crucial tax benefits that keep millions of working families with children out of poverty: the earned income tax credit and the additional child tax credit. “If you’re a single parent or a couple with kids living on, say, $25,000 a year, you might see 25% or more of your annual income in the form of your federal tax refund because of these credits,” says Timothy Flacke, executive director of Commonwealth, a non-profit that promotes financial security. THERE’S A FIX ON CREDITS, BUT NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT IT There isn’t an easy workaround for tax refunds shriveled by inadequate withholding. But Congress provided a potential fix for the tax credits issue in the $900 billion coronavirus relief legislation passed last month: Filers can choose to use their 2019 income to determine their credits rather than their 2020 income. But that fix hasn’t been widely reported, says Leigh Phillips, chief executive officer of SaverLife, a non-profit that encourages working families to save. Not everyone uses up-to-date tax software or well-informed tax preparers, and Phillips worries that many eligible people won’t learn about it before filing their returns. The IRS will begin accepting returns Feb. 12. “People are going to start trying to file taxes as soon as they possibly can,” Phillips says. “If you think that you’ve got thousands coming in the mail or to your bank account, you’re there day one with your paperwork ready to go.” THOSE WHO RELY ON REFUNDS TEND TO FILE EARLY Research confirms that the earliest recipients of refunds each year tend to be lower income, says Fiona Greig, co-president of the JPMorgan Chase Institute, which studies data from millions of customer bank accounts. “(A tax refund) tends to be a larger relative cash infusion event for them, and as a result, they tend to seek their refund earlier in the tax refund season,” Greig says. In typical years, tax refunds equal almost six weeks’ take-home pay for the average recipient, the institute found. Last year the average refund was more than $2,500. Families who qualify for the earned income tax credit can receive thousands more. The maximum credit for working families with three or more children is $6,660 for 2020, and it’s refundable, which means filers get the money even if they don’t owe any tax. The amount you can earn and still qualify rises with family size, so that a married couple with three or more children could get at least a partial credit with adjusted gross income up to $56,844. A single person without children may qualify for a small credit with an adjusted gross income up to $15,820. Meanwhile, the regular child tax credit for children under 17 is $2,000 and not refundable. But low-income families may qualify for a refundable credit, which can be up to 15% of earned income over $2,500, up to $1,400 per child. TAX CREDITS HAVE WIDESPREAD SUPPORT The credits have been around for decades and have widespread bipartisan support among lawmakers, Commonwealth’s Flacke says. “It’s one of the few areas of some consensus across the parties that rewarding workers on the low end of the wage spectrum with these tax credits makes sense,” Flacke says. If you might qualify for one of the tax credits, make sure your tax software or tax preparer looks at both your 2019 and 2020 incomes before submitting your return. If you find out too late that you could have received a bigger refund, you can file an amended return, but you may face a longer wait. Instead of getting your refund in a few weeks, an amended return can take up to four months to process. Going forward, President Joe Biden has proposed one-year expansions of the credits as part of his coronavirus relief package. He wants to increase the maximum earned income tax credit for childless adults from $538 to nearly $1,500 this year and to raise the income limit. He also wants to increase the child tax credit to $3,000, plus an extra $600 per child under age 6, and make the full amount refundable. If enacted, these credits could be claimed on returns filed in 2022. ____________________________________ This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Liz Weston is a columnist at NerdWallet, a certified financial planner and author of “Your Credit Score.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @lizweston. RELATED LINK: NerdWallet: Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC): What It Is and How to Qualify in 2020-2021 http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-EIC-2021 Liz Weston Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
MOGADISHU, Somalia — Heavy fighting has broken out in a Somali town near the Kenyan border between Somali forces and those from the state of Jubbaland, as Somalia’s election troubles spill over into violence. Somalia’s information ministry in a statement early Monday accused Kenya-funded rebels of crossing into the town of Bulo Hawo and attacking Somali forces. But the Jubbaland vice-president, Mohamud Sayid Adan, told reporters that Jubbaland forces stationed outside the town were attacked by what he called forces recently deployed to the region by the government in the capital, Mogadishu. Both sides have claimed victory but people in the town said fighting continued and some people have begun to flee. The information ministry asserted that Somali forces were in control of the town. There were no immediate details on casualties. Somalia’s accusation of Kenyan support to the Jubbaland leader comes after Somalia cut diplomatic ties with Kenya in December “to safeguard the unity, sovereignty, stability of the country.” Somalia’s president has been accused by critics of stirring up such issues to draw support as he seeks a second term. Kenya's Internal Security Minister Fred Matiangi described Monday's fighting as “internal to Somalia and has nothing to do with us (Kenya). "We are not involved in it and none of our forces has crossed the border to go to Somalia,” he said answering questions from journalists during a joint press conference with the U.K. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace on renewing of security agreements between those two countries. Kenya's foreign affairs ministry said earlier in a statement that it had raised its concern about the fighting with the African Union Commission. “Kenya’s primary concern is that the renewed fighting engenders large-scale displacement of civilians inside Somalia and increasingly generates large numbers of refugees and asylum seekers to Kenya, therefore aggravating the already dire humanitarian situation in Somalia and in the refugee camps in Kenya,” the statement said. Somalia faces a troubled national election in the coming weeks. Jubbaland is one of two states, along with Puntland in the north, that have refused to take part. In September, President Abdullahi Mohamed Abdullahi in talks between states and the federal government agreed to withdraw Somali forces from the Gedo region of Jubbaland, where Bulo Hawo is located. But that hasn’t happened, and the Somali forces remain after taking over the town mid-last year. The president also has replaced district commissioners in Gedo who had been appointed by Jubbaland leader Ahmed Madobe, who is seen to have Kenyan support. Jubbaland also contains the lucrative port city of Kismayo, where Kenyan forces are deployed as part of a multinational African Union force. The Middle Jubba region, however, remains under the control of Somalia's al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist rebels. Hassan Barise, The Associated Press
Some nurses and doctors working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa's communities say they feel left out of the narrative, and invisible to government and public health officials making decisions about the vaccine rollout. Emily Rodney, a registered practical nurse in Ottawa who specializes in diabetic footcare, has been making house calls during the pandemic. "I definitely feel invisible," Rodney said. "I just think because we're not under that government funding, we just get lost." We're left out of the conversation, and that harms the community. - Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth, Ottawa family physician Rodney said community-based health-care professionals face the same risks from COVID-19 as their counterparts in hospitals, some of whom were first in line to get vaccinated in Ottawa. As of Friday, the province's phased vaccine schedule doesn't explicitly state when primary care workers can get vaccinated, but generally states health-care workers will get their turn sometime in or after January. Front-line essential workers and those who care for people with high-risk chronic conditions are scheduled for vaccination in Phase 2, between March and July. "We have a big impact in the community, but in the government's eyes I think we're just very small," Rodney said. She said her patients, many of whom are elderly and isolated, rely on her not just for health care, but for their social and mental well-being. They also look to her for answers. "I feel bad when I don't have more information for them as to when they'll possibly get vaccinated, or even when I might," Rodney said. "It's just an awful position." Heather Camrass, executive director of the Community Nursing Registry of Ottawa, said her primary role during the pandemic is making sure the registry's members have as much information as possible. She said it's still not clear to her where primary care providers fit into the vaccination plan. "They fit somewhere, but it's not obvious," said Camrass. That uncertainty adds stress to their already taxing jobs and give them the sense that "they're out there on their own," she said. "There's a lot fear, a lot of anxiety," Camrass said. "It's the fear of the unknown that makes it worse." Family doctor feels 'disposable' Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth, a family physician in downtown Ottawa, said she tried to volunteer to vaccinate people, but was turned away. Well into the new year, she says family doctors still don't have a "plan on the ground" for vaccinating patients. "We're so left out of this picture that it's just kind of mind-boggling," said Kaplan-Myrth. "We're left out of the conversation, and that harms the community." WATCH | Family doctor says she feels public health officials 'don't care' about her sector: To Kaplan-Myrth, primary care is the backbone of the health-care system. "And you want us to wait [until] when? Like, April?" she asked. "It's the sense of we're disposable, we're dispensable. They don't care." She said there's a disconnect between what officials are saying and what's actually happening on the ground, and that's taking a toll on her patients' well-being. "[That's] one of the most exhausting and frustrating things," she said. "This is life and death." 'Nature of the beast,' says doctor Meanwhile, family physician Dr. Alison Eyre says she's satisfied with the efforts of public health officials. Eyre, who works out of the Centretown Community Health Centre, said provincial and local officials have contacted her, and she's taken part in several meetings about community vaccine rollout. It's still in the works, she said. "The rollout hasn't been figured out yet, and there's huge frustration ... [but] no one was given a playbook on how to do this," said Eyre. "It is slow and the communications are slow, and we're just starting to learn about it. I do think that's the nature of the beast." WATCH | Family doctor says rollout delays are 'nature of the beast': She doesn't fully agree with how the first vaccine doses were distributed — mainly in and through hospitals — but she said she understands why those decisions were made. OPH says it's waiting for more info In an emailed statement, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) said it's waiting for more information from the province about the role community health-care workers will play in vaccine delivery, but is already working with a sub-group of local workers to plan their future involvement. "OPH has offered the opportunity to community physicians to participate in the vaccination campaign and to date, more than 300 physicians have expressed interest in participating," it said. CBC News has contacted the province's Ministry of Health for comment and is waiting to hear back.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Monday Jan. 25, 2021. There are 747,383 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 747,383 confirmed cases (63,668 active, 664,621 resolved, 19,094 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 4,852 new cases Sunday from 51,308 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 9.5 per cent. The rate of active cases is 169.38 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 37,536 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 5,362. There were 120 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 1,054 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 151. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.4 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 50.8 per 100,000 people. There have been 17,050,539 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 398 confirmed cases (eight active, 386 resolved, four deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday from 346 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.53 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two 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 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 78,133 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 110 confirmed cases (seven active, 103 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. 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 88,407 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,571 confirmed cases (19 active, 1,487 resolved, 65 deaths). There was one new case Sunday. The rate of active cases is 1.96 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 14 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 200,424 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,124 confirmed cases (335 active, 776 resolved, 13 deaths). There were 20 new cases Sunday from 819 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.4 per cent. The rate of active cases is 43.12 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 177 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 25. There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. 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 135,109 tests completed. _ Quebec: 253,633 confirmed cases (16,940 active, 227,215 resolved, 9,478 deaths). There were 1,457 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 199.65 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 10,719 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,531. There were 41 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 423 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 60. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.71 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 111.7 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,695,925 tests completed. _ Ontario: 255,002 confirmed cases (24,153 active, 225,046 resolved, 5,803 deaths). There were 2,417 new cases Sunday from 48,947 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 165.81 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 17,216 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,459. There were 50 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 394 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 56. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.39 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 39.84 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,944,809 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 28,697 confirmed cases (3,521 active, 24,377 resolved, 799 deaths). There were 221 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 257.11 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,186 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 169. There were two new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 30 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.31 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 58.34 per 100,000 people. There have been 448,638 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 22,177 confirmed cases (3,251 active, 18,673 resolved, 253 deaths). There were 260 new cases Sunday from 1,196 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 22 per cent. The rate of active cases is 276.81 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,905 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 272. There were three new reported deaths Sunday. 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 0.46 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 21.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 329,702 tests completed. _ Alberta: 120,793 confirmed cases (9,511 active, 109,733 resolved, 1,549 deaths). There were 463 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 217.58 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,956 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 565. There were 24 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 113 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 16. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.37 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 35.44 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,061,844 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 63,484 confirmed cases (5,901 active, 56,455 resolved, 1,128 deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 116.36 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,338 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 334. There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 55 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is eight. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.15 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 22.24 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,044,931 tests completed. _ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (zero active, 69 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. 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 6,216 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 31 confirmed cases (seven active, 24 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 15.62 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three 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 zero per 100,000 people. There have been 9,064 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 280 confirmed cases (15 active, 264 resolved, one deaths). There were 13 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 38.68 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 14 new cases. 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 2.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 7,261 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
Former Google executive Carlo d'Asaro Biondo has been appointed as Chief executive officer of Telecom Italia's (TIM) newly-created cloud unit Noovle, Italy's biggest phone group said on Monday. The creation of the new company is part of the former phone monopoly's strategy to boost and diversify its revenues, providing services to businesses and state-controlled offices looking to improve their digital reach. D'Asaro Biondo, who has been Google's president for EMEA partnerships, joined the former phone monopoly last year after TIM struck a deal with the tech giant to expand its cloud business in the country.