Canada is expecting its largest COVID-19 vaccine shipment to date and many people are anxious to roll up their sleeves. However, family physicians say some patients are confused when it comes to eligibility and timing. Katherine Ward has more.
Canada is expecting its largest COVID-19 vaccine shipment to date and many people are anxious to roll up their sleeves. However, family physicians say some patients are confused when it comes to eligibility and timing. Katherine Ward has more.
WASHINGTON — A conference dedicated to the future of the conservative movement turned into an ode to Donald Trump as speakers declared their fealty to the former president and attendees posed for selfies with a golden statue of his likeness. As the Republican Party grapples with deep divisions over the extent to which it should embrace Trump after losing the White House and both chambers of Congress, those gathered at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday made clear they are not ready to move on from the former president — or from his baseless charges that the November election was rigged against him. “Donald J. Trump ain’t going anywhere,” said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, one of several potential 2024 presidential contenders who spoke at the event, being held this year in Orlando to bypass COVID-19 restrictions. Trump on Sunday will be making his first post-presidential appearance at the conference, and aides say he will use the speech to reassert his power. The program underscored the split raging within the GOP, as many establishment voices argue the party must move on from Trump to win back the suburban voters who abandoned them in November, putting President Joe Biden in the White House. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and others worry Trump will undermine the party’s political future if he and his conspiracy theories continue to dominate Republican politics. But at the conference, speakers continued to fan disinformation and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, with panels dedicated to amplifying false claims of mass voter fraud that have been dismissed by the courts, state election officials and Trump’s own administration. Indeed, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., another potential 2024 hopeful, drew among the loudest applause and a standing ovation when he bragged about challenging the election certification on Jan. 6 despite the storming of the Capitol building by Trump supporters trying to halt the process. “I thought it was an important stand to take," he said. Others argued the party would lose if it turned its back on Trump and alienated the working-class voters drawn to his populist message. “We cannot — we will not — go back to the days of the failed Republican establishment of yesteryear,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who outlined a new Trumpian GOP agenda focused on restrictive immigration policies, opposition to China and limiting military engagement. “We will not win the future by trying to go back to where the Republican Party used to be,” echoed Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who chairs the fundraising committee tasked with electing Republicans to the Senate. “If we do, we will lose the working base that President Trump so animated. We’re going to lose elections across the country, and ultimately we’re going to lose our nation." Scott is dismissing pressure on him to “mediate between warring factions on the right” or “mediate the war of words between the party leaders." He has refused to take sides in the bitter ongoing fight between Trump and McConnell, who blamed Trump for inciting the deadly Capitol riot but ultimately voted to acquit him at his impeachment trial earlier this month. “I’m not going to mediate anything," he said, criticizing those who “prefer to fan the flames of a civil war on our side” as “foolish” and “ridiculous." But in speeches throughout the day, the GOP turmoil was front and centre. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., lit into Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, who has faced tremendous backlash for her vote to impeach Trump for inciting the Capitol riot. And as the program was wrapping up, Trump issued a statement endorsing Max Miller, a former staffer who has now launched a campaign challenging Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, another Republican who voted in favour of impeachment. Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox News Channel host and Trump Jr.'s girlfriend, offered a pointed message to those who stand in opposition to the former president, who will not arrive at the conference until Sunday but was present in spirit in the form of a large golden statue erected in a merchandise show booth, where attendees could pose for pictures with it. “We bid a farewell to the weak-kneed, the spineless and the cowards that are posing in D.C. pretending that they’re working for the people,” she said. “Let’s send them a pink slip straight from CPAC.” Trump Jr., who labeled the conference “TPAC” in honour of his father, hyped the return of his father and the “Make America Great Again” platform to the spotlight. “I imagine it will not be what we call a ‘low-energy’ speech," he said. “And I assure you that it will solidify Donald Trump and all of your feelings about the MAGA movement as the future of the Republican Party.” Jill Colvin, The Associated Press
(Sean Kilpatrick / Canadian Press - image credit) Delays in the delivery of vaccines sapped Canadians' esteem for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — but polls suggest there hasn't been a corresponding slippage in support for the Liberal Party he leads. Not yet, at any rate. Voting intentions often move after other indicators of voter sentiment start to shift. But with recent announcements about more vaccine shipments arriving soon, the Liberals might avoid taking the hit that was coming their way. As was the case for most governing leaders across the country, Trudeau's popularity soared at the outset of the pandemic. COVID-19's rallying effect tapered off somewhat as the pandemic dragged on, but Trudeau was still polling better at the end of 2020 than he was at the start of it. News in mid-January that there would be delays in vaccine deliveries, and that Canada was falling behind in international vaccination rankings, coincided with a decline in Trudeau's own personal ratings. According to a recent survey from the Angus Reid Institute, Trudeau's approval rating has dropped by five points since mid-January to 45 per cent. The risk of over-promising, under-delivering Abacus Data found that the share of Canadians saying they have a positive impression of Trudeau fell three points to 36 per cent, while the number of those with a negative impression increased five points to 42 per cent. The timing probably isn't a coincidence. Trudeau's repeated assurances that Canada would receive a specific number of vaccines by a specific date put him in danger of over-promising and under-delivering something over which his government had only limited control. So it isn't surprising that after those delays were announced, Abacus reported that the number of Canadians saying that Trudeau has done an excellent or good job procuring vaccines had dropped 15 percentage points. Léger has also found that public satisfaction with the measures put in place by the federal government to fight COVID-19 has fallen to 56 per cent from 66 per cent before the New Year, while an Ipsos/Global News poll found approval of Trudeau's response to the pandemic down six points from early January to 54 per cent. Those are some significant drops after what had been a rather steady public opinion environment for Trudeau. But while the Liberals are down a little, they have not seen as much of a shift in their own support. Liberal lead in the polls largely untouched According to the CBC's Canada Poll Tracker, an aggregation of all publicly available polling data, Liberal support across the country stands at 34.9 per cent, down just 1.2 percentage points since Jan. 27. Recent polls have shown an inconsistent trend line. The most recent Léger survey has the Liberals at 36 per cent, unchanged since mid-January, and ahead of the Conservatives by seven points. Both Abacus and Ipsos have the Liberals dropping three points since January, but still ahead of the Conservatives by one and three points, respectively. The Angus Reid Institute pegged the Liberals at 34 per cent, down a single point since January but leading the Conservatives by three. While it's not a positive trend line for the Liberals, it certainly doesn't look like the bottom is anywhere close to falling out for them. This isn't the first time we've seen support for the Liberals proving to be more resilient than support for the prime minister. According to polling by Abacus Data, the share of Canadians with a positive view of Trudeau plummeted 11 points in early 2018 — around the time of his controversial trip to India. In the same polls, however, support for the Liberals slipped by just three points. Trudeau's positive ratings tumbled by 12 points between December 2018 and April 2019 during the SNC-Lavalin affair, but the Liberals only suffered a four-point drop. This is largely because a party leader's ratings and those of the party he or she leads are only linked to a certain point — because even if voters sour on a leader, they need to prefer the options available to them before they take their votes elsewhere. Conservatives struggle to capitalize The Conservatives haven't benefited from the Liberals' modest drop. The party currently sits at 30.1 per cent support nationwide in the Poll Tracker — down 0.5 points since Jan. 27. Instead, it's the NDP that has picked up some of the Liberals' slack. Polls suggest Erin O'Toole, who took over as Conservative leader in August, has not made a positive first impression with Canadians. While Trudeau's personal ratings fell, Abacus found that O'Toole's positive score was unchanged at 20 per cent, while his negatives increased by two points to 30 per cent. The Angus Reid Institute found just 29 per cent of Canadians holding a favourable view of O'Toole (down three points since January), while his unfavourable rating increased four points to 51 per cent — just one point behind Trudeau, who benefits from having higher favourables and fewer undecideds than O'Toole does. Polls suggest the Conservatives under leader Erin O'Toole have been unable to make much headway in popular support, despite recent struggles for the Liberals. O'Toole's problematic personal ratings make it difficult for the Conservatives to capitalize on Trudeau's own worsening numbers — a phenomenon they've experienced before. The same thing happened to the previous Conservative leader, Andrew Scheer. Drops in support for the Liberals over the India trip in 2018 and SNC-Lavalin in 2019 did not result in big spikes for the Conservatives — in part because Scheer had problems with his own personal poll numbers. More vaccines could turn things around for Trudeau It's clear that the appeal of the alternatives matters — and that voting intentions don't always follow the leader. According to polling by Abacus Data during the 2019 federal election campaign, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh saw his positive ratings increase by 14 points. But by the end of the campaign, Abacus had the NDP down one point from its pre-campaign standing. Nevertheless, a leader's declining poll numbers should get parties thinking about whether their own support will be next. Had further vaccine delays continued to sap Trudeau's popularity, it's likely that the Liberals would have started to feel the effects more directly. Instead, new vaccine shipments are imminent and should put Canada on track to reach its targets by the end of March. Any rise in Canada's international vaccination rankings could correspond with a rise in Trudeau's support. Indications of a potential rebound might already be emerging. Polling by Morning Consult, an American polling outfit that has been tracking the approval ratings of global leaders, recently reported an uptick in Trudeau's approval rating. It could be a blip. But after a tough few weeks, there's no doubt Trudeau and the Liberals will be happy for any signal that they've made it through in one piece.
The Village of South River discussed several topics at its Feb. 22 council meeting, including the annual water report, South River’s arena status and the District of Parry Sound Social Services Board being more involved in health and well-being. Here are key quotes from the council meeting. On the 2020 annual water report “People have concerns and rightly so; they have a right to be concerned about the security of their water, but we certainly have taken all the steps to make sure that security is there and it’s good for us to have a reminder for them,” said Coun. Bill O’Hallarn. “On our water page, both this report and the next one that we’re about to accept will be on the website (Feb. 23) and the past years are there,” said clerk-administrator Don McArthur. On the South River Arena “As we all know, we decided to remove the ice and that work will go on. We’ll move forward all the maintenance once they get the ice out that would have normally taken place in May and June — we can begin in March and see how far that takes us,” said McArthur. “We’re hopeful that the (Investing in Canadian Infrastructure Program) COVID-19 grant may be announced before the end of March and maybe we can enhance some of that work. For right now, the plan is to put the ice back in mid-June to be ready for hockey opportunity camp … so the arena update is that the season came to an end unfortunately,” said McArthur. On the District of Parry Sound Social Services Administration Board “That’s something we always wanted to do, was to have the District of Parry Sound Social Services Administration Board more involved with health and well-being,” said Coun. Teri Brandt. “The DSSAB is an active member of the build in Powassan for the new Noah building and you can see the building is going ahead and they’re very optimistic there’s going to be 50 units and lots of subsidized units,” said Brandt. The Village of South River’s next council meeting is on March 8. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 67,201 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,774,599 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 4,682.409 per 100,000. There were 398,071 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 2,441,670 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 72.68 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 3,827 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 20,285 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 38.739 per 1,000. There were 7,020 new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 33,820 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 59.98 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,485 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 12,176 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 76.758 per 1,000. There were 1,670 new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 14,715 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 9.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 82.75 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 6,987 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 32,019 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 32.81 per 1,000. There were 14,700 new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 61,980 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 51.66 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 5,135 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 26,317 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 33.738 per 1,000. There were 11,760 new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 46,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 56.26 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 13,464 new vaccinations administered for a total of 400,540 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 46.81 per 1,000. There were 28,500 new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 537,825 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 74.47 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 21,805 new vaccinations administered for a total of 643,765 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 43.826 per 1,000. There were 220,030 new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 903,285 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 71.27 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 2,409 new vaccinations administered for a total of 71,469 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 51.902 per 1,000. There were 6,100 new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 108,460 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 65.89 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 4,015 new vaccinations administered for a total of 69,451 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 58.899 per 1,000. There were 15,210 new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 74,605 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 93.09 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 11,728 new vaccinations administered for a total of 207,300 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 47.092 per 1,000. There were 69,090 new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 274,965 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 75.39 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 12,490 new vaccinations administered for a total of 252,373 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 49.18 per 1,000. There were 15,491 new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 323,340 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 78.05 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 15,174 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 363.615 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 18,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 80.29 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 16,454 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 364.68 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 19,100 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 42 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 86.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 19 new vaccinations administered for a total of 7,276 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 187.884 per 1,000. There were 8,500 new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 23,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 62 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 30.44 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Shutterstock - image credit) A member of Parliament from Nova Scotia wants food products in Canada labelled so consumers can clearly see their impact on the environment. Jaime Battiste's private member's motion calling for a green grading system passed in the House of Commons this week. "My hope and my dream is that within, you know, the next few years, we'll be able to pick up two products at the local Walmart and Costco and we'll be able to make a choice of two products based on not only their cost, but on what the impact is on our environment," Battiste, the MP for Sydney-Victoria, told CBC Radio's Information Morning on Friday. Even though we're in the middle of a pandemic, the next crisis is climate change, Battiste said. The House standing committee on environment and sustainable development will now study what food labels could look like under a green grading system, among other things. Battiste said he imagines the information being displayed in a similar way to nutritional information, with products getting a grade such as A, B or C. "When we're looking at environment labelling, we're not looking at our personal health, but our environmental health," he said, "which I think is interconnected in a lot of ways." Battiste said some restaurants already include information about carbon footprint on their menus. He'd like the labels to be on Canadian-made food products as well as those from other countries, but said that will be looked at further in the study. The committee will talk with farmers, environmentalists and industry experts, he said. The grading system would take into consideration things like greenhouse gas emissions, the waste created, water used and distance travelled. The committee will also have to determine if the grading is voluntary or if companies that don't comply should face fines, Battiste said. "I think we have to hear from the experts and hear from the industries and hear from the farmers and hear from everyone before you can really make judgments like that," he said. As far as he knows, no other country has created a similar green labelling system. Jaime Battiste, the MP for Sydney-Victoria, put forward a private member's motion that was passed by the House on Feb. 24. "There are so many different labels on so many different foods, but if we had one consistent one that was used across Canada, kind of like a nutritional facts, it's pretty consistent," he said. "This is the opportunity that we have to make a difference in our day-to-day lives to ensure that we're doing our best to protect our planet." Not all MPs have the chance to put forward a private member's bill. Battiste said he was thrilled when his bill, which is called M-35 Environment Grading Label, passed this week. "I don't know if I'll ever get this opportunity again and I wanted to be able to look [my son] in the eyes when he's older and said when I had an opportunity to make a difference, I did what I could to make sure that the future generations and the next seven generations had had a fighting chance," he said. MORE TOP STORIES
The “Trump-made-me-do-it” defence is already looking like a longshot. Facing damning evidence in the deadly Capitol siege last month — including social media posts flaunting their actions — rioters are arguing in court they were following then-President Donald Trump's instructions on Jan. 6. But the legal strategy has already been shot down by at least one judge and experts believe the argument is not likely to get anyone off the hook for the insurrection where five people died, including a police officer. “This purported defence, if recognized, would undermine the rule of law because then, just like a king or a dictator, the president could dictate what’s illegal and what isn’t in this country," U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell said recently in ordering pretrial detention of William Chrestman, a suspected member of the Kansas City-area chapter of the Proud Boys. “And that is not how we operate here.” Chrestman’s attorneys argued in court papers that Trump gave the mob “explicit permission and encouragement” to do what they did, providing those who obeyed him with “a viable defence against criminal liability.” “It is an astounding thing to imagine storming the United States Capitol with sticks and flags and bear spray, arrayed against armed and highly trained law enforcement. Only someone who thought they had an official endorsement would even attempt such a thing. And a Proud Boy who had been paying attention would very much believe he did,” Chrestman’s lawyers wrote. Trump was acquitted of inciting the insurrection during his second impeachment trial, where Democrats made some of the same arguments defence attorneys are making in criminal court. Some Republican lawmakers have said the better place for the accusations against Trump is in court, too. Meanwhile, prosecutors have brought charges against more than 250 people so far in the attack, including conspiracy, assault, civil disorder and obstruction of an official proceeding. Authorities have suggested that rare sedition charges could be coming against some. Hundreds of Trump supporters were photographed and videotaped storming the Capitol and scores posted selfies inside the building on social media, so they can’t exactly argue in court they weren’t there. Blaming Trump may be the best defence they have. “What’s the better argument when you’re on videotape prancing around the Capitol with a coat rack in your hand?” said Sam Shamansky, who’s representing Dustin Thompson, an Ohio man accused of stealing a coat rack during the riot. Shamansky said his client would never have been at the Capitol on Jan. 6 if Trump hadn’t “summoned him there.” Trump, he added, engaged in a “devious yet effective plot to brainwash” supporters into believing the election was stolen, putting them in the position where they “felt the the need to defend their country at the request of the commander in chief.” “I think it fits perfectly,” he said of the defence. “The more nuanced question is: Who is going to buy it? What kind of jury panel do you need to understand that?” While experts say blaming Trump may not get their clients off the hook, it may help at sentencing when they ask the judge for leniency. “It could likely be considered a mitigating factor that this person genuinely believed they were simply following the instructions of the leader of the United States,” said Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney in Michigan who's now a professor at the University of Michigan Law School. It could also bolster any potential cases against the former president, experts say. “That defence is dead on arrival,” said Bradley Simon, a New York City white-collar criminal defence attorney and former federal prosecutor. “But I do think that these statements by defendants saying that they were led on by Trump causes a problem for him if the Justice Department or the attorney general in D.C. were to start looking at charges against him for incitement of the insurrection.” While the legal bar is high for prosecuting Trump in the Capitol siege, the former president is already facing a lawsuit from Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson that accuses him of conspiring with extremist groups to prevent Congress from certifying the election results. And more lawsuits could come. Trump spread baseless claims about the election for weeks and addressed thousands of supporters at a rally near the White House before the Capitol riot, telling them that they had gathered in Washington "to save our democracy." Later, Trump said, “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” A lawyer for Jacob Chansley, the shirtless man who wore face paint and a hat with horns inside the Capitol, attached a highlighted transcript of the Trump's speech before the riot to a court filing seeking Chansley's release from custody. The defence lawyer, Albert Watkins, said the federal government is sending a “disturbingly chilling message” that Americans will be prosecuted “if they do that which the President asks them to do.” Defence lawyers have employed other strategies without better success. In one case, the judge called a defence attorney’s portrayal of the riots as mere trespassing or civil disobedience both “unpersuasive and detached from reality.” In another, a judge rejected a man’s claim that he was “duped” into joining the anti-government Oath Keepers group and participating in the attack on the Capitol. Other defendants linked to militant groups also have tried to shift blame to Trump in seeking their pretrial release from jail. An attorney for Jessica Watkins said the Oath Keepers member believed local militias would be called into action if Trump invoked the Insurrection Act to stay in office. Watkins disavowed the Oath Keepers during a court hearing on Friday, saying she has been “appalled” by fellow members of the far-right militia. “However misguided, her intentions were not in any way related to an intention to overthrow the government, but to support what she believed to be the lawful government,” her lawyer wrote. Meanwhile, a lawyer for Dominic Pezzola, another suspected Proud Boy, said he “acted out of the delusional belief that he was a ‘patriot’ protecting his country." Defence attorney Jonathan Zucker described Pezzola as “one of millions of Americans who were misled by the President's deception.” “Many of those who heeded his call will be spending substantial portions if not the remainder of their lives in prison as a consequence," he wrote. “Meanwhile Donald Trump resumes his life of luxury and privilege." Michael Kunzelman And Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press
(Submitted by Alex Hill - image credit) Sprint car racing is a fast and dangerous sport that has been bringing together the community at Six Nations of the Grand River, about 100 kilometres southwest of Toronto, for decades. For 21-year-old Alex Hill, sprint car racing is more than a sport — it's a lifestyle. She began racing go-karts when she was nine and has been racing sprint cars since she was 14, the earliest age people are allowed to drive them. Before the pandemic, Hill would race 50 to 60 times a year in Canada and the U.S. "It keeps me busy, but if I didn't love it I wouldn't be doing it," she said. What she loves most about the sport is that it allows her to spend time with her family — not to mention the adrenaline rush she gets from driving really fast. Sprint cars are high-powered race cars that run on circular dirt tracks at speeds of over 250 km/h. The cars have wings on their hoods that increase the downforce pressure, boosting traction between the wheels and the track. Alex Hill, 21, is a sprint car racer from Six Nations of the Grand River. Kanien'kehá:ka woman hopes to bring awareness to sport Hill, who is also finishing a degree in criminal justice at California State University, is said to be the only Kanien'kehá:ka, or Mohawk, woman to compete in the American Sprint Car Series tour. "There are other women in racing, but there aren't really Indigenous women," said Hill, who notes that she's treated like any other guy on the track. "Hopefully I can bring more awareness to it." She got her start in racing through her dad, who was friends with Glenn Styres, the owner of the Ohsweken Speedway at Six Nations, which he built in 2000. "It's really a good thing that Glenn did, because I think it has brought the community together and gives them something to do and keep busy on Friday nights," said Hill. From left, Aaron Turkey, Matthew Hill, Joshua Hill, Derek Miller and Glenn Styres, with Alex Hill, front, are sprint car racers from Six Nations of the Grand River. They're part of a docuseries coming to APTN this spring called Friday Night Thunder that follows Indigenous sprint car drivers and their families at the Ohsweken Speedway. A childhood dream come true Up until a few years ago, Styres was also competing on the track. He was forced to retire from the sport in 2019 after injuries and multiple concussions sustained in crashes took their toll on his health. "I've been really, really passionate about racing for a long time and it's been a childhood dream to race cars and build a racetrack," he said. He was introduced to the sport through his uncle, Frankie Turkey, who used to take him to races when he was a child. Turkey was killed in a car crash at age 27, but Styres's love for the track continued to grow. Building Ohsweken Speedway's racetrack was a childhood dream come true for Glenn Styres. He said the pandemic has been hard on the speedway, which had to cancel the 2020 racing season that usually takes place from April until August. But Styres remains optimistic that when the pandemic is over, the industry will see a boom because people have been starved for sports and activities for so long. Aaron Turkey, who's also been driving sprint cars since he was 14, races on the Glenn Styres Racing team. "I've been going to the races like every Friday ever since I can remember," he said. For Turkey, the speedway is an important part of the community, one he also has a family connection with — Frankie Turkey was his grandfather. "You get to see a lot of people, make a lot of friends and have a good time," said Turkey. "Everybody comes here after work, especially on a Friday night, and everybody gets to hang out, work on cars and watch racing." Sprint cars are race cars that run on circular dirt tracks at speeds of over 250 km/h. Underground sport gets docuseries showcase Derek Miller, a two-time Juno award winning musician from Six Nations of the Grand River, has been sprint car racing since 2017. "Sprint car racing is kind of a little underground thing right now," said Miller. "Hopefully it'll explode into the mainstream." Miller's grandfather used to race midget cars, which are the predecessors to sprint cars, so he says racing is in his blood. "I just have a huge need for speed," he said. His passion for racing will be showcased in a new docuseries called Friday Night Thunder that's set to air on APTN in the spring. The show, which was filmed in 2019 before the pandemic, follows Indigenous sprint car drivers and their families at the Ohsweken Speedway. Miller is one of the creators of the show, which is produced by an Indigenous production company — Big Soul Productions Inc. "I was able to bring all of my worlds together," Miller said. "I was able to do the music for the show, race and make a television show."
The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection is likely to be much higher than recorded because death certificates don't always list the virus as the cause of a fatality, experts say. Dr. Nathan Stall, a geriatrician at Sinai Health in Toronto, said deaths that have been recorded as a result of COVID-19 only reflect those who were tested for it. "But there are going to be people who died in excess of what we normally expected, who might have been infected and never got a test and went on to die." The underlying cause of death in 92 per cent of 9,500 fatalities was recorded on medical certificates as COVID-19 in a November study by Statistics Canada. In the remaining eight per cent of cases, cancer, dementia, Alzheimer's disease or other chronic conditions were most commonly found to be the underlying cause of death. Stall said while the 92 per cent figure is higher than what he expected it to be, he thinks the actual number is likely to be even larger. "I think this also speaks to the confusion people have of how to actually classify a cause of death," he said, adding those who die are rarely tested to determine if they had COVID-19. He said the better indicator of the pandemic's death toll will be excess mortality, when more deaths than were expected are recorded during a specific time period. Dr. Roger Wong, a clinical professor of geriatric medicine, said the accurate recording of deaths from COVID-19 is a challenge around the globe. The World Health Organization and medical regulatory bodies in Canada have provided guidelines on how to record COVID-19 related deaths. Wong said an incomplete or inaccurate record of mortality data can have public health implications. Scientists and researchers will get a better understanding of COVID-19 in people with long-standing health conditions by recording as many details as possible in death certificates, said Wong, who is also a vice-dean in the University of British Columbia's faculty of medicine. "It has implications, not only for COVID-19 deaths, but implications for all deaths," Wong said. He said the first line of a death certificate states the immediate reason a patient died, while the second and subsequent lines record health conditions leading to the cause of the fatality. "The immediate cause of death may not capture the underlying cause of death," he said. In patients who die from COVID-19, they could have also suffered from acute respiratory distress syndrome and pneumonia because the virus affects the lungs, he said, giving an example. In those cases, the first line would list respiratory syndrome as the cause of death, and the second and third lines would say what led to it, which could be pneumonia and COVID-19 respectively, Wong said. It is important to note what caused the pneumonia, he said, adding in a number of cases it could be COVID-19. Long-standing illnesses or comorbidities, such as diabetes, heart or kidney disease, also complicate how deaths are recorded, Wong said, as those patients are at higher risk of infection. "COVID-19 should be recorded as an underlying cause of death, not so much as a concurrent health condition that happened to be there," Wong explained. Stall used cardiopulmonary arrest as another example of fatalities that don't always list COVID-19 as a factor. "Well, everyone dies of cardiopulmonary arrest, because everyone dies when their heart stops beating and the lungs stop breathing. That's not a cause of death. That's the mechanism of death," Stall said. "The cause of death is COVID-19, and ultimately all events lead to cardiopulmonary arrest but that's a common example that I'll sometimes see as a cause of death when it certainly is not the cause." There needs to be better education and "a bit more" quality control in how deaths are recorded, he said. "It's not something we learn a ton about in medical school or something that's given a lot of attention and consideration by individuals who are often in a rush to do it so the body can be released to the morgue or funeral home." The StatCan study said international guidelines are followed to record COVID-19 as the cause of death where the disease "caused, or is assumed to have caused, or contributed to death." Stall said accurately recording deaths helps stamp out misinformation about the pandemic as well as gauging how the country has been affected by it. "We are looking at the picture and the complete scope of what COVID-19 has done to our population in our country," Stall said. "And in order to look after the living, you need to count the dead." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021 Hina Alam, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough to cover the average pinky nail but is made up of more than 280 components and requires at least three manufacturing plants to produce. By the time that dose is injected, it has travelled to at least six different cities in four countries, across the Atlantic Ocean twice, and monitored by a 24-hour watchtower in Iceland every step of the way. A marvel of both science and supply-chain heroics takes the vaccine from the factory floor to the arms of grateful patients all over the world. "It's really very complex," said Germain Morin, Pfizer's vice-president in charge of global supply chains for the company's rare-disease medications and vaccines. The messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines being made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, as well as Moderna, are a novel technology that before COVID-19 had never been approved for widespread use in humans. While DNA is the large and complex molecule that stores all of genetic coding that makes us who we are, RNA carries individual pieces of that code out into the body with the instructions on how to carry out the body's work. In the case of mRNA vaccines, they are carrying the genetic code for part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which teaches our bodies to mount a defence against the virus. A year ago, the materials for these vaccines were being made for research purposes only, enough for maybe a few hundred doses at a time. Now Pfizer expects to pump out two billion doses by the end of this year. It has made scaling up the manufacturing process a herculean feat, said Morin. There are 25 different suppliers involved, spanning 19 different countries. Some of them, said Morin, were making milligrams of liquid at the start. Then they were asked to make kilograms of it, and finally hundreds of kilograms. The 475,000 doses Canada received last week began their lives before Christmas. Morin said it used to take four months to make a single dose of the vaccine, which is officially called BNT162b2. Morin said the process has recently been streamlined to half that time. Every dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is born in a Pfizer lab in Chesterfield, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis. That's where small DNA molecules called plasmids are made with the beginnings of the code for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. It takes about two weeks, followed by a quality assurance process. Every step of production has quality checks and rechecks, from the bags and boxes used to store and transport the vaccine components to the temperature in the lab and the protective clothing worn by any workers. Then comes the first major chill, as the plasmids are put in bags and frozen to that famous ultralow temperature Pfizer's product needs: -80C. From Missouri, the plasmids are shipped to two labs, one a Pfizer facility in Andover, Mass., and another a BioNTech facility in Germany, where they are used to make the mRNA. A single batch of mRNA takes about four days to make, in a high-tech process with numerous enzymes and chemicals. The mRNA is then frozen again and shipped off for finishing. In the U.S. that happens in Kalamazoo, Mich., and for Canada's doses, currently made in Europe, they go to Puurs, Belgium, Pfizer's biggest plant in the world. Messenger RNA is not a very stable product and will disintegrate quickly if not protected, so every bit of mRNA is encased in a tiny amount of fat called a lipid nanoparticle. "Imagine a very, very small egg, so a very small eggshell of lipids that would protect the mRNA," said Morin. "This is part of the magic of making this vaccine as well." Over the course of three or four more days the mRNA gets its lipid coating, and is filled into vials containing enough vaccine for six doses. The vials are then packed into boxes, and immediately put into "those famous freezers" which turn the lipid-coated mRNA molecules into mini blocks of ultracold ice. "This was, by the way, one of the challenges," said Morin. "You can imagine that those freezers are not very common in the world. Laboratories buying them would typically buy them one or two at a time. We went to the suppliers and the first time we've asked for 650 of them in one shot, and then we went for more after that." The vials stay in those freezers for two to three weeks, while every lot is tested with more than 40 different quality-control measures. Then come the thermal shipping boxes Pfizer and BioNTech developed for this vaccine. Each vial is packed into a tray about the size of a pizza box with 195 vials total. Five trays are packaged together into the special box, which is filled with dry ice, and sealed. Every box contains a tracking unit to know its location and internal temperature at all times. A control site in Iceland monitors the boxes, which are all uniquely labelled. If any box records a problem between Belgium and the delivery site, it will be investigated and most likely discarded. Morin said at first there were many concerns about the complexity of the freezer requirements but the supply chain has been so successful that only one per cent of the product around the world has been lost because of temperature concerns. Pfizer contracted with UPS to deliver the boxes. Those are picked up by UPS in Belgium, and sent through Germany and Kentucky on their way to Canada. UPS delivers the batches to dozens of delivery sites in each province, where provincial health officials take over possession and prepare to inject them into arms. Moderna hasn't released as many details about its manufacturing process, but has said the vaccine is largely produced for Canada in Switzerland, sent to Spain to be mixed with a diluent and filled into vials, and then shipped to a warehouse in Belgium. Canada has hired FedEx and Innomar Strategies to manage the shipping and distribution of Moderna's and all other vaccines except Pfizer-BioNTech's. Guy Payette, the president of Innomar, said they too use specially designed boxes. Moderna's vaccine doesn't have to be frozen as deeply but does have to be kept at about -20C. The other vaccines Canada is likely to get will mostly need to be kept at about 6 C. Payette said each box is also labelled and tracked with a GPS and thermal sensor. The shipments arrive at Innomar's warehouse, where workers repackage them to match the quantities being sent to each province. He said except for one spot in northern British Columbia, the trackers have worked beautifully. Where they did not, due to the altitude, boxes are equipped with a second device with data that can be downloaded later. He said so far, the temperature has been fine and all products delivered successfully. Those involved in the vaccine process have expressed awe at the speed with which everything turned around. Moderna's vaccine was in clinical trials less than two months after the SARS-CoV-2 virus was fully sequenced. Pfizer and BioNTech signed a partnership agreement in March 2020, and 266 days later the vaccine was approved in the United Kingdom. More than 50 countries have since followed suit and more than 100 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine have now been distributed. It's a pace of development the company has never seen in its 173-year history. "Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, not even close," said Morin. He said most products take three to five years to get this far. "We're very proud," he said. "Every new market that we launch is a celebration." He said when the first Canadian was vaccinated on Dec. 14, "I had goosebumps." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
(Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press - image credit) The math is simple, the challenge is not. Quebec plans to dole out 12 million doses of the various COVID-19 vaccines before Labour Day, which is 26 weeks away. That means an average of 450,000 doses per week. In the seven days ending Thursday, it managed 85,000 or so. The Health Ministry is ramping up its efforts by opening vaccination centres across the province, but also by enlisting help from the private sector. On Wednesday, the province inked a deal in principle to allow pharmacists to inject people, as early as mid-March or as late as mid-April, depending on deliveries. "From our experience from the flu vaccination, we know pharmacies can, for an extended period of time, give 100,000 doses of vaccines per week," said Pierre-Marc Gervais, the senior director of pharmaceutical services for the Association Québécoise des pharmaciens propriétaires. "That's the minimum, and in some weeks we gave 140,000 doses of flu vaccines, so that's a lot of immunizations." So far, 1,500 pharmacies have signaled their desire to participate. More crucially, there are 3,000 registered pharmacists in Quebec who are able to do the injecting, in addition to the nurses who typically provide immunization services in community pharmacies. Vaccine logistics are about to become simpler That's roughly the number of qualified staff the public health system currently has dedicated to the task. The expectation is they will be able to crank out 120,000 or so vaccines per week on average, in April. That's when the vaccine bottleneck will be eased completely, and the trickle turns into a firehose. The federal government's decision on Friday to approve Astra-Zeneca/Oxford University vaccine, as well as an Indian-manufactured version of it, should help simplify the logistics somewhat. That vaccine, and the candidates proposed by Novavax, Johnson and Johnson, and others, are somewhat less finicky than the mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. They don't need to be frozen, and in Johnson and Johnson's case, only require a single dose. "It's a huge boost if you wanted to roll this out quickly," Dr. Matthew Oughton, an epidemiologist at McGill University and the Jewish General Hospital, told CBC News Network about the Astra-Zeneca approval. Gervais said there are also hopeful signs regarding the mRNA shots, pointing to a U.S. finding this week that suggests the Pfizer-BioNTech product may not need to be super-frozen after all. The Canadian government has firm orders for about 300 million doses of seven different vaccines and options to buy millions more, with deliveries set to ramp up meaningfully in April and May. Quebec should have no trouble getting its 12 million. But the public vaccination centres and pharmacies may still not be able to hit the pace required to meet the fall target. That's where the province's large employers come in. Véronique Proulx, CEO of the association representing Quebec's manufacturers and exporters, said her group's 23,000 members (and their 475,000 employees) are eager to help. "We need to get out of this [pandemic] situation as quickly as possible ... they're more than happy to raise their hands," she said. Proulx was part of a delegation of business leaders that visited an as-yet unopened vaccination centre in Brossard on Friday with provincial vaccine czar Daniel Paré, and she was struck by the familiarity of the environment. "It's very similar to a small manufacturing line," she said, adding "we should be able to replicate it." Proulx added there are roughly 1,000 manufacturing businesses dotted across Quebec that have more than 100 employees, and that many have the large, open spaces to accommodate vaccination stations. All they'll need is a little training and financial support from the province to set them up. Employee vaccination blitzes Karl Blackburn, the CEO of the Conseil du patronat, struck a similar chord, saying there is a "big interest" among the 70,000 employers his group represents in helping the effort, particularly between June and September. Blackburn estimates the summer vaccination peak could reach a million people per week, and that companies large and small could help the effort either by holding weekend vaccination blitzes or more sustained campaigns for employees, their families and the general public. He offered an illustration of how it might work with Premier Tech, a Rivière-du-Loup firm that works in the food and automation sectors. The company employs about 1,600 people. "If you add their families and their suppliers and the public in that specific area, it means more than 10,000 people could be vaccinated," he said, adding he's had firm expressions of interest for large companies with multiple facilities in the province like Rio Tinto, Ubisoft and CAE.
(Zach Goudie/CBC - image credit) A mining company hoping to strike it rich on the Eastern Shore says it now believes there is double the amount of gold it initially thought was on its property near Goldboro, N.S. Anaconda Mining originally estimated there were 1.4-million ounces of gold at its site about 250 kilometres east of Halifax. But after exploration, drilling and testing last year, the Toronto-based company now believes there are closer to 2.75-million ounces of gold. "I've been in this industry 35 years, and it's been my dream to develop something like this," said Kevin Bullock, the company's president and CEO. "I'm just ecstatic. You know, people look for these their lifetime and never find them. So I'm really happy about that." Bullock said he believes the gold deposit at Goldboro is the second-largest undeveloped deposit in Atlantic Canada, second only to Marathon Gold's Valentine Gold project in Newfoundland and Labrador. Focus shifting to open-pit mining The findings have prompted Anaconda to modify its plans for the proposed mine. The plan had always been to extract gold through both open-pit surface mining as well as underground mining. The company still plans to use both methods, but now plans more open-pit mining. Open-pit mining tends to be faster and less expensive. It also means more ore is crushed and processed, producing more waste dumps and tailings, the material left over after ore is processed. Bullock said the amount of ore that will be processed will quadruple from previous estimates. The shift to more open-pit mining will increase the physical footprint of the mining operations due to the amount of tailings and waste dumps, but Bullock couldn't yet say by how much. He expects the period of open-pit mining to last for at least eight or nine years before underground mining begins. Bullock said if the mine is approved, he hopes to see construction begin by the end of 2022. The project would create a "tremendous" number of jobs through both the construction and operations phases, Bullock said. Anaconda is now expecting to be able to produce about 100,000 ounces a year, a figure Bullock estimates is relatively on par with the activities of the province's active mine, Atlantic Gold's Touquoy mine in Moose River. Environmental approval Anaconda submitted its original plans for Goldboro to the province for environmental approval in August 2018. But the environment minister at the time, Margaret Miller, said the company's submission didn't contain enough information. She asked Anaconda to write a new, more extensive report on the environmental implications of the project, and gave a one-year deadline. Three days before that deadline, in September 2019, Anaconda withdrew its proposal from the environmental assessment process because it was changing its plans for the mine. Bullock said the mine would operate in compliance with all provincial environmental policies. "So, waters frequented by fish, we will stay away from. We will ensure that everything is done to the standard that anything emitted to the environment will not have anything in it that's deleterious." Bullock acknowledged that since the Goldboro area was mined as far back as the late 1900s — long before any environmental regulations were in place — there are historical tailings that "have some nasties in them." He said the company would hope to help the government clean up those sites. MORE TOP STORIES
(Greg Kolz - image credit) Student athletes at the University of Ottawa formed a new group to address BIPOC representation and equity issues in the athletics department. The Black Student-Athletes Advocacy Council (BSAAC) was started last September by two members of the women's rugby team, but membership has now extended to involve 10 other athletes from various teams. "I'm hoping to modify policies at the university, hiring practices [and] possible scholarships for black athletes. But it also is just about Black athletes having a form of leadership in university athletics that was not seen before," said Kennedy Banton-Lindsay, one of the founding members. She said the group is open to all races. "There is a diversity issue with the staff at our university— the lack of Black head coaches and Black coaches and Black sports service employees." N-word impact The council was born out of the Black Lives Matter movement and to address recent events surrounding race at the university, including the debate around the use of the N-word in classrooms. "I would say it played a big role for me as a rookie," Banton-Lindsay said of the controversy. "Instead of just kind of taking [it] as a defeat, I decided to try and make change." The council has already been involved in discussions with administration about their concerns. Just prior to the holiday break, it was invited to meet with the university's administration committee to share its concerns about racism on campus. And in February, members met with the co-chairs of the university's action committee on anti-racism and inclusion. "The Black community and BIPOC community on the university campus feels like there should be more respect toward them in general," said Yvan Mongo, who also on the new council and is captain of the men's hockey team. The group is made up of athletes from many different Gee-Gees teams. Starting to make changes He said he hasn't experienced any racism at the school, and although he generally felt included playing hockey while growing up, there were still difficult times. "I've been called the N-word on the ice, which was really, really tough," Mongo said. "I just feel as though sometimes I had a treatment that was different from other players and I couldn't explain why." When the N-word debate blew up at the school, he wanted to make a difference. "As a group, we felt like it wasn't about academic freedom at all. It was more a matter of respect … people fight so hard to keep using that word was kind of disturbing," he said "I just wish we could create an environment that is safe and enjoyable for everyone." The group has already started to make changes. Following meetings with the group, the Varsity Athletics department is now providing mandatory anti-racism training as part of the annual student-athlete orientation. A working group made up of BSAAC representatives, coaches and administrators are working on an action plan to be presented to the university's senior administration in the spring.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. There are 861,472 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 861,472 confirmed cases (30,516 active, 809,041 resolved, 21,915 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 3,252 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 80.29 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20,886 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,984. There were 50 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 339 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 48. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 57.66 per 100,000 people. There have been 24,205,347 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 977 confirmed cases (290 active, 682 resolved, five deaths). There were four new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 55.54 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 114 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 16. There were zero new reported deaths Friday. 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 0.03 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 0.96 per 100,000 people. There have been 194,501 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 121 confirmed cases (seven active, 114 resolved, zero deaths). There was one new case Friday. The rate of active cases is 4.39 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been six new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 100,524 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,634 confirmed cases (35 active, 1,534 resolved, 65 deaths). There were 10 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 3.57 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 30 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.64 per 100,000 people. There have been 323,312 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,428 confirmed cases (42 active, 1,360 resolved, 26 deaths). There was one new case Friday. The rate of active cases is 5.37 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 11 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There were zero new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.04 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 3.33 per 100,000 people. There have been 234,746 tests completed. _ Quebec: 286,145 confirmed cases (7,888 active, 267,885 resolved, 10,372 deaths). There were 815 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 91.99 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,458 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 780. There were 11 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 94 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 13. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.16 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 120.96 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,220,844 tests completed. _ Ontario: 298,569 confirmed cases (10,294 active, 281,331 resolved, 6,944 deaths). There were 1,258 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 69.87 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 7,798 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,114. There were 28 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 124 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 18. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.13 per 100,000 people. There have been 10,726,049 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 31,721 confirmed cases (1,197 active, 29,635 resolved, 889 deaths). There were 64 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 86.79 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 486 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 69. There was one new reported death Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 10 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is one. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.1 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 64.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 526,985 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 28,344 confirmed cases (1,510 active, 26,454 resolved, 380 deaths). There were 153 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 128.11 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,099 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 157. There were zero new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 15 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.18 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 32.24 per 100,000 people. There have been 567,399 tests completed. _ Alberta: 132,788 confirmed cases (4,505 active, 126,406 resolved, 1,877 deaths). There were 356 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 101.88 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,433 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 348. There were three new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 65 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 42.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,378,626 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 79,262 confirmed cases (4,719 active, 73,188 resolved, 1,355 deaths). There were 589 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 91.67 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,427 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 490. There were seven new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 28 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.08 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.32 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,901,202 tests completed. _ Yukon: 72 confirmed cases (zero active, 71 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Friday. 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 2.38 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,126 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 42 confirmed cases (three active, 39 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 6.64 per 100,000 people. 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 zero per 100,000 people. There have been 14,388 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 356 confirmed cases (26 active, 329 resolved, one deaths). There was one new case Friday. The rate of active cases is 66.07 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 24 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,569 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Feb. 26, 2021. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
Iran on Saturday condemned U.S. air strikes against Iran-backed militias in Syria, and denied responsibility for rocket attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq that prompted Friday's strikes. Washington said its strikes on positions of the Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah paramilitary group along the Iraq border were in response to the rocket attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq.
(Andrew Lee/CBC - image credit) After almost a year of working in crowded stores amid a deadly global pandemic, Ontario's essential workers are facing yet more uncertainty as the province approaches its mass inoculation campaign. "I want to know when a vaccine is going to be available for me," said Sergio Peña, a part-time cashier at a Toronto grocery store. "And that would mean knowing when essential workers are going to be able to get vaccines." Ontario's COVID-19 immunization task force revealed on Wednesday new information about how it will prioritize residents when mass vaccinations are expected to begin near the end of March. The shift to large-scale vaccinations will represent the second phase of Ontario's three stage immunization plan. The proposed vaccination schedule is broken down primarily by age brackets, but the province also intends to begin vaccinating what it calls "front-line essential workers" during Phase 2. What remains unclear is exactly when those workers will be eligible. 'We are also at risk' The province has also not yet said how it will prioritize different types of essential workers, such as grocery store clerks, teachers and workers in the food processing industry. "I think this is a very important point that we all need to know when we will have the opportunity to take it," said Lilia Abbassene, a cashier at a Toronto grocery and convenience store. "As younger people, we are also at risk of getting COVID-19, and we need to know when the vaccine will get to us." Grocery store employee Lilia Abbassene says it will be 'very important' for the government to clarify when essential workers will be eligible for a vaccine. While young people represent a miniscule portion of deaths related to the novel coronavirus, people aged 20 to 29 now account for the largest share of active COVID-19 cases in Ontario, with 2,198 cases as of Feb. 26. People aged 30 to39 account for the second highest share of active cases, with 1,701 cases. Essential workers vaccinations could start in May While Ontario has not said exactly when it plans to begin vaccinating essential workers, it has indicated that people in those jobs will not be a lower priority when Phase 2 formally begins. People with high-risk chronic conditions and their caretakers and those who live or work in high-risk congregate settings (such as shelters) will also be eligible at some point in Phase 2. Rick Hillier, the retired general leading Ontario's immunization task force, said on Wednesday that he does not anticipate essential worker vaccinations to begin until at least May. "As we roll out, our priorities will be those more aged, those that are disproportionately affected and then our essential workers," Hillier said. However, the proposed timeline is said to depend on the availability of vaccines, meaning that inoculations could either speed up or slow down depending on supply. Health Canada approved the AstraZeneca vaccine after Ontario released its proposed schedule, meaning the province will have greater access to vaccines than anticipated when shipments arrive in the second and third quarters of the year. Retired general Rick Hillier, chair of the COVID-19 immunization task force, announced new details about Ontario's priority list this week. Barry Pakes, a program director at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said essential workers will likely become eligible for vaccines "relatively soon" given the anticipated increase in supply and the possible approval of additional vaccines. After noting that inoculating older residents is rightfully Ontario's priority, he said the concerns of relatively younger front-line workers should also be accounted for. "Those have been people who are the most affected and are also legitimately, very justifiably, anxious about the situation over the past whole year," Pakes told CBC Toronto. Clues about how the plan could look While Ontario develops a more detailed priority list for essential workers, residents and planners can look to jurisdictions further along in their immunization rollout for clues about how the plan could look. New York City, for example, started vaccinating grocery store and convenience store workers on Jan. 11. Those workers were placed in the same eligibility bracket as school teachers, police officers and transit employees, among many others. In New York City, those essential workers were eligible for vaccines before immunocompromised residents and others with chronic health conditions such as cancer and kidney disease. Although a similarly detailed plan has not been released here, Ontario has indicated that it will prioritize people with health conditions before essential workers.
India's conglomerate Reliance Industries has partnered with Facebook Inc, Google and fintech player Infibeam to set up a national digital payment network, Economic Times newspaper reported on Saturday, citing unnamed sources. Last year, India's central bank invited companies to forge new umbrella entities (NUEs) to create a payments network that would rival the system operated by the National Payments Council of India (NPCI), as it seeks to reduce concentration risks in the space.
(Patrick Butler/Radio-Canada - image credit) Space is being cleared in at least one long-term care home in St. John's to make way for a dedicated COVID-19 unit, while front-line staff await word on when more of them will be receiving vaccinations, says the union representing the province's nurses. Some residents at Pleasantview Towers have been moved in an effort to prepare for long-term care residents who may develop symptoms of the virus and require a dedicated unit for care, says Yvette Coffey, president of the Registered Nurses' Union of Newfoundland and Labrador. "They did this last year. There were no admissions to that unit. However, they've still got to be prepared and have staff ready in case needed," Coffey said. "Hopefully we will not need to open that unit to patients, but we have to be prepared. We do not want to be caught like Ontario and Quebec when it comes to our vulnerable population." Our members are tired. They're stressed. They've been on the front lines now for over a year, and there's no end in sight yet. - Yvette Coffey Prior to the outbreak of coronavirus variant B117 earlier this month, centred mainly in the metro St. John's region, the COVID-19 pandemic was generally under control, Coffey said. But with hundreds of cases and, as of Saturday, 10 people in hospital — six in intensive care — Coffey said being prepared for a possible influx of residents requiring extra care is essential. "We've all watched across the country and we all know that if COVID gets into our long-term care facilities, it's going to be very challenging for us, so, you know, they're doing what they can to ensure safety and continuity of care for our patients and residents," Coffey said. That could include redistributing where nurses are assigned to work, Coffey said. In an email Saturday, Eastern Health told CBC News the unit at Pleasantview Towers will have 28 beds, with some residents being temporarily relocated to Chancellor Park to create space for the unit. The health authority said the plans were made in consultation with residents and their families and there is no timeline right now for the residents' return. Eastern Health staff are working to prepare the unit at Pleasantview Towers and a date for the opening of the unit will be confirmed "in the near future." Each individual long-term care facility also has its own plan for how to isolate residents, if necessary, the health authority said. At the start of the pandemic last year RNUNL and other health sector unions signed a "good neighbour agreement" with the province and the four regional health authorities that would allow them to move staff around as needed. There were already regulations under the registered nurses' collective agreement that allows them to be reassigned to where the health authority feels they're most needed, Coffey said, but the good neighbour agreement expands on it. Yvette Coffey, president of the Registered Nurses' Union of Newfoundland and Labrador, says the union wants nurses who are being reassigned to any area that was identified in the Phase 1 group to be vaccinated before going to those areas. One of the places where Coffey said members are being deployed is to long-term care. "Staffing levels have reached a point in some areas that we can't provide the services without deploying nurses there, and one of those areas is long-term care, and … critical care as well," Coffey said. "In order to provide services, what the regional health authorities have first done is ask for volunteers … with the skill set and experience in the areas that they need to deploy to. If there are no volunteers, they have looked at the people who have previous experience in those areas, and that's who they are redeploying first." Eastern Health CEO David Diamond said the health authority had been short staffed in long-term care even before the pandemic, and staffing has been an ongoing challenge. Vaccines only 1 part of protection One of the concerns about reassigning staff is where things stand with COVID-19 vaccine rollout for front-line workers. Phase 1 of Newfoundland and Labrador's vaccination plan identified vulnerable populations, including long-term care residents and Indigenous communities, as well as front-line workers who would be the most likely to be exposed. The province released its plans for Phases 2 and 3 of vaccine rollout Friday afternoon, identifying who will be able to sign up, and when they're expected to get vaccinated. But those timelines will rely on supply of the vaccine, while also prioritizing people 70 years and older in the pre-registration plans. Front-line health care workers not immunized in Phase 1 will be covered under Phase 2, with inoculations happening some time between April and June. That could mean some of the registered nurses now being assigned to work in COVID-19 units like the one being established in Pleasantview Towers may not be vaccinated yet, Coffey said. However, vaccines is only one part of protection for registered nurses, Coffey said. Pleasant View Towers, which opened in 2014, has 460 long-term care beds. "The vaccine keeps our workforce from being sick, but it doesn't prevent transmission of the virus. Our registered nurses have to use their judgment and wear the appropriate PPE — that is their best line of defence with COVID-19." The reason vaccines haven't been distributed more widely, Coffey said, is simple: "We don't have vaccine." Vaccine supply has been a challenge across Canada, and since the supply is distributed to the provinces from the federal government, that means there isn't any vaccine to be administered. Coffey said she was told as of Thursday that it's expected everyone identified in Phase 1 of the vaccine rollout in this province would have received their inoculations by March 5. "We have pushed that those who are being reassigned, especially to COVID units and long-term care or all areas that were identified in the Phase 1 group, that they be vaccinated prior to going to those areas," Coffey said. Judy O'Keefe, Eastern Health's vice-president of clinical services, said priority has been given to any staff member who would work in the ICU, emergency, case rooms and COVID-19 units, as well as community-based high-risk staff. "The last couple of weeks, for sure, our greatest concern has been the seniors' population in congregate living," O'Keefe said Friday afternoon. "We've been vaccinating people as we have vaccine." Public health nurse Betty Sampson prepares the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to be administered in Makkovik in January. O'Keefe said Eastern Health thinks that all staff identified in that Phase 1 category should be fully vaccinated with their second doses by the end of March. As the pandemic drags on, Coffey said, union members are feeling the strain, and ask that members of the public do their best to adhere to health guidelines. "Our members are tired. They're stressed. They've been on the front lines now for over a year, and there's no end in sight yet," Coffey said. "We do ask the public, we plead with the public, to please follow public health guidelines, because the less people we have coming into our hospitals and acute care, the less pressure there is on the system." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
The federal auditor general says in a report that the Liberal government won't meet its goal to lift all boil-water advisories for several years. Dawn Martin-Hill, chair of Indigenous studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, says there needed to be more work with Indigenous communities to build a strategic plan to ensure access to reliable, safe drinking water.
(Spencer Platt/Getty Images - image credit) For anxious New Yorkers enduring the darkest period of the pandemic last spring, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's daily briefings were a moment of calm, offering stability in a tumultuous and uncertain time. The clear, authoritative and informative sessions became appointment viewing and boosted Cuomo's national profile. His confident style, mixed with multiple PowerPoint slides and dad jokes, stood in stark contrast to the confusing and contradictory information trickling out of the White House. But now, almost a year later, Cuomo's image as a pandemic star has come crashing down to earth. He's engulfed by a scandal over his handling of nursing homes. The qualities of "clear communication and utter decisiveness" that won him praise during the pandemic are now, critics say, being shown to be more akin to the bullying governing style that's marked his career in politics. "A lot of it was very performative," New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim, a vocal critic, told CBC News in an interview. "It's very micromanaged and it's about him being in the middle." Cuomo, who wrote a book about his success in managing the pandemic, and won an Emmy for his media briefings, now faces a daily barrage of tough questions — and where once he was being talked about as a possible Democratic presidential contender, now he's being parodied on Saturday Night Live. His efforts at damage control have sparked accusations of abusive behaviour from within his own party, which was followed by an allegation of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour from a former senior aide. Emergency medical technicians wheel a patient out of the Cobble Hill Health Center in New York in April. A report from the New York State Attorney General says the state government undercounted deaths in nursing homes by as much as 50 per cent. "Strong managerial style is one way to put it. Being a tough guy in ... the most toxic way is another way to put it," said Casey Seiler, editor-in-chief of the Albany Times Union newspaper, who covered the New York state capital from 2008 to 2017. Nursing home scandal For months, Cuomo had faced questions about a decision made early in the pandemic to force long-term care homes to accept COVID-positive patients from hospitals. The thinking, back in March 2020, was that hospitals could be overrun, so every bed was needed. Cuomo defended the move as being consistent with guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and had dismissed criticism as politically motivated. At the time, President Donald Trump often cited nursing homes in his attacks against Cuomo. The issue boiled over last month when New York State Attorney General Letitia James released a report that said the Cuomo administration vastly undercounted the number of deaths in long-term care homes by as much as 50 per cent. Patients who were transferred from nursing homes to hospital and later died were not counted in the nursing home total. They were still counted in overall totals, but critics say it exposes Cuomo's poor handling and oversight of nursing homes during the pandemic. The FBI and federal prosecutors are now investigating. The attorney general's report also added to another controversy over access to those numbers. For months, when state legislators and policy groups sought details on nursing home deaths, the governor's office held back. A senior aide admitted recently that they were afraid the numbers would be politicized against them. "It really does, unfortunately, speak to the governor's mania for information control, especially when it involves something that might reflect negatively on his past performance," Seiler said. Accusations of abuse Kim, the Democratic state assemblyman, has been openly critical of Cuomo and recently went public claiming the governor called him at home and threatened to "destroy" him politically. "It's extremely abusive and it's an indication of someone who is accustomed to abusing his powers," Kim said. Kim has also been critical of a move by Cuomo last year to provide legal immunity to for-profit long-term care facilities during the height of the pandemic. New York Assemblyman Ron Kim, shown during a media briefing in Albany, N.Y., says Cuomo vowed to 'destroy' him during a private phone call for criticizing his handling of COVID-19 outbreaks at nursing homes. Cuomo "chose to protect business profits over people's lives, and now the whole world is paying attention to that decision and he needs to be held accountable for that," Kim said. 'Who cares ... they died' Cuomo, the son of Democratic Party stalwart and former New York governor Mario Cuomo, has led the state since 2011. He easily won re-election twice and is serving his third term. Seiler said his reputation for sharp elbows and scheming to destroy enemies goes back to his days as secretary for housing and urban development in the Bill Clinton administration. In light of numerous questions about nursing homes — questions not unfamiliar to Canadian premiers facing similar issues — Cuomo has responded to the accusations by brushing aside the criticism. "But who cares ... they died," Cuomo said during a Jan. 29 media briefing, saying it didn't matter where the deaths occurred since the overall count was correct. Seiler said Cuomo likes to project an image of strength and action in times of crisis and does not handle criticism well. "He is a micromanager, and he is also someone who is just pathologically unable to apologize for anything. His mode of response to criticism is to attack any critic." Kim said the governor on display now is closer to reality than the one who garnered headlines for his attacks on Trump. "Everything that I experienced, even before this pandemic, is about control and portraying an image of authority,' Kim said Cuomo, who said in late January that he didn't trust experts, has seen an exodus of health officials from his administration in recent months. Harassment allegation surface This week, Lindsay Boylan, a former state official and later special adviser to Cuomo, accused the governor of kissing her in his office in 2018 and other harassing behaviour. She said Cuomo would often keep track of her whereabouts and once invited her to play strip poker during a government flight. Cuomo denied the allegations, and on Thursday a longtime associate held a conference call with reporters to defend the governor. "His conduct has always been in my presence with the members of other staff appropriate, not that it is always fun-loving and a good time, but it is always appropriate," said Steven Cohen, a former senior adviser to Cuomo. On the questions of verbal abuse and bullying tactics, Cohen said it's no secret that Cuomo can be tough. "He has never shied from giving those around him accurate, blunt feedback," Cohen told reporters. Political fallout? Republicans and conservative media have seized on Cuomo's missteps, saying they're a sign that the left-leaning media chose to gloss over the mistakes of Democratic politicians while focusing solely on Trump. An effort is underway among state legislators to strip Cuomo of the emergency powers granted to him during the pandemic, and there are calls for his impeachment. A recent poll found that 54 per cent of New Yorkers support the governor's handling of the pandemic, down from 72 per cent in July. It also found that 60 per cent of respondents say Cuomo was wrong in how he handled the nursing home situation, but most didn't think he did anything illegal. Cuomo speaks during a news conference at a vaccination site in the Brooklyn borough of New York on Feb. 22. Critics say Cuomo likes to project strength in times of crisis but is too controlling of information. Seiler said it's too early to assess the fallout from the sexual harassment allegation as it's still relatively fresh. He noted that Cuomo isn't up for re-election until next year and that he is in his third term — the same point when his father, Mario, lost his job to a relatively unknown Republican. "Third terms are when the world turns on you, at least in New York state government. The third term is when people get sick of you, when past scandals, controversies, grudges, they begin to kind of stack up into a critical mass."
(Halifax Port Authority - image credit) A sliver of rocky land that has been described as an "eyesore" may be turned into a park. New land that has been created by infilling part of the Bedford Basin near the Fairview Cove Container Terminal likely will be designated for community use when the project is complete. Commuters and other travellers on the MacKay Bridge or the Bedford Highway may have noticed dumptrucks depositing material into the water over the past several years, and a growing infilled area stretching from the container terminal toward Africville Park. The Halifax Port Authority, which operates the terminal and is responsible for the infilling project, is working with the Halifax Regional Municipality's African Nova Scotian Affairs Integration Office and the Africville Heritage Trust to determine a future use for the land. "The intention is that we might do something that's community-based," said Lane Farguson, the port authority's spokesperson. "We don't have the final plan in place yet, but that's really the intention." Asked how the land could be used, Farguson said, "a park is certainly one of those ideas, and maybe some sort of a boardwalk as well, but until the final plans are in place and everybody's agreed to it, we really can't say a whole lot more." A spokesperson for the HRM would only say the municipality is collaborating on the future use of the area, "complementary to historic Africville and Africville Park." Juanita Peters, the executive director of the Africville Museum, declined to comment on the project until plans were firmed up. Tourboat docking a possible use During a natural resources and economic development committee meeting last October, Halifax-Needham MLA Lisa Roberts questioned Capt. Allan Gray, the port authority's president and CEO, about the infilling work. She said her constituents had called it an "eyesore." Gray said the Africville Heritage Trust, which operates the Africville Museum directly across from the infilled land, was initially concerned about the view from Africville Park being blocked, but the organization later became comfortable working with the port authority on the project. The Halifax Port Authority, Halifax Regional Municipality's African Nova Scotian Integration Office and the Africville Heritage Trust are working to determine future use for the new land. "The Africville Heritage Trust wants to use the bay-like area for some purposes," he told the committee. "They've talked about getting tour boats to be able to access there, so we're making sure any design work and infill work is compatible with those uses." Infilling project still underway The infilled land is currently owned by the port authority, a federal Crown corporation. Farguson said while the corporation is generally not allowed to sell land, it is permitted to do land swaps, land transfers or long-term leases. The infilling project, called the Fairview Cove Sequestration Facility, began in 2012. The fill is largely pyritic slate that has been removed from construction sites on the peninsula. The port authority is paid for accepting the material, but Farguson declined to say how much. The infilling project in the Bedford Basin can be seen clearly from the Africville Museum. As of the end of November 2020, about 6.3 hectares had been infilled, or an area about one-third the size of Citadel Hill. Some of that is being used for port operations. On the above and below maps, the purple area has already been infilled, and the yellow area is still in the process of being filled in. The green area would be a treed area to provide a buffer zone between the port activities and the rest of the new land. MORE TOP STORIES