A team with the Toronto and Region Conservation Area heads out monthly to gather water samples that will be tested for several parameters including bacteria, heavy metals and nutrients.
A team with the Toronto and Region Conservation Area heads out monthly to gather water samples that will be tested for several parameters including bacteria, heavy metals and nutrients.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan is looking to follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. Chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab says information from that province as well as from Quebec and the United Kingdom suggests that a first shot effectively protects against the novel coronavirus. He says he hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. Shahab says if that were to happen, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. He says all adults in the province could be vaccinated with a first dose by June. Premier Scott Moe says such a shift would be a game-changer for how long public-health restrictions would stay in place. "What that (would) look like over the course of the next number of weeks as opposed to having that conversation over the course of the next number of months," Moe said during a briefing Tuesday. The province said when it first outlined its vaccine rollout that it would wait between 21 and 28 days between shots as recommended by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. The province says about 80,000 vaccinations have been given across the province. It says at least one of the approved vaccines to fight COVID-19 has made its way into every long-term care home. Health officials say 91 per cent of residents opted to get their first shot of the two-dose vaccination. Second doses have gone into the arms of long-term residents in about 53 per cent of facilities. The province says it expects to receive about 15,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot approved by Canada last week. Shahab says Saskatchewan will follow advice from a national panel of vaccine experts that it be used on people under 65. The vaccine's effectiveness in people older than that hasn't been sufficiently determined because there were not enough seniors in clinical trials. Another 134 new cases of COVID-19 were reported Tuesday as well as two deaths. Shahab and Moe say daily case numbers and hospitalizations have stabilized and continue to decrease — signs they say could lead to some public-health measures being relaxed. Moe said he would like to see some way for people to have visitors in their homes. That hasn't been allowed under public-health orders since before Christmas. The current health order is to expire March 19. Moe said his government could provide details as soon as next week on what restrictions might be eased. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 2, 2021 Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Channing Phillips, a Justice Department official during the Obama administration, will return as acting U.S. attorney in the nation’s capital, a Justice Department official told The Associated Press on Tuesday. Phillips will assume the role Wednesday leading the largest U.S. attorney’s office in the country, which has been historically responsible for some of the most significant and politically sensitive cases the Justice Department brings in the U.S. In recent weeks, prosecutors in the office have brought nearly 300 federal cases following the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Hundreds of other people are still being sought by investigators. The office was involved in some of the most tumultuous and controversial decisions made by the Justice Department under President Donald Trump, including a decision by then-Attorney General William Barr to reverse the sentencing recommendation by career prosecutors in the case against Trump ally Roger Stone. The outgoing acting U.S. attorney, Michael Sherwin, will remain in Washington for a “brief period” to help ensure a smooth transition overseeing the riot investigation and the prosecutions, the Justice Department official said. Sherwin, who for years worked as a career federal prosecutor on drug trafficking, white-collar and top national security cases, will later return to the U.S. attorney’s office in southern Florida, the official said. The official could not publicly discuss the personnel matter and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity. Phillips served as U.S. attorney in Washington beginning in October 2015 and was a longtime Justice Department official, having been a senior counsellor to the attorney general and deputy associate attorney general. Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Musk, who leads several futuristic companies, including Tesla Inc, Neuralink and Boring Co, moved to the Lone Star State from California in December to focus on the electric-car maker's new plant in the state and his SpaceX venture. Earlier on Tuesday, Musk tweeted, "Creating the city of Starbase, Texas," without elaborating further.
HALIFAX — Just before two RCMP officers opened fire on a fellow officer and a civilian during last year's Nova Scotia mass shooting, they struggled with congested radio channels and mistook a man wearing a bright vest for the killer. These are among the fresh facts revealed Tuesday in a police watchdog agency report clearing the Mounties of criminal wrongdoing after they fired five shots with high-powered rifles outside the Onslow, N.S., firehall. The six-page report by the Serious Incident Response Team says the "totality of the evidence" prompted the officers to believe the killer was standing just 88 metres away from them on the morning of April 19. "They discharged their weapons in order to prevent further deaths or serious injuries .... The (officers) had reasonable grounds to believe the person they saw, who was disobeying their orders, was the mass murderer who had, in the preceding hour, killed three more persons," it concludes. The six-page document traces the 10:21 a.m. incident — which didn't result in deaths or injuries — to the early hours of the morning, when the two officers were recalled to duty at 3 a.m. for a briefing as the shootings that would take 22 lives unfolded. According to the report, they were told that the spouse of the killer had said the gunman was driving a replica RCMP car and was wearing an orange vest. "They learned that several children had witnessed their parents being shot dead .... The actual total number of victims was unknown at the time of the briefing because several buildings in Portapique were on fire, and whether there were additional victims had not yet been determined," the report says. They also had been briefed that the gunman had high-powered weapons with laser-mounted sights. Several hours after the first briefing, there were radio transmissions saying the killer had murdered a woman in Wentworth, N.S. At that point, the two officers were "transitioned from investigators to being involved in the hunt for the killer," the report says. Through the morning, reports of additional murders came over the radio, including two women in the Debert, N.S., area, which is about a 10-minute drive from the Onslow firehall. As they approached the firehall, which had been designated as a rest area, they saw a marked RCMP car parked in front and a man wearing a yellow and orange reflective vest standing next to the driver's door. According to the report, the two officers didn't realize a uniformed RCMP officer was sitting in the vehicle. The investigation says the two officers repeatedly tried to advise other RCMP officers by radio of what they were seeing but couldn't get through. Felix Cacchione, the director of SIRT, said in an email to The Canadian Press that he didn't have an exact time of arrival. "I can only extrapolate from the radio communications that it was about a minute before shots were fired," he wrote. According to the report, both officers got out of their vehicle with their rifles and were still unable to reach anyone on the radio. The report says they yelled "police," and "show your hands," but the civilian in the vest ducked behind the car before popping back up and running toward the firehall. The Mounties opened fire, with one officer firing four shots and the other a single shot. During the killer's 13-hour rampage, the report found, there were 7,731 radio transmissions over emergency response channels. It says the "sole reason" the reason the officers couldn't transmit before opening fire was because "there was no available talk path due to the heavy volume of radio traffic." It concluded the officers had a "lawful excuse" to fire their guns and didn't break Criminal Code provisions that prohibit officers from using their firearms in a careless manner. "Based on everything (the officers) had seen and heard since coming on duty and what they had just observed, they had reasonable grounds to believe that the (civilian in the vest) was the killer and someone who would continue his killing rampage," says the report. In a statement on its Facebook page Tuesday, the Onslow Belmont Fire Brigade said it is "frustrated and disappointed that there will be no accountability for the RCMP. Their actions that day endangered lives, damaged property and caused mental health issues for many of the people involved." An RCMP spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether any disciplinary action has been taken against the two officers. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said both people shot at outside the firehall were RCMP officers.
OTTAWA — Canada's chief public health officer says new COVID-19 cases are starting to tick back up after a month-long decline, giving urgency to the question of who should receive doses of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine due to arrive in Canada Wednesday. The "moderate increase" at the national level noted by Dr. Theresa Tam is in keeping with models forecasting a spike in cases over the next two months unless stricter public health measures are imposed to combat more contagious strains of the virus. “The concern is that we will soon see an impact on hospitalization, critical care and mortality trends," Tam said Tuesday. Canada saw 2,933 new cases on average over the past week, a figure similar to last Friday's numbers that revealed week-over-week increases of between eight and 14 per cent in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. The uptick comes as provinces figure out how to allocate their various vaccines, especially as Canada receives 500,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine produced at the Serum Institute of India. About 445,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are also arriving this week, said Procurement Minister Anita Anand. Guidance on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has caused some confusion. Health Canada authorized its use last week for all adults but the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends it not be administered to people 65 and over. The advisory committee cites concern over limited data from clinical trials for older patients. Health Canada also acknowledges that issue. But the advisory panel, which recommends how vaccines should be used, says the limitation means seniors should take priority for the two greenlighted mRNA vaccines — Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — where dearth of data is not an issue. Alberta's health minister said Monday the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca's vaccine to anyone over 65. British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Prince Edward Island are on similar courses, though details on who will get those jabs is not always clear. "With clinical testing of AstraZeneca limited to those under 65, we will need to adjust our plan to look at a parallel track for some of these more flexible vaccines in order to cast the widest net possible," the B.C. health ministry said in an email. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said B.C. will use the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to target younger people who have more social interactions and who would have to wait much longer for the other vaccines. Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott characterized Oxford-AstraZeneca as "very versatile " because it lacks the same cold-storage requirements as the two other vaccines in use in Canada. It won't go to seniors, but she said shots might be administered in correctional facilities for that reason. P.E.I. will target AstraZeneca at "healthy younger individuals who are working in certain front-line, essential services," said Dr. Heather Morrison, the province's chief medical officer of health. Health officials in Quebec and New Brunswick say they await further advice from health authorities and are taking time to examine how to deploy the latest vaccine. Nova Scotia's chief medical health officer Dr. Robert Strang said the province has yet to give an answer to Ottawa "about whether we actually want to take the vaccine." All provinces must provide a response by midday Thursday, he said. Two experts say essential workers who are more likely to contract and transmit COVID-19 should be prioritized for immunization with the Oxford-AstraZeneca doses. Caroline Colijn, a COVID-19 modeller and mathematician at Simon Fraser University, and Horacio Bach, an adjunct professor in the division of infectious diseases at the University of British Columbia, also say the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine could be better promoted by provincial health officials as a strong alternative to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Oxford-AstraZeneca reported their vaccine is about 62 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19 while Pifzer-BioNTech and Moderna have said the efficacy of their vaccines is about 95 per cent. But Colijn and Bach say the fact there have been no hospitalizations from severe illness and no deaths among those receiving the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine needs to be underscored because people awaiting immunization seem to be fixated on the higher efficacy data for the first two vaccines approved in Canada. "If the AstraZeneca vaccine will prevent you from getting really sick that's still a win for you," Colijn said. "I see this huge, huge benefit of vaccinating young people, particularly people with high contact, essential workers, sooner." No province has been spared from the increase in new variants circulating across the country, though several continue to ease anti-pandemic restrictions. Modelling from the Public Health Agency of Canada projected a steep surge in new cases starting late last month — and reaching 20,000 new cases a day before May — if public health measures weren't tightened. Since that Feb. 19 forecast, restrictions in many regions have loosened as Canadians return to restaurants, cinemas and hair salons. But Tam said Canada is gaining ground on "the vaccine-versus-variants leg of this marathon" every day. "Canada is prepared, and Canada remains on track," she said. Provinces have now reported 1,257 cases of the B.1.1.7 mutation that was first identified in the United Kingdom, 99 cases of the B. 184.108.40.206 strain first identified in South Africa, and three of the P. 1 variant first identified in Brazil. There have been 870,033 cases of COVID-19 in Canada and 22,017 deaths as of Monday night. There were 30,430 active cases across Canada, with an average of 42 deaths reported daily over the past week. Provinces are also figuring out whether to stick to the original injection schedules or extend the interval between doses beyond three or four weeks. The national advisory committee is expected to update its recommendations this week. Ontario is waiting for that guidance, while B.C. is pushing ahead with its plan to prolong the interval to four months. Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, said Monday the decision was based on local and international evidence that shows the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines provides "miraculous" 90 per cent protection from the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. — With files from Camille Bains, Kevin Bissett, Laura Dhillon Kane and Holly McKenzie-Sutter. Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
VICTORIA — Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside says six new rapid response teams will help schools in B.C. identify gaps in COVID-19 safety plans to help reduce exposure risk. The government says in a statement the teams will work with staff at schools, school districts and health authorities to review significant exposures to the virus. They will review school or district safety plans and policies, assist in their implementation and make recommendations for improvements when needed. The teams will also help schools and districts with communication plans. The provincial government is spending $900,000 in federal funding to support one team for each health authority and a separate team to help independent schools. Whiteside says gaps in safety plans and their implementation in some cases have been identified through reviews in cases of exposure, including classroom configuration problems and the sharing of supplies. "We know that when our safety plans in schools are in place and being adhered to and we don't have any gaps in those safety plans, we know that is when our schools are safest," she said on Tuesday. Funding for the teams was first announced Feb. 4. A lead school district has been selected for each health region and in Fraser Health, where outbreaks have been concentrated, the Education Ministry says there has also been additional support. Lead school districts include Surrey for the Fraser Health region, Nanaimo-Ladysmith for Island Health, Central Okanagan for Interior Health, Peace River North for Northern Health and Vancouver for Vancouver Coastal Health. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan's premier isn't saying yet how much longer his province could run deficits. Scott Moe says details of a plan to return the province to balance will be outlined next month when his Saskatchewan Party government presents its next budget. His finance minister has said eliminating the province's $2-billion deficit by the premier's election goal of 2024 will be difficult because of a slower economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Donna Harpauer said Monday financial projections are still being finalized, but it appears to be likely the government will have to choose a new target date. Moe wouldn't say what that might be, only that the next few years will dictate what happens. The premier says he isn't willing to jeopardize services to residents or efforts to bring back thousands of jobs lost during the pandemic, "Would I want to balance the budget by 2024? Absolutely. Will we be able to balance the budget by 2024? We're going to see in the next number of years," Moe said during a briefing Tuesday. "We're going to support the services that the people of this province expect and we're support the full return of jobs in the economic recovery of Saskatchewan communities." Opposition NDP Leader Ryan Meili tweeted that Moe has broken a campaign promise and has never balanced a budget. The government says it was on track to dig itself out of the red, but the COVID-19 health crisis thwarted that plan. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021 The Canadian Press
For two communities that share so much, the dividing line between Collingwood and the Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) has never felt more defined. Alar Soever, mayor for TBM says the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the political separation between Collingwood and TBM. “Now, it's unfortunate that Collingwood is in the grey zone. But, that just shows you that the county boundary is kind of an artificial construct,” Soever said. Collingwood sits in Simcoe County under the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. While TBM sits in Grey County and falls under the Grey Bruce Health Unit. Earlier this week the two regions moved in opposite directions under the provincial COVID-19 reopening framework. Grey County moved forward into the green zone and Collingwood moving backwards into the grey zone. The vast difference in restrictions between the grey and green zones has created waves in the community, even pushing Collingwood town council to demand the health unit change the designation. But according to Soever, the issue goes far beyond the pandemic restrictions. He explained that county and public health borders are a serious problem that should be examined once the pandemic is behind us. “It's one of the issues that we bring up all the time. Collingwood is in Simcoe County and we are in Grey County, even though we really do have a lot in common,” Soever continued. “As Mayor Brian Saunderson has pointed out, we are tied economically and we are tied to the ski hills.” Soever said the two communities have more commonalities than differences and that it would be beneficial to have both communities residing in the same county and the same public health unit. “You really have to look at these political boundaries that are kind of artificial and are from years and years ago, and say do they still make sense? Because in terms of community character, if you look at Collingwood, TBM and Wasaga Beach, we have far more in common then Collingwood has the urbanized communities in southern Simcoe County.” He said its an issue that is constantly coming up at council table through various initiatives, including transportation, community safety plans, social service initiatives and housing. “There's an interesting discussion to be had. People claim that they are in the wrong colour zone? Well, maybe it's far more than that. Maybe, you're in the wrong political subdivision,” Soever said. Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca
McMurray Métis elder Anne Michalko said she felt like she was on her way to freedom when she learned she would be getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Michalko, 83, spent much of the past year in quarantine. On Thursday, she made a rare venture outside her home for her first vaccine shot. Her second shot comes one month before her birthday in May. She hopes she can celebrate turning 84 with family. “Can you imagine feeling excited to go out and get a needle?” she said. “I’m looking forward to sitting around the fire pit and enjoying each other’s company. Maybe I’ll take my great grandson for a walk.” Alberta’s vaccine rollout plan entered Phase 1B on Feb. 7, allowing anyone born before 1946 to get a vaccine. Anyone living in retirement centres, senior citizen lodges and other supportive living homes can also get vaccinated. There have been 546 people in Fort Chipewyan that have had their first vaccine dose. The community has been prioritized because of its remote location and limited health care services. The rollout has given some relief to a community with a long memory that includes the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, which wiped out three-quarters of the community. One victim was Chief Alexandre Lavoilette, the first chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. Chief Allan Adam of ACFN remembers stories of the Spanish Flu from his late grandmother. She was 18-years-old when the pandemic hit the community, he said. “She said people were lost because they had also lost their chief,” said Adam. “Nobody knew where to go.” Adam is thankful Fort Chipewyan has not experienced anything like the Spanish Flu over the past year. He said he is proud of the work the work the community is doing to keep people safe. “A lot of history was lost from the older people at that time,” he said. “We were lucky and we dodged a bullet this time.” Chief Peter Powder of Mikisew Cree First Nation said stories of the Spanish Flu made some people anxious to get vaccinated. “That’s where people’s heads were at, just hearing about that and how bad it was back in the day,” said Powder. Powder said encouraging young people to get vaccinated has been a priority, since they are more likely to travel outside the community. Some people have been excited to get vaccinated, but Angela Conner, a nurse with Nunee Health, said she has seen some hesitancy in the community. Nunee Health is promoting vaccination and trying to fight false information shared online. The hamlet received a second shipment of vaccines on Feb. 28. “Everything that we use is evidence-based,” said Conner. “We’ve been opening up our facility here for any questions. Quite a few people have called and we did have our nurse practitioner open for any kind of consults.” Other Métis leaders feel they have been left out of Alberta’s vaccination program. Since the first vaccines arrived in Alberta, elders on First Nations or Métis settlements have been getting vaccinated if they are between 65 and 74. Some communities that are mostly Métis are not considered settlements, meaning those elders must wait until the general public can be vaccinated in the fall. A community like Conklin, for instance, is mostly Métis and has seen 11 per cent of its population get COVID-19. But the community is considered a rural hamlet under the responsibility of the municipality. Fort McKay’s Métis community is also on municipal land and not considered a settlement. McMurray Métis has 45 elders between 65 and 74 who will be left out of Phase 1B because the Local is based in Fort McMurray. “In Alberta, it is recognized that Indigenous elders are part of a first priority,” said Bryan Fayant, McMurray Métis’ disaster and recovery strategist. “Our elders are a part of the regular rollout and I just don’t think that’s enough.” email@example.com Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
TOPEKA, Kan. — Former Congressman Steve Watkins of Kansas has entered a diversion program to avoid trial over allegations that he voted illegally in a 2019 municipal election. Watkins, a Republican from Topeka who served only one term in the U.S. House, was facing three felony charges. He was accused of listing a postal box at a UPS store as his home on a state registration form when he was living temporarily at his parents' home. He was also charged with lying to a detective who investigated the case. The Shawnee County district attorney filed the charges just weeks before the August 2020 primary, and Watkins lost to now-Rep. Jake LaTurner. “I regret the error in my voter registration paperwork that led to these charges. I fully co-operated from the beginning and had no intent to deceive any one, at any time. I am glad to resolve the ordeal,” Watkins said in a statement Tuesday. Watkins acknowledged he lied to the detective when he said he did not vote in the Topeka City Council election, The Kansas City Star reported. Under the diversion agreement entered into Monday, Watkins' prosecution will be deferred for six months. If he meets the terms of the agreement, the case will be dropped by September. The Associated Press
The City of Fredericton is hoping "bonus incentives" can help make affordable housing more attractive to developers. Currently under the city's zoning bylaw, developers can get more units in their build if some of those units qualify as affordable under the province's Affordable Housing Program. But, Marcello Battilana, the manager of community planning at the City of Fredericton, says because the vacancy rate is so low -- less than two per cent -- there's little need for developers to include affordable housing in new builds. "What's happening right now is developers don't need the affordable housing program at all." Under provincial legislation, the city doesn't have the power to force developers to include affordable housing, so it's hoping density bonus incentives, or the ability to build more total units, will help make affordable units more attractive. "It may entice them to say, 'You know what, I'll get a little bit more density than I thought, and so let's be part of the program'," said Battilana. There are other types of bonus incentives - in the past, developers have gotten an extra storey on a build in exchange for public art. "This incentive is relatively new," said Coun. Kate Rogers, chair of the city's affordable housing committee. And she said it's a tool the city should be using more. "That's one of the things that (the affordable housing committee is) really encouraging staff, is that there be more and more promotion of these tools to developers and working with developers to help them come up with ways that they can be creative in their development to incorporate affordable housing." Proposed development on George Street in Fredericton will include two affordable housing units..(City of Fredericton council agenda) A new building proposal on George Street is making use of it, the developer Marty Mockler is allowed an extra unit by including two affordable units, giving the building a total of eight units in the new build. "Basically, we just want to see developers be able to take advantage of additional tools that the municipality can bring to bear to provide more affordable housing options for the community overall," said Battilana. Battilana says the city is hoping to add to the bonus incentives under the zoning bylaw and that those plans will be made public at the next Planning Advisory Committee on March 17.
Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra's office says the government has no plans to change the name of Montreal's airport, despite an online petition calling for the removal of Pierre Trudeau's name. "Our government's priority remains the health and safety of Quebecers and all Canadians during these difficult times, and that is exactly what we are focusing on," spokesperson Allison St-Jean told CBC News in an email. "It is not our government's plan to change the name of Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport." That response comes after an online petition calling for the international airport to be renamed after former PQ Premier René Lévesque collected thousands of signatures. The petition, launched Monday morning, says new reports about Trudeau's response to the PQ's election in 1976 make him unworthy of the honour. The petition was signed by PQ Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon and Marie-Anne Alepin, president of the nationalist Societé St. Jean Baptiste, along with other sovereignist and labour leaders. It lists multiple reasons for pulling Trudeau's name from the airport, from his handling of the October Crisis to his approach to the repatriation of the Constitution. It also cites a recent CBC News story about a telegram written by former U.S. ambassador Thomas Enders in which he said Trudeau had suggested to Montreal businessman Paul Desmarais that he make things as tough as possible for the fledgling PQ government and move jobs out of Quebec. Quebec Premier Rene Levesque (R) shrugs his shoulders and walks away from Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (L) after a chat prior to the beginning of the second day of the Constitution Conference Sept 9, 1980. Petitioners want Montreal's airport to be renamed after Levesque.(Drew Gragg/Canadian Press) "Regarding the betrayals and the harm that he inflicted on Quebec, Pierre Elliott Trudeau absolutely does not merit that we set him up on such a pedestal - the result of a unilateral decision Ottawa made 20 years ago," reads the petition. The petition has an initial target of 20,000 signatures but had collected more than 20,800 by 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. Julien Coulombe-Bonnafous, spokesperson for the sovereignist Bloc Québécois, said his party supports the petition but didn't have enough time to consult its caucus after it was approached by the Societé St. Jean Baptiste on Friday. "We think it would effectively be a good thing to re-baptize the airport in honour of a personality who is the subject of more consensus and who corresponds better to the image of Quebec than Pierre Elliott Trudeau," he said. It's not the first time the airport's name has sparked controversy. A poll taken in November 2003, a couple of months before the airport changed names in January 2004, found that 38 per cent of respondents opposed naming it after Trudeau — a figure that rose to 42 per cent among francophones. The poll found that 34 per cent of respondents supported the move and 27 per cent were undecided. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole said his focus is on Canadians getting vaccinated and on working with provinces. "These are serious allegations that former Prime Minister Trudeau wanted to damage Quebec's economy," O'Toole said in a media statement. "We don't support 'cancel culture,' but our approach to Quebec is totally opposite to that of the Liberals because we will work with the government of Quebec, as our productive meetings with Premier Legault have shown." NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he understands the frustration of petitioners but did not take a position on renaming the airport.(Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press) New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh skirted the question of renaming the airport. "What Trudeau Sr. wanted to do to people in Quebec is deplorable and undemocratic, but I don't think anyone is really surprised," he said in a statement. "We understand the frustration of the petitioners, but in the short term we believe that what Justin Trudeau's government needs to focus on is ensuring that people are getting vaccinated as quickly as possible and that everyone has access to the support they need to get through the pandemic." Former NDP leader Tom Mulcair suggested it's time to rethink the titles of other airports named after former politicians. "What do John George Diefenbaker, James Armstrong Richardson, Lester Bowles Pearson, Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Robert Stanfield have in common?" Mulcair wrote in a column in the Journal de Montreal. "They are all dead politicians who have their name on the airports of some of the largest cities in Canada. You will also note that in a country that, officially, celebrates multiculturalism, the equality between men and women and diversity, they are all men, white and Christian. No women, no minorities, no First Nations." Elizabeth Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
While many things were shut down due to the pandemic, Tabitha McLoughlin and her team responded to increased demand in their community for fresh food by opening another farmers market. McLoughlin is the executive director of Grow Local Tricities, which manages the Port Moody and Coquitlam farmers markets. In June, the organization started its Port Moody summer market as an emergency response for farmers in their area. “We did it in response to knowing that we had farmer vendors who were losing contracts to restaurants and losing contracts to food suppliers, because those guys were shutting down or being closed down, and they had crops in the ground,” she said. “And it was well enough attended that we’ll continue to do it again this year.” McLoughlin has worked with Grow Local for 15 years and said she wasn’t surprised the new market was so well-received. She has seen a steady interest in farmers markets over the past five to eight years, and COVID-19 has only fast-tracked it. “I think the media really started to push ‘buy local’ ... because, as much as we have preached it for years, the importance of the economic impact that is generated by buying from places within your own community is now being seen on such a massive scale,” she said. McLoughlin said it was interesting seeing farmers markets being used in such a utilitarian manner during the pandemic, after trying on so many different hats to appeal to consumers. “What we saw was people coming specifically to buy at the market ... We have spent years building the farmers markets to be these destinations where you and your kids can do a craft, watch a food demonstration,” she said. “We had to throw all that out the window and be like, 'OK, we need you to come in and shop as fast as you possibly can.'” Jen Candela, communications manager with Vancouver Farmers Markets (VFM) since 2007, said the last decade has seen a lot of growth on their end. The VFM has operated markets since 1995 and now supports 280 small farms and businesses. “I think people are a lot more concerned about where their food comes from than they were 20 years ago,” she said. “Vancouver is also a health-conscious city, so people want the freshest, healthiest food they can find. Unless you grow your own food, farmers markets are the best place to find that.” There is little data on farmers markets in Canada. The last nationwide survey was done in 2009 by Farmers Markets Canada, a now-defunct organization. Even then, total direct sales from farmers markets across Canada was estimated to be $1.03 billion. Although the markets may be expanding and growing, McLoughlin said the sentiment behind them remains the same. “I think (people’s reasons) for putting these things together was always greater than just simply bringing the food into the community,” she said. “Now as it's become more and more common, it's not just like the hippies in the parking lots anymore. It's way more mainstream, to the point where it's almost become trendy.” Cloe Logan / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Cloe Logan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
On Wednesday, the verdict in Toronto’s van attack trial will be revealed. Alek Minassian has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. Erica Vella reports.
Yes, Michelle Obama's co-stars are a pair of puppets.
A hardware store in Summerside has reopened for business, after a deep cleaning over the weekend. On Saturday, an employee at Callbecks Home Hardware tested positive for COVID 19. The store was put on the list of potential exposure sites associated with the latest outbreaks of COVID-19 on P.E.I. Owner Duane MacDonald said he voluntarily shut down as soon as they heard about the positive test on Saturday. COVID-19 cleaning has been part of the work day for the past year, but it was ramped up on Sunday. MacDonald said a fleet of trucks and 15 workers, some in protective suits, arrived to disinfect the store, all office space and outbuildings. Store owner Duane MacDonald says he was teasing the staff that Callbecks 'is probably the safest, cleanest building on P.E.I. right now.' (Duane MacDonald) "The staff do an excellent job in maintaining and cleaning, but these guys are professionals," he said. "And this was a scenario where we needed someone to come in and make sure everything was sanitized the right way…. I was teasing the staff that this is probably the safest, cleanest building on P.E.I. right now." Staff tests negative A lot of other stores on that list of exposure sites are going through the same process. All 60 staff of Callbecks went for testing, and the results all came back negative. Ten staff members, who worked with the man who tested positive, remain in self-isolation. Callbecks continues to operate on reduced hours, to help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. More from CBC P.E.I.
Health Minister Christian Dubé occasionally offers cues at his media appearances that he is about to say something profound, or at least important. At a news conference Tuesday, it was the phrase "I'm weighing my words here." This he followed with the admission, "We're scared of this situation." Dubé was talking about variant coronavirus strains, which are gaining ground despite the province's best efforts to keep a lid on them. The plateauing daily COVID-19 infection toll obscures an incipient wave, he said. But there is also good news. Vaccines, Dubé said, are Quebec's "weapons of mass reduction" when it comes to the coronavirus, variant or not. And as the province works to vaccinate another 700,000 people before the end of the month, he remains hopeful the race against the variants can be won. Strict measures likely to continue The fact that the variant curve shows signs of pointing upward, however, means Quebecers probably shouldn't expect the restrictive public health measures, like the curfew, to be lifted in the near future. "[Variants] must be taken into consideration as we make big decisions," Dubé said. Most of the wariness centres on Montreal, which has the largest number of confirmed cases of variants, and where the B117 strain (first identified in the United Kingdom) could soon become the dominant form of the virus. But the problem is bigger than the province's largest city. Specialized screening reveals about 12 to 15 per cent of the daily positive tests in the province are due to a variant, a proportion that keeps increasing. Dozens of suspected variant cases are currently being investigated in multiple regions. The Abitibi-Témiscamingue region has reported 40 cases of the B1351 variant discovered in South Africa, which is demonstrated to reduce the effectiveness of some vaccines. Nearly three-quarters of those cases can be traced back to an outbreak in January, but 12 appear to be linked to a school in the town of Landrienne, where an outbreak occurred in mid-February. "We received the news on Saturday night, the South African variant is, in fact, present in our region ... it wasn't a surprise given the outbreaks in the school in Landrienne, a CPE and now in a [seniors' residence]," said Dr. Lise Landry, the region's public health director. Deploying an aggressive approach According to Dr. Omobola Sobanjo, the region's medical advisor, the infectiousness of the strain, which has also been reported just over the provincial border in North Bay, Ont., may require reconsidering risks of infection. Sobjano noted that many of those who were infected with the South African variant appeared to be contagious even in the latter stages of their 14-day isolation period. Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said Tuesday he is scared' by the coronavirus variants that are proliferating in the province and urged people to continue observing public health measures until vaccination catches up.(The Canadian Press) Quebec has taken a stouter approach generally toward outbreaks in recent weeks, notably at four schools in the Quebec City area that were shut down entirely rather than on a classroom-by-classroom basis. It's very much by design. "We are taking a very aggressive approach in terms of our interventions.... We are working under the assumption all over Quebec that these are all variants," Dr. Horacio Arruda, the province's public health director, said at Tuesday's news conference. Arruda said the epidemiology suggests that while infection rates have plateaued for the time being, there are still worrying signs. "The ocean is calm at the moment ... but underneath there are sharks," he said, "and I'll tell you what those sharks are: they're the variants." Vaccination campaign moves to regions On Tuesday, Dubé said that while the initial focus of the mass vaccination ramp-up is Montreal, it will soon be arriving in other regions as logistical hurdles are cleared. The Montérégie, for example, has large numbers of seniors' residences, which makes for slow going because each must be served by a mobile vaccination unit. The deal concluded with pharmacies last week means that when the roll-out arrives in outlying areas at mid-month, it will accommodate larger numbers. The effort will be aided by the impending arrival of about 120,000 doses of the recently approved AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, which is easier to store and preserve. But about half of Canada's initial shipment of the vaccine arrives with a best-before date of April 2, and the provincial immunization committee hasn't yet issued guidance on how best to use it. Daniel Paré, the coordinator of the provincial vaccine effort, said the guidelines are expected any day now. He also made a promise: no dose will reach its expiry date unused.
WASHINGTON — FBI Director Christopher Wray bluntly labeled the January riot at the U.S. Capitol as “domestic terrorism” Tuesday and warned of a rapidly growing threat of homegrown violent extremism that law enforcement is scrambling to confront through thousands of investigations. Wray also defended to lawmakers his own agency's handling of an intelligence report that warned of the prospect for violence on Jan. 6. And he firmly rejected false claims advanced by some Republicans that anti-Trump groups had organized the deadly riot that began when a violent mob stormed the building as Congress was gathering to certify results of the presidential election. Wray's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, his first before Congress since the insurrection, was one in a series of hearings centred on the law enforcement response to the Capitol insurrection. Lawmakers pressed him not only about possible intelligence and communication failures ahead of the riot but also about the threat of violence from white supremacists, militias and other extremists that the FBI says it is prioritizing with the same urgency as the menace of international terrorism organizations. “Jan. 6 was not an isolated event. The problem of domestic terrorism has been metastasizing across the country for a long time now and it’s not going away anytime soon,” Wray told lawmakers. “At the FBI, we’ve been sounding the alarm on it for a number of years now.” The violence at the Capitol made clear that a law enforcement agency that remade itself after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to deal with international terrorism is now labouring to address homegrown violence by white Americans. President Joe Biden’s administration has tasked his national intelligence director to work with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to assess the threat. And in applying the domestic terrorism label to conduct inside the Capitol, Wray sought to make clear to senators that he was clear-eyed about the scope and urgency of the problem. In quantifying the scale of the FBI's work, Wray said the number of domestic terrorism investigations has increased from around 1,000 when he became director in 2017 to roughly 1,400 at the end of last year to about 2,000 now. The number of arrests of white supremacists and other racially motivated extremists has almost tripled, he said. Many of the senators' questions Tuesday centred on the FBI's handling of a Jan. 5 report from its Norfolk, Virginia, field office that warned of online posts foreshadowing a “war” in Washington the following day. Capitol Police leaders have said they were unaware of the report at the time, and the former chief of the department has said he received no intelligence from the FBI that would have led him to anticipate the sort of violence that besieged them on the 6th. Five people died that day, including a Capitol Police officer and a woman who was shot as she tried to climb through a smashed window into the House chamber with lawmakers still inside. Wray said the report was disseminated though the FBI’s joint terrorism task force, discussed at a command post in Washington and posted on an internet portal available to other law enforcement agencies. Though the information was raw, unverified and appeared aspirational in nature, Wray said, it was specific and concerning enough that “the smartest thing to do, the most prudent thing to do, was just push it to the people who needed to get it.” “We did communicate that information in a timely fashion to the Capitol Police and (Metropolitan Police Department) in not one, not two, but three different ways,” Wray said, though he added that since the violence that ensued was “not an acceptable result,” the FBI was looking into what it could have done differently. He said he was “reluctant to armchair quarterback anyone else in their jobs,” but the FBI was determined to prevent a repeat of Jan. 6. “We find it personally infuriating any time we are not able, as I said, to bat 1,000. And we’re going to keep working to get better,” he said. The sprawling Justice Department investigation into the riot has already produced hundreds of charges, including against members of militia groups and far-right organizations. The crowd in Washington that day ranged from protesters who did not break any laws to a smaller group that arrived determined to commit violence against police and disrupt Congress from its duties, Wray said. “Some of those people clearly came to Washington, we now know, with the plans and intentions to engage in the worst kind of violence we would consider domestic terrorism," he said. Asked whether there was evidence that the attack was planned or carried out by antifa — an umbrella term for leftist militants — or by Trump opponents posing as his loyalists, Wray said that there was not. Some on the right have made such false contentions. Even as the FBI prioritizes its efforts to counter domestic violent extremism, there are challenges confronting law enforcement, including in separating mere chatter from actual threats and in First Amendment protections that give ample leeway to espouse racist or otherwise abhorrent viewpoints. "The amount of angry, hateful, unspeakable, combative, violent even, rhetoric on social media exceeds what anybody in their worst imagination (thinks) is out there,” Wray said. Wray has kept a notably low profile since the Capitol attack. Though he has briefed lawmakers privately and shared information with local law enforcement, Tuesday's oversight hearing marked his first public appearance before Congress since before November's presidential election. ____ Follow Eric Tucker at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP. Eric Tucker And Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
There still isn’t a trial date one year after a Kindersley mom was arrested and charged with second-degree murder for the death of her infant daughter. In Saskatoon Provincial Court in November 2020, Teenie Rose Steer elected to be tried by judge alone without a jury. Her case was then moved from the provincial court level to Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench. Her matter was on Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench pre-trial list Nov. 13, 2020, to set a trial date. That pre-trial conference was adjourned to Dec. 18, 2020, and then it was adjourned to Feb. 12, 2021. The matter has now been adjourned to March 31. Pre-trial conferences are closed to the public and media. They are informal meetings in chambers between the Crown and defence. Steer was arrested 13 months ago. According to the 2016 Supreme Court of Canada Jordan Rule, once charges are laid provincial cases must be heard within 18 months and superior court cases within 30 months or the charges can be dismissed. RCMP arrested steer February 2020 and charged her with killing her one-month-old infant three years ago. On Sept. 27, 2018, police responded to a home after receiving a report of a baby in cardiac arrest. First responders and doctors at the Rosetown hospital attempted life-saving measures but the infant was pronounced dead in hospital. A September 2018 autopsy revealed information that led investigators to believe the baby’s death was suspicious and RCMP Major Crimes took over the investigation. RCMP didn't reveal details of that information. The charges against Steer haven’t been proven in court. email@example.com Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist