Businesses in sectors hit hard by the pandemic can now apply for low-interest, government-backed loans under a new federal program, but the prospect of even more debt has some calling for partial subsidy.
Businesses in sectors hit hard by the pandemic can now apply for low-interest, government-backed loans under a new federal program, but the prospect of even more debt has some calling for partial subsidy.
Canada added a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine to its pandemic-fighting arsenal on Friday, approving Johnson & Johnson's product a week after it was authorized in the United States. That gives Canada four distinct vaccines — along with Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca — and it adds flexibility to the country's plan to immunize the majority of its residents by September. Health Canada includes a fifth vaccine, Covishield, which is a separate brand name for doses of the AstraZeneca product made at the Serum Institute of India. The U.S.-based Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for emergency use on Feb. 27. Canada has already secured 10 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine through previous negotiations with the company, with the option to buy another 28 million. The 10 million pre-purchased doses will be delivered before September, but they're not expected to start flowing into Canada until at least April. Here's what we know about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine: HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT? Johnson & Johnson announced promising results from its Phase 3 clinical trials at the end of January, suggesting its vaccine reduced severe COVID-19 disease by 85 per cent, and prevented 100 per cent of COVID-related hospitalization or death. The vaccine had a 72 per cent efficacy in preventing COVID infections after 28 days in the company's U.S. trials. The efficacy dropped to 66 per cent when averaging in results from other global trials, including a South African study that factored in more transmissible variants of the COVID virus. An FDA report last month said the vaccine was 64 per cent effective in preventing infection in South Africa about a month after the vaccines were administered. Pfizer and Moderna showed 95 per cent efficacy in their respective trials, but those were both tested against previous dominant strains of the virus and didn't account for the variants that have popped up since. Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca also had zero hospitalizations and deaths in their trials. The FDA report said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was similarly effective across age, race and people with comorbidities. The agency added that effectiveness appeared to be lower (42.3 per cent after one month) in people over 60 with comorbidities such as diabetes or heart disease. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THIS VACCINE? The potential ease of distribution offered by a one-and-done shot, and its ability to be stored in a regular fridge are among its biggest strengths. Vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca all require two doses. Johnson & Johnson's vaccine can be stored in a regular fridge for up to three months, the company says. Pfizer's vaccine initially required ultra-cold storage temperatures between -60 C and -80 C, though Health Canada said this week it could be stored in a regular freezer for up to 14 days. Moderna's vaccine can also be stored at regular freezer temperatures while AstraZeneca can be stored in a fridge. WHAT KIND OF VACCINE TECHNOLOGY IS USED? Unlike the mRNA technology used in Pfizer and Moderna's products, Johnson & Johnson is a non-replicating viral vector vaccine similar to AstraZeneca's. That means it uses a different harmless virus, which can't copy itself, as a vector to give our cells the instructions they need to make the coronavirus's spike protein. The immune system recognizes the protein and makes antibodies, which then allow us to fend off attack from the same virus if exposed in the future. WERE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS NOTED? No specific safety concerns were identified in participants of the trials, regardless of age, race and comorbidities. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said in a press conference Friday that almost 20 per cent of participants in the Johnson & Johnson trials were 65 years of age and older, and "no differences in safety or efficacy were seen compared to the younger groups." The FDA said the most common reported side effects were headache and fatigue, followed by muscle aches, nausea and fever. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
NASA's Mars rover Perseverance has taken its first, short drive on the surface of the red planet, two weeks after the robot science lab's picture-perfect touchdown on the floor of a massive crater, mission managers said on Friday. The six-wheeled, car-sized astrobiology probe put a total of 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) on its odometer on Thursday during a half-hour test spin within Jezero Crater, site of an ancient, long-vanished lake bed and river delta on Mars. Taking directions from mission managers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles, the rover rolled 4 meters (13.1 feet) forward, turned about 150 degrees to its left and then drove backward another 2.5 meters (8.2 feet).
CALGARY — The Alberta Energy Regulator says it is suspending licences for thousands of wells and pipelines after an oil and gas producer failed to bring its operations into regulatory compliance. The regulator says it has ordered SanLing Energy Ltd. to suspend its 2,266 wells, 227 facilities and 2,170 pipelines and ensure they are left in a state that's safe for the public and the environment. It adds the company currently owes $67 million in security to the AER for its assets' end-of-life obligations. The company is being asked to comply with past orders to clean up historic spills and contamination, ensure its emergency response number is working and provide a detailed plan to maintain its assets while they are suspended. The AER says it issued an order to SanLing in September because of a poor compliance record and its outstanding security issues. It says it met with the company several times over the past five months to request a plan to come back into compliance but the company's responses proved to be inadequate. “If SanLing, or any company, wants to do business in Alberta, they must follow our rules,” said Blair Reilly, AEB director of enforcement and emergency management, in a news release. "We cannot allow a company that has ignored the rules continue to operate—that's not in Alberta's interest." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
Cecilia Carroll has been waiting weeks for her mail-in ballot kit to arrive, and is now worried that, with just days left to send her ballot back in, she won't be able to vote in a provincial election for the first time in her adult life. Carroll, who lives in Torbay, applied three weeks ago to get her special ballot kit so she would be able to vote by mail. As of Friday morning, it hadn't yet shown up. Carroll has called Elections Newfoundland and Labrador twice, and followed up with an email, but has been told it's on its way, and there's nothing else to do but wait for it to show up. But Carroll said living with a disability means there are external factors she's worried about that could prevent her from being able to send her ballot in before the postmark deadline of March 12. "My biggest concern is getting it back in the mail in time. Like, for me, you're dropping it in a community mailbox because you can't go to the post office, so I don't know what time that gets picked up and taken to the post office," Carroll said. There's nothing else I can do. - Cecilia Carroll "I need to have … it back in the mail at least by Wednesday, because then it's not getting picked up until Thursday and then it had to go to the post office to be postmarked for Friday." That's a best-case scenario, at this point, Carroll said; if her community mailbox gets snowed in, and she has to wait for it to be shovelled out, that could mean she can't get her kit sent out in time. "If we have a snowstorm Monday or Tuesday, I'm not gonna be able to get to my mailbox, so I won't be able to vote," Carroll said. "And I can honestly say I've never missed voting in an election since I became old enough to vote." Carroll is worried, too, that she's not alone. Carroll says it can sometimes take days for snow to be cleared from community mailboxes, meaning people living with a physical disability, like her, might not be able to send their ballots by the deadline if there's a storm.(Margaret Boothroyd/Submitted) "I truly believe there will be a lot of people with disabilities who will not be able to vote in this election. I mean, when you go to a polling station, there's someone there to help you if you need help. If you're living alone and you're in the middle of a pandemic, you may not feel comfortable having someone come to your home because you could have underlying health issues and you could risk getting COVID," she said. "I think there will be a lot of people who will just decide not to because it will be easier than trying to go through the process of trying to get somebody to help them, and not everybody is willing to speak up or call and complain or ask questions." 'You shouldn't have to do that' The provincial election was moved to mail-in only last month, after an outbreak of coronavirus variant B117 put the province into Alert Level 5 lockdown less than 12 hours before polls were set to open on Feb. 13. In-person voting had been scrapped just days before that for nearly half of the province's electoral districts, in eastern Newfoundland, due to spiking case numbers and mass resignation of poll station staff. This week, chief electoral officer Bruce Chaulk, confirmed he hand-delivered ballot kits to some people in his neighbourhood, including Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie and Liberal candidate Siobhan Coady. For people like Carroll still waiting to see if they'll get a ballot in time, that shows there's something amiss. "Great, if they're delivering them to everyone who hasn't gotten one. No one has said that that's an option. But to me, you shouldn't have to do that. You're supposed to have a process in place that's accessible for everyone, regardless of disability or mobility issues or whatever," she said. "If you're a person with a visual disability, who helps you fill out your ballot? Where's your template to complete that? Or who reads it for you so that you know what's written on it? Those types of things, I don't know what they've been included in the process this time around because it's a mail-in ballot.… There's nothing extra there telling you what to do if you're a person with a disability who needs assistance with voting." Former CBC broadcaster Karl Wells tweeted his thanks to the province's chief electoral officer, Tuesday, after receiving a call from Bruce Chaulk.(Karl Wells/Twitter) Dozens of commenters on social media called the election a "mess," and asked whether they, too, should expect their ballots to be hand delivered. "This is nothing short of showing favouritism to those in the public eye," wrote on commenter on CBC N.L.'s Facebook post. "All citizens must be treated in the same manner. How did he even find those ballots, was he in the mailroom flicking through them, to find people he knows?" wrote another commenter. Indigenous voters, too, are feeling excluded, according to two candidates in Labrador who say Elections NL reneged on a commitment to distribute election materials that had been translated into Newfoundland and Labrador's Indigenous languages, which include Inuktitut, Innu-aimun and Mi'kmaw. Carroll said she worries the thousands of people in the province who live with disabilities may not get to cast a ballot. "Honestly I don't know, but I feel that there's probably way too many people out there, in my heart and soul, who are not gonna vote because it's gonna be too complicated for them to do it," she said. Carroll said she'll keep waiting for the mail-in kit to arrive, in the hopes that nothing else will happen to hinder her vote. "If I don't get it today, I guess I'm back on the phone again. I mean, there's nothing else I can do." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Toronto's former police chief has been appointed special adviser to the province for its redevelopment of Ontario Place. The government says Mark Saunders will offer input on plans for the former waterfront theme park in Toronto. The province closed the park to the public in 2012 due to falling revenues and tight finances. The current Progressive Conservative government has said it wants to make the space that first opened in 1971 an impressive attraction. A government news release says Saunders will consult with the City of Toronto, local stakeholders and Indigenous communities. Saunders faced criticism in his tenure as police chief from both the LGBTQ and Black communities over his handling of various cases. He retired from the police force last year, and the search for his permanent replacement is ongoing. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — A new national study adds strong evidence that mask mandates can slow the spread of the coronavirus, and that allowing dining at restaurants can increase cases and deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the study Friday. “All of this is very consistent,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing on Friday. “You have decreases in cases and deaths when you wear masks, and you have increases in cases and deaths when you have in-person restaurant dining.” The study was released just as some states are rescinding mask mandates and restaurant limits. Earlier this week, Texas became the biggest state to lift its mask rule, joining a movement by many governors to loosen COVID-19 restrictions despite pleas from health officials. “It’s a solid piece of work that makes the case quite strongly that in-person dining is one of the more important things that needs to be handled if you’re going to control the pandemic,” said William Hanage, a Harvard University expert on disease dynamics who was not involved in the study. The new research builds on smaller CDC studies, including one that found that people in 10 states who became infected in July were more likely to have dined at a restaurant and another that found mask mandates in 10 states were associated with reductions in hospitalizations. The CDC researchers looked at U.S. counties placed under state-issued mask mandates and at counties that allowed restaurant dining — both indoors and at tables outside. The study looked at data from March through December of last year. The scientists found that mask mandates were associated with reduced coronavirus transmission, and that improvements in new cases and deaths increased as time went on. The reductions in growth rates varied from half a percentage point to nearly 2 percentage points. That may sound small, but the large number of people involved means the impact grows with time, experts said. “Each day that growth rate is going down, the cumulative effect — in terms of cases and deaths — adds up to be quite substantial,” said Gery Guy Jr., a CDC scientist who was the study's lead author. Reopening restaurant dining was not followed by a significant increase in cases and deaths in the first 40 days after restrictions were lifted. But after that, there were increases of about 1 percentage point in the growth rate of cases and — later — 2 to 3 percentage points in the growth rate of deaths. The delay could be because restaurants didn't re-open immediately and because many customers may have been hesitant to dine in right after restrictions were lifted, Guy said. Also, there's always a lag between when people are infected and when they become ill, and longer to when they end up in the hospital and die. In the case of dining out, a delay in deaths can also be caused by the fact that the diners themselves may not die, but they could get infected and then spread it to others who get sick and die, Hanage said. “What happens in a restaurant doesn't stay in a restaurant,” he said. CDC officials stopped short of saying that on-premises dining needs to stop. But they said if restaurants do open, they should follow as many prevention measures as possible, like promoting outdoor dining, having adequate indoor ventilation, masking employees and calling on customers to wear masks whenever they aren't eating or drinking. The study had limitations. For example, the researchers tried to make calculations that accounted for other policies, such as bans on mass gatherings or bar closures, that might influence case and death rates. But the authors acknowledged that they couldn't account for all possible influences — such as school re-openings. “It's always very, very hard to thoroughly nail down the causal relationships,” Hanage said. “But when you take this gathered with all the other stuff we know about the virus, it supports the message” of the value of mask wearing and the peril of restaurant dining, he added. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Mike Stobbe, The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — Dentists, teachers and bus drivers are among the essential workers who hope to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in British Columbia, as a provincial committee determines who should be prioritized for the shot. BC Teachers' Federation president Teri Mooring says her members should be included in the plan expected to be released by the B.C. Immunization Committee by March 18. Mooring says teachers have put in the second-highest number of COVID-19-related claims to WorkSafeBC, behind only health-care workers, and have faced difficult conditions in schools with some of the most lax mask policies in Canada. The BC Dental Association says dentists and their teams cannot treat patients remotely, they work in very close proximity to the mouth and often use aerosol-generating procedures. Balbir Mann, president of Unifor Local 111, which represents Metro Vancouver bus drivers, says his members should receive the vaccine because passengers come very close when they enter and exit the bus. BC Trucking Association president Dave Earle, meanwhile, says he represents both long-haul truckers and local drivers who return home every night, so he wants to hear from the province about where the COVID-19 hot spots are in the transportation system. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
The 2021 Pink Shirt Day campaign, organized by the Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters, closed the month of February on a positive and encouraging note. Pink Shirt day was celebrated on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, but the organizers say its message of inclusion and diversity is a part of the Boys and Girls Club programs every day of the year. "We are happy to say we have sold over 2,600 shirts this year, surpassing even previous years' sales," said Amanda Guarino, Supervisor, Community Engagement, Boys and Girls Club of Kingston & Area. "This is incredible amid the pandemic and really shows how Kingston is a giving, caring, and supportive community. All pink shirt sales fund our year-round anti-bullying and positive mentoring programs, adding healthy relationship components to our after-school, summer camps, and specific education programs." Guarino said they had over 700 community members interacting with them, and had spread their anti-bullying message to more than 4,000 people in Kingston. “We are especially thankful to our title sponsor, Terra Nova Truss, and the support received from annual partners like Kawartha Credit Union and McDonald’s,” Guarino added. “This allowed us to provide over 270 pink shirts to the children and youth we serve, making our members feel a special sense of belonging to their peers and to the campaign.” Proceeds of pink shirt sales are going straight into anti-bullying and positive mentoring programs for children and youth in Kingston. “On Pink Shirt Day, we ran a workshop with our youth members that had them reflect on their bullying experiences, and even got them to talk about instances when they themselves were unkind to others and what they learned,” said Devin Reynolds, Senior Manager at the West End Hub of the Boys and Girls Club. “We focused our programs with younger children on cyber-bullying, social media, and how to stay safe online,” Reynolds continued. “It really brings our campaign to life to hear kids saying ‘kindness means sticking up for people’ and ‘kindness means not being mean to someone else for liking different things’.” The funds raised will keep programs like these operating and reaching more than 400 children and youth in Kingston after-school everyday, throughout the year. “All of us had an important part in making the campaign have this transformative character,” Guarino said. “Thank you, Kingston, for standing with us against bullying and showing that our community leads with kindness.” “With your support, children are learning and growing into confident, supportive and inclusive leaders,” she said. To watch a brief video on the 2021 Pink Shirt Day campaign and to support year-round anti-bullying programs, please visit www.bgckingston.ca Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
NEW YORK — With Merrick Garland poised to be confirmed as attorney general as early as next week, one of the first major questions he is likely to encounter is what to do about Rudy Giuliani. A federal probe into the overseas and business dealings of the former New York City mayor and close ally of former President Donald Trump stalled last year over a dispute over investigative tactics as Trump unsuccessfully sought reelection and amid Giuliani’s prominent role in subsequently disputing the results of the contest on Trump’s behalf. But the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan has since returned to the question of bringing a criminal case against Giuliani, focusing at least in part on whether he broke U.S. lobbying laws by failing to register as a foreign agent related to his work, according to one current and one former law enforcement official familiar with the inquiry. The officials weren't authorized to discuss the ongoing case and spoke on the condition of anonymity. The arrival of a new leadership team in Washington is likely to guarantee a fresh look at the investigation. No matter how it unfolds, the probe ensures that a Justice Department looking to move forward after a tumultuous four years will nonetheless have to confront unresolved, and politically charged, questions from the Trump era — not to mention calls from some Democrats to investigate Trump himself. The full scope of the investigation is unclear, but it at least partly involves Giuliani's Ukraine dealings, the officials said. Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, was central to the then-president's efforts to dig up dirt against Democratic rival Joe Biden and to press Ukraine for an investigation into Biden and his son, Hunter — who himself now faces a criminal tax probe by the Justice Department. Giuliani also sought to undermine former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was pushed out on Trump's orders, and met several times with a Ukrainian lawmaker who released edited recordings of Biden in an effort to smear him before the election. The Foreign Agents Registration Act requires people who lobby on behalf of a foreign government or entity to register with the Justice Department. The once-obscure law, aimed at improving transparency, has received a burst of attention in recent years, particularly during an investigation by former special counsel Robert Mueller that revealed an array of foreign influence operations in the U.S. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan pushed last year for a search warrant for records, including some of Giuliani's communications, but officials in the Trump-era Justice Department would not sign off on the request, according to multiple people familiar with the investigation who insisted on anonymity to speak about an ongoing investigation. Officials in the deputy attorney general's office raised concerns about both the scope of the request, which they thought would contain communications that could be covered by legal privilege between Giuliani and Trump, and the method of obtaining the records, three of the people said. The Justice Department requires that applications for search warrants served on lawyers be approved by senior department officials. “They decided it was prudent to put it off until the dust settled, and the dust has settled now,” said Kenneth F. McCallion, a former federal prosecutor who represents Ukrainian clients relevant to the inquiry and has been in contact with federal authorities about the investigation. McCallion declined to identify his clients, saying he had not been authorized to do so. He previously has represented former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Giuliani's attorney Robert J. Costello told The Associated Press he has “heard nothing” from federal prosecutors concerning Giuliani. It is possible that Giuliani could try to argue that his actions were taken at the behest of the president, as his personal attorney, rather than a foreign country, and therefore registration would not be required under federal law. Giuliani wrote in a text message Thursday to the AP that he “never represented a foreign anything before the U.S. government.” "It’s pure political persecution,” he said of the investigation The U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment. McCallion said federal authorities were asking questions concerning a wide range of Giuliani’s international business dealings, and that “everything was on the table” as it pertained to his work in Ukraine. He said the inquiry was not entirely focused on Ukraine, but declined to elaborate. The investigation of Giuliani's lobbying first came to light in October 2019, when The New York Times reported that federal prosecutors were investigating Giuliani's efforts to oust Yovanovitch, who was recalled amid Trump’s bid to solicit dirt from Ukraine to pressure Ukraine into helping his reelection prospects. Federal prosecutors also have investigated Giuliani as part of a criminal case brought against his former associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, Soviet-born business partners from Florida who played key roles in Giuliani’s efforts to launch the Ukrainian corruption investigation against the Bidens. Parnas and Fruman were charged in a scheme to make illegal campaign donations to local and federal politicians in New York, Nevada and other states to try to win support for a new recreational marijuana business. Giuliani has said he had no knowledge of illegal donations and hadn’t seen any evidence that Parnas and Fruman did anything wrong. ___ Tucker and Balsamo reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Larry Neumeister contributed to this report from New York. Jim Mustian, Eric Tucker And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
KYIV, Ukraine — The United States has banned a Ukrainian tycoon and former regional governor, who was also a key supporter of Ukraine’s president, from entering the country. A Friday statement by Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the ban on Ihor Kolomoyskyi, as well as his wife, son and daughter, stemmed from corruption during his 2014-15 term as governor of Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region. The statement did not give details, but said Kolomoyskyi was “involved in corrupt acts that undermined rule of law and the Ukrainian public’s faith in their government’s democratic institutions and public processes, including using his political influence and official power for his personal benefit.“ Blinken also said Kolomoyskyi is continuing actions that undermine Ukraine’s democratic processes. Kolomoyskyi’s assets include the television station that broadcast the situation comedy starring Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who was elected Ukrainian president in 2019; he supported Zelenskiy in the campaign. Zelenskiy did not comment on the ban. The Associated Press
Mourners left flowers and hockey sticks outside the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre in Brantford, Ont., on Friday. The city is mourning Walter Gretzky, a fixture in the community, who died Thursday at age 82.
TORONTO — Some of the most active companies traded Friday on the Toronto Stock Exchange: Toronto Stock Exchange (18,380.96, up 255.24 points.) Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B). Industrials. Up five cents, or 7.69 per cent, to 70 cents on 27.7 million shares. Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU). Energy. Up 93 cents, or 3.46 per cent, to $27.82 on 17.1 million shares. Baytex Energy Corp. (TSX:BTE). Energy. Up 15 cents, or 11.11 per cent, to $1.50 on 13.3 million shares. Athabasca Oil Corp. (TSX:ATH). Energy. Up 10 cents, or 21.74 per cent, to 56 cents on 13.1 million shares. The Supreme Cannabis Co. Inc. (TSX:FIRE). Health care. Down one cent, or 3.85 per cent, to 25 cents on 11.4 million shares. Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB). Energy. Up 24 cents, or 0.54 per cent, to $44.83 on 11.1 million shares. Companies in the news: Martinrea International Inc. (TSX:MRE). Down $1.50, or 9.9 per cent, to $13.70. Frustrations stemming from COVID-19 travel restrictions boiled over during a conference call Thursday when top executives at auto parts manufacturer Martinrea derided the health measures, saying it's "time to move on" and recognize the "good things happening," despite employee deaths from the novel coronavirus. "Everything is getting better, except for the government policy that we're seeing. It is just absolutely outrageous," said chief financial officer Fred Di Tosto, on the call. Deanna Lorincz, global director of communications and marketing at Martinrea, said Friday that Di Tosto meant "it is time to move on, lessen the restrictions on the border and continue to open up the economy." Ensign Energy Services Inc. (TSX:ESI). Up eight cents, or 6.8 per cent, to $1.26. Drilling company Ensign Energy Services Inc. says oilpatch activity in its Canadian and U.S. operations is staging a slow recovery from a deep slump in 2020. The Calgary-based company says it earned net income of $3.1 million or two cents per share on revenue of $201 million in the last three months of 2020, compared with a net loss of $71.6 million on revenue of $375 million in the year-earlier period. Analysts had expected a net loss of $57.9 million on revenue of $197 million, according to financial data firm Refinitiv. Revenue slumped 43 per cent in Canada compared with the same period in 2019, by 52 per cent in the U.S. and by 36 per cent in its international arm, which operates in South America, the Middle East and Australia. Recipe Unlimited Corp. (TSX:RECP). Unchanged at $18.57. Recipe Unlimited Corp. saw system sales fall more than 30 per cent in its most recent quarter as the pandemic continued to cause dining room closures and seating restrictions at its restaurant chains across Canada. The Vaughan, Ont.-based company says system sales in its fourth quarter totalled $611.3 million, down 31.8 per cent from $895.8 million in the same quarter the previous year. Still, the company, which operates brands like Swiss Chalet, Harvey's, St-Hubert and The Keg, saw off-premise system sales for the 13 weeks ended Dec. 27 of $150.4 million, a 66.6 per cent increase compared to $90.3 million in the same period of 2019. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
LOS ANGELES — Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex has described to Oprah Winfrey how “liberating” it was to have a conversation - let alone a sit-down interview - with the television host without royal minders. “CBS This Morning” aired a clip on Friday of Winfrey speaking to Meghan about a conversation they had before the actor’s wedding to Prince Harry in May 2018. The clip opens with Winfrey describing how she asked for an interview and Meghan recounting how there were others in the room and she wasn’t even supposed to be speaking with Winfrey. “As an adult who lived a really independent life to then go into this construct that is um.. different than I think what people imagine it to be, it’s really liberating to be able to have the right and the privilege in some ways to be able to say yes,” Meghan tells Winfrey. Winfrey’s interview with Meghan and Harry is set to air Sunday night in the United States on CBS and will air in Britain on Monday evening. Despite stepping back from royal duties a year ago and moving to California, there still intense interest in the couple and their relationship with the royal family. When Meghan was asked what was right about doing the interview now, she said it was because of the couple’s newfound freedom. “That we’re on the other side of a lot of, a lot of life experience that’s happened,” Meghan said. And also that we have the ability to make our own choices in a way that I couldn’t have said yes to you then. That wasn’t my choice to make.” The Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said Friday she is issuing an executive order mandating that all K-12 public schools provide universal access to in-person learning by the month’s end for students up to fifth grade and by mid-April for older students. The state’s coronavirus case numbers have fallen significantly and Oregon put teachers ahead of older residents in the line for the COVID-19 vaccine — a decision that angered many people age 65 and up. As teachers get vaccinated, Brown has been under tremendous pressure from parents and local elected officials in many counties to reopen schools. Many teachers' unions nationally have balked at returning to in-person learning, putting them at odds with Democratic governors like Brown in some states. In neighbouring Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee has implored educators to return to the classroom, but most students there are in on-line classes and the Seattle teachers' union is defying a district plan to return special education students to schools. Under the Oregon order, students in K-5 must have an in-person learning option by March 29. Students in grades six through 12 must have one by April 19. Students who prefer to remain in online class will also have the option. “The science is very, very clear: with proper safety measures in place, there is a low risk of COVID-19 transmission in school. Oregon parents can be confident about sending their children back to a classroom learning environment," Brown said in a statement, after visiting a Portland school. Brown has previously said about 20% of Oregon public school students were back to in-person learning. Rylee Ahnen, spokesman for the Oregon Education Association, said in a statement teachers support returning to the classroom if it can be done safely. He said educators understand teachers' frustration. “We urge all our local school districts to continue to work in good faith with local educators,” Ahnen said. The union represents 44,000 K-12 teachers across Oregon. Most students in Oregon have been learning online for the better part of a year. Some school districts have returned to part-time in-person learning, mostly at the elementary level. Brown said all but six counties in the state currently meet or exceed the advisory metrics for a return to in-person, hybrid learning for all grade levels. Five of the counties that do not yet meet the guidelines for all grade levels do make the cut-off for a return to elementary school. After those dates, all public schools in Oregon will operate either on a full-day of in-person school or a hybrid model, in which students spend parts of the day or some days each week in a classroom setting and other parts of the day or week online. The approach that districts choose will be dictated by COVID-19 case numbers in their county and local decision-making, officials said. The Salem-Keizer School District, the states's second largest after Portland, announced Friday that it would welcome middle and high school students back to a hybrid model that combines in-person learning and distance learning starting April 13. Elementary students in the district have already been back in class on a hybrid model. Gillian Flaccus, The Associated Press
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — While the Wyoming National Guard was sending more than 100 troops to Washington, D.C., to help with security around President Joe Biden's inauguration in January, Gov. Mark Gordon quietly mobilized dozens of Guard troops and others in case of violence at the state capitol in Cheyenne. The all-but-undisclosed local deployment Jan. 15-21, specifics of which came to light Friday after an inquiry by The Associated Press, stood in stark contrast with the state's contribution to U.S. Capitol security praised by Gordon and other top Wyoming officials. “Thank you to the @wyoguard members who are serving our country by providing support at today’s Presidential inauguration. Wyomingites are grateful for your service,” Gordon, a Republican, tweeted on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20. Wyoming's congressional delegation — Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis and Rep. Liz Cheney, all Republicans — likewise have posed in photos with and lauded the Wyoming troops at the U.S. Capitol but not those working similar duty back home. The governor didn't previously disclose details of the deployment of 60 Army National Guard and 13 Air National Guard members in the Cheyenne area because it was a “security operation,” Gordon spokesman Michael Pearlman said Friday. “They basically were prepared to do backup in case there was some sort of violent action at the Capitol,” Pearlman said. “They can’t perform law enforcement duties, so they were purely as support.” While other states such as Utah made high-profile increases to security after an FBI warning of “armed protests” in all 50 states that week, security in Cheyenne appeared light. In fact, the Guard troops weren't far away at an “undisclosed location," Pearlman said. Wyoming Highway Patrol, Laramie County Sheriff's Department, Cheyenne Police Department and Wyoming state park personnel also were on standby, Pearlman said. The Cheyenne deployment was announced in the vaguely worded last line of a Wyoming National Guard news release Jan. 14 that announced the troops headed to Washington, D.C., Pearlman added. “Additional National Guard Soldiers and Airmen will be made available to provide support to Wyoming authorities, should the need arise,” the release said without elaboration. The added security proved unnecessary. Hundreds of protesters prompted a lockdown of the Wyoming Capitol on Jan. 6, the same day a mob of President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, resulting in five deaths. Hundreds turned out again Jan. 28 to hear Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz rail from the Capitol steps against Cheney for voting to impeach Trump for the riot. Both gatherings were peaceful and no protests of note happened in Cheyenne between those dates. The extra use of Guard troops, Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers, local police and sheriff’s officers and state park personnel in Cheyenne came to light with an Associated Press request for costs associated with additional security at the state capitol this year. The extra security that week cost $163,531, including $128,815 incurred by the Wyoming Military Department. The military expenses included $70,179 for pay, $36,864 for lodging, $10,742 for equipment costs and $11,030 for food, according to the governor's office. The Wyoming Highway Patrol meanwhile spent an extra $29,374, the Cheyenne Police Department $4,000, the Laramie County Sheriff’s Office $645 and the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources $697 on extra security at the ready that week, Gordon's office said. Besides the National Guard troops, six sheriff's deputies were placed on standby for security in Cheyenne. Wyoming Highway Patrol and Cheyenne police officials didn't immediately respond to requests for comment Friday on how many of their officers were placed on standby for security. ___ Follow Mead Gruver at https://twitter.com/meadgruver Mead Gruver, The Associated Press
A driver of a transport truck has died after a single-vehicle crash Friday afternoon on Highway 417. Members of the Ottawa detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) responded to the crash shortly after 1:20 p.m. and found the truck rolled over, said an OPP news release. OPP said the truck left the roadway near the westbound off-ramp leading to Carp Road. The driver, who was alone in the vehicle at the time of the crash, was pronounced dead, police said. In an email to CBC just before 5 p.m., an Ottawa Fire Services spokesperson said firefighters were still on scene. "So far our work has been to stabilize the vehicle to prevent it from rolling further and ensure fluids are not leaking from the truck," said Carson Tharris, adding that firefighters had not yet extricated the driver from the vehicle. The off-ramp will remain closed for several hours while investigators determine the cause of the crash.
VANCOUVER — British Columbia's highest court has sided with the largest private landowner in the province in a dispute over public access to public land. In a unanimous ruling, a panel of the B.C. Court of Appeal overturned a lower-court order and gives the Douglas Lake Cattle Company the right to block access to Crown-owned Stoney and Minnie lakes, which are within the huge ranch east of Merritt, B.C. The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company, owned by U.S. billionaire and sports franchise owner Stan Kroenke, blocked road and trail access to the lakes. Writing for the court in a decision posted online Friday, Justice Peter Willcock says the province's lack of public access legislation entitles the ranch to restrict access, even though public fishing is still allowed on each lake and a portion of a road near one of the lakes remains public. Willcock says the "truly divided" decision also affects a lower-court order awarding special costs to the small, privately funded fish and game club. The club and ranch must now pay their own costs of the lengthy legal battle, while costs of the appeal are awarded to the cattle company because its arguments "substantially succeeded." The judgment says the club's argument of the right to cross private land to a Crown-owned, public lake could not succeed. "In my view, while this argument may attract considerable public support, it has no support in our law," Willcock says. The lack of public access legislation in the province "reflects a policy decision by the legislature that is the focus of some debate," says Willcock. But the debate does not alter current laws, and Willcock says the lower-court judge instead "added his voice to the chorus of those seeking to limit the rights of private property owners." "In doing so, he was not describing the law but advocating for a right of public access to lakes on private land," says Willcock, ruling there is "no statutory or common law right" to cross the ranch property to reach the lakes. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Beth Leighton, The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia welcomed Ottawa's go-ahead for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Friday as health officials geared up for the opening of the first of 10 community inoculation clinics across the province next week. Premier Iain Rankin called the approval of Canada's fourth vaccine a "positive step forward." "As you can see this is a very dynamic situation that is dependent on the federal government's regulatory approval process," Rankin said. "Our vaccine rollout is ramping up as more clinics open and we receive more doses from the federal government." Rankin confirmed that Nova Scotia would be adopting a 16-week interval between first and second shots as recommended by the national panel of vaccine experts, meaning all Nova Scotians who want vaccine will get one shot by the end of June. "We are committed to being ready to getting shots in arms when it is available," the premier said. He added the province's goal remains to achieve full immunity by this fall. Keeping with its aged-based approach to vaccine distribution, Nova Scotia will open community clinics for those 80 and over in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro on Monday. Clinics are also scheduled for Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth on March 15, and Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth on March 22. Frustrations mounted earlier this week when the province's appointment booking web page had to be temporarily taken off-line after traffic was double what had been anticipated. About 48,000 people aged 80 and over in the province are eligible to receive vaccinations. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang said booking for new appointments would resume online and by telephone on Monday for those who were born between Jan.1 and April 30. Those with later birthdays will be informed when they can register later this month. "It is early days, and our supply is still limited, but we are on the cusp of rapidly expanding the volume of vaccine we'll get," Strang said. Officials said they would also have more specific details next week on the rollout of the 13,000 doses the province is receiving of the recently approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The shipment must be used by April 2 and is targeted for those aged 50 to 64 years. It will be administered starting March 15 at 26 locations. Health officials said that as of Thursday, they had administered 38,676 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, with 14,395 people having received a booster shot. Meanwhile, the province reported two new cases of COVID-19 Monday in the Halifax area. Health officials said one case involved a close contact of a previously reported infection and the other was under investigation. The province has 31 active reported cases of novel coronavirus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press
Some Northwest Territories residents have gone nearly a year without easy access to dental services since visits were suspended when the pandemic started. MLA for Nunakput Jackie Jacobson on Wednesday told the territory's Legislative Assembly it has been impossible for some of his constituents to see a dentist since last March. He said communities like Uluhaktok, Paulatuk and Sachs Harbour normally get two visits a year from dental teams, both of which were cancelled last year due to the pandemic. “People are needing dental assistance and there’s nothing happening,” said Jacobson. “They go to the health centre, they are given Tylenol or penicillin to help them with the pain. We need to get this sorted out.” Dental visits to six N.W.T. communities – Fort Simpson, Fort Resolution, Fort Providence, Sambaa K’e, Norman Wells and Aklavik – restarted in December. Private dentistry clinics in Yellowknife, Hay River, Fort Smith and Inuvik have kept services open throughout most of the pandemic. All non-urgent dental travel to smaller communities, however, was suspended by the federal government in March. In communities where dental services remain unavailable, federal agency Indigenous Services Canada supports travel for Non-Insured Health Benefits clients to receive services elsewhere. Julie Green, the N.W.T.'s health minister, said responsibility for restarting dental services in Nunakput communities lies with Indigenous Services Canada. The minister said a working group established to address concerns about dental services had devised a plan to fix "a number of issues, including safety concerns that went beyond COVID-19." “Where facilities were not meeting infection control and ventilation requirements, work could not be done in those facilities,” she said. “This is not a long-term ban on dental services in these communities, but it's my understanding that teams are now working through potential solutions.” Green said the six communities to have so far resumed services were part of the plan's first phase. Those communities have upgraded health centre facilities that meet air exchange and infection control requirements, she said. Phase two will see seven more communities' facilities reviewed by the end of June. The minister said Paulatuk and Ulukhaktok will be part of that assessment. “The residents of Ulukhaktok are going to wait longer for dental services to resume, but that is not because of a lack of money. It's because we want them to receive those services safely.” Green said. Lesa Semmler, the MLA for Inuvik Twin Lakes, told Green residents didn't always find it easy to follow the process for accessing dental services elsewhere. Semmler described the "really stringent travel criteria" set out by the Non-Insured Health Benefits program, and Green said she would raise that concern with the federal government. Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
The Municipality of McDougall discussed its 2021 budget at its March 3 council meeting. Some key infrastructure projects listed in the draft budget were the Nobel Community Hall, Henvey Road rehabilitation and asset management software. Here are the top six budget considerations for 2021: 1. Listed under transportation, asphalt on Lake Forest Drive was the highest dollar value at $440,000. 2. A replacement grader was also listed under transportation needs at $220,000. 3. Rehabilitation for Henvey Road comes in at $110,000. 4. Under parks and recreation, the Nobel Community Hall project is budgeted at $100,000. 5. The landfill shop project is budgeted at $350,000. 6. Asset management software is listed under general government and has an estimated cost of $56,522. Capital budget revenue streams for the Municipality of McDougall in 2021 include: • The Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund will see $548,534 go to McDougall. • The Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund will provide $149,179. • Federal Gas Tax accounts for $163,937 in revenue for the municipality. • The Investing in Canadian Infrastructure Project COVID-19 stream will grant $100,000. • The Federation of Canadian Municipalities municipal asset management grant will allocate $44,000. • The Municipality of McDougall currently has $685,522 in reserves. • Other revenue highlights include a proposed 2 per cent residential property tax rate increase for an additional tax revenue of $90,000. • The Henvey Inlet Community Benefit grant also provides an additional $50,000. The entire 2021 draft budget for McDougall can be found on page 107 of the March 3 council agenda. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. , Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star