Forced to hunker down at home during the pandemic, more people across the U.S. are raising their own chickens. The home grown trend not only provides a steady supply of eggs, but also an earthy hobby and animal companionship. (Dec. 30)
Forced to hunker down at home during the pandemic, more people across the U.S. are raising their own chickens. The home grown trend not only provides a steady supply of eggs, but also an earthy hobby and animal companionship. (Dec. 30)
WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservative groups opposed President-elect Joe Biden's forthcoming immigration plan Tuesday as massive amnesty for people in the U.S. illegally, underscoring that the measure faces an uphill fight in a Congress that Democrats control just narrowly. In a further complication, several pro-immigration groups said they would press Biden to go even further and take steps such as immediate moratoriums on deportations, detentions and new arrests. Coupled with the discomfort an immigration push could cause for moderate Democrats, liberals' demands illustrated the pressures facing Biden as four years of President Donald Trump's restrictive and often harsh immigration policies come to an end. “It simply wouldn't have happened without us," Lorella Praeli, co-president of the liberal group Community Change, said of Biden's victory. “So we are now in a powerful position." Biden plans to introduce the legislation shortly after being inaugurated Wednesday, a move he hopes will spotlight his emphasis on an issue that's defied major congressional action since 1986. Its fate, as written, seemed in doubt. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will become Senate majority leader this week, said Trump's impeachment trial, confirmation of Biden's Cabinet nominees and more COVID-19 relief will be the chamber's top initial priorities. “I look forward to working together with him" on the measure, Schumer said — a choice of words that might suggest changes could be needed for it to pass Congress. Biden's proposal would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, set up a processing program abroad for refugees seeking admission to the U.S. and push toward using technology to monitor the border. The measure was described by an official from Biden's transition team who described the plan on condition of anonymity. With an eye toward discouraging a surge of immigrants toward the U.S.-Mexico boundary, the package's route to citizenship would only apply to people already in the U.S. by this past Jan. 1. But it omits the traditional trade-off of dramatically enhanced border security that's helped attract some GOP support in the past, which drew criticism on Tuesday. “A mass amnesty with no safeguards and no strings attached is a nonstarter,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., often a central player in Senate immigration battles. “Total amnesty, no regard for the health or security of Americans, and zero enforcement," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who like Rubio is a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, said in a Monday tweet. That view was shared by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, which favours curbing immigration. “Past proposals at least accepted the concept of turning off the faucet and mopping up the overflow. This is nothing but mopping up and letting the faucet continue to run," Krikorian said. Rosemary Jenks, top lobbyist for NumbersUSA, which also wants to limit immigration, said the measure seems likely to fail in the Senate. It would need at least 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats to overcome a filibuster that would kill the measure. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said, “Moving an immigration reform bill won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible." He cited a 2013 massive overhaul that narrowly passed the Senate, only to die in the GOP-run House. Menendez and Rubio were part of a bipartisan “Gang of 8" senators that helped win Senate approval. Under Biden's legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization if they pursue citizenship. For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements. Biden is also expected to take swift executive actions, which require no congressional action, to reverse other Trump immigration actions. These include ending to the prohibition on arrivals from predominantly Muslim countries. The legislation represents Biden's bid to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of Trump's restrictive policies and mass deportations. It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years. Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with the GOP to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades. That kind of major win, even if it involves compromise, could be critical for Biden. He'll be seeking legislative victories in a Congress where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities, like rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending. Democrats will control the 50-50 Senate with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. Democrats currently control the House 222-211, with two vacancies. ___ Barrow reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego also contributed to this report. Alan Fram, Lisa Mascaro And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — A man and woman have each been fined for pretending to cough on customers in a gym just steps from Vancouver police headquarters. A statement from police says the owner of the gym flagged down two passing constables outside the business Saturday night. He said a man and woman, who were not wearing masks and were not members of the gym, were inside coughing in the general direction of patrons and equipment. A 60-year-old man and his 25-year-old girlfriend told the officers they were only pretending to cough. Police say the couple claimed they reacted because gym members were staring at them. The police statement says both people left the business after being handed $230 tickets for violating the Emergency Program Act by failing to wear a face covering. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — Quebec Premier Francois Legault is calling on the federal government to ban all non-essential flights to Canada.Legault said Tuesday he's worried that people travelling to vacation destinations will bring new variants of COVID-19 back to the province.While the premier said it may be difficult to determine which flights are essential, he said it's clear that flights to sun destinations are non-essential.His comments came after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier in the day urged Canadians to cancel any plans they have for an international trip in the near future. Trudeau warned the federal government could at any time, and without warning, enforce new restrictions on travellers returning to Canada.Quebec on Tuesday revised its COVID-19 vaccination schedule as a result of the expected slowdown in Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipments.The Health Department said it would lower its target of administering 250,000 doses by Feb. 8, to 225,000 doses, adding it expects to have received 1,203,100 doses of approved vaccine by March 29.Last week, Canada learned production of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine would be reduced over the next month in order for Pfizer to expand its facilities.Quebec says it will maintain its plan to deliver booster shots within 90 days of the first injection.The vaccination announcement came as public health authorities in the province reported the lowest number of new infections in a single day since early December.Quebec today reported 1,386 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and 55 additional deaths linked to the virus, including 16 deaths within the preceding 24 hours.The number of hospitalizations rose by nine from the day before to 1,500, the Health Department said, while the number of people in intensive care declined by five from the previous day, to 212.Quebec has reported 245,734 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 9,142 deaths linked to the novel coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic.Health Minister Christian Dube on Monday boasted the province had met its target of vaccinating 75 per cent of long-term care residents, with the remainder expected to be inoculated by Jan. 25.Officials say people living in private seniors residences across the province are next in line to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
On Monday, January 11, 2021, Mayor Atkinson called the Spy Hill council meeting to order at 8:30 A.M. First, a town worker gave her a report of what has happened with public works in the village. Carrying on, the council reviewed the minutes of the last meeting. Councillor A. Perrin made a motion to accept; motion carried. With the additions added to the agenda, the council moved on to review the bank reconciliation. Councillor Jack made a motion to accept the bank reconciliation which was carried. The council reviewed the town’s accounts payable prior to Councillor A. Perrin making a motion to accept; motion carried. The December financial statement was reviewed prior to Councillor A. Perrin making a motion to accept them; motion carried. The Revenue Sharing Grant was discussed next and all requirements have been met. Councillor B. Parrin made a resolution for the grant which was carried. OLD BUSINESS The council has been approved for the landfill closure. The plan was submitted five months ago and the council will meet the requirements to continue. NEW BUSINESS The position of deputy mayor was decided to be done quarterly and alphabetically with a motion by A. Perrin; motion carried. A. Perrin was appointed as council representative with the fire department. Annual Public Disclosure forms were signed and submitted. Next, the council reviewed the annual rates charged by the village, Councillor A. Perrin made a motion to increase Councillor remuneration by $25 per month; motion carried, Councillor A. Perrin made a motion to change to Plan B for insurance coverage after a discussion on the various rates being charged by the village Councillor A. Perrin made a motion to accept the annual rates which were carried. The next meeting will be held on February 19th at 8:30 A.M. Gary Horseman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Four-Town Journal
The Better Business Bureau is warning British Columbians about a scam making the rounds offering one free year of Netflix. So far, BBB has received more than 100 reports via Scam Tracker about a text message tricking consumers by offering the streaming service for free. “You receive a text message that says: “Due to the pandemic, Netflix is offering you a free year of service to help you stay at home. Click the link to sign up.” The link takes consumers to a website where they are asked to fill out personal information and add a method of payment,” reads a release from BBB. However, the website is not associated with Netflix, and those signing up are sharing their personal information with scammers, running the risk of payment fraud and identity theft. “[The scammers] said no other money would be taken out of my account again,” one victim reported. “Then, about a week later, they took $51.02, and I called and asked for a refund. They told me three days at first. Then, after three days I called back, and they told me seven to ten business days. It’s been ten business days. And now I have no refund.” To avoid being scammed, the BBB recommends consumers do their research and take precautions. Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald
Whether it's a slight cough or a scratchy, sore throat, some may be tempted to dismiss mild symptoms as "just the flu" amid a serious global pandemic. But experts say a drastic drop in the circulation of the influenza virus this season means signs of flu are more likely to be COVID-19 than another respiratory virus. A FluWatch report from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) released last week shows laboratory-confirmed incidents of flu are exceptionally rare this season, despite "elevated testing" for it during the pandemic. Experts say a confluence of factors are playing a role in the abnormally light flu season, including public health measures aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 and the reduction of international travel. Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease expert in Mississauga, Ont., says the low prevalence of flu underscores the need to get tested for COVID if people develop symptoms. "You can't tell by looking if somebody has influenza or COVID," he said. "And right now, depending on where they live, if someone has acute viral symptoms, the chances of it being COVID over other things is much higher." PHAC's report shows there have been 51 influenza detections in Canada to date this flu season — significantly lower than the nearly 15,000 cases averaged by this point in the past six seasons — and there were zero lab-detected cases (from 13,000 tests) over the first week of 2021. Chakrabarti expects there to be more cases of influenza than what PHAC's data shows, since not everyone with flu-like symptoms is tested for that virus. But in the segment of the population that is getting tested — typically older adults seeking medical care — influenza isn't coming up. People admitted to hospital with symptoms are given respiratory multiplex tests that can detect multiple viruses at once, Chakrabarti said. "And we've picked up very little in the way of other viruses. So if you're seeing a reduction in those cases, it suggests that the overall amount of flu in the community has dropped." While experts assumed public health measures like mask-wearing and physical distancing would also lessen flu prevalence, the level of drop-off has been surprising, says Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist with McMaster University. He believes travel restrictions have likely played a significant role. Whereas COVID-19 can continue to spread easily because the virus is already entrenched here, Chagla says influenza is usually brought in each winter from tropical climates. A population confined largely indoors due to cold weather helps it spread. "Border restrictions, quarantine rules, that probably limits the amount of influenza coming in in the first place," Chagla said. "And the odd case that does come in, it's harder to spread because people aren't congregating." Raywat Deonandan, an epidemiologist with the University of Ottawa, agrees that a reduction in international travel likely explains the light flu season more than just the implementation of public health measures. He says places in South America are also seeing dips in flu numbers even though mask-wearing hasn't been as widespread there. A level of immunity to influenza may also be contributing to the stifling of the virus, he added. "More people got a flu vaccine this year," Deonandan said. "That can't be underestimated." Chagla says other respiratory viruses also seem to have decreased this season. While there was an uptick in the common cold rhinovirus in the fall — usually correlated with children going back to school — PHAC data shows it's been dropping since. Hand-washing and sanitizing high-touch areas may be playing a role in controlling viruses that are more transmissible on surfaces, experts say. Chagla says cold or flu-like symptoms should raise a red flag for anyone right now, and he worries about people mistaking COVID signs for another virus. "In years past you could say: 'this is just a cold,' doctors would say: 'don't even come in,'" Chagla said. "And now we have to switch the mentality to say: 'actually, no, go get tested.'" Chakrabarti warns the "just the flu" mentality also diminishes the significance of influenza, which can lead to serious disease in vulnerable people too. So there's need for caution, even if symptoms are from the flu virus. "A lot of people say 'it's the flu, who cares? I get it all the time,'" he said. "This is going to sound familiar, but the reason it matters is because you can spread it to somebody else." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
Mono Council once again had to deal with the ongoing debate as to who is responsible for enforcing regulations in the matter of resident Mark Bates’ request to have Council enforce the Town By-law concerning lighting interfering with a neighbours enjoyment of their property. This issue was previously discussed at the last Council Meeting, where the consensus was that, as the issue involved neighbours in a condominium complex, the condominium board should be responsible to enforce their own regulations regarding the matter. At Tuesday’s Mono Council meeting, Mr. Bates returned and indicated that the board was unwilling to enforce the regulations and asked Council to enforce the Town by-law to correct the problem. CAO Mark Early, at that meeting, said that he would refer the matter to the Town solicitor for a legal opinion. Subsequently, the opinion provided indicated that the issue should be dealt with according to Provincial regulations, by the condominium board and not the Town. However, as the issue was not dealt with, Mr. Bates had once again con-tacted the councillors and Councillor Fred Nix raised the question to the CAO. Upon hearing the solicitors response, Mr. Nix appeared satisfied though he stated that they were still receiving emails from Mr. Bates.The latest of these emails was presented to Council during the Public Question Period and in it, he requested that as the neighbour was still in non compliance, could Council please notify the condominium board of the solicitors response and request that they deal with the issue. Mayor Ryan referred the question to the CAO and Mr. Early replied that the condo-minium board had been made aware of all of Councils discussions and decisions on the matter but that he could certainly notify them of the solicitors and Councils latest response. Councillor Nix then asked what the solu-tion would be should there be a conflict between the Town rules and by-laws and the condominium rules, who should pre-vail? Mr. Early responded that based on his understanding and the solicitors response, it would be the condominiums responsibility to resolve the matter so that there was con-sistency within their subdivision. Peter Richardson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Citizen
Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation Chief Tony Alexis wants to make it clear he does not begrudge Maskwacis the early vaccines the four First Nations received. His concern is about the process in Alberta. Alexis said three meetings last week between chiefs and staff with health officials from both the province and federal government gave no indication that any First Nation would see early arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine doses. They were informed that Elders 65 years and over on reserves would be the next to receive the vaccine. At this point, both long-term care facilities and front line health personnel on reserves had been vaccinated against the coronavirus. On Saturday, the third day of successive funerals on his First Nation, Alexis was told by one of his band members that Maskwacis had received the vaccine. He assured his community member that wasn’t the case, because it hadn’t been discussed at previous meetings. But it turned out that it was the case. “Everybody, whether you're Albertan or Canadian or some different part of the world, everyone is afraid. People are afraid and every leadership I know have been doing their best to keep things calm and try to eliminate the noise.” Alexis said “things like this create that noise. Experiences like this go back to examples like the residential schools, Sixties Scoop, leaving the Indigenous people out of that decision-making table.” A news release issued last night by Indigenous Relations Minister Rick Wilson confirmed Maskwacis received a “limited number of doses” as they “are currently experiencing a serious rise in cases.” The combined population of the four First Nations—Louis Bull, Samson Cree, Montana and Ermineskin Cree—which comprise Maskwacis is 18,000. Samson Cree Nation Chief Vernon Saddleback told the media last Friday that nearly 10 per cent of the community were COVID-19 positive. More than five per cent of the population on Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation has COVID-19. Then yesterday, like everyone else, Alexis heard the announcement from Premier Jason Kenney that a cut by 20 to 80 per cent over the coming weeks in the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine meant a delay in vaccinating those in the next priority group, including First Nations and Métis Elders. “It’s disappointing. It’s disheartening,” said Alexis, both about the news and not being part of the discussion before the announcement was made. Assembly of First Nations Alberta Regional Chief Marlene Poitras was surprised by Kenney’s announcement. “In terms of the decisions, how things are rolling out, whose decision was it to put a hold on vaccines distribution to First Nations? We don’t know. I really don’t know. Like everybody else, I found out (Monday) morning. The First Nations are the most vulnerable population everywhere, so it doesn’t make sense to me,” said Poitras. Both Poitras and Alexis reference the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) and say Health Minister Tyler Shandro needs to comply with it. NACI has “adults in Indigenous communities where infection can have disproportionate consequences” included in stage one of the COVID-19 roll out. Poitras points to Alberta Health statistics to emphasize the point: 7.1 per cent of First Nations in Alberta have been hospitalized with COVID-19 compared to 4.3 per cent of Albertans generally. After Kenney’s announcement, Poitras began a text conversation with Indigenous Services Canada Minister Marc Miller. She said Miller said he was unaware of the decision and did not know how the province had arrived at it. Poitras said she requested information from Miller on the national roll out of the vaccine. “The numbers don’t pan out. That’s the issue,” said Poitras. “If we’re not at that decision-making table, how do we know how many vaccines are being rolled out? How many are actually being distributed to who? Who are the priorities? I know they sent out a priority list, but now they’re changing that, putting First Nations on hold. Without our direct involvement how are we to know exactly what kind of decisions are being made?” Wilson said in his statement that First Nations were “particularly vulnerable.” He points out that Phase 1 will see Indigenous Elders living on reserve and Métis settlements vaccinated at 65 years of age and up while the rest of the Alberta population in that phase has to be 75 years or older. The priority list for Alberta has phase one divided into three timelines beginning in December 2020, with Phase 1B to begin in February 2021 and including First Nations and Métis Elders on reserves and settlements. Phase 2, which spans April to September, says “work to identify sequencing … is underway.” “We value the leaders’ input and measures taken to date by First Nations,” said Wilson. However, both Alexis and Poitras believe that First Nations have not had enough input. “We’ve been trying to keep the people calm. Trying to be supportive, trying to provide proper information. When you hear information coming from the general public and they know more than we do, as leaders being told we’re sitting at this important table. It’s disheartening,” said Alexis. “There needs to be a coordinated response where First Nations are involved and that we’re making these decisions together,” said Poitras. Alexis would like to see not only chiefs directly involved with Alberta politicians in the decision making, but also First Nations experts, such as Treaty 6 physicians James Makokis and Alika La Fontaine, weighing in. “There are experts that the chiefs would listen to their advice and support them at the same time. They would echo where our communities are at. Whether it’s this or anything else in government, our people need to be at those tables and a fair process needs to be put in place that we’re following. Right now what it does, it actually damages that conversation because (the communities) will look at their leadership that they're not doing enough,” said Alexis. He added that if that process isn’t solid and transparent, First Nations may be further ahead by operating on their own and advocating for themselves. Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
Council and the Town, has received a number of inquiries from religious orga-nizations as to the availability of land in Shelburne for the use of churches. Deputy Mayor Steve Anderson brought up these requests to Council on Monday night, asking if there was available land in the industrial or commercial zones for these organizations to utilize. The question was then addresses by the Town Planner, Steve Wever. Mr. Wever noted that places of worship must be located in either Residential or Institu-tional zoning only and that currently, no available land is being offered for sale, to his knowledge. He did say that there is presently undeveloped land zoned for institutional use, owned by the Arch Dio-ceses and surrounded by the Summerhill Subdivision, on Highway 10.Mr. Wever also noted that there’s land surrounding Centennial Hylands school, owned by the Upper Grand School Board, but that to his knowledge neither site is currently for sale. Speaking to the ques-tion of Industrial land use, Steve noted that under the Ministry of the Environ-ments Land Use Compatibility Guidelines, a church is considered a sensitive land use and consequently limits the potential use of surrounding lands. As a result, he has tried to steer that use away from Industrial Zones so as to maxi-mize the potential of those lands for indus-trial or commercial ventures. Councillor Benotto spoke up to say that he believes that the Arch Diocese has plans for their land and will move forward with those shortly Peter Richardson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Citizen
Rank, Book Title by Author Name, ISBN, Publisher 1. Bridgerton Collection Volume 1 by Julia Quinn - 9780063045118 - (Avon) 2. Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn - 9780062424105 - (Avon) 3. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn - 9780062424037 - (Avon) 4. The Scorpion’s Tail by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child - 9781538747292 - (Grand Central Publishing) 5. The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn - 9780062424075 - (Avon) 6. To Sir Phillip, With Love by Julia Quinn - 9780062424112 - (Avon) 7. An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn - 9780062424082 - (Avon) 8. When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn - 9780062424136 - (Avon) 9. Daylight by David Baldacci - 9781538761687 - (Grand Central Publishing) 10. The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher - 9781488076749 - (Graydon House Books) The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada will continue to fight to convince president-elect Joe Biden's administration of the merits of the Keystone XL pipeline expansion. Trudeau says Kirsten Hillman, Canada's envoy to the U.S., is pressing Ottawa's case with what he calls the "highest levels" of the Biden team. Biden promised during last year's election campaign that he would rescind President Donald Trump's approvals for the US$8-billion cross-border expansion. Transition documents reviewed by The Canadian Press suggest an executive order on that score could come as early as Wednesday, Biden's first day in the White House. Environmental groups briefed on the incoming administration's plan say they have been told it would come on Day 1. Advocates for the project, however, are clinging to hope that the ensuing outcry will prompt the Biden team to give them a chance to change the president-elect's mind. Trudeau says he has been an advocate for the Keystone XL expansion since before he even became prime minister. He says the project, which aims to send an added 800,000 barrels a day of Alberta oilsands bitumen to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast, has evolved since then. So too has Canada's approach to climate change more broadly, he added. "Canada has, in the intervening few years, become a global leader in the fight against climate change and moving forward in transforming our economy in important ways towards reducing emissions," Trudeau said. "I trust that we will be heard, that our arguments will be considered." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
Quebec Premier François Legault says no exemption from the province's mandatory overnight curfew will be given to people who really are homeless, despite calls to do so from advocates and Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante. In a news conference Tuesday, Legault said he's concerned an official exemption could encourage people to "pretend" to be homeless. He said police forces have already been told to use their judgment when it comes to fining homeless people and said he fully trusts they are being fair. "Right now, the police are doing a very good job," said Legault. "They're using their judgment and if we change the rule and say 'you cannot give tickets to somebody who says they are homeless,' you may have some people that will pretend to be homeless." Legault was responding to calls made by Plante earlier today. She said the curfew has added unnecessary stress to already struggling homeless shelters in the city. "The [curfew] has a direct impact on the homeless ecosystem, both on those who are homeless and on those who work with them," said Plante. "I want people to feel safe in Montreal. I don't want to exacerbate their vulnerability." Plante's pleas come just days after the death of Raphaël André, a homeless Innu man whose body was discovered in a portable toilet in the Plateau, Sunday morning. André, 51, had spent Saturday evening at The Open Door, a Montreal drop-in centre just steps away from where his body was found, but couldn't stay as the shelter was forced to close at 9:30 p.m. following an outbreak of COVID-19 last month. It used to be open 24/7. "Like many Montrealers, I'm deeply shocked by what happened to Raphaël André," Plante said. Plante claims the city offered to work with the shelter from the start, and was willing to help build extra walls to better separate clients. It offered to help get the shelter larger cleaning crews. But according to John Tessier, an intervention worker at the Open Door, that simply isn't true. Tessier says the shelter added physical barriers to the shelter, hired extra security and implemented new measures to make sure clients could keep two metres apart weeks ago, but he says public health officials have yet to respond to their calls and emails and to give the green light to reopen the shelter at night. "We've invited them in to come see what's been done. We've sent them pictures and we've had no response to any of that," said Tessier. "The fact that somebody passed away within a stone's throw from our building is traumatic, it's disheartening and if it was up to us, we would just stay open right now." In a statement, the CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal said it had provided the Open Door with training sessions on public health regulations last month. The regional health authority said it will continue to work with the centre so that it can reopen at night. "We are happy that the Board of directors of the Open Door has decided to take a few weeks to implement these measures before opening again at night," the statement says. "The CIUSSS West-Central Montreal, [Montreal Public Health] and the Service régional de l'itinérance will continue to assist the organization during that period." Mourning a 'good friend' Annisee Papialuk has been a client at the Open Door for some 13 years now. For her, the shelter's overnight closure coinciding with the province's mandatory curfew has been next to impossible to navigate. "When it closes down during the night, it's really hard for us to find a place. We end up sleeping on the street and workers kick us out so it's hard," said Papialuk. "If there was a place for us homeless people, I would love to go." André was a friend of Papialuk's and she says her anxiety over staying in the streets at night has been worse since his death. "He was a good friend, a tender man, never argued with anybody. He didn't deserve to be seen like that," she said. Legault unrealistic about police, advocates say Upon hearing Legault's claims that police forces have been acting fairly in giving out the curfew fines, Jessica Quijano, co-ordinator of the Iskweu project at the Native Women's Shelter of Montreal, grew frustrated. "That's just not the reality. … Police do not have a positive relationship with the homeless community," said Quijano. Quijano said Montreal's homeless population already deals with racial profiling on a regular basis and the introduction of this curfew has only made matters worse. She said the city and province have both been too slow to provide homeless people with the resources they need during the pandemic, and she says André's death last weekend is just one example of that. "We warned public health. We warned the mayor. We knew people would die," said Quijano. "The non-action is sending a message that those people's lives don't matter." More shelter spaces coming, Plante says Plante said that while the city and province have added hundreds of beds in homeless shelters in recent months, there is still work to be done. "There are a lot of beds but there are nights where there are no beds, so we need to work to create more options," Plante said. "I want people to have access to a bed, a place where it's warm, where there's food, where there's services for them." Plante said the city will be announcing the addition of 100 more beds in the next few days.
The United States swore in its 46th President on Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attended their inauguration in Washington, D.C. with a slew of distinguished guests, but few onlookers as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a need for social distancing.Several past presidents were in attendance, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr., however the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, did not attend. Trump flew to his golf club in Florida earlier in the day. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence did attend the ceremony with his wife.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
The ice skating season is over in the Sundridge region. In the words of Sundridge Coun. Steve Rawn, the ice in the Sundridge Strong Joly Arena is coming out “immediately.” The decision at an arena board meeting after the province announced further lockdown measures, which include arenas as it continues to fight COVID-19 outbreak numbers. Rawn says the original hope was the arena could be used by residents of the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit area once the province's previous two-week lockdown of Northern Ontario ended. But Rawn says the board voted to remove the ice after the province invoked the stay-at-home order. Rawn says the latest lockdown would take the arena situation well into February and that's getting closer to the end of the regular ice season. In a statement, Rawn said “this last extension would be too long to keep the ice sitting and not be used.” In neighbouring Magnetawan, it's a different story. Although the lockdown has closed the community's outdoor skating rink, Mayor Sam Dunnett says it will reopen once the order ends. “We had people using it for public skating and they were in groups of no more than five people,” he says. The local Lions club was instrumental in creating the covered outdoor rink, which is appropriately named Lion's Pavilion. Dunnett doesn't know for certain how long the latest lockdown will last since the province could change the length at any time. And while this reason alone is enough for other communities to end the ice skating season, Dunnett says “we're not taking out our ice. “We'll continue to maintain it,” he says. Dunnett says the outdoor nature of the Magnetawan rink makes it easier to maintain compared to the indoor arena ice in surrounding towns. If COVID outbreak numbers can fall low enough, Dunnett believes the province “can start opening stuff back up a little like ice-skating rinks. “And if it does re-open, people can come out and enjoy themselves,” he says. “There will still be no hockey, but they can get some exercise.” Dunnett says the municipality will continue to maintain the outdoor ice until warmer spring temperatures arrive. Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget
Magnetawan Mayor Sam Dunnett hopes to see real progress made in 2021 connecting more of the Almaguin Highlands to high-speed internet. “I regard it as a utility, and it's no different than hydro, water or sewer,” says Dunnett. “It's no longer a luxury.” Dunnett says the need for faster internet speeds grows as more people work from home. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced more people to work from home. And while that may not be a problem in urban centres where high-speed internet is a given, it's a different story in rural communities like Magnetawan. But Dunnett acknowledges it's not an easy problem to fix. Installing infrastructure such as fibre optics in rural areas where distances are great from one home to the next makes the endeavour expensive for the private sector. Dunnett acknowledges the federal and provincial governments have been generous with grants to introduce high-speed internet. “But the problem is there isn't enough money to go right across Canada,” he says. “So when they announce a $10-million program, and it costs $1 million or more just to do a small area, that $10 million isn't going to go very far.” Dunnett believes it will take many billions of dollars in government funds to get the big internet players to invest more in rural areas and that, in turn, will attract smaller internet companies. He says municipalities don't have the money to take on these massive projects and adds “nor should they, or they'd have to tax more.” Dunnett says part of Magnetawan is fortunate in that Bell created a fibre-optics link along Highway 520 a few years ago which introduced faster internet speeds through the community's downtown core. The next big job, he says, is identifying someone to help connect residents who live away from the downtown to that main line. Dunnett believes not having access to high-speed internet impedes progress and that more people would move to Almaguin from southern Ontario if the entire region had high-speed internet. “It's been really good already,” he says. “And it would be that much more if you had a high-speed internet. People would come up here, build here, work from here and then send their finished work to their workplace, which would be somewhere in an urban centre.” CULVERT REPLACEMENT Replacing a 50-plus-year-old culvert that allows residents to get to their cottages in Magnetawan also is on Dunnett's radar for 2021. But the actual replacement won't be carried out until 2022, he says. That's because the engineering work on the project will be carried out this year to ensure the replacement meets Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry standards, Dunnett explains. The culvert, installed in 1970, is situated along the Magnetawan River system at Poverty Bay in the former unorganized township of Croft. “They (culverts) have a 50-year lifespan, so we're there,” he says. “The bottom of it has been deteriorating, which they normally do.” Dunnett says the culvert replacement will cost between $750,000 and $1 million, and “we'll look into grants to see if one is available for this type of program.” However, the mayor isn't optimistic. “The problem with culverts and roads is governments want to see connecting links. But this one goes to a dead-end road,” he explains. “So I doubt we'll be successful, but we can always try.” If the municipality can't secure government funding, Dunnett says council will turn to its asset management fund, where it has been putting money for a number of years. “So we're not looking at taxing the taxpayer for any of the work because they have already contributed to that fund.” he says. The fund was created by the former Ontario Liberal government to ensure municipalities have a reserve to replace infrastructure as needed. In addition to culverts and roads, Dunnett says the fund also can be applied to vehicle replacement, building work and park maintenance. Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget
This dynamic Northern Lights display shone in the winter sky near the Finnish town of Muonio, by the Swedish border.
B.C.'s provincial health officer declared the COVID-19 outbreak at McKinney Place long-term care in Oliver officially over. Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the end of the outbreak, which claimed the lives of 17 McKinney Place residents, Monday during the province's regularly scheduled press conference in Victoria. A total of 23 staff members and 54 of the 59 residents who lived at McKinney Place at the beginning of the outbreak had tested positive. "We are very thankful that McKinney place has been under control. That was a very challenging outbreak in Interior Health and we know 17 people in the McKinney Place community lost their lives to COVID in that outbreak," Henry said. Interior Health announced residents at both McKinney Place and Sunnybank Retirement Centre received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Jan. 8 Minister of Health Adrian Dix touched on the end of four outbreaks in long-term care across the province Monday, including McKinney Place. "I can tell you from my own experience and the experience of every family member, every resident in long-term care, that the day an outbreak is declared is a very, very difficult day indeed and the day that it is declared over is a day of some relief," Dix said. "Not that the pandemic is over, but that this period, this moment in the pandemic has changed. I'm thinking of everybody who has lost someone at those care homes, everyone who has been through that experience even if they were not diagnosed positive with COVID-19, everyone who works in those care homes, we are thinking of them today on what is I would say a better day in all of those places, a day when those outbreaks have been declared over." An outbreak is declared over when two incubation periods, or 28 days, have passed from the last onset of symptoms in a resident. “I want to thank our staff for their commitment and dedication during this challenging outbreak at McKinney Place long-term care,” said Susan Brown, Interior Health president and CEO. “Everyone stepped up to ensure the people living at McKinney Place received the best possible care, and on behalf of everyone at Interior Health, we send our condolences to the families who lost a loved one during this difficult time.” All eligible residents and staff at McKinney Place have been offered their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination. Additional death at Sunnybank Interior Health reported Monday an additional death at Sunnybank Retirement Centre, marking the second COVID-19 related death at the facility. Sunnybank now has 34 cases: 26 residents and eight staff. Interior Health sees 257 new cases in three days The province reported on new cases over a three-day period Monday. From Jan. 15 to 16 there were 584 new cases province-wide, from Jan. 16 to 17 there were 445 new cases and in the last 24 hours 301 new cases have been diagnosed. Of the new cases, 257 are in the Interior Health region. Across B.C. there are 4,326 active cases of COVID-19, 343 in hospital, 68 of whom are in intensive care. There are 6,865 people under active public health monitoring province-wide. Over the last three days, 31 people died from COVID-19, four of whom in the Interior Health region. A total of 1,078 people have died from COVID-19 in B.C. since the pandemic began, a majority of which are seniors in long-term care. Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
The Trump administration has determined that China has committed "genocide and crimes against humanity" by repressing Uighur Muslims in its Xinjiang region, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday, in an embarrassing blow to Beijing a day before President-elect Joe Biden is set to take office. Pompeo said he made the move - which is certain to further strain already frayed ties between the world's top economies - "after careful examination of the available facts," accusing the Chinese Communist Party of crimes against humanity targeting the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities since at least March 2017.
Four people have been arrested in connection with the death of Amber Dawn Wood, 38, of Bienfait, Sask. Justin Julien Englot, 29, and Jayden Marie Sanford, 25, both of Regina, have been charged with accessory after the fact to murder and possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000. Sanford and Englot made their first appearance in Regina provincial court Tuesday morning. Two other people, both males, are also in custody. They haven't been charged, but police say an investigation is continuing. Wood died after being severely injured Saturday morning at a home on the 700 block of Athol St., police said. Police were called to the scene following a report someone had been shot. Wood was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead. It was the city's first homicide of 2021.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commented on Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole seeking to have MP Derek Sloan expelled from caucus after accepting a donation from a white supremacist.