LOS ANGELES — Tiger Woods was seriously injured Tuesday when his SUV crashed into a median, rolled over and ended up on its side on a steep roadway in suburban Los Angeles known for wrecks, authorities said. The golf superstar had to be pulled out through the windshield, and his agent said he was undergoing leg surgery. Woods was alone in the SUV when it crashed into a raised median shortly before 7:15 a.m., crossed two oncoming lanes and rolled several times, authorities said at a news conference. No other cars were involved. The 45-year-old was alert and able to communicate as firefighters pried open the front windshield to get him out. The airbags deployed, and the inside of the car stayed basically intact and that “gave him a cushion to survive the crash,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. Both of his legs were seriously injured, county Fire Chief Daryl Osby said. They said there was no immediate evidence that Woods was impaired. Authorities said they checked for any odor of alcohol or other signs he was under the influence of a substance and did not find any. They did not say how fast he was driving. The crash happened on a sweeping, downhill stretch of a two-lane road through upscale Los Angeles suburbs. Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who was the first to arrive at the wreck, told reporters that he sometimes catches people topping 80 mph in the 45 mph zone and has seen fatal crashes there. “I will say that it’s very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” Gonzalez said. Woods was in Los Angeles over the weekend as the tournament host of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, where he presented the trophy on Sunday. He was to spend Monday and Tuesday filming with Discovery-owned GOLFTV, with whom he has an endorsement. A tweet Monday showed Woods in a cart smiling with comedian David Spade. According to Golf Digest, also owned by Discovery, the TV shoot was on-course lessons for celebrities, such as Spade and Dwyane Wade, at Rolling Hills Country Club. Woods, a 15-time major champion who shares with Sam Snead the PGA Tour record of 82 career victories, has been recovering from Dec. 23 surgery on his lower back. It was his fifth back surgery and first since his lower spine was fused in April 2017, allowing him to stage a remarkable comeback that culminated with his fifth Masters title in 2019. He has carried the sport since his record-setting Masters victory in 1997 when he was 21, winning at the most prolific rate in modern PGA Tour history. He is singularly responsible for TV ratings spiking, which has led to enormous increases in prize money during his career. Even at 45, he remains the biggest draw in the sport. The SUV he was driving Tuesday had tournament logos on the side door, indicating it was a courtesy car for players at the Genesis Invitational. Tournament director Mike Antolini did not immediately respond to a text message, though it is not unusual for players to keep courtesy cars a few days after the event. Woods feared he would never play again until the 2017 fusion surgery. He returned to win the Tour Championship to close out the 2018 season and won the Masters in April 2019 for the fifth time. He last played Dec. 20 in the PNC Championship in Orlando, Florida, an unofficial event where players are paired with parents or children. He played with his son, Charlie, who is now 12. Woods also has a 13-year-old daughter. During the Sunday telecast on CBS from the golf tournament, Woods was asked about playing the Masters on April 8-11 and said, “God, I hope so.” He said he was feeling a little stiff and had one more test to see if he was ready for more activities. He was not sure when he would play again. Athletes from Mike Tyson to Magic Johnson and others offered hopes that Woods would make a quick recovery. “I’m sick to my stomach,” Justin Thomas, the No. 3 golf player in the world, said from the Workday Championship in Bradenton, Florida. “It hurts to see one of my closest friends get in an accident. Man, I just hope he’s all right.” Crews used a crane to lift the damaged SUV out of the hillside brush. The vehicle was placed upright on the street and sheriff’s investigators inspected it and took photos. Then it was loaded onto a flatbed truck and hauled away Tuesday afternoon. This is the third time Woods has been involved in a car investigation. The most notorious was the early morning after Thanksgiving in 2009, when his SUV ran over a fire hydrant and hit a tree. That was the start of shocking revelations that he had been cheating on his wife with multiple women. Woods lost major corporate sponsorships, went to a rehabilitation clinic in Mississippi and did not return to golf for five months. In May 2017, Florida police found him asleep behind the wheel of a car parked awkwardly on the side of the road. He was arrested on a DUI charge and said later he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medicine for his back pain. Woods later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and checked into a clinic to get help with prescription medication and a sleep disorder. Woods has not won since the Zozo Championship in Japan in fall 2019, and he has reduced his playing schedule in recent years because of injuries. The surgery Tuesday would be his 10th. He has had four previous surgeries on his left knee, including a major reconstruction after he won the 2008 U.S. Open, and five surgeries on his back. ___ Ferguson reported from Jacksonville, Florida. Stefanie Dazio And Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is moving slowly but surely toward reengaging with the Palestinians after a near total absence of official contact during former President Donald Trump’s four years in office. As American officials plan steps to restore direct ties with the Palestinian leadership, Biden’s national security team is taking steps to restore relations that had been severed while Trump pursued a Mideast policy focused largely around Israel, America's closest partner in the region. On Tuesday, for the second time in two days, Biden's administration categorically embraced a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something that Trump had been purposefully vague about while slashing aid to the Palestinians and taking steps to support Israel’s claims to land that the Palestinians want for an independent state. The State Department said Tuesday that a U.S. delegation attended a meeting of a Norwegian-run committee that serves as a clearinghouse for assistance to the Palestinians. Although little-known outside foreign policy circles, the so-called Ad Hoc Liaison Committee has been influential in the peace process since Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. “During the discussion, the United States reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to advancing prosperity, security, and freedom for both Israelis and Palestinians and to preserve the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state,” the State Department said in a statement. “The United States underscored the commitment to supporting economic and humanitarian assistance and the need to see progress on outstanding projects that will improve the lives of the Palestinian people, while urging all parties to avoid unilateral steps that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve,” it said. U.S. participation in the meeting followed a Monday call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel’s foreign minister in which Blinken stressed that the new U.S. administration unambiguously supports a two-state solution. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is close to Trump, has eschewed the two-state solution. Biden spoke to Netanyahu last week for the first time as president after a delay that many found suspicious and suggestive of a major realignment in U.S. policy. Blinken, however, has spoken to Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi twice amid ongoing concern in Israel about Biden's intentions in the region, particularly his desire to reenter the Iran nuclear deal. In Monday's call, Blinken “emphasized the Biden administration’s belief that the two-state solution is the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace alongside a viable and democratic Palestinian state,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. The Trump administration had presented its own version of a two-state peace plan, though it would have required significant Palestinian concessions on territory and sovereignty. The Palestinians, however, rejected it out of hand and accused the U.S. of no longer being an honest peace broker after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, moved the U.S. embassy to the city from Tel Aviv, cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority, closed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington and rescinded a long-standing legal opinion that Israeli settlement activity is illegitimate under international law, Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
VICTORIA — British Columbia is expected to start informing people over age 80 about their vaccinations for COVID-19 starting next week as the province prepares to open mass clinics while doing more in-depth testing for variants. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says B.C. is in a phase of "vaccine hope and pandemic reality" but an age-based immunization plan will remain in place despite some calls to prioritize essential workers. Henry says the province is expanding its pool of immunizers to include dentists, midwives and paramedics before 172 sites open up to eventually offer a vaccine to everyone age 18 and up. However, she says it's concerning that cases of variants like the one first identified in the United Kingdom are increasing after an unknown number were recently identified at seven schools in the Fraser Health region. B.C. has recorded 559 new cases and one more death, for a total of 1,336 fatalities since the start of the pandemic. The teachers' union has called on the province to allow school districts to come up with their own guidelines on mandatory masks for elementary schools but Henry says her current directive was made with the participation of parents' groups, teachers and school superintendents. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021 The Canadian Press
P.E.I.'s Public School Branch (PSB) needs to keep the wheels on its buses going round and round – especially considering it's running low on bus drivers. To help recruit more, it started its own driver training program last year, which was partly put in place as a result of COVID-19. Many bus drivers would speak to how rewarding it is ensuring P.E.I. students arrive at school safely, transportation supervisor Mike Franklin said. "They treat the kids like they were their own." Dave Gillis, the PSB's transportation director, said the program has already seen its first few graduates. During a virtual board of directors meeting on Feb. 10. he noted P.E.I. has about 250 drivers, many of whom are reaching retirement age. Up until now, the PSB had relied on JVI Driver Training to train drivers and provide the licence necessary to operate a bus, but the pandemic forced JVI's courses to temporarily shut down. As a result, the PSB had a six- to eight-month period without any new drivers coming in. "Our pipeline was completely dry," Gillis said. "(And) we foresee a strong retirement of drivers in the future." Franklin was brought in to help develop and run the program – he has taught similar courses before and can grant the licence. He noted that they're still working with JVI, but that JVI has other groups it's committed to helping, such as the French Language School Board or the P.E.I. Regiment. "We're just trying to help them out," he said. By training bus drivers itself, the PSB can ensure the gaps being left by retiring drivers are filled and that there are enough substitute drivers on hand if regular drivers need time off. "We're willing to put the money up to train them," Franklin said, noting the PSB will waive the program's cost of about $3,000 as long as applicants agree to work for at least 10 months after they are trained. That’s because a bus driver’s licence also allows drivers to operate other vehicles, such as dump trucks, meaning many drivers could end up looking to other industries for work. The course has two elements – in-class that focuses on the technical elements of driving a bus and in-the-field that focuses on the practical elements of actually driving it. Twitter.com/dnlbrown95 Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian
Sexual health for pre-teens guru Saleema Noon is evolving her school-based program for online COVID-19 life. Noon and her team of sexual health educators have worked with a group of pre-teen “influencers” to develop a so-called master class for kids to set them up for a happy, healthy life. The pre-teens identified what topics to address and how to address them, making sure the messaging is relevant for young people. All Noon’s programs are prevention-based, aiming to support kids with tools before a crisis and angst hits. And there are a lot of tools pre-teens need to successfully get through life. “The stakes are just so much higher than when we were kids,” Noon told Black Press. “The pressure is just so huge, even in Grade 5. When my stepdaughters were younger – they’re in their 20s now – we just told them they couldn’t have a cell phone until high school. And that was okay then, but now Grade 5 is like the new Grade 7.” The classic fear of missing out (or FOMO), is intensified with cell phones. Noon has heard from some parents that kids want to sleep with their phones because they’re afraid they’ll miss out on a group text, or someone will say something mean about them and they won’t be able to defend themselves right away. The idea with the master class is to help parents teach good habits early so when kids are ready for social media they can use it in a way that’s fun and healthy. The workshop, called the Growing Up Game Plan, covers six areas: gender and gender stereotypes, how to honour and express emotions, healthy relationships, being assertive, puberty and body image, and internet safety. When offered in schools, typically parent advisory committees fund the workshops. Online they are fee-based, but in future iterations Noon plans to use her foundation to sponsor families financially. The current cohort is open for registration until Feb. 25; a second cohort will launch in the summer. Registration for the online workshop is here: https://saleemanoon.com/growing-up-game-plan/ Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Zoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette
BUCHAREST, Romania — Olivier Giroud’s bicycle-kick goal awarded after video review gave Chelsea a 1-0 win against Atlético Madrid in the first leg of the round of 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday. It took nearly three minutes for Giroud and his teammates to be able to celebrate the important 68th-minute away goal that was initially disallowed for offside. Giroud was clearly in front of the defenders when he pulled off his acrobatic shot, but VAR determined that the ball came from Atlético defender Mario Hermoso, thus annulling the offside. Atlético was the home team but the match was played in Bucharest, Romania, because of travel restrictions preventing visitors from Britain entering Spain. The second leg will be on March 17 in London. In the other round-of-16 match on Tuesday, Bayern Munich defeated Lazio 4-1 in Italy. It was the second consecutive loss for Atlético after a seven-match unbeaten streak in all competitions. It was also the eighth straight game in which the Spanish club has conceded a goal, extending its worst run without a clean sheet since coach Diego Simeone arrived in late 2011. Chelsea is yet to lose in its eight matches since coach Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard at the helm. It had been a lacklustre match until Giroud’s goal, with neither team managing to create many significant scoring opportunities and with the goalkeepers not having to work too hard. Chelsea controlled possession and looked a bit more dangerous, but both sides appeared to be satisfied with the scoreless draw and didn’t take too many risks. Hermoso was trying to clear the ball from the area and ended kicking it backward in a ball dispute with Mason Mount. Giroud reached up high with his left foot send the ball toward the corner of Atlético goalkeeper Jan Oblak. Mount and Jorginho were shown yellow cards and will miss the second leg because of accumulation of cards. Simeone had to improvise with midfielder Marcos Llorente as a right back against Chelsea because of several absences on defence, including Kieran Trippier following an English betting investigation. The teams had played in the group stage of the Champions League in the 2017-18 season, with Chelsea winning 2-1 in Spain before a 1-1 draw in London. Atlético eliminated Chelsea in the semifinals in 2014. It was in Bucharest that Simeone won his first title with Atlético, the 2012 Europa League. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina's top elections administrator on Tuesday urged state lawmakers to move all of this year's municipal elections to 2022 and bump back next year's primaries from March to May due to delayed Census data. Census numbers play a crucial role in how legislative districts are redrawn every decade. But even though the data was supposed to be delivered by next month, the federal government does not expect to have it ready to be released until September because of delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic. North Carolina is now either the first state in the nation or among the first to put forward a plan that pushes local government contests to 2022. Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, cited the Census setbacks as the driving force behind her recommendation to postpone the elections. She noted that 62 of the more than 500 municipalities across the state need the Census data because candidates submit paperwork or voters cast ballots based on their specific ward or district. While it's possible for many of the remaining local governments that do not require districts or wards to go forward without the Census data, Bell called on lawmakers to follow her advice in order to address redistricting and avoid confusing voters. “It is very difficult for voters to understand why one municipality would be having an election, while another is not, especially when they're accustomed to those elections being held at the same time,” Bell said. She noted it's unlikely redistricting would be completed in time for the December filing deadline ahead of the March 2022 primary. Every 10 years, states are tasked with creating new maps for state legislative and congressional races. Because of the delayed Census, Bell is asking leaders to endorse her 2022 recommendations for a May 3 primary, July 12 runoff primary and Nov. 8 general election. “We would propose that the municipal elections coincide with those election dates." The 2022 primaries include bids for U.S. Senate and House, judicial races and state legislative seats. Wendy Underhill, director of elections and redistricting with the National Conference of State Legislatures, said she was not aware of any other places where Census delays could cause municipal elections to be delayed. Underhill noted there's a bill in Connecticut that would move municipal elections to November, but that is likely more of a reflection of a national trend of states adjusting their calendars for local races to boost voter turnout than a response to the delayed Census. Michael Li, a senior counsel at the Brennan Center who focuses on redistricting, noted that a bill was filed in Texas earlier this month that would give the governor, lieutenant governor and state House speaker the ability to move the state's 2022 primary if a redistricting plan is not in effect by Sept. 1. He believes the Census lag could become a catalyst for states like North Carolina to transition local elections to even-numbered years. In North Carolina, the Republican-controlled General Assembly has the ultimate decision on when to hold the elections, and the state elections board is tasked with carrying out the plan. Some state elections officials are concerned with the proposed overhaul to the voting timetable, particularly in places where updated Census data is not needed to carry out local contests. “It causes me some heartburn to think about making a sweeping change that's going to affect the election schedule proposal," said Stacy Eggers, a Republican member on the state board of elections. Scott Mooneyham, a spokesman for the North Carolina League of Municipalities, said Bell's plan could actually lead to more confusion among longtime voters whose communities are unaffected by the Census but will experience later elections. “I’m not suggesting the Board of Elections can do magic and fix this problem, but I’m not at all convinced that having a one-size-fits-all approach to this is the best approach,” Mooneyham said. Damon Circosta, the Democratic chairman of the board, said he shares concerns about a lack of timely voting but added, “There's really no good solution, and I trust the General Assembly will do what they need to do to give us the direction we need.” ___ Follow Anderson on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BryanRAnderson. ___ Anderson is a corps members for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Bryan Anderson, The Associated Press
A new study of Kamloops restaurant owners provided a glimpse at the new (and challenging) business climate they have been forced to navigate due to COVID-19. The report found that local restaurants are having to spend more money on everything from personal protective equipment to cleaning products and plastic barriers, while simultaneously making less money. On top of that, their indoor seating capacities have been dramatically cut. Around 30 businesses took part in the survey. Overall they reported their revenues were down nearly 65 per cent, on average, from March to May 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019. The study was spearheaded by Thompson Rivers University (TRU) business student Josh Parker. Having worked for years in the restaurant industry in Calgary prior to university, Parker decided to carry out the research project when his co-op fell through. “I just wanted to do anything that I could [for the industry], to work with my school and the chamber in any way to see if we can help them out,” he explained. Parker worked on the report with his faculty advisor, Terry Lake, and Jamie Noakes, his co-op advisor. The team also partnered with The Chamber of Commerce and Mitacs BSI (Business Strategy Internship). The study found considerable differences between how independent business and chains addressed layoffs. On average, chain restaurants laid off more than 70 per cent of their staff during a 2.5 month period between March and May. In comparison, local restaurants laid off just under 50 per cent of their staff over this period. Parker added smaller restaurants were better placed to pivot to takeout when the pandemic hit. “They could figure out what they wanted to do, pivot operations and utilize their staff quicker,” said Parker. Chain restaurants were, however, able to get back to full employment rates quicker. “They’re able to kind of use their corporate entity to get all the requirements they needed to open up safely,” he said. Overall, employees at independent restaurants rated their employer’s response to the crisis higher, giving it a 4.1 out of 5, compared to 3.5 out of 5 for chain restaurants. The team also surveyed 160 customers who had ordered take-out in recent months. The survey found that the most common negative experience was the cost of take-out, with many expecting the cost to be lower given that they weren’t dining inside an establishment. At the same time, an overwhelming majority of customers said they would support local restaurants if prices had to be increased by up to 15 per cent to cover costs related to COVID-19 safety protocols. “It was kind of something we put out there that we noticed people were kind of contradicting themselves about,” said Parker. He added that it puts restaurants in a difficult position, as a meal costs roughly the same to make, whether it’s consumed in a restaurant or at home. Going forward, Parker said the public should accept that restaurants will have to marginally increase prices to maintain profitability in this difficult period. The survey also found some interesting findings on tipping culture, with just over half of participants stating they would tip both the delivery driver and the restaurant when they make an order. The survey stated the pandemic can create an added challenge for business owners to retain their employees, as servers are no longer receiving their normal tips, which effectively subsidize their salaries. As part of the survey, Parker asked customers whether they would support a no tipping policy—or more specifically, a scenario where tips were included in the final price of an order. About 32 per cent of participants said they would support this, with 44 per cent saying no and 24 per cent unsure. Another issue that restaurants brought up with Parker was the issue of online ordering services, such as SkipThe Dishes and DoorDash. Such organizations traditionally ask small business owners to hand over 20 to 30 per cent of total sales on top of partner fees. In December, the province temporarily capped the fees delivery companies can charge restaurants at 15 per cent. The rule will be in place until three months after B.C.’s state of emergency order is lifted. Skip the Dishes soon responded with a 99-cent “B.C. fee.” Parker said he found it curious to watch expensive 2021 Super Bowl ads for such companies during a time when so many small restaurants are struggling. “Without restaurants no one would need a delivery service, so I think they need to kind of work with local restaurants a little more closely,” he said. The report concluded with thoughts on how restaurants are faring overall, and calls for a more robust government response help it out. “We are in a completely unprecedented situation which has caused the government to take extraordinary measures,” it stated. “These measures have been put in place for the good of all Canadians, but they seem to impede certain businesses more, such as restaurants. “The government has forced closures and maintained 50 per cent capacity restrictions for over nine months, and local, small restaurants are in a fragile state…Many owners are unhappy with how the government has helped small businesses through the pandemic and rightfully so. There have been rent subsidies and other financial support to help these businesses, but it isn’t enough when their livelihoods are essentially put on hold.” Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
La Ville de Sutton mandatera une firme d’ingénierie en bâtiment pour faire une nouvelle étude sur l’état du centre culturel et communautaire John-Sleeth ainsi que sur les coûts pour le rénover et le mettre aux normes. La dernière étude, en date de 2019, n’est plus d’actualité avec les coûts en construction qui ont explosé dans la dernière année. Les rapports d’expertise réalisés en 2018 et 2019 sur le bâtiment ont été dévoilés vendredi dernier. Les experts consultés recommandaient de nombreux travaux, mais le coût de ceux-ci ne dépassait pas, à l’époque, 1,2 M$. Le rapport pour la mécanique du bâtiment proposait des rénovations se chiffrant, en 2019, à 232 650 $. La firme d’architecture parlait quant à elle de travaux estimés à 658 200 $. Et des travaux d’approximativement 224 200 $ étaient recommandés pour la structure. Devant cette estimation, des citoyens qui souhaitent la survie du bâtiment construit en 1886 se sont questionnés encore plus sur la nécessité d’étudier d’autres options que la rénovation. Le maire Michel Lafrance a réitéré d’entrée de jeu, en visioconférence, qu’aucune décision n’a été prise. La reconstruction fait partie des options, mais le conseil n’a toujours pas tranché. Il a constaté que le dossier soulève les passions. M. Lafrance l’a observé sur les réseaux sociaux, mais aussi dans sa boîte courriel où il a reçu plusieurs courriels en faveur, mais aussi en défaveur de la rénovation. Mise à jour Comme les choses peuvent avoir évolué depuis bientôt deux ans et que les coûts pour les matériaux de construction ont augmenté, les élus souhaitent avoir des données à jour. «Il y a eu une discussion lundi, en caucus, et la municipalité va accorder un mandat à une firme d’ingénierie en bâtiment pour mettre l’ensemble des études à jour, annonce le directeur général Pascal Smith en entrevue. On a plusieurs études en structure, en mécanique et en architecture. Donc, on va donner un mandat pour reprendre l’ensemble du travail et d’arriver, dans un seul document, avec tous les coûts pour la rénovation et la mise aux normes du bâtiment.» Le rapport actualisé devrait être livré en avril prochain. «Évidemment, ça va être disponible», ajoute le maire. Consultation publique Afin d’obtenir un mandat clair de la population sur l’avenir du centre John-Sleeth, la municipalité veut organiser une consultation publique. La façon dont sera tenue la consultation publique n’est pas déterminée encore, mentionne Me Smith. «On va essayer de faire ça, je dirais, à la fin du printemps, début été.» Cynthia Laflamme, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix de l'Est
EDMONTON — Alberta's top doctor is urging patience a day before seniors born in 1946 and earlier become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Deena Hinshaw says there are 230,000 seniors in this age group, in addition to health-care workers and people in other priority groups still waiting for their shots. She says any eligible seniors who want to be immunized should be able to get their first dose by the end of March, but there may be hiccups along the way. The doses will be available by appointment at 58 Alberta Health Services sites, and Hinshaw says pharmacies and doctors' offices will be added later. Hinshaw also says it's not a done deal that the next phase of Alberta's staged reopening plan, which includes eased restrictions on retail, banquet halls and hotels, will begin on March 1. She says while hospitalizations are down, the test positivity rate and number of new people infected by each case are on the rise. The decision will depend on whether those increases are due to local issues that can be brought under control or if it's a more general spread across the province, she said. Hinshaw said it's possible that restrictions will be eased on the same day a decision is announced. "I recognize it's challenging for businesses who are looking for certainty around dates and timelines," she told a news conference Tuesday. "But we did need the additional time to be able to look at the full three-weeks of data following the first step to be able to understand what's happening with our numbers, where is spread happening and if we need to take longer or a more cautious approach going forward." Alberta reported 267 new COVID-19 infections in its Tuesday update, along with 11 additional deaths from the virus. Hinshaw said there were 6,300 tests done in the past day and that 4.4 per cent came back positive. There were 326 COVID-19 patients in Alberta hospitals, including 51 in intensive care. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
Perhaps it will come as a surprise to few, but Nordic skiing is taking off in B.C. For many, it’s the perfect pandemic activity—(relatively) affordable, easily accessible for those living in the beautiful Thompson Okanagan region, and good for your overall health and well-being. And, oh yeah—it’s sort of COVID-proof. “A lot of people have gravitated to the sport because of [COVID-19],” said Ivor McMahen, president of the Sun Peaks Nordic Club. “COVID restrictions have shut down a lot of other sports, but because of the nature of cross country skiing, being outside and not requiring close proximity to other people, we’re able to continue almost normally.” Across B.C., the popularity of the sport has grown by around 50 per cent, according to McMahen and a recent interview Sun Peaks Independent News had with a representative from Tourism Kamloops. McMahen said he has definitely noticed the uptick in usage of Sun Peaks’ acclaimed trail system, and that membership levels in the club, which have increased to 111 this year from 92 the year previous, don’t fully capture the picture. “I think the actual popularity and interest in the sport is up much more than that,” he said. Unlike other local clubs—such as the Overlander Nordic Club and the Stake Lake trail system—the Sun Peaks Nordic Club does not manage the local trail system, which is operated by Sun Peaks Resort LLP. Adding to the usage of local Sun Peaks trails is the fact that anyone with a downhill pass can now utilize them. “Overall, I think it’s a really great thing that the resort is doing that,” said McMahen of the deal, which it has been offered for the past couple years. “It really encourages people to get out without having to buy an extra pass, but it makes it harder to tell how many people are getting out, and doing Nordic as opposed to alpine.” The club plays a pivotal role in supporting Sun Peaks’ cross country skiing community and fostering the next generation of skiers through events and programs. While it’s had to shut down its popular group skis sessions, the club has had success promoting its popular junior development program. It provides instruction for kids and youth from four to 16-years old. The program is informally known as the “Jackrabbits” program. It has a total of 32 kids involved this year. And for the first time in club history, it’s had to put a cap on its numbers. “It was named after Jackrabbit Johannsen, who was a legendary fellow in eastern Canada who skied everyday until he was over 100 years old.” McMahen said the idea of the program is to get kids turned onto the sport in an organic way and develop all-around athletes. “The main philosophy, especially in the really young ages at this, is not to aim to produce elite skiers,” he said. “It’s aim is to produce healthy, well balanced, physically capable kids. The word that they refer to as physical literacy, so it’s balance, agility, the ability to jump, run and just self-propel yourself.” McMahen added the club hopes to get a masters program up and running next year, where more experienced (and mature) skiers can get some tips on how to improve their performance. “There’s a few tricks to the sport, it’s not as simple as it looks,” he said with a laugh. The Thompson Okanagan provides a number of options for people to enjoy cross country skiing if you’re looking to try something new. – The Stake Lake Trails, located south of Kamloops and operated by the Overlander Ski Club, boasts a 60-km trail system. – Harper Mountain offers a three kilometre groomed trail system that meanders through a forested area, and is great for both traditional cross country skiing and skate skiing. -The Telemark Nordic Club, located in West Kelowna, offers 60 kilometres of trails. – The Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club offers 75-km of trails. – Sovereign Lake, located in SilverStar Resort, is also open. It offers 105 kilometres of daily groomed trails and is the largest network of cross-country ski trails in Canada. Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
(Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press - image credit) One of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's senior cabinet ministers is stepping aside from his duties temporarily as he deals with a medical issue. In a statement, Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos said he has been experiencing chest pain in recent days and a doctor has now diagnosed him with a pulmonary embolism — an arterial blockage in his lungs. "I'm now back home and feeling well, but as per my doctor's recommendations, I will rest for a few days," Duclos said. "Let us keep taking care of each other. See you soon!" Joyce Murray, the minister of digital government, will assume Duclos's responsibilities while he recovers "for a few days." Duclos also serves as the vice-chair of Prime Minister Trudeau's COVID-19 cabinet committee and is a member of the cabinet operations committee, a key body in the executive branch that deals with "urgent and emerging issues." The Treasury Board position is an important one in government, as the occupant acts as a sort of general manager for the public service, establishing policies and standards in a wide range of areas and overseeing the implementation of programs across the federal government. The Treasury Board president keeps an eye on the government's financial management and spending and manages human resources issues, including collective bargaining agreements with unions. While the job tends to be one of the less public-facing positions in cabinet, Duclos has been a regular participant at COVID-19 briefings over the past year, where he has answered questions on everything from vaccine procurement and border closures to rent relief for small businesses.
Golf superstar Tiger Woods needed surgery after a car crash in Los Angeles on Tuesday that left him with multiple leg injuries. Officials say he was conscious when pulled from the wrecked SUV and the injuries are not life threatening.
The pandemic has placed significant pressure on principals at Ontario's schools, with those at virtual schools feeling the most stressed, a new survey suggests.The advocacy group People for Education surveyed principals at 1,173 schools across the province, including 906 in-person, 226 hybrid, and 41 virtual schools.It found that 57 per cent of those surveyed from virtual schools reported their levels of stress were not manageable, and 49 per cent of those from in-person and hybrid schools said the same. "Principals are dealing with an exceptional set of challenges related to running schools during a pandemic," People for Education said in a report on the survey released Tuesday. "Principals said that to serve their students and staff more effectively, they need more consistent and clearer communication, increased resources, and more time."Principals have become responsible for acting as liaisons with local public health units and implementing new COVID-19 policies at schools, the group said.In many cases, principals are the contact tracers, screeners and translators of rapidly changing government policies, it said.Principals responding to the survey said they needed increased resources, such as more staff, the removal of non-essential paperwork, and more time, such as a shorter school day to allow for planning, to help with their increased workload. There also needs to be more understanding of the challenges they face during the pandemic, they said.People for Education said 73 per cent of principals surveyed from in-person schools indicated that ensuring adequate distancing among students was among the top issues they dealt with. For principals surveyed from virtual schools, managing student enrolment was identified as the most challenging issue.The group recommended in its report that the provincial government create an education advisory task force, with key education and health stakeholders, to inform policy before it is implemented.A spokeswoman from the Ministry of Education said Tuesday that the province was grateful for the "vital work" that principals, educators and staff do every day. "This is a once-in-a-generation crisis and we are proud to see our school staff step up their efforts throughout these extraordinary circumstances," Caitlin Clark said in a statement. The government also noted that it invested $54 million dollars into hiring principals and vice-principals for virtual schools and administrative staffing support for remote learning. People for Education said its survey was sent to schools in the fall of 2020 and could be completed online in both English and French.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021.This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Denise Paglinawan, The Canadian Press
Melaine Simba will never forget the months she spent inside her home on Ka’a’gee Tu First Nation, south of Yellowknife, with her windows tightly shut to prevent wildfire smoke from seeping in. It was the summer of 2014 and she was following public health orders to stay inside during the Northwest Territories’ worst wildfire season on record. “There were fires all around us,” Simba told The Narwhal. “I couldn’t go outside, and I couldn’t take my son outside.” “It was just so hard to breathe in that smoke with all the falling ash.” According to a new study published in the journal BMJ Open, the wildfires caused extremely poor air quality during the more than two months of unrelenting smoke exposure. This led to a sharp increase in respiratory illnesses, with vulnerable populations, such as children and Indigenous people, disproportionately affected. The study also found that public health advisories asking people to stay inside during the wildfires were “inadequately protective,” possibly because people grew tired of the long period of isolation. With climate change contributing to longer and more intense wildfire seasons, the study authors say there’s an urgent need to be far more prepared in the future. “A really big take home of this study is that climate change is bad, and it is going to get worse,” Courtney Howard, the lead author of the study and an emergency physician in Yellowknife, told The Narwhal, adding that smoke exposure levels during the wildfires were believed to be some of the worst ever studied globally. “We are going to need new, proactive approaches as we go into a warmer, smokier state on this planet.” Warmer temperatures caused by climate change can spur drier conditions, increasing the risk of wildfires. In 2014, moderate to severe drought conditions and lightning strikes were the catalyst for 385 fires that impacted 3.4 million hectares of forest in the Northwest Territories. According to the federal government, temperatures across the North are warming more than twice as fast as the global rate. In Yellowknife, between 1943 and 2011, the annual average temperature in the city increased by 2.5 C. The average level of particulate matter (PM 2.5) in the air was five times higher than normal during the 2014 wildfires, compared with the two previous years and 2015. PM 2.5 — inhalable particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter — is associated with a range of respiratory conditions. The study found this increase in particulate matter was associated with an increase in visits to the hospital for asthma, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Asthma-related emergency room visits doubled, with the highest rates found in women, people older than 40 and Dene. Visits for pneumonia increased by 57 per cent, with men, children and Inuit particularly affected. And visits for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease increased by 11 per cent, with men, the Inuit and Dene populations and people over 60 showing the greatest risk. While the results suggest that Indigenous people were more affected, Howard said it’s difficult to say for sure because they may have been more likely to go to the ER due to lack of access to medical clinics. The demand for medicine that helps alleviate the symptoms of asthma surged, too. The dispensation of salbutamol, the agent found in puffers, increased by 48 per cent. “In fact, one of the pharmacies ran out over the course of the summer,” Howard said. Supply chain problems “demonstrated a lack of resilience,” she added. The study also sheds light on systemic issues that contribute to worse health outcomes in vulnerable populations, including Indigenous people. “Climate-related health effects impact all populations but are likely to disproportionately affect communities living at the frontlines of rapid climate change, as well as those experiencing systemic racism, socioeconomic and health disparities, and/or the enduring effects of colonization,” the study states. Protracted periods of isolation, a lack of exercise, fear and stress during the wildfires also had negative impacts on people’s mental health and way of life, according to a 2018 report that Howard was also involved with. “Livelihood and land-based activities were disrupted for some interviewees, which had negative consequences for mental, emotional and physical well-being,” the report states. During the summer, Indigenous people across the territory fish, hunt and visit old villages and the gravesites of relatives, Jason Snaggs, the chief executive officer of Yellowknives Dene First Nation, told The Narwhal. The wildfires prevented people from taking part in these cultural activities, he added. “This leads to depression, and you have sort of a compounding effect, in terms of colonialism, the effects of residential schools, intergenerational trauma,” Snaggs said. “Some people were visibly traumatized by this event.” Sheltering in place can lead to increased rates of family violence, including violence against Indigenous women, Snaggs added. During the 2016 wildfires that tore through Fort McMurray, Alta., calls to a local family crisis centre increased by upward of 300 per cent, according to Michele Taylor, executive director of Waypoints, an emergency shelter for women and children. Howard said the 2014 wildfires were a seminal event in people’s understanding of climate change in the region. “At the time, ecological grief and eco-anxiety hadn’t really shown up in the evidence base,” she said. “Looking back at our analysis, I think we can easily apply those terms to what we found and say it was a trigger for ecological grief and anxiety for a lot of people.” Howard said communities — particularly Indigenous communities — need to be better equipped to withstand wildfires. Some homes in Indigenous communities are overcrowded and aren’t built to the same standards as those elsewhere in the territory. Howard emphasized the need to address this problem first and foremost. The BMJ study recommends governments install ventilation systems in old and new homes ahead of wildfire season. Doing so would ensure residents have access to clean air without having to leave the house. “Our infrastructure decisions need to be based on the temperature and precipitation patterns that we’re anticipating for the coming century as opposed to the ones we had in the last one,” Howard said. The study also recommends primary health-care practitioners identify people who may grapple with respiratory illnesses and ensure that air filters and puffers are readily available prior to wildfire season. “That will allow people to manage their symptoms at home and never get to the point where they’re stuck in the emergency department,” Howard said. “The sooner particularly vulnerable people have access [to air filters and puffers], the better.” In 2014, the City of Yellowknife waived user fees for a multi-purpose recreation facility so residents could go there to breathe clean, filtered air and exercise, Howard said. But not everyone in Yellowknife is afforded the same level of access. N’Dilo, which is part of Yellowknives Dene First Nation and is located in Yellowknife proper, only has one space people can gather in during a wildfire — a 45-year-old gym that isn’t equipped with a filtration system to keep air clean. The study suggests that public health practitioners use satellite-based smoke forecasting to determine whether clean air shelters are needed in advance of wildfire season and, if necessary, make more available. The 2018 report — which documented the experiences of 30 community members from Yellowknife, Dettah, N’Dilo and Kakisa who lived through the wildfires — found there was a consensus among participants about the need for improved communication and coordination at the community and territorial levels as wildfires intensify. Howard said residents and health-care providers need to proactively prepare for wildfire season every year. “We need to be viewing wildfire season the same way we view cold and flu season.” Julien Gignac, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Narwhal
La crise de logements dans les communautés, dont celle de Uashat mak Maliotenam met en lumière les besoins criants liés à la surpopulation au sein d’une même maison, mais également de l’itinérance. De bonnes nouvelles viennent enfin d’être annoncées. Un projet visant l’aboutissement de plus de 200 logements abordables, sur une période de 5 ans, a été confirmé grâce, à l’aide de Services Autochtones Canada. L’étape, actuellement embryonnaire, permettra d’entreprendre des démarches afin de construire des maisons supplémentaires dans les communautés. Les constructions sont évaluées aux environs de 45 M$, sur 5 ans. Il s’agit, en moyenne, de 40 maisons par année. «La surpopulation dans les maisons et la difficulté d’accès à des logements sociaux qui conviennent aux besoins des familles sont au cœur des préoccupations de plusieurs communautés des Premières Nations partout à travers le Canada. La construction de nouvelles unités de logements et de maisons adaptées chez nous permettrait de combler une partie de nos besoins.», mentionne le Chef Mike Mckenzie. Karine Lachance, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord
Sun Peaks may not be able to celebrate Pride Week like in years past, but Tourism Sun Peaks is still hoping to make this week special for the community’s LGBTQ+ guests and residents. Pride Week starts Wednesday, Feb. 24 and carries on until Wednesday, March 3. And while the Peak Pride Festival is unable to come up to the resort and organize events as it has in years past, Tourism Sun Peaks is asking local businesses to create welcome window displays if it is feasible, which may be highlighted on social media channels throughout the week. The organization has also teamed up with Sun Peaks Resort and GK Sound to light up the Clocktower in pride colours for the week. Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he expects a provincial lab will be able to test for samples of concerning COVID-19 variants by next month. He says the Roy Romanow Provincial Lab in Regina is in the process of becoming certified so it can carry out such tests on strains that appear to be able to spread more easily. Currently, samples have to been sent to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, which means results can take two weeks. Moe says testing variants in Saskatchewan will mean more samples can be analyzed more quickly. Health officials say two more cases of the mutation first identified in the United Kingdom were found in two residents in the Regina area. The Ministry of Health says they were tested at the end of January and health officials believe there is no link to travel. The province also reported its first case of the strain initially found in South Africa in a resident who was tested last month and lives in a region that includes Prince Albert. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021 The Canadian Press
A video of a long lineup inside of a HomeSense store in Thornhill, Ont. as York Region enters the red zone is generating lots of reaction online.
U.S. President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed to work toward achieving net zero emissions by 2050. "We're launching a high-level, climate-ambition ministerial and to align our policies and our goals to achieve net zero emissions by 2050," Biden said in a speech following a bilateral meeting with the Canadian leader. U.S. Special Climate Change Envoy John Kerry and his Canadian counterpart, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, will host the ministerial.