Snow sculptures are popping up from coast to coast with people showcasing their snow carving talents. Interested in carving too? Marta Czurylowicz shares some tips from a pro on how to get started.
Snow sculptures are popping up from coast to coast with people showcasing their snow carving talents. Interested in carving too? Marta Czurylowicz shares some tips from a pro on how to get started.
Canada's health officials spoke about the recent change in guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on the time between two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and how that may contribute to vaccine hesitancy in Canada.
LIVERPOOL, England — Liverpool’s woeful home form is developing into a full-blown crisis after Chelsea’s 1-0 victory on Thursday inflicted a fifth straight league loss at Anfield on the Premier League champions — the worst run in the club’s 128-year history. With Liverpool's title defence already over, this was billed as a battle for a Champions League place and Mason Mount’s 42nd-minute goal lifted Chelsea back into the top four. Chelsea’s previous win at Anfield, in 2014, effectively ended the title hopes of Brendan Rodgers’ side. This one was a blow to Liverpool’s chances of a top-four finish under Jurgen Klopp. Klopp’s side is four points adrift of Chelsea and with Everton and West Ham also ahead. Liverpool has now gone more than 10 hours without a goal from open play at Anfield. The hosts failed to register an effort on target until the 85th minute and Georginio Wijnaldum’s weak header was never going to beat Edouard Mendy. They have taken one point from the last 21 on offer at home since Christmas and scored just two goals, one of which was a penalty. None of Liverpool's established front three — Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino — impressed but the sight of Salah, the Premier League’s leading scorer, being substituted just past the hour mark was baffling. The Egypt international certainly thought so as he sat shaking his head, having been replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Chelsea, by contrast, looked full of threat with Timo Werner — a player Liverpool was interested in but decided it could not afford last summer — a constant problem. Despite one goal in his previous 17 league outings, he caused problems with his movement, drifting out to the left then popping into the middle to give Fabinho a real headache on his return to the side. The Brazil midfielder, replacing Nat Phillips after he became the latest centre back to pick up an injury, was partnering Ozan Kabak in Liverpool’s 15th different central-defensive starting partnership in 27 league matches. Faced with a statistic like that, it is perhaps understandable why there was a lack of cohesion at the back and Werner should really have profited. He fired one early shot over and then failed to lift his effort over Alisson Becker, back in goal after the death of his father in Brazil last week. Even when Werner did beat Alisson, VAR ruled the Germany international’s arm had been offside 20 yards earlier in the build-up. Liverpool’s one chance fell to Mane but Salah’s first-time ball over the top got caught under his feet and Mane missed his shot with only Mendy to beat. Chelsea was still controlling the game and caught Liverpool on the counterattack when N’Golo Kante quickly sent a loose ball out to the left wing, from where Mount cut inside to beat Alisson having been given far too much time to pick his spot. All five of Mount’s league goals have come away from home. Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel spent the first five minutes of the second half screaming at his players to press harder and play higher up the pitch but Liverpool’s players were equally vocal when Firmino’s cross hit the raised arm of Kante from close range. No penalty was awarded. Andy Robertson cleared off the line from Hakim Ziyech after Alisson parried Ben Chilwell’s shot as Chelsea continued to look more dangerous. Klopp’s attempt to change the direction of the game saw him send on Diogo Jota for his first appearance in three months, along with Oxlade-Chamberlain. Jota’s first touch was a half-chance from a deep cross but he was not sharp enough to take it. Werner, meanwhile, was doing everything but score as Alisson’s leg saved another shot as he bore down on goal. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Current promotional program fees for Hinton’s pool at the recreation centre have been reduced by 50 per cent until at least April 6, 2021. On April 6, Council will review the fees and make adjustments as they see fit. The recent increase in fees made it difficult for some families to afford using the facility, stated council during the regular council meeting on March 2. The fees were implemented by administration to make up for lost revenue due to COVID-19 restrictions only allowing one household to use the pool area at a time. “A full facility rental rate is very cost prohibitive. The daily rates are established on more than one to three occupants in the pool or other recreation facility at a time. It’s not enough to offset the cost of operating,” said CAO Emily Olsen. Administration created the promotional program to allow at least some costs to be recouped through an additional fee. Daily rates stay the same but the program offsets the costs of lifeguards on duty, administrative staff, and minimizes the losses seen with the daily rate, Olsen explained. “It was a creative response or solution to allow opening under the restrictions as best as we can to promote health and wellness in the community and allow for families and individuals to utilize the facility,” said Olsen. Reservation fees for 30 minute increments were $10 for pass holders and $20 for non pass holders. This will now be half the price. Currently, there are half hour or one hour time slots available at the pool from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm and 6:30pm to 7:30pm. To abide by provincial COVID-19 restrictions, these reservations allow one individual or one household access to the entire main pool and steam room for fitness purposes. “I appreciate the work that administration has put into opening the facility and trying to come up with an operating plan and pricing that keeps it within the 2021 budget, but we also have some unallocated MOST funds that I feel might be able to offset these additional costs,” said Coun. Tyler Waugh. Council made a direction to recoup lost revenue from the Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST) Program. The Town of Hinton, along with many other municipalities, received funding through MOST from the provincial government to help offset the COVID-19 related losses for 2020. A portion of the MOST funds was put into a reserve and council is set to make a decision on how to use these funds in April. Not all councilors were immediately on board with spending MOST dollars on subsidizing the pool rates as there are several other initiatives that require support from the funds. “I certainly struggle with limiting the types of people that have access to a public facility, especially one that encourages better physical and mental health. That said, I’d rather be open than closed, I like that we’re going to have an opportunity to get some data on usage and potentially more creative solutions down the road as restrictions continue to change,” said Coun. Dewly Nelson. He suggested looking at the data to discount certain time blocks at the pool that see less usage. Mayor Marcel Michaels stated that many families were priced out of using the facility, and that making a decision on lowering the rates was pressing. By lowering the rate, the pool may also see better usage, he added. Without a report or knowing the financial repercussions of lowering the rates Coun. Trevor Haas and Coun. Albert Ostashek felt it was difficult to slash the rates in half at this meeting. Olsen noted that while it will have a financial impact, it’s unclear what that impact will be. “We’re looking for a price point that can hit the economic reality of the citizens in our community and I think that’s what we’re struggling to find,” said Coun. Ryan Maguhn. High rates won’t generate any usage and revenue in the facility, Maguhn added. Olsen added that Step three of Alberta’s plan to lift restrictions is also set for three weeks from now, which may change restrictions for the pool. Laura Howarth, Hinton director of community service noted that the Town offers support for families that need support. “We work with FCSS or people contact us directly. Please encourage families that you are aware of that really want to come to the rec centre but it’s not affordable, and any other time it’s not affordable either, we definitely have the opportunity and are willing and supportive of those families,” Howarth said. To reserve a spot at the pool, register online at hinton.ca/rec or contact Customer Service at 780-865-4412. Reservations have to be made one day prior to the time slot. Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has continued to send stunning images of the red planet back to Earth. In this moment, an incredible shot of the Sun from the Martian surface was captured. Credit to "NASA/JPL-Caltech".
RALEIGH, N.C. — A Trump may be on the ballot next year — but not Donald Trump. The former president's daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, is eyeing the North Carolina Senate seat being vacated by Republican Richard Burr. While many in the state are skeptical she will move forward, an entrance into the race would set up a crucial test of whether Donald Trump's popularity among Republicans, which remains massive more than a month after leaving office, can translate to others. The answer to that question has implications that extend far beyond Lara Trump's political future. If Donald Trump can prove that he can help other Republicans win office, his self-appointed status as leader of the party would be validated. Losses, however, would remind Republicans of his vulnerabilities. For now, Republicans say the only thing that is certain is that Lara Trump would easily dispatch rivals in a GOP primary. “If Lara were to get in the race, I think she would command widespread and immediate attention across the state,” said Michael Whatley, chairman of the North Carolina GOP, who has said his goal going forward is “making sure that we keep all of the Trump voters that came in during the last election and convert them into reliable Republican voters.” Donald Trump fancies himself as a kingmaker in GOP politics, but his record is mixed. Under his leadership, Republicans lost control of the House in 2018. When he was on the ballot again last year, Republicans mounted a strong performance in congressional races, coming much closer than expected to retaking the House. But the GOP lost two Georgia Senate seats — and the majority — in January despite a last minute campaign push from Trump. The 38-year-old Lara Trump is married to the former president's son, Eric. A former television producer, she has never held public office and declined to comment for this story. While many in North Carolina privately doubt Lara Trump will ultimately seek the Senate seat, she's being encouraged by South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally who has warned the party against abandoning the former president. She is still considering a run for the Senate seat, according to two people who have spoken with her recently and requested anonymity to discuss private conversations. While she would need to move her young family to the state, the Wilmington, North Carolina native, is deeply familiar with the state and its voters after campaigning there extensively in 2016 and 2020, according to one of the people. She was a key surrogate for her father-in-law and named her second child Carolina. She also likes the idea of being the next Trump to run for something, even as a test to her father-in-law mounting a comeback in 2024, the other said. The former president's daughter, Ivanka, recently said she wouldn't challenge Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio and his son, Donald Trump, Jr., is believed to be uninterested in seeking office himself. For Trump loyalists, there would be a certain satisfaction in a family member succeeding Burr, who was one of just seven Senate Republicans who voted to convict the former president in an impeachment trial for inciting the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. “Stay tuned,” she said last week in an interview on Fox News Channel, adding that she was keeping the option “open.” If she opted for a run, Lara Trump would have to contend with a rapidly changing state. While Donald Trump defeated Joe Biden in North Carolina last year, his margin — 1.3 percentage points — shrank in half from 2016. That's driven by a politically active Black population and an influx of voters into areas like Charlotte and the Raleigh suburbs. Earning their votes will be crucial given doubts that anyone besides the former president will be able to turn out the waves of largely rural, new voters Trump attracted both in 2016 and 2020. “Without Trump on the ballot, Republicans have a turnout issue they have to address. However, without Trump on the ballot, Democrats have a turnout issue they have to address,” said Paul Shumaker, a longtime Republican consultant in the state, referring to the energy Trump inspired on the left. So far, the Senate race has just one declared GOP candidate: Mark Walker, a former congressman and pastor. He represents the bind Republicans in North Carolina find themselves in. In an interview, Walker was eager to note he met with Trump “many times” in the Oval Office and recounted how the former president encouraged him to run in 2019 when he was mulling a campaign for Sen. Thom Tillis’s seat. He insisted Donald Trump remains a powerful force in politics. “I don’t think that’s any question at this point, if you pay attention to the political lens, that the Republican political party goes through Donald Trump in terms of his influence on the party as whole,” Walker said. Still, Walker noted the need for Republicans to attract a broader swath of voters beyond Trump's core base. “We want President Trump’s support. We want Mitch McConnell’s support. We want Democrats to support us because we have a message that resonates,” he said. “I truly believe that there’s a space to be able to do both, to be that conservative champion but also be that bridge-builder.” Walker’s team tried to secure a meeting with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, over the weekend while Walker was visiting the state for the Conservative Political Action Conference, where both men spoke. But the two men didn't connect. Trump’s team has been “tapping the breaks a little bit” on rolling out endorsements as they work to develop a framework for choosing candidates, a spokesman said. ___ Colvin reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Jonathan Lemire contributed to this report from New York. Jill Colvin And Bryan Anderson, The Associated Press
One of Canada's top public health officials sought to reassure Canadians today that a recommendation from a federal vaccine advisory committee to stretch out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses is a sound one. Yesterday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended that the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months due to limited supplies. Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said the advice is based on real-world data that shows doing so would lead to more people being protected from COVID-19 in a shorter time period. "This recommendation is based on clinical trial reports and emerging real-world evidence from around the world. Data shows that several weeks after being administered, first doses of vaccines provide highly effective protection against symptomatic disease, hospitalization and death," Njoo told a technical briefing today. Confusion over conflicting advice Njoo's comments appeared to be addressing the confusion created by the fact that NACI's recommendation conflicts with those issued by Health Canada when it granted regulatory approvals for the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines. Regulatory documents provided by Health Canada upon approval of each vaccine state that the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech should be taken three weeks after the first, the second Moderna shot should come four weeks after the first, and the second AstraZeneca dose should be delivered between four and 12 weeks after the first. All of those recommendations are in line with the product monograph provided by the manufacturers. Adding to the confusion, NACI recommended on Monday against giving the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to people 65 and older, although Health Canada has authorized it for use in adults of all ages. But Njoo said the discrepancies can be explained by the fact that Health Canada is a regulator and NACI is an advisory body made up of medical experts. "You have likely noticed that NACI's recommendations are sometimes different, possibly broader or narrower than the conditions of vaccine use that Health Canada has authorized. As the regulator, Health Canada authorizes each vaccine for use in Canada according to factors based on clinical trial evidence, whereas NACI bases its guidance on the available and evolving evidence in a real-world context, including the availability of other vaccines," Njoo said. "What we expect is that NACI recommendations will complement — not mirror — those of Health Canada." WATCH: Njoo comments on NACI recommendation to delay second COVID-19 vaccine doses The issue burst into the open on Monday when B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Some medical experts questioned that decision. Canada's chief science adviser, Mona Nemer, said doing so without proper clinical trials amounts to a "population level experiment." Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the U.S., told the Washington Post that the science doesn't support delaying a second dose for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. He said there isn't enough evidence to determine how much protection is provided by one dose of those vaccines, and how long it lasts. Despite those warnings, several provinces followed Henry's lead and even more have indicated they intend to stretch the dosage interval. While it appeared to some at the time that Henry was moving faster than the science, Njoo said that NACI's experts briefed provincial medical officers of health over the weekend on the results of their analysis before releasing their recommendations publicly. NACI concluded that stretching the dosing interval to four months would allow up to 80 per cent of Canadians over the age of 16 to receive a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of June, without compromising vaccine effectiveness. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. As for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, Njoo said it is safe and that evidence shows it provides protection against very serious disease and death in people of all ages. He said Health Canada has a rigorous scientific review process and only approves vaccines that meet high standards for safety, efficacy and quality. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said expert advice will continue to change as more data becomes available from ongoing mass vaccination campaigns, and she urged provinces and territories to consider recommendations and evidence from both bodies when making decisions about their vaccine strategies. "The messaging would be simpler if we had one set of data and we had one message and it never changed, but that's not what science does," said Sharma. Decision on Johnson and Johnson imminent At today's briefing, health officials also indicated that a regulatory decision on whether to approve Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine is expected soon. "The review of the Johnson & Johnson submission is going very well, it's progressing, and we're expecting to have that completed and a decision in the next few days. I would say in the next seven days or so," said Sharma. The company has said its vaccine is 66 per cent effective at preventing moderate to severe illness in a global clinical trial, and much more effective — 85 per cent — against the most serious symptoms. Canada has agreed to purchase up to 38 million doses if it is approved. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it for use in that country last Saturday. The approval of a fourth vaccine would give a significant boost to Canada's vaccine rollout. Johnson and Johnson's vaccine is widely seen as one of the easiest to administer because it requires only one dose and can be stored for long periods of time at regular refrigerator temperatures. Njoo said additional vaccines, coupled with the NACI recommendation on dosage intervals, could allow Canada to meet the goal of inoculating all adults who want a vaccine "several weeks" before the current target date of the end of September. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading Canada's COVID-19 vaccine logistics, said that while more vaccines would be good news, the current target remains the end of September.
There are now seven more cases at the Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC). The cases are still contained to the same unit where the initial 14 were identified over the weekend, said Richard Dionne, president of the CNCC Local 369. The corrections officer said he could not share the total number of inmates in that wing, but noted that the area remains isolated. "I don't know the full count and I can't give it to you anyway for security reasons," said Dionne, speaking to MidlandToday. He said he was thankful that no staff cases have been identified at this time. "Hopefully, it stays that way," said Dionne. "The health unit came in the other day to offer voluntary staff testing. I don't know how many staff got tested, but none of those that did, to my knowledge, have come back positive." He said the same safety protocols are being followed with staff wearing increased PPE when interacting with inmates and those incarcerated being provided with masks if needed. "There haven't been any additional measures put into place right now," said Dionne. As for the virus possibly spreading in the air, he said, every unit functions independently in terms of ventilation. "I'm very hopeful we can contain it to the one unit and not have it spread to the entire institution," Dionne said, adding the stress level among staff remains high. "The workload has increased just based on the way that the operation changes because we're limiting day-room use and following protocol around higher use of PPE. And it's also the same for inmates, he added. "They just get more and more frustrated being locked down," Dionne said. "Increased cell time is never good for anyone. That's been put out there by a number of professionals that time locked in the cell by yourself or with one other person isn't beneficial." A request for comment from the province was not received by publication time. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
While Canadian retailers took it on the chin in 2020 from the COVID-19 pandemic, some grocers in small-town Saskatchewan seem to have bucked the economic trend. Managers in Davidson, Lumsden and Maple Creek say restrictions from the pandemic nudged people in their communities to stay close to home and shop local a bit more, likely forgoing trips to Costco or Superstore in the city. “I don't have anything to complain about; I don't have time to sit around and twiddle my thumbs,” said butcher John Sperling in Davidson, about 100 kilometres south of Saskatoon. He has owned JMR Meats since 1983, moving the business from Craik to Davidson in 1999. “Probably May and June were the busiest months of my life I ever had being in the retail business,” he said. Normally Sperling earns most of JMR’s income from custom work, what he called “on-farm slaughter” ordered by specific livestock producers. “Cattle, pork, bison,” he used as examples. The retail side of his business usually makes up just a small portion. But retail surges in May and June were “a shot in the arm,” he said, recalling the fall period into December was somewhat busier than normal, too. But he predicts the short-term jump, retail-wise, won’t last long after the pandemic is over. As the province’s COVID-19 infections slowly decline (excluding Regina), he’s starting to see people in the Davidson area opting again for Saskatoon shopping. Lumsden is just 20 minutes north of Regina and to the city’s north-end Superstore. Yet Lumsden Supermarket owner Angelique Haysom said she too has been consistently busy over the last 12 months, since the pandemic started in mid-March last year. “Our customers are becoming more loyal. Instead of doing shopping trips in the city, now they're becoming regular (shoppers) here,” she said. Haysom has owned the grocery store for the last 13 years. “People used to come and buy their supper everyday and then on the weekends come and buy their supplies. Now what they're doing is reducing the amount of visits … they come get a large amount of supplies (in one trip).” Despite the expanded customer base, she said it didn’t cause a sudden windfall of profits. Among grocers, “every time there’s an increase in sales, you have to increase everything else proportionally,” like staff levels and shifting. “It’s all about that profit margin that you’re looking for in order to say in business,” Haysom said. She lamented and acknowledged COVID has hit the restaurant industry hard, explaining it’s probably one factor in increased local demand for groceries. She hopes Lumsden’s restaurants have the same success her store has. Further west in Maple Creek, just south of the Trans-Canada highway and 30 minutes from the Alberta border, the local Co-op food store is busier than usual. Manager Sherry Sustrate said people who “normally head for the Hat (Medicine Hat) are actually staying down here.” The Alberta city has several big-name grocers and retailers. She noticed over the last 12 months her store saw several new customers who weren’t necessarily from the area; she learned they were staying at nearby Cypress Hills Inter-Provincial Park longer than normal, while using the Co-op for their regular supplies. “I think the smaller towns are busier than the bigger centres, because of the (COVID-19) cases, right?” she said. firstname.lastname@example.org Evan Radford, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Regina Leader-Post, The Leader-Post
Vancouver's parks board is taking action to control the increasing numbers of messy and aggressive Canada geese. A statement from the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation says it is developing a management plan to reduce the number of geese in city parks, beaches and on the seawall. The board is particularly concerned about humans feeding the birds, saying it brings flocks of geese to high-traffic areas such as Stanley Park and the beaches of English Bay and Sunset Beach. A key part of the management plan asks residents to identify Canada goose nests on private property so they can be removed or the eggs can be addled, and left in the nest so adults continue to brood, rather than lay again. The board estimates Vancouver's population of more than 3,500 Canada geese grows every year because the habitat is ideal and the birds have no natural predators. Several Okanagan cities are asking permission to cull growing flocks of Canada geese that foul area beaches and parks, but Vancouver's board says egg addling, a measure supported by the SPCA, is its only control measure. In addition to calling for public help in identifying nests, which can be on roofs, balconies or in tall, topped trees, the park board is urging people not to feed Canada geese. “Supplemental feeding by humans can also contribute to geese being able to lay more than one clutch of eight eggs per season; meaning that if one clutch does not hatch, they can replace it," the statement says. "In nature, without food from humans, this wouldn’t happen." Canada geese have inefficient digestive systems and the parks board says the birds produce more excrement for their size than most other species. The park board says it hopes to step up egg addling, saying wildlife specialists believe the practice must be tripled in order to cut Vancouver's goose populations. A web page has been created on the City of Vancouver website to report the location of nests so they can be removed or the eggs can be addled. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits edged higher last week to 745,000, a sign that many employers continue to cut jobs despite a drop in confirmed viral infections and evidence that the overall economy is improving. Thursday's report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims rose by 9,000 from the previous week. Though the pace of layoffs has eased since the year began, they remain high by historical standards. Before the virus flattened the U.S. economy a year ago, applications for unemployment aid had never topped 700,000 in any week, even during the Great Recession. All told, 4.3 million Americans are receiving traditional state unemployment benefits. Counting supplemental federal unemployment programs that were established to soften the economic damage from the virus, an estimated 18 million people are collecting some form of jobless aid. In Texas, applications for benefits surged by nearly 18,000 in the aftermath of freezing weather and power outages. And jobless claims rose by more than 17,000 in Ohio, where the weekly totals have been thrown off by potentially fraudulent claims. Restrictions on businesses and the reluctance of many Americans to shop, travel, dine out or attend mass events have weighed persistently on the job market. Job growth averaged a meagre 29,000 a month from November through January, and the nation still has nearly 10 million fewer jobs than it did in February 2020. Though the unemployment rate was 6.3% in January, a broader measure that includes people who have given up on their job searches is closer to 10%. “Hundreds of thousands of Americans are continuing to struggle in this economy," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Thursday. “We can’t get numb to what this represents. These are moms and dads, friends and neighbours, who will now have to worry about how they’ll support families, put food on the table and make ends meet in the midst of the pandemic.'' Psaki urged Congress to move quickly to pass President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion relief package, which, among other things, would provide $1,400 checks to most U.S. households. The data firm Womply reports that 64% of movie theatres and other entertainment venues, 40% of bars and 34% of hair salons and beauty shops are closed. And on Wednesday, the Federal Reserve reported that across the country, “overall conditions in the leisure and hospitality sector continued to be restrained by ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.” “The source of all labour market damage continues to be COVID-19,” said AnnElizabeth Konkel, economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab. “Increased vaccine distribution is promising, since the public health situation must improve for there to be a full economic recovery. When we completely return to ‘normal’ is still unknown.” On Friday, though, economists have forecast that the government will report a strong job gain for February of near 200,000, which would raise hopes that layoffs will slow. Optimism is rising that increasing vaccinations and a new federal rescue aid package that will likely be enacted soon will spur growth and hiring in the coming months. Many analysts foresee the economy expanding at an annual rate of at least 5% in the current quarter and 7% for all of 2021. Already, crucial sectors of the economy are showing signs of picking up as vaccinations increase, federal aid spreads through the economy and the Fed’s low-rate policies fuel borrowing and spending. Last month, America’s consumers bounced back from months of retrenchment to step up their spending by 2.4% — the sharpest increase in seven months and a sign that the economy may be poised to sustain a recovery. The solid gain suggested that many people were growing more confident about spending, especially after receiving $600 checks that went to most adults early this year in a federal economic aid package. Additional relief is likely for American households and businesses as Congress considers Biden’s new aid package. At the same time, rising bond yields in the financial markets are pointing to worries that higher inflation could be on the way as the economy recovers. This week, Lael Brainard, a member of the Fed’s Board of Governors, sought to calm investors by stressing that the Fed, while generally optimistic in its outlook, is still a long way off from raising interest rates or otherwise lessening its support for the economy. Paul Wiseman, The Associated Press
An animal tranquillizer called xylazine has been linked to several drug-related deaths in Saskatchewan over the past three weeks. It's a new phenomenon in the province. The provincial coroners office says four deaths since Feb. 14 have seen high levels of xylazine in combination with other drugs such as fentanyl, acetyle fentanyl and methamphetamine. "This is a fatal combination," chief coroner Clive Weighill said in a news release. "Anyone who uses street drugs like these is at a much higher risk of overdose, especially when they are combining drugs like these together." Also concerning is that naloxone, a common emergency treatment for opioid overdoses, is not effective on xylazine, the release said. Naloxone may reverse the effects of opioids that are present along with xylazine, however. Xylazine is typically used by veterinarians to sedate large animals. Its effects include central nervous system depression, blurred vision, disorientation, dizziness and drowsiness. So far this year, there have been 10 confirmed and 65 suspected overdose deaths in Saskatchewan.
After several false starts, Marble Mountain is open for the season — an unusual one that is not only late starting but also sternly warns ski enthusiasts on Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula to stay away. People took to the slopes Thursday, with many remarking the conditions were great. "I'm so excited I barely slept last night," said Marble Mountain operations manager Richard Wells. "We have world-class skiing right now.… It puts a smile on your face." Wells says there about 15 centimetres of fresh snow fell within the last 24 hours, on top of the 90 centimetres that fell in recent days. There are many changes, however. Visitors need to wear masks at the base of the mountain and while waiting in line for the lifts. The day lodge is open for bathroom facilities only and people have to wear masks inside. Rental and repair service is suspended, and so is food and beverage. People are urged to bring their own lunch and leave it in their car. Getting to the top of the hill follows this motto: "Live Together = Ride Together," according to the rules listed by Marble Mountain on its Twitter account. Joey Pearce and Dustin Parsons, both from Pasadena, said Day 1 has been a smashing success. "There's so much fresh snow it's unbelievable," said Pearce. "It feels safe. I'm happy that the hill is open and I'm happy that the situation is the way that it is." Joey Pearce and Dustin Parsons of Pasadena say Day 1 of the Marble Mountain ski season has been epic.(Colleen Connors/CBC) Parsons agrees. "I don't know if there will be another day like this all year," he said. Please, stay away if you're from the Avalon Another major difference is that Wells is imploring people who live on the Avalon Peninsula, which remains in Alert Level 5, to stay away for now. "Perhaps now is not the best time to travel to Marble Mountain. We welcome you when the time is right, but it has to be safe to do so, and I think most of us can agree that right now it is not safe to do so and we would, please, highly recommend, keep the rest of us safe and respect what the public health has put in place here," Wells told CBC Radio's Newfoundland Morning ahead of Thursday's opening. Several passes that were purchased ended up being refunded because they were bought by people on the Avalon. Richard Wells, Marble Mountain operations manager, is ecstatic the ski season is finally underway. (Colleen Connors/CBC) Marble Mountain is able to tell a customer's location once a pass is bought with a credit card. Wells is imploring people to not break the rules. "Don't be the reason we lose our season," he said. No walk-up ski passes are being sold, and there is an outdoor ticket window so people don't have to congregate inside to get their pass. As for White Hills in Clarenville, the board of directors will decide on March 12 if the resort will open. That's the day Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, Newfoundland and Labrador's chief medical officer of health is expected to announce whether the Avalon will move out of Alert Level 5. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
1. “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” by Charlie Mackesy (HarperOne) 2. “The Four Winds” by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin’s Press) 3. “Believe IT” by Jamie Kem Lima (Gallery Books) 4. “Firefly Lane” by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin’s Griffin) 5. “I Love You to the Moon and Back” by Amelia Hepworth (Tiger Tales) 6. “A Court of Silver Flames” by Sarah J. Maas (Bloomsbury) 7. “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss (Random House) 8. “The Kaiser's Web” by Steve Berry (Minotaur) 9. “Guess How Much I Love You” by Sam McBratney (Candlewick) 10. “Kingdom of Shadow and Light” by Karen Marie Moning (Dell) 11. “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish” by Dr. Seuss (Random House) 12. “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster” by Bill Gates (Knopf) 13. “Bridgerton: The Duke and I” by Julia Quinn (Avon) 14. “Fox in Socks” by Dr. Seuss (Random House Books for Young Readers) 15. “Dr. Seuss's ABC” by Dr. Seuss (Random House Books for Young Readers) 16. “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch (Firefly Books) 17. “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss (Random House) 18. “Bridgerton: The Viscount Who Loved Me” by Julia Quinn (Avon) 19. “Are You My Mother?” by P.D. Eastman (Random House Books for Young Readers) 20. “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig (Viking) 21. “The Pegan Diet” by Mark Hyman (Little, Brown Spark) 22. “Atomic Habits” by James Clear (Avery) 23. “Keep Sharp” by Sanjay Gupta (Simon & Schuster) 24. “Think Again” by Adam Grant (Viking) 25. “Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder” by Joanne Fluke (Kensington) The Associated Press
A group of Indigenous youth called on supporters to block a Vancouver intersection leading to the port in protest of an elder who was sentenced to 90 days in jail for anti-pipeline actions in 2019. For most of the day March 3, the police held off traffic around the intersection of Hastings St. and Clark Drive in east Vancouver where police say 43,000 vehicles pass through daily. But in the evening they moved in to disband the blockade, arresting four adults for mischief and intimidation by blocking a roadway, both criminal offences, according to a police spokesperson. Those arrested were released that night under orders to appear in court. The blockade, organized by a group called the Braided Warriors, was peaceful. There were elders, youth, and many non-Indigenous supporters gathered in the intersection. People were sitting on blankets reading, chatting in small groups, all wearing masks. A sacred fire was lit in the centre of the intersection, and people sat around it in picnic chairs. The mood was peaceful and somber, punctuated occasionally with songs and chants. RELATED: Demonstrators block key access to Vancouver port over jail for pipeline protester RELATED: A dozen faith-based protestors blockade Burnaby Trans Mountain site in prayer The Braided Warriors shared on social media that they were there in solidarity with elder Stacy Gallagher who had been sentenced the night before to 90 days in prison. A police spokesman says the group marched from the courthouse to the East Vancouver intersection late Tuesday following the sentencing. The Braided Warriors shared an update mid-Wednesday that Gallagher was released on bail, but the blockade continued until VPD moved in. After police broke up the blockade, the protest moved to the nearby jail as they awaited the release of the four who were arrested. RELATED: Arrests at anti-pipeline protest call Vancouver police actions into question In February the Braided Warriors coordinated a protest in the lobbies of two insurance companies who are backing the Trans Mountain Pipeline Extension. That protest went on for three days before being disbanded by police on Feb. 19, where four people were arrested. Arrests at that time are under investigation for allegations of aggression and violence. The Braided Warriors said they would file complaints with the UN Human Rights Tribunal with regards to the treatment from police. Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: email@example.com Zoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette
The U.S. Senate is considering including in a new bill to boost competitiveness against China $30 billion in funding for previously-approved measures to supercharge the country's chipmaking industry, a congressional source said on Thursday. The source, who is involved in the effort, said that the Schumer-led package is likely to have provisions curbing China's access to U.S. capital markets, a focus of the Trump administration's crackdown on Beijing. A spokesman for U.S. Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer, who is spearheading the new package, did not respond to a request for comment.
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting five new COVID-19 cases today, four of which are in the eastern health region that includes St. John's. Health officials say the four cases in the eastern region involve people between the ages of 40 and 69; three involve close contacts of prior cases while the fourth is related to domestic travel. Officials say the fifth case is located in the western health region, involves a person between the ages of 20 and 39 and is related to international travel. Eight people are in hospital with the disease, including two in intensive care. Officials say they are still investigating the source of an infection involving a health-care worker at a hospital in the rural town of St. Anthony, located on the Northern Peninsula. Newfoundland and Labrador has 121 active reported COVID-19 infections. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
Universal Pictures has delayed the global debut of the "Fast & Furious" movie "F9" by one month until June 25, the company said on Thursday, the latest shift by Hollywood studios trying to gauge when moviegoers will return to theaters in large numbers. The move signaled that Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp, is confident of a summer rebound as coronavirus vaccines become more widely available in the United States and Canada, which combined make up the world's largest film market. Theater operators including AMC Entertainment, Cineworld Plc and Cinemark Holdings Inc are hoping they will have blockbusters movies to show this summer, typically their most lucrative season.
Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley is asking Premier Jason Kenney to launch a public inquiry into a deadly outbreak of COVID-19 at a Red Deer slaughterhouse, delay the meat-packing plant's reopening and compensate its employees during the closure. The Olymel plant, which had been closed since Feb. 15, confirmed Wednesday that it planned to reopen for slaughter operations on Thursday and resume cutting room operations on Friday. The news of the reopening came on the same day that a third worker's death had been linked to the outbreak. According to the union representing workers at the plant, that makes a total of four deaths — including a woman in her 60s previously linked to the outbreak — but the government has yet to confirm that total. The outbreak has been linked to 511 COVID-19 cases, including 91 that are still active. Speaking from Calgary's McDougall Centre on Thursday morning, Notley asked the provincial government to keep the plant closed until safety measures requested by the union are met and employees feel safe going back to work. Opposition, union want inquiry "With 500 infections and three deaths, [safety measures were] not adequate before," Notley said. "I can only imagine the grief and the stress that they are experiencing as a result." The union said it supports the NDP's call for a public inquiry, while Olymel said earlier this month that it has improved health and safety measures. The Alberta government also confirmed to CBC News on Wednesday that Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) had toured the facility on Monday, and again with Alberta Health Services and the union on Tuesday. In an email, a spokesperson with Alberta's labour and immigration ministry said OHS had inspected the facility 14 times since Nov. 17, adding that AHS had also visited the facility several times. The spokesperson argued the Opposition's calls for a public inquiry were politically motivated. "It is disappointing — but not entirely surprising — that the Notley NDP continues to play politics with a global pandemic that has tragically taken the lives of over 22,000 Canadians and over 2.5 million worldwide," the spokesperson said. Deaths linked to outbreak The Olymel outbreak was first declared on Nov. 17, 2020, and the first death linked to the plant's outbreak happened on Jan. 28. Darwin Doloque, a 35-year-old permanent resident who immigrated to Canada from the Philippines was found dead in his home. Darwin Doloque, 35, died of COVID-19 on Jan. 28 after contracting the virus in an outbreak linked to his work at the Olymel slaughterhouse in Red Deer, Alta. (GoFundMe) His death was followed on Feb. 24 by that of Henry De Leon, a 50-year-old who immigrated from the Dominican Republic and had worked at the plant for 15 years. He left behind a wife, two adult children and three grandchildren. The third worker's identity has not yet been made public, nor has the identity of the woman in her 60s who died. It has not been disclosed how she was linked to the outbreak. Notley said Thursday the NDP is aware of three Olymel workers who are currently in intensive care. In an interview with CBC News on Thursday after the news conference, Thomas Hesse, the president of UFCW Local 401 — the union representing the workers — said he is hearing reports about people linked to the plant who are "gravely ill." "We are very, very, very worried that we are going to see more loss of human life in the coming days," he said. Accountability, compensation Notley said that outbreaks have occurred in meatpacking plants across the country since the pandemic started, but shutdowns occurred sooner in other provinces. She called for an immediate public inquiry to understand the Olymel plant's handling of the outbreak. "We need to hold those responsible accountable," Notley said. "I fear that instead we are doing nothing, or very little." For his part, Hesse said his feelings about the reopening mirror those of the the plant's employees who are scared, confused and grieving. "Moves to reopen the plant have to be seen through that perspective; there's a lot of insensitivity here," he said. Some of the union's recommended changes had been adopted by the plant, Hesse said. But according to Hesse, neither public health nor Olymel officials have spoken to any employees at the plant about the plant's safety conditions, or how they feel about their workplace. Thomas Hesse, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers 401(Submitted by UFCW 401) "Our legal system is based on talking to witnesses, and they haven't talked to any of the actual witnesses to the functioning of this workplace, or the risks that are built into [it]," Hesse said. He would have liked to have seen employees interviewed about the plant's safety, and corrections made in accordance with their feedback, before having those employees report back on their implementation. In the absence of this, Hesse said he agrees with the request for a public inquiry. "Alberta Health Services, government agencies that are involved here — they're spending Alberta taxpayer's money. I mean, taxpayers fund those agencies, those agencies have a responsibility … and by all indicators, they're doing little or nothing to save lives and protect these workers." The NDP's request to delay the plant's reopening came with an acknowledgement from Notley that the slowdown or shutdown of meat plants jeopardize livelihood of employees. She asked the provincial government to compensate workers for lost wages. "It is not something that needs to be provided by workers literally being compelled to put their lives at risk," Notley said. "That is an immoral choice." Company says it has worked with AHS According to Alberta Pork, 40,000 to 50,000 pigs go through the Red Deer facility each week. Last month, it was reported that the temporary closure of the Olymel pork processing plant due to COVID-19 left hog farmers scrambling to find somewhere to take their animals. On Wednesday, Olymel defended plans to reopen Thursday, saying it had used the temporary closure to update and reinforce health and safety measures at the plant. "Reopening can occur because Olymel management and the regulators are satisfied that employees can return to the plant safely," said spokesperson Richard Vigneault. "Alberta Health Services authorities have however specified that the coronavirus is still spreading and that everyone is at risk of contracting it, whether in the community or otherwise. Accordingly, they recommend the utmost vigilance." A sign outside the Olymel pork plant in Red Deer, Alta., thanks the company's essential employees. It will reopen on Thursday, after being closed since Feb. 15 due to a COVID-19 outbreak.(CBC News) The company said teams from Alberta Health Services, Occupational Health and Safety, and Environmental Public Health visited the facility on March 1 and 3. AHS made several recommendations at that time. The company said it had added staff to monitor and enforce health and safety measures, and "further adjusted and enhanced" social distancing protocols, particularly when it came to adding physical space. Health and safety meetings between management and union representatives are scheduled on a daily basis, the company said. Safety recommendations made The Alberta government confirmed to CBC News that it will continue to oversee health measures at the plant. "OHS continues to monitor Olymel to ensure safety protocols and measures continue to be used to limit the spread of COVID-19," Joseph Dow said in an emailed statement on Wednesday. According to Dow, AHS made safety recommendations to be implemented before the plant's reopening. The measures recommended by AHS included: Implement capacity limits in lockers rooms and washrooms. Remove reusable dishes in break rooms. Enhance cleaning/disinfecting schedules of washrooms, break rooms and locker rooms. Add more hand-sanitizing stations throughout. Increase education plan for staff, including staff training sessions, posters and other visuals.
A large parking lot that's become a canvas for graffiti in Halifax's North End is being converted into a pair of low-rise buildings that will provide 57 affordable apartment units. But it will take two years or longer before people can move in, according to the housing co-op that acquired the land from the federal government through a national housing initiative. The project will be constructed in an underutilized parking lot on Maitland Street near Portland Place, and it's expected that ground breaking will begin in early 2022 with occupancy about 12 to 18 months later, said Karen Brodeur, president of Compass Nova Scotia Co-operative Homes. She participated in a virtual news conference with Halifax MP Andy Fillmore on Thursday. Dubbed the North-End Neighbourhood Development, the property is located behind a bakery, a restaurant and a pub on Gottingen Street, and across the street from townhouses. The project will build two six-storey apartment buildings with one-, two- and three-bedroom units. "This will mean that the development is accessible to a huge range of household types, something that we desperately need in the HRM," said Brodeur. The parking lot is a popular spot for graffiti artists.(Dave Laughlin/CBC) The federal government is providing Compass with $1.5 million in funding through the National Housing Strategy Federal Lands Initiative to purchase the property, while the Nova Scotia government is committing $3 million toward the development. The city also provided rebates on some fees to help move the project forward. Fillmore praised the project for turning the usually empty parking lot that's "kind of a blight" in the neighbourhood into homes. Jim Graham, executive director of the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia, welcomed the announcement, but said it's not a silver bullet to fix the city's affordable housing crunch. "Every little bit helps, it's just a shame that things take as long as they do," he said, citing the challenges of navigating federal, provincial and municipal agencies to make affordable housing proposals a reality. He added the 57 units will barely make a dent in the demand for affordable housing. Graham said some European cities have achieved a balanced housing market in which 12 to 15 per cent or more of rentals are non-profit compared to market-priced units. In Halifax, non-profit rentals are running at about two per cent of the overall rental housing stock, he said. Graham is the executive director of the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia. The non-profit's website says 'decent, affordable and sustainable housing is a basic human right and the first step toward personal, social, economic and cultural well-being and empowerment.'(Jim Graham) "It's very small. So there's a long hill to climb here," said Graham. He said the city's affordable housing supply is low because successive provincial governments haven't built a public housing project since the 90s. This project is being developed under a housing co-operative model, in which residents are members of the co-op and vote on decisions. Brodeur said Compass wishes to draw upon the co-operative's values of "sustainability, inclusion and collaboration" from the project's construction right through to occupancy. She said individual housing charges have not been determined, but Compass is "committed to maintaining average rents at 75 per cent of the median market rent for the area and time." Currently, the median monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in north-end Halifax is $1,100, a two-bedroom is $1,195 and a three-bedroom is $1,200. Under its lands initiative, Ottawa will spend $200 million over 10 years to offload surplus federal properties at discounted or no-cost rates to encourage development of affordable, sustainable, accessible and socially inclusive housing. The parking lot is surrounded by a new development and townhouses.(Dave Laughlin/CBC) MORE TOP STORIES
The Town of Magrath is the newest partner to team up with the recently created Ridge Utilities as a marketing associate. “Council wanted to explore innovative ways to support the long term financial sustainability of recreation in our community,” said Magrath CAO James Suffredine in a recent media release. Ridge Utilities and the village of Stirling have made a number of presentations to councils in the region about their new venture and plan to improve community sustainability in Southern Alberta. Magrath council is excited to join in this initiative, and Suffredine shares that “a partnership with Ridge Utilities allows us to create a new and incremental revenue stream beyond property taxes and user fees” (https://www.ridgeutilities.net/townofmagrath.html). Elizabeth Thompson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temple City Star