With Christina Laia.
With Christina Laia.
CORNWALL – COVID-19 infection numbers are continuing to slowly decline in the region as provincial lock-down and Stay-at-Home measures remain in place. Since Monday, the active case count has decreased by nearly 100 people. The province announced Wednesday that students in seven health units, including neighbouring Leeds, Grenville, and Lanark District Health Unit will return to in-person learning on January 25th. Students in this region will continue to learn remotely for now. Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, said Thursday that keeping students in the region learning remotely for now was the right call. "I think it was the right call, looking at the numbers," he said adding that he thought schools could reopen soon. "Despite the fact that [the numbers] are going downwards, we're still pretty high in the Red Zone." According to the province's COVID-19 colour-coded restriction framework, the Red-Control zone is defined as a rolling seven-day average of 40 or more new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. Roumeliotis said he was encouraged the region is going in the right direction. The seven-day average for new cases peaked on January 9th with 152.2 per 100,000 people. As of January 21st, the average was 84.1 per 100,000 people. Roumeliotis said the determining factor in schools returning to in-person learning was that the region had to be clearly in the Orange-Restrict zone, or below 40 cases per 100,000 people. "If the trends continue, we can be there by the time [the province] re-evaluates," he said. The provincial Stay-at-Home order is in place until February 11th. As of the Eastern Ontario Health Unit's January 21st update, there are 544 active COVID-19 infections in the region. Locally, South Dundas has four active cases, and 24 cases overall. North Dundas has 12 active cases, 51 cases overall. The City of Cornwall continues to have a highest number of active cases with 226 people infected. The city's tally of overall cases stands at 597. In all, there have been 2,297 COVID-19 cases in the EOHU region since the pandemic began. Currently there are 15 facilities listed by the EOHU as having a COVID-19 related outbreak. None of those facilities are in Dundas County. Roumeliotis said that of those 15 facilities, most have been declared as being in an outbreak due to staff contracting the virus. Only three facilities have residents who tested positive. GlenStorDun Lodge in Cornwall and a Long-Term Care Home in Lancaster are two that have residents who tested positive. At the Lancaster LTC home, at least nine people have died from COVID-19 related illness. The region's death toll has increased to 48. More people have died in the second wave of the pandemic in the EOHU region than in the first. There are 23 people hospitalized, six are in intensive care. Nearly 1,600 people have been vaccinated so far in the EOHU, but due to production cuts by Pfizer, deliveries of the vaccine will stop for a week. The health unit plans on pausing its vaccination plans once its own supply has run out, and will restart once new shipments are received. Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
Squamish Nation has launched a new program to help guide its community members through the COVID-19 pandemic. The nation has introduced a team of ‘COVID Guardians’ to offer extra support to community members in isolation, educate and raise awareness of the virus and provincial health officer restrictions, and to report on any issues that may arise. Syetáxtn, Chris Lewis, Squamish nation spokesperson, said the new program was already having a positive impact, sharing the news in a Facebook update to members. “It's a new program to assist our community through the pandemic and to also ensure that there is public awareness and the information gets out,” he said in the latest video update on Jan. 15. “The guardians are here to ensure safety and engage with members of the public to make sure that the residents and everybody in our community are aware of the physical distancing directives and to provide education around public etiquette and courtesies and shared outdoor spaces. “They'll also help maintain and prevent any COVID exposures within the community through continued education and prevention.” There are five guardians, three for North Vancouver and two for the Squamish Valley, who report to the nation’s emergency co-ordinator, David Harrison, and to the emergency operations director, Paul Wick. Syetáxtn said so far the guardians had been busy checking in with community members that are in isolation, or quarantining, delivering COVID lawn signs and care packages to households, and fixing and repairing damaged and vandalized signs throughout the community. “They patrol high exposure areas and help clean up the community, so I really want to thank them for the work that they're doing,” he said, Syetáxtn said the guardians would also be helping with the rollout of vaccinations in the community. Vaccinations have already started in 169 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities across Canada, according to Indigenous Services Canada. “In the coming months, you can see our guardians assisting in the setup operation of the upcoming Squamish nation COVID vaccination site,” said Syetáxtn. “We're continuing to work with Vancouver Coastal Health and health authorities to ensure that those sites are set up and we're in the queue.” While plans are in the works, Syetáxtn said there was “no update in terms of when the nation will receive the current vaccine.” “We are in conversations, though, in terms of our home care assistants, in terms of getting them vaccinated because we know that they’re supporting our most vulnerable,” he said. He added that the nation’s older adults and elders were a priority for vaccinations in B.C. “The age requirement for indigenous adults will be lower than the rest of the population due to the higher rate of health risks to our elders and other factors that have affected access to quality health care," said Syetáxtn. “So, our elders will be in that queue.” During the members update, Khelsilem, Dustin Rivers, Squamish Nation spokesperson, confirmed there are active COVID-19 cases in the nation’s community at this time, but they did not have exact case numbers to provide. “The nation does not receive names of any confirmed cases or members advised to self-isolate or quarantine unless the members voluntarily share that information with us and give us permission to share that information publicly,” he said. Earlier this month he told North Shore News the nation temporarily closed its main office at 320 Seymour Boulevard, from Jan. 6 to 11, due to a COVID-19 exposure, and those involved were taking the “necessary precautions.” He said there were a number of other active cases in the community which weren’t related to the office exposure. He added that there had been no cluster events in the community since the summer. Up until Sep. 23, 2020 there had been a total of 43 confirmed cases - 39 lab-confirmed, four epi-linked, for the nation. Since then, Khelsilem said “they have all been minor cases, contained through contact tracing and isolating.” In First Nations communities across B.C., as of Jan. 20, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of a total of 1,377 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. ISC said Across Canada, numbers had “reached an all-time new high this week” with a total of 14,200 positive cases – 5,409 active cases, 124 deaths, and 8,667 recoveries. “A number of communities are experiencing mounting cases, and ISC is taking measures to mitigate risks, including meeting regularly with local health services in Indigenous communities and engaging with provincial and other federal department representatives in an effort to assess on-going community needs,” a Government of Canada release stated. Khelsilem commended the community for its ongoing efforts to follow the PHO recommendations and restrictions. “You've done an amazing job of helping protect the community from the spread of the virus,” he said, adding he understood how difficult it had been to not be able follow usual traditions and spiritual practices in hard times. “As we get through this, I just want to continue to thank and encourage our community to work very hard to stay by these health orders that are set in stone to help protect our community. “We're all in this together, and of course, we will all get through this together.” The community can reach out to the Squamish Nation’s Guardians by calling 604-374-2687 or can contact the Member Services Department on 604-982-7610 during office hours or 604-505-3776 after hours for care packages and support. Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News
Frontline health care workers in Strathmore had a bit of extra time following their long shifts last week thanks to an initiative to provide them with a free meal. The meals were provided by the Calgary Health Foundation, a charity that raises money for health care across the City of Calgary and surrounding communities. The initiative, called Feed the Frontline, started after the organization started to receive requests from the community for ways to show gratitude to frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, explained Valerie Ball, director of marketing, communications and community engagement with the organization. “I think over the last couple of months, health care workers have been tirelessly putting everything that they have into providing care and fighting COVID-19 and ensuring that we are taken well care of,” said Ball. “So, people just really wanted a way to give back and give thanks.” The meals, from Sunterra Market in Calgary, were offered to staff members working in hospital and community health centres, in Calgary and 16 surrounding communities, said Ball. “It’s just to give them a night off, after everything they put into work every single day, whether it’s to fill their belly and rejuvenate or maybe spend some more time with their family.” Feed the Frontline provided health care workers in the region 21,000 meals in total, including 325 meals to health care workers living in Strathmore. The meals are a welcome relief, said Shayla Noel, a pre-triage screener at the Strathmore Hospital. “We do get pretty busy and it’s exhausting some days, so to be recognized is just touching,” said Noel. “I know everyone who is being recognized is very appreciative.” Work in the hospital has been busy, but everyone can still be seen, said Jarrett Fawdry, Strathmore Hospital site manager. “COVID is an old hat now – with our enhanced infection prevention and control measures, we’re very comfortable inside with what we’re doing to protect our patients in the community.” With meal prep and cooking out of the way for a night, Fawdry said he would spend some extra time with his kids, while Noel said she “might go to bed early.” Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
ATLANTA — Hank Aaron, who endured racist threats with stoic dignity during his pursuit of Babe Ruth but went on to break the career home run record in the pre-steroids era, died early Friday. He was 86 The Atlanta Braves said Aaron died peacefully in his sleep. No cause of death was given. Aaron made his last public appearance less than two weeks ago when he received the COVID-19 vaccine. “Hammerin’ Hank” set a wide array of career hitting records during a 23-year career spent mostly with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves, including RBIs, extra-base hits and total bases. But the Hall of Famer will be remembered for one swing above all others, the one that made him baseball’s home-run king. It was a title he would hold for more than 33 years, a period in which the Hammer slowly but surely claimed his rightful place as one of America’s most iconic sporting figures, a true national treasure worthy of mention in the same breath with Ruth or Ali or Jordan. “Hammerin’ Hank” set multiple hitting records during a 23-year career spent mostly with the Braves, including RBIs, extra-base hits and total bases. But the Hall of Famer will be remembered for one swing above all others. On April 8, 1974, before a sellout crowd at Atlanta Stadium and a national television audience, Aaron broke Ruth’s home run record with No. 715 off Al Downing of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Aaron finished his career with 755. Barry Bonds surpassed that in 2007 —though many continued to call the Hammer the true home run king because of allegations that Bonds used performance-enhancing drugs. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Paul Newberry, The Associated Press
Ottawa is reporting 87 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death. Today's Ottawa update Ottawa Public Health (OPH) recorded 87 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death Friday. The health authority also declared another 105 cases resolved. As of Friday, OPH has received 25,350 vaccine doses, of which it has administered 22,981. The infection rate in Ottawa rose to record levels after Christmas, but has started to decline. The current lockdown in eastern Ontario went into effect Dec. 26, and is scheduled to last until Feb. 11. A provincial stay-at-home order is also in effect. Numbers to watch 36: The number of Ottawa residents being treated in hospital for COVID-19, down slightly from Thursday. 69.7: The number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 Ottawa residents, back down after a slight increase on Thursday. 0.88: The average number of people infected by a single COVID-19 case, or R(t). Anything below one suggests the spread is coming under control. Across the region Quebec's lockdown is in effect until Feb. 8, and includes an 8 p.m. curfew.
A bevy of major U.S. earnings reports next week led by Apple, Microsoft and Facebook could help technology and growth stocks reassert their dominance after a recent run by banks, energy and other potential beneficiaries of an economic reopening. That shift has stalled in recent days as investors weighed lackluster outlooks from big banks and a blockbuster quarterly report from Netflix that lifted its shares by 17%. Next week's crop of fourth-quarter results - with about a quarter of the S&P 500 reporting - could help determine whether the resurgence in growth stocks will continue, potentially threatening the recent rally in value and cyclical shares, said Chuck Carlson, chief executive officer at Horizon Investment Services.
A framed arrangement of quilt blocks made of material from masks, gowns and scrub caps is now on display in the lobby at Campbellford Memorial Hospital (CMH). The unique piece reflects the fabric of a community that came together to make masks, gowns and scrub caps for hospital staff shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020. Through the donation of fabric, buttons, pipe cleaners, elastic, thread and financial contributions by the community, the Campbellford Mask Makers sewed and donated close to 2,000 pieces to the hospital in a time when Personal Protective Equipment was in short supply, the hospital noted in a news release. CMH called the artwork a “piece of COVID history.” “We will be forever grateful to this community for helping to protect our staff and patients during the early days of this pandemic,” said Paul Nichols, chair of CMH’s board of directors. “These quilt blocks are a testament to the caring, giving and compassion of volunteers in Trent Hills and the surrounding area. They represent the collaborative efforts of a great many individuals who participated in the making and donation of masks, caps and gowns to CMH during the COVID-19 crisis of 2020.” Cathy Redden, co-ordinator of the Campbellford Mask Makers, said the project exceeded the group’s expectations and was a meaningful experience for many of its participants. “This project had results that reached far and beyond our goal of providing the hospital with needed supplies,” Redden said. “It gave many of us a reason to get up and dressed in the morning. While short in its duration, this project had a lasting impact on the surrounding community, our hospital and those who have participated in it.” CMH also gave thanks to Campbellford’s 2777 Northumberland unit of the Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps. and all of the community members who made masks, provided material or supported the project through financial contributions. “CMH staff are forever grateful to be part of such a wonderful community,” the release stated Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Northumberland News
ONTARIO – The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks announced members of a new working group they created to deal with the recent changes to the Conservation Act. The new members consist of people from conservation authorities, development and agriculture sectors, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and Conservation Ontario. The group’s first task will be to look at the first phase of proposed regulations that impact conservation authorities and their participating municipalities. These proposed regulations will be available for public consultation in late January 2021. Maitland Conservation general manager Phil Beard told Midwestern Newspapers “MVCA’s members will be discussing the working group and process that the Minister has announced for developing the regulations on mandatory and non-mandatory services and other topics at the Jan. 27 meeting” The working group members are: -Chair Hassaan Basit, President and Chief Executive Officer of Halton Region Conservation Authority -Kim Gavine, General Manager, Conservation Ontario -John MacKenzie, Chief Executive Officer, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority -Sommer Casgrain-Robertson, General Manager, Rideau Valley Conservation Authority -Chris Darling, Chief Administrative Officer, Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority -Rob Baldwin, Chief Administrative Officer, Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority -Brian Tayler, Chief Administrative Officer, North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority -Samantha Lawson, Chief Administrative Officer, Grand River Conservation Authority -Cathie Brown, Senior Advisor, Association of Municipalities of Ontario -Scott McFadden, Mayor, Township of Cavan Monaghan *Jason Sheldon, Vice-President, Land Development, Remington Group *Gary Gregoris, Senior Vice-President, Land Development, Mattamy Homes *Josh Kardish, Vice-President, EQ Homes *Michelle Sergi, Director Community Development, Region of Waterloo *Leslie Rich, Policy and Planning Liaison, Conservation Ontario *Barb Veale, Director, Planning and Watershed Management, Halton Region Conservation Authority *Laurie Nelson, Director, Policy and Planning, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority *Mark Wales, Past President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture Participants marked with an *asterisk will provide further perspectives to the working group, including on the section 28 Minister’s regulation. Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
Iran urged new U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday to "choose a better path" by returning to a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and global powers, but said the opportunity would be lost if Washington insists on further Iranian concessions up front. Under Biden's predecessor Donald Trump, Washington withdrew from the deal - designed to stop Iran developing a nuclear weapon - and bolstered sanctions in a bid to force Tehran into talks on a broader agreement that also addressed its ballistic missile program and support for proxies around the Middle East.
GREY BRUCE – It was a unique challenge for Grey Bruce Farmers Week, Jan. 5-12 – two featured speakers in different time zones (one in the United Kingdom and the other in New Zealand) speaking simultaneously in a third time zone in Owen Sound, and being broadcast to four different time zones. Lorie Smith and the GBFW organizing team met the challenge, and more with this year’s virtual event. Thanks to the expertise of CTRE Productions and a lot of advance planning, the presentation entitled Using Genomic Markers in an Ovine Breeding Strategy, by Robert Hodgkins, owner, Kaipoi, U.K., and Johanna Scott, owner, Targeted Breeding, New Zealand, on Sheep Day, Jan. 9, went off without a hitch. The same was true of the other presentations and trade show at this year’s event. Unlike past years, when the live conference and trade show has been held in Elmwood, this year’s event was virtual. Said event organizer Smith, the decision made last summer to hold a fully virtual event was not an easy one. While GBFW has utilized livestreaming technology in recent years, doing the entire event including the trade show component was a tremendous leap of faith – not just by her and her team, but the producers and sponsors. And it worked. She said even people who were none too familiar with the technology were willing to give it a try. “Zoom broke through that ceiling for us,” she said. Before the pandemic, no one would have dreamed of having a virtual conference and trade show, but they’ve been talking to their grandchildren on Zoom. And the organizing team did what they could to make sure the event would be a success. New this year was the three-day pass. Smith said a lot of people took advantage of that. And the content was excellent. The virtual format made it possible to bring speakers from quite a distance, with no need for expensive air travel. “We delivered as much content or more,” she said. That content was delivered to a much wider, and, by all indications, very appreciative audience. People participated from right across Canada and some from the United States. “I told the CTRE Productions people to take the best parts of the in-person conference and include it,” Smith said. There was an information desk with a real person on the screen to answer technical questions, for example. People weren’t able to enjoy the beef dinners and pies, but there were ample opportunities for networking and chatting, and for asking questions to speakers. Smith said the local area has always known what an excellent conference and trade show GBFW is. It’s been described as a “hidden jewel” of an event. It’s no longer hidden. Going virtual meant more people learned about it and enjoyed it. “I hope we increased our profile,” Smith said. It wasn’t something that was left to chance. The organizing team went out of their way to get sponsors from outside the area, and they helped to promote the event right across Canada. Smith noted a Twitter comment put GBFW right up there with some of the country’s top agricultural conferences and trade shows. Although the final numbers aren’t in, Smith said indications are that some days there were a lot of people from outside Grey-Bruce attending – for example, on Sheep Day and Goat Day. Preliminary numbers indicate about 620 households attended, and many of those households had more than one person. By comparison, attendance is usually around 700 people. “Attendance was comparable or stronger,” Smith said. Although the format was different, the 55th annual GBFW had the same winning combination of speakers that attendees want to listen to and chat with, other producers to network with, trade booths with plenty of information, and much more. The reason, said Smith, is GBFW is, and always has been led and driven by farmers. In addition to herself, Nicole Heber and Patricia Ellingwood of Grey Ag Services, there’s a committee of people in the business of agriculture. Many of the presenters were suggested by farmers, for example, Crops Day presenter, Dr. Lee Briese, agronomist, from North Dakota, who spoke on Soil and Crop Management: The Details Matter (and yo-yos – those who attended will understand). It means the content is relevant and useful. “We have a history of having an exceptionally well-organized conference,” said Smith. “The was no way we weren’t going to do that (with the virtual conference).” It meant throwing everything she knew about organizing an in-person conference out the window and being ready to meet a lot of new challenges, but Smith said going virtual for 2021 was the right decision. She’s glad the decision was made early, leaving enough time to organize it properly. The organizers are facing another difficult decision about what to do about 2022. In some ways, it will be more difficult, Smith said. No one knows what’s going to happen with the pandemic, if enough people will be vaccinated in time to make an in-person conference possible. And now that the benefits of a virtual conference have been seen, the decision might be made to stay with that format. Being able to access presenters who don’t have to travel to participate is only one advantage. If organizers decide to go back to Elmwood, there will be changes, as GBFW metamorphosizes into something new. One thing is certain – GBFW22 will be excellent as always, with great speakers, ample networking opportunities, and well-attended – the best agricultural conference and trade show around. Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
THUNDER BAY — A number of inmates from the Thunder Bay jail have been temporarily transferred to a Toronto detention centre in an effort to manage the current number of active COVID-19 cases at the facility. On Friday, Jan. 22, a spokesperson with the ministry of the solicitor general confirmed the Thunder bay jail currently has 12 active inmate COVID-19 cases and six COVID-19 positive cases among staff. The inmates were transferred to the Toronto South Detention Centre (TSDC) temporarily to bring the facility within operating capacity and reduce the risk of infection, spokesperson Andrew Morrison said in an emailed statement. “The inmates selected for transfer are low risk for COVID-19 and will be isolated for 14 days upon arrival at the TSDC,” Morrison said, adding the ministry cannot provide details about inmate transfers for security reasons. All inmates are being transferred to a separate area at the TSDC and won’t be placed with current inmates to reduce any potential spread of the virus, Morrison said. “Appropriate protocols are being followed to ensure the protection of all staff and inmates,” Morrison said. The Toronto facility is the ministry’s newest jail with a modern health care unit with medical isolation units to effectively manage and support inmates with COVID-19, the ministry says. The Thunder Bay Correctional Centre currently has 42 active inmate cases and two active cases among staff of COVID-19. According to the ministry, any inmate who tests positive for the virus is placed under droplet precautions and is isolated from the rest of the inmate population while they receive medical care. The ministry continues to work with local public health authorities to complete contact tracing. Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
A Nepean retirement home where 10 people have died from COVID-19 is the first in the city to begin vaccinating residents and staff against the illness, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) says. "As part of Phase 1 of the COVID vaccine rollout in Ottawa, Valley Stream Retirement Home was identified as a high-risk retirement home and the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was made available and administered to staff, essential caregivers and residents on Jan. 17," OPH confirmed Thursday. OPH finished administering the first vaccine doses to residents in long-term care homes in mid-January, but Valley Stream is the first high-risk retirement home to be offered the same opportunity. At a news conference on Wednesday, Ottawa's general manager of emergency and protective services Anthony Di Monte said that while second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine would be delayed for some, one high-risk retirement home and one "congregate home with older adults" would still have a chance to receive first doses of the vaccine. In total, 51 of Valley Stream's 134 residents have tested positive for the virus since the outbreak began on Jan. 2. Thirteen of those cases are now considered resolved. Another 27 staff members have also tested positive, 10 of which are now resolved. Jennifer Rose's 80-year-old father Richard Currie lives at Valley Stream, but has tested negative so far. "I'm obviously grateful and thankful that they're getting vaccines, and [with] my dad still testing negative, I'm happy he's getting that protection," Rose said, adding she's sympathetic to families that haven't been so lucky. "I just find it's so hard for the families that did lose somebody to this," she said. "They were close to being able to get that vaccine. It's just heartbreaking that it was almost within their grasp." Cleaning protocols enhanced Revera, which owns numerous long-term care facilities in Ontario and across North America, said it's working closely with OPH to maintain proper protocols and limit the spread of the virus at Valley Stream. "We are doing enhanced cleaning at Valley Stream, frequently disinfecting high touch surfaces like handrails and doors, common areas and staff rooms," the company's chief medical officer, Dr. Rhonda Collins, wrote. Collins said all residents are being monitored and tested if they show symptoms, while staff are screened at the beginning and end of their shifts. Visits are restricted to essential caregivers, as well as essential visits for palliative residents. "We recognize how difficult these measures are for residents and their families, and we appreciate their patience and understanding as we put these precautions in place for the safety of our residents," Collins wrote. According to OPH, the recent delay of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine "did not impact the administration of vaccines at Valley Stream." Earl Brown, professor emeritus of virology at the University of Ottawa, said while it's important to administer the second dose within a specific period of time after the first shot, giving more vulnerable people a single dose may prove the best option — as long as that second dose isn't too far behind. "It really comes down to maximizing your benefit," Brown said. "So numbers-wise, it generally has tended to favour spreading out the first dose and getting the second dose in somewhat of a timely manner. " But while the two vaccines both report higher than 90 per cent effectiveness in stopping the virus, Brown said it's believed they're less effective for older people. "I think the unknowns loom larger with this group."
Coup de théâtre mercredi après-midi, alors que le Directeur général des élections du Québec (DGEQ) informait l’avocat de Virginie Dufour qu’une enquête était ouverte relativement aux allégations de financement politique illégal qui visent sa cliente. Cette information est tombée dans les heures suivant une entrevue que Mme Dufour, conseillère municipale de Sainte-Rose, accordait au Courrier Laval, où elle annonçait son retour au sein du comité exécutif dont elle s’était retirée le 30 novembre dernier «pour ne pas nuire aux affaires de la Ville». Or, ce mercredi 20 janvier, elle estimait que l’«injustice» dont elle se dit victime «a assez duré». D’autant que, affirmait-elle, le DGEQ ne l’avait jamais relancée à la suite de son courriel - il y a sept semaines - où elle demandait à l’institution de faire enquête sur les allégations formulées à son endroit afin de «rétablir sa réputation». À défaut d’une enquête formelle, elle disait réintégrer l’exécutif «la tête haute» avec en main un affidavit signé par Normand Cusson, l’homme qu’on entend sur l’enregistrement incriminant rendu public par le Journal de Montréal, le 30 novembre. Dans une déclaration assermentée, M. Cusson, un proche de Virginie Dufour, affirme avoir menti lorsqu’il dit que ses contributions versées par chèque au Mouvement lavallois – Équipe Marc Demers lui sont remboursées en argent comptant par l’élue de Sainte-Rose. Considérant que le DGEQ ouvre une enquête, Virginie Dufour entend-elle se retirer à nouveau du comité exécutif le temps que la lumière soit faite sur ces allégations? Une décision devrait être rendue d’ici les prochaines heures, informe-t-on au cabinet du maire.Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
The Alberta government has relaxed some of the public health measures enacted in December to stop the spread of COVID-19. Despite these changes, Alberta’s case numbers and hospitalizations remain high, and continue to pose a threat to healthcare system capacity, said Health Minister Tyler Shandro, during a Jan. 14 government press conference. “When we introduced new mandatory health measures in December, we did so with a goal to limiting as much in-person interaction as possible, and the point was to minimize exposure to the virus,” said Shandro. “Today, we can’t entirely ease up on this goal, but we can make small adjustments to provide Albertans with some limited activities.” As of Jan. 18, outdoor social gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed. Personal and wellness services are also now allowed to reopen, by appointment only. This includes a variety of businesses, including hair salons, barber shops, aesthetics, manicure and pedicure businesses, reflexology, piercing and tattoo shops, among others. Maximum funeral ceremony attendance was increased to 20 people, but funeral receptions are still prohibited. Trends of the virus will be assessed to determine if restrictions can be eased further. “I want to stress to everyone that while we are actively looking at what restrictions we are able to ease, over the weeks ahead, in order to make any further changes we need everyone’s cooperation to stay within the rules,” said Shandro. “If we continue to see case rates, hospitalizations and our ICU admissions continue to slow down and go down, we will continue to open things up.” School reporting changes The province is also changing how cases in schools are reported. As of Jan. 18, a school with one to four cases of COVID-19 will receive an “alert” status, while if more than five cases are detected, a school will receive “outbreak” status. There will be two categories of outbreaks, for schools with five to nine cases and for 10 or more cases, and the “watch” status will no longer be used. This change is to terminology only and will not affect how AHS is supporting schools or responding to cases. The province will continue to report schools on the COVID-19 school map when two or more cases are identified. Parents will still be notified if there is a single case in their child’s school. As of Jan. 18, across the province there are two outbreaks (both five to nine cases) and 29 alerts in schools, according to the COVID-19 school status map. However, none of these schools are in Strathmore or Wheatland County. Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
CBC News gains access to a unique inoculation site in the U.K., where vulnerable groups are being prioritized.
The Town of Strathmore has reinstated license fees for Strathmore-based businesses in 2021 after waiving them last year, but a rebate could be enacted later in the year if needed. Under the town’s business license bylaw, all businesses are required to hold a valid business license, costing a fee. But this fee was waived for Strathmore-based businesses by town council in February 2020 to attract new businesses to Strathmore and support existing ones. Whether the town should again waive fees for local businesses in 2021 was discussed by town council during the Jan. 13 committee of the whole meeting. Mayor Pat Fule said he brought the issue to the meeting after being contacted by multiple residents concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on businesses. The 2021 to 2023 operating budget council passed in November 2020 included about $100,000 in revenue from business fees in 2021. Therefore, if council was again to waive business license fees, the town would need to either raise property taxes or make a transfer from reserves to offset the revenue loss, said Mel Tiede, the town’s director of corporate services, during the meeting. Another consideration in the decision is that the Strathmore Wheatland Chamber of Commerce (SWCC) is funded by licensing fees from SWCC-member businesses, noted Councillor Bob Sobol. The town has already billed more than $60,000 in business license fees this year, said Tiede. Approximately 80 businesses have already paid for licenses. Invoices for business fees are mailed out during the first two weeks of December, with fees due and payable by the last week in January of the current calendar year. Councillor Melanie Corbiell proposed extending the due date for business licensing fees. However, Doug Lagore, the town’s interim chief administrative officer, recommended council stay a decision for now. “If we find that the businesses have to remain shut down for a good portion of the year, we could look at a rebate program sometime during the year if there is a big impact,” he said. “But I think it’s premature at this time. Let’s see what the impact of COVID will be during the year, and deal with it at a later time.” Councillor Lorraine Bauer suggested businesses challenged by the licensing fees could be exempted on an individual basis. Council decided to keep licensing fees in place for now, and the presentation was accepted as information. Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
After a busy year and with ongoing efforts to update its helicopter fleet, the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service (STARS) has received continuing support from Wheatland County. During the Jan. 12 Wheatland County council regular meeting, a presentation about the organization’s operations in 2020 was provided by Glenda Farden, STARS major gift manager. STARS has been busy, as 2020 had the highest number of calls over the last five years. The organization responded to 135 calls between 2016 and 2020, including 60 inter-facility transfers from the Strathmore Hospital, and 28 scene calls near Strathmore. The May long weekend is the busiest weekend of the year, but most missions occur between September and March. Operations have been directly affected by the pandemic, with about 13 per cent of missions being suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases, said Farden. The organization has also seen a rise in stress-related types of missions, including heart attacks, strokes and drug overdoses. The pandemic has also affected the organization’s balance sheets. STARS is experiencing a significant decrease in funding across all areas, including government, said Farden. The organization’s 10-year affiliation agreement with Alberta Health Services has expired. The organization received $9.1 million in government support from AHS in 2019 and funding has been extended until September 2021 while the province reviews health funding. Fundraising has also taken a hit. The 2020 stars lottery did not sell out and resulted in $1.2 million in lost revenue. The calendar campaign is also down by more than half. “With COVID-19 still looming around us, most of STARS fundraising events have been cancelled for the foreseeable future,” said Farden, who added registration revenue is down because of less certainty in the energy sector. There are some promising signs, however. The 2021 STARS lottery is now underway, and in its first week, outperformed predictions. The organization has also seen a rise in individual contributions. “We are humbled that Albertans are continuing to stand by our side,” said Farden. To deal with funding reductions, the organization has reduced administration costs by downsizing the number of staff members across all its bases. STARS is currently upgrading its helicopter fleet to the Airbus H145, which provides safety upgrades, improved avionics, better maneuverability, and increased speed and range. The organization is planning for nine new helicopters, costing about $13 million each. The total cost of the fleet renewal campaign is $135 million, of which about $14 million remains to be secured. Three H145s are now operational, with one each flying from both Calgary and Saskatoon, and the third serving as backup. Two more have recently been delivered. The sixth and seventh will feature a five-bladed system, increasing lift and load capacity. The organization is also deploying new portable ultrasound machines. These allow medical personnel to assess such medical issues as collapsed lungs, trauma-related internal hemorrhaging, heart abnormalities or suspected heart failures. Wheatland County made a three-year commitment in 2018 for funding STARS by $2 per capita. The funding for 2021 equals $17,576. Following the presentation, council voted in favour of a standing motion to continue this support rate within the annual budget, as a long-term pledge with no time commitment. “Wheatland County is grateful for the critical emergency care and transport that STARS provides in Wheatland County,” said Reeve Amber Link. “This service is particularly vital in rural areas.” Link said she and her family know firsthand the difference STARS makes. “Seventeen years ago, when our youngest son was an infant, we were relieved when STARS, with a specialized neonatal team, was there for our critically ill baby,” she said. “I would encourage residents who can, to consider STARS in their donation plans. Now more than ever financial support is needed.” Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
CHARLOTTETOWN — A lozenge plant in Prince Edward Island has laid off 30 workers, citing an "almost non-existent" cold and cough season amid COVID-19 restrictions.Island Abbey Foods said Friday sales of its Honibe cough and cold lozenges have declined in the first two quarters of 2021, forcing the Charlottetown company to cut 30 temporary positions from its production operation.Measures aimed at curbing the pandemic such as masks, frequent hand washing, physical distancing and working from home appear to have lessened the prevalence of seasonal viruses.The apparent drop in winter colds across the country seems to have weakened demand for medicine and natural remedies aimed at soothing sore throats and nasal congestion. Both Metro Inc., which operates drugstores primarily under the Jean Coutu, Brunet, Metro Pharmacy and Drug Basics banners, and Loblaw Companies Ltd., which has a network of Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix outlets, have noted the weak cough and cold season. Metro president and CEO Eric La Fleche told analysts during a conference call in November that it appeared to be a "much weaker cold and flu season," as the increase in sanitary measures due to COVID-19 appear to help curb the spread of seasonal viruses.Loblaw president Sarah Davis also noted during a call with investors in November that the company was looking at ways to offset a declining trend in the cough and cold sector.The Public Health Agency of Canada's weekly influenza report earlier this month said flu activity remains "exceptionally low" for this time of year.The FluWatch report for the week of Jan. 3 to 9 said flu testing continues at seasonal levels but there is "no evidence of community circulation of influenza."For Island Abbey Foods, the decline comes on the heels of a "tremendous year" in 2020, said Scott Spencer, president and chief operating officer."We increased head count significantly across our company to meet higher than anticipated demand and position our company for success," he said in a statement. The Charlottetown company has continuously adapted to the ever-changing business realities that COVID-19 is imposing on the world, he said. Despite substantial gains with its digital retail strategy, Spencer said online sales have not replaced the volume the company projected for a regular cold and cough season. The company said demand for its gummy products continues to be strong. It said planning is underway for a major expansion project, which includes state of the art equipment that will increase capacity to meet growing demand. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
Pendant que la neige tombait à gros flocons samedi dernier, j’ai déniché quelques trésors cachés sur le site web de l’Office national du film, onf.ca. Pour vous, j’ai fait une sélection des meilleurs courts-métrages mettant en vedette la neige, l’hiver et nos paysages nordiques. Idéal pour une soirée de couvre-feu, faute d’aller jouer dehors. Découvrez l’homme derrière la légende qui a sillonné les Laurentides pendant des décennies et qui en a tracé les plus importants sentiers. Ce portrait, réalisé pour le centenaire d’Herman Smith-Johannsen, révèle un explorateur infatigable, sa résilience et son humour. Le documentaire trace des parallèles entre sa Norvège natale et ses Laurentides d’adoption, et nous fait voyager dans le temps. Dans une scène, on le voit racontant ses souvenirs dans une voiture, cigare en bouche, pendant que des paysages enneigés défilent par la fenêtre. En noir et blanc, ce court-métrage offre un regard d’ensemble du ski au Canada, de Banff aux Laurentides. On y retrouve l’enthousiasme des premières neiges, la leçon de ski, le remonte-pente pour les « moins vaillants » (dit le narrateur), et la vue magnifique une fois arrivé au sommet. Somme toute, le sport a bien peu changé, 73 ans plus tard. Une journée à la patinoire, présentée par Gilles Carle, le célèbre cinéaste québécois dans ses débuts. La musique de Claude Léveillée anime même ce court-métrage sans paroles. En bottes ou en patins, on y découvre le simple plaisir de patiner, de glisser et de jouer sur la glace. Pourquoi ne pas jouer une amicale partie de hockey, avant de se déhancher sur la glace au rythme de la musique de l’heure : le rock ‘n’ roll! Suivez ces deux Inuits (appelés Esquimaux dans le film) alors qu’ils bâtissent un iglou pour la nuit, pendant que le narrateur vous explique comment faire. Vous n’aurez besoin que d’un couteau à neige… et de neige. Les Inuits peuvent prendre aussi peu que 40 minutes ou aussi longtemps que 2 jours pour construire leur iglou, selon leurs besoins. Mon préféré. Suivez l’artiste Alexander Young Jackson dans la création de ses paysages uniques. Jackson est membre du Groupe des sept, un rassemblement de paysagistes canadiens qui ont révolutionné l’art durant les années 1920. Pour faire ses ébauches, Jackson part en expédition dans la nature automnale de l’Ontario, au Lac Grace, puis dans les collines enneigées de Saint-Tite-des-Caps, juste au nord de l’Île d’Orléans. On le voit en canot, faire du portage et même escalader les parois rocheuses du bouclier canadien, tout pour trouver le parfait paysage.Simon Cordeau, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Accès
France has one of western Europe's highest rates of distrust in modern-day vaccines. On Unreported Europe we take a look at why, what anti-vaxxers have to say and what can bring sceptics rounds. View on euronews