Snowplows were out in full force Tuesday to clean up the drifting snow across the southern half of the province.
Snowplows were out in full force Tuesday to clean up the drifting snow across the southern half of the province.
Substantial increases in speed and avail-ability for broadband may be coming to Mono. Council heard a request from Rogers Communications Canada Inc., to support their application to the Federal government to become part of the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) program. Their aim is to supply the entire town of Mono with Fibre Optic Internet service. Currently, much of Mono is underserviced by the available service providers and this prevents many residents and businesses from taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by digital communications.Broadband connectivity is a key priority for Mono Council and is in fact, part of their Corporate Strategic Plan. Rogers’ “leave no home behind,” plan is a true game changer for Mono.Rogers build strategy commitment is to bring broadband to entire areas of under-served homes. If it is approved, it will bring the needed broadband service, to house-holds and businesses to enable them to avail themselves of digital opportunities. Espe-cially, in the fields of business, education, health and public safety.One of the other benefits to the propos-al, is that there is no suggested cost to the Town. A notation made by Deputy Mayor John Creelman, who has been spearheading the drive for better internet service in Mono. To this end, the deputy Mayor was deeply involved with helping Vianet set up the an-tennae on the Town water tower. Another potential benefit is that if two ser-vice providers are eyeing the same territory, the funder, in this case the Federal govern-ment will be the one to decide who may op-erate where. Also, any service must be an open access one, meaning that third party users must be allow access to the service for a reasonable cost.The proposed service, will have a mini-mum download speed of 50 megabits per second and a minimum upload speed of 10 megabits per second. There are purportedly, several service providers interested in servicing Mono. CAO Mark Early mentioned that he had recently been approached by V-Media from Concord, who are also interested in supplying internet services to Mono.Deputy Mayor Creelman noted that the SWIFT program is set to go along Hwy.10, from the 10th Sideroad north through Camil-la. If Rogers and Vianet are prepared to ser-vice the rest of Mono, this will allow SWIFT to move into other parts of Dufferin County, not adequately services with broadband.Innovation Canada expects that 90 per cent of Canada will have access to high speed internet by the end of 2021. Individ-uals are encouraged to reach out to their internet service providers to notify them about the UBF and encourage them to apply for funding. Peter Richardson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Citizen
There may be a lockdown, but Paradise council still had a bevy of development applications to deal with last week. Councillor Alan English made inquires during the February 16 meeting of council as to whether a development application for Stapleton’s Road would have accommodation for potential flooding, given a history of flooding in the area. The application was for a two-lot infill subdivision at civic number 35-37. “One lot was previously subdivided from the original parcel, thus creating a three-lot total,” said councillor Sterling Willis, adding the planning and protective services committee recommended approval of the application subject to 14 conditions. That’s when English then raised his concerns. “We’ve had a lot of problems on Stapleton’s Road with flooding over the years,” he said. “Is there any anticipation of problems with these building lots or is there any particular requirement that they would have to fulfill in order to ensure that there is no flooding in that area?” Director of Planning and Protective Services Alton Glenn said each lot would have to have a grading plan submitted and approved by the Town’s engineering department. “So that the new lots couldn’t create any adverse conditions, such as flooding, or anything else, to the existing lots,” explained Glenn. English inquired further as to whether there would be any special requirements for culverts needed to access the lots. Director of Infrastructure and Public Works Chris Milley said there will be requirements for the culverts, but he did not have them on hand. Milley said he could provide the information at a later time. “But, yes there would be requirements for the size of the culverts going in there,” said Milley. “It would match what else is on the street.” English noted the culverts on the properties just below the lot are quite large, while the ones above are smaller. “The main consideration is that it’s going to be taken into account when the lots are finally approved,” summarized English. During the same meeting council approved an alcohol licence, subject to no objections received in response to the discretionary use and other conditions that were advertised, for an establishment on Topsail Road. “With the pandemic and everything going on, it’s not to see our business community is going strong and we’re continuing to grow our economy in the Town of Paradise,” said councillor Patrick Martin. Other applications included a baked goods and charcuterie board home based business on Beaugart Avenue (subject to no objections to the discretionary use notification and adherence to 10 conditions), a three unit row house on Dina Place (again, subject to no objections from a discretionary notice or nearby residents), and a five lot residential subdivision at Three Island Pond. That application was previously approved in principle following no objections from the public. Willis explained resident had expressed concerns about the submission deadline date. The date was extended, but Willis said the resident did not submit an objection. Councillor English said he spoke to the resident in question, and that the concern was primarily related to some confusion about the notice itself. “Subsequent to that Director Glenn and the Planning Department clarified that for him,” said English. “He didn’t express a particular concern about the development itself. He did, and I’m just throwing this out there as I have similar concerns myself, he did wonder how this can proceed on all lots where there is some issue with a river running through it, and the pond, and there has to be a septic system installed, and so on. So, as far as I understand it, these lots are approved, and Service NL will have to approve the septic systems which will legitimize the building lots.” All permit motions passed unanimously. Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
“Speak, Okinawa,” by Elizabeth Miki Brina (Knopf) Elizabeth Miki Brina’s “Speak, Okinawa” is a masterful memoir in which Brina examines the complex relationship she has with her interracial parents. Brina’s father, white and American, met her mother, who is from the island of Okinawa, while he was stationed there on a US military base. The two settled in the United States, where Brina’s mother spent decades feeling lonely and out of place. Brina grew up feeling close to her father and resenting her mother. Desperate to feel wholly American, she pushed her mother away, embarrassed of her accent and overall inability to truly assimilate. In this investigation of her childhood, Brina begins to see things differently. She looks at life from her mother’s perspective, and now, she starts to understand the depth of her pain, pain she endured from leaving behind all she knew and loved, and also the pain of calling occupied land home. “Speak, Okinawa” is both a mediation on Brina’s own family as well as a powerful history of the United States occupation of Okinawa, where it maintains a massive military presence to this day. Brina’s writing is crisp, captivating and profound. She is vulnerable, raw, and relatable, and her stories will no doubt cause readers to reflect on their relationships with their own parents. As educational as it is entertaining, “Speak, Okinawa” is well worth the read. —- Molly Sprayregen can be reached at her site. Molly Sprayregen, The Associated Press
Divine intervention is what Lynnette Fritshaw says about a Dawson Creek fire on 89 Avenue earlier in February. Fritshaw, a firefighter by trade, was off duty when the blaze struck and she happened to leaving her house for a day of skiing. “Right place, right time. Higher powers. Whatever the case, lives were changed forever that morning,” said Fritshaw. “Ours included. We are beyond thankful for the outcome, and truly honoured to have been able to be there when needed.” Fritshaw sprung into action as soon as she smoke billowing nearby, instantly recognizing it as a sign of a structure fire. Her husband Wade accompanied her to the burning home after they alerted the fire department. The pair banged on the door to see who was home. A mother and her two young daughters answered the door. The family was unharmed. “We didn’t know if anyone was home, and were just about to kick the door in when the light came on and faces appeared at the top of the stairs,” said Fritshaw. Fritshaw helped the mother get winter gear on the kids, got them all outside, and removed the family’s vehicle from the burning home. As they exited, the roof burst into flames, and a fire truck pulled up, says Fritshaw. Firefighters were soon on scene using a pair of engines to put out the fire, as well as use of the ladder truck and rescue truck. email@example.com Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News
(Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press - image credit) Canada's COVID-19 vaccine rollout needs to guarantee equal access for migrants and undocumented workers, advocates for migrant rights say. The Migrant Rights Network says it fears that countless migrant and undocumented workers won't get vaccinated because of their immigration status — either because they lack access to health coverage or they worry about their personal information being shared with immigration enforcement authorities. "While federal and provincial governments have made promises and assurances that vaccine access will be universal, policies and practices have not changed," said Syed Hussan, a member of the Migrant Rights Network secretariat, at a virtual press conference today. "Concrete action is urgently necessary to ensure life-saving public health measures are accessible to all migrant and undocumented people." WATCH: Advocates call for equal access to vaccines for migrants and undocumented workers The group laid out a list of demands in an open letter signed by 270 civil society organizations and addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and provincial and territorial leaders. Their goals include: making sure vaccines are free for everyone in Canada, regardless of immigration status; ensuring that getting a vaccine doesn't require a health card; and directing vaccine providers to not demand personal information in exchange for receiving a vaccine dose. The group also said that vaccines shouldn't be mandatory and that health care providers should be trained not to turn people away if they don't have a health card or access to health insurance. The letter comes as provinces and territories make plans for a country-wide mass vaccination campaign. The quantity of vaccine doses being delivered to Canada is expected to ramp up substantially in the coming weeks and months. Many lack health cards The Migrant Rights Network estimates that over 1.6 million people in Canada don't have permanent resident status and says that many of them work in essential jobs in such sectors as health care, cleaning, construction, delivery and agriculture. The group says many migrants and undocumented workers are being denied vaccination because they don't have health cards — which in many cases are tied to work or study permits. The group was joined at the press conference by an undocumented worker at a long-term care home in Toronto who came to Canada in 2014. The woman — identified only as "Lily" during the press conference — said her immigration status expired in Jan. 2020, leaving her undocumented and without an Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) card. Lily said she has been denied the COVID-19 vaccine, while all the residents and staff in the home where she works have received two shots already. "I am on the front line every day, just like everyone else who lives and works in the home. But while they are better protected from the virus's spread, I am not," said Lily. "Undocumented workers are already denied access to health care, housing, social services and legal rights. Now we are being denied access to COVID vaccinations because it is tied to an OHIP card, which we do not have." Dr. Danyaal Raza is a family doctor at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto and board chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare. Dr. Danyaal Raza, board chair of the physicians' advocacy group Canadian Doctors for Medicare, said he was part of an outreach team that went into a Toronto homeless shelter last week to vaccinate residents there. Raza said the team offers residents vaccinations without asking to see their health cards. They were also given the option of providing an alias. Raza, who is also a family doctor at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, said this model should be in place across the country — especially as provinces and territories prepare to conduct mass vaccination campaigns in the coming months. "We need to make sure that this is the case at every single vaccine clinic because we're hearing now that it's not, and that's not acceptable, especially if we're going to hit that target for herd immunity," said Raza. Vaccines will be free and accessible: PHAC Vancouver MP Jenny Kwan, the federal NDP's critic for immigration, refugees and citizenship, backed the call for vaccine access for migrants and undocumented workers. "Migrant workers and undocumented workers do critical work in Canada and we have to ensure that we do our part in protecting them from COVID outbreaks without any fear of reprisals," said Kwan. "Not only is including migrant workers and undocumented workers in the vaccination process the right thing to do, if we aren't targeting hotspots for transmission and protecting the most vulnerable to infection, then we are only prolonging the pandemic for everyone and adding additional strain to our hospitals." The Public Health Agency of Canada confirmed that the two COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved for use in Canada — from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — are free and will be accessible to everyone in Canada. "While they're available to priority populations first, they'll be available to everyone in Canada who is recommended to get the vaccine by federal, provincial and territorial public health authorities," Anna Maddison said by email. "This applies to everyone in Canada, including those who aren't citizens (and who are over the age of 16 for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or over the age of 18 for the Moderna vaccine)." But Maddison pointed out that provincial and territorial governments are responsible for administering the vaccine. Each province and territory has its own separate immunization plan laying out who can get a vaccine and when, along with the location of vaccination sites. A spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Health said an OHIP card isn't necessary to receive a vaccine — although another piece of government-issued photo ID is, such as a driver's licence, passport or other provincial health card. B.C.'s Ministry of Health said people looking to get vaccinated in that province will need to show proof of age and Canadian residency. The ministry said it needs to collect some information so that anyone who receives the vaccine can be followed up with by public health for health reasons, and for scheduling a second dose. Any information provided to public health for the purpose of the immunization plan will not be shared with other organizations, the ministry said. Over two million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed by the federal government since immunization began in December, and over 1.6 million doses have been administered, according to the COVID-19 Tracker project.
OTTAWA — NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he will not trigger an election as long as the COVID-19 pandemic persists. Singh says he will stand by his pledge to prop up the Liberal minority government on confidence votes regardless of whether the Liberals back an NDP bill to implement universal pharmacare, due for a vote later today. The government is expected within the next couple months to table a budget, which would trigger an election if it fails to garner support from at least one major opposition party. New Democrats have been hyping their pharmacare legislation in advance of a vote that will either kill Bill C-213 or send it to committee for further scrutiny. The NDP and Liberals both promised some kind of pharmacare program during the 2019 federal election campaign, but differ on the details. Singh says his party's universal medication plan, laid out in a private member's bill sponsored by MP Peter Julian, resembles the framework recommended by a government-commissioned report released in June 2019. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
COVID vaccinations have begun at local lodges and all other seniors 75 and older can now book a COVID-19 vaccine shot, said Steve Madden, Grande Spirit general manager. Eligibility was expanded to everyone outside lodges born in 1946 or before as of Feb. 24, with availability based on supply. “We’re excited, and it’s good to see the supply catch up to the number of people waiting,” Madden said. He said Grande Spirit is aware of many relieved seniors and families. Seniors’ vaccinations began at Pioneer Lodge in Grande Prairie Wednesday morning, followed by Heritage Lodge and Wild Rose Manor later that day, he said. Vaccinations at Clairmont’s Lakeview facility will take place all today, Madden said. Amisk Court vaccinations are scheduled for March 3, and he said he is hopeful the supply will allow these immunizations to go forward. Residents will be contacted by their care teams, according to Alberta Health Services. All other seniors can book an appointment for a vaccine through AHS, by calling 811 or going to albertahealthservices.ca, though some early registrants Wednesday morning experienced system crashes due to heavy traffic. Beaverlodge resident Eleanor Lord said she began trying to book an appointment 8 a.m. Wednesday morning and at press time hadn’t succeeded. “The online system has crashed and 811 is continuously busy,” Lord said. She said they’ll keep trying, but she’s wondering if vaccines will run out. Family members can book a shot on behalf of seniors but must provide the senior’s Alberta Health Care number and date of birth, according to AHS. The continuation of the vaccine rollout adds seniors to a growing list of eligible recipients. Others include health-care workers in COVID-19 units and emergency departments. Vaccinations of elders began at Horse Lake First Nation this month, chief Ramona Horseman told Town & Country News last week. More than 29,000 long-term care residents have received two doses of vaccine to date, according to the Alberta government. The ongoing first phase of immunizations will be followed by a second possibly beginning in April, depending on vaccine supply. The vaccine will be offered to everyone 65 to 74, First Nations and Métis people 60 to 64, and supportive-living facility staff who haven’t already been immunized, according to the government. They will be followed by everyone 18 to 64 with “high-risk underlying health conditions,” then staff and residents of living facilities like homeless shelters, and then everyone 50 to 64 and indigenous people 35 to 49. Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News
Trudy Hodges, Family and Community Support Services director, and Amie Greene, FCSS program services co-ordinator, presented an update on 2020 operations to council in delegation. In 2020, Beaverlodge FCSS served 33 clients through its home support program, including 30 seniors. Home support made 232 visits, according to Hodges’ presentation. The food bank served 61 families and another 187 individuals throughout 2020, with an additional 61 Christmas hampers prepared. FCSS also helped residents complete 110 income tax returns. FCSS had 615 requests for service in 2020, from 498 town residents, 102 County of Grande Prairie residents and 15 others. City residents may be examples of “others” who used programs like babysitting courses, Greene said. Use of FCSS services was generally down in 2020; FCSS would typically complete 150 to 170 income tax returns, Greene said. Programs like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit may account for less demand for FCSS services, Hodges said. FCSS received $60,800 of its budget from the Alberta government and $30,400 from the county, with the remaining $269,000 provided by the town, Hodges said. Municipal election: Council also approved two motions to prepare for the Oct. 18 municipal election. Coun. Judy Kokotilo-Bekkerus’ motion to set two advance voting dates, Oct. 9 and Oct. 13 at the community centre, was carried. Coun. Cyndi Corbett’s motion to establish a voting station at Amisk Court from 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 18, in addition to the main voting location at the community centre 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., was carried. Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News
LONDON — Dele Alli scored with an overhead kick and set up two other goals as Tottenham beat Wolfsberg 4-0 in the Europa League on Wednesday to become the first team to qualify for the last 16. Alli, handed a rare start by Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho, flicked the ball up after meeting a right-wing cross by Matt Doherty then leapt with his back to goal and directed an acrobatic effort into the bottom corner in the 11th minute of the second-leg match in the round of 32. The midfielder crossed for Carlos Vinicius to head in the second goal in the 50th then played in substitute Gareth Bale to curl a powerful 73rd-minute shot into the top corner. Vinicius added a fourth for Tottenham, which completed an 8-1 victory on aggregate over its Austrian opponent. The remaining second legs in the last 32 are staged on Thursday. The Tottenham-Wolfsberg game was played Wednesday to avoid a clash with fellow north London club Arsenal, which is also at home in the second leg against Benfica — although that game is being played in Athens because of coronavirus restrictions. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
(CBC - image credit) A report from the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council says that rural areas of the province are at greater risk of economic decline because of COVID-19 19 and Charlotte County may be most vulnerable. The group says the county, which includes St. Stephen, Saint Andrews and St. George, is at a high risk on its Industry Vulnerability Index, with 42.6 per cent of the labour force working in industries vulnerable to COVID-19. This compares to 28 per cent for the province as a whole. Charlotte County is the only county listed as high risk in the province. Patrick Brannon, the report's lead author, said a county's vulnerability is determined based on the vulnerability of industries in the county and the county's reliance on those industries. Highly vulnerable industries would include fishing, agriculture and tourism. "They do have lots of aquaculture, fish processing and so in terms of New Brunswick counties, it's the highest and the most vulnerable to potential impacts from COVID," said Brannon. The report also explores other areas of COVID-19 vulnerability. The county's low median income means the labour force vulnerability is rated as medium, and the large number of seniors means the health vulnerability is rated as medium. Long term economic vulnerability is high. "The income and education levels are relatively low," said Brannon. "The unemployment is high at the moment, and the population isn't growing very much .. There's not a lot of immigration going into Charlotte County and the natural rate of population births/deaths is negative. The county is also losing some population to other parts of New Brunswick." Brannon said the report shows that any COVID-19 economic recovery plan policymakers come up with can't just be a one size fits all one. "They need to understand those realities that not every county and every part of New Brunswick is going to be the same," said Brannon. "The strategies to help those economies have to be a little bit different based on that structure." The strongest county in the province is Sunbury County, with a low industry vulnerability, labour force vulnerability and health vulnerability indexes.
Conservative MP’s are backing a B.C. salmon farmers’ request to Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan for transparent consultations with stakeholders and First Nations over the timeline to remove operations from the Discovery Islands. yesterday (Feb. 23) the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) released a report detailing 690 direct job losses and $390 million in lost economic activity as a result of the decision to close all 19 farms in the archipelago. The report also stated 10.7-million salmon eggs and young fish will be culled to meet the June 2022 deadline. The farmers are asking government to host a new round of discussions with all parties with aim of securing more time to allow the fish to grow out to harvestable size. Citing the report’s findings that 845 indirect jobs are also at risk, Richard Bragdon, Conservative shadow minister for fisheries and oceans, and Mel Arnold, MP for North Okanagan-Shuswap, said in a joint statement it’s clear the minister’s decision will harm the local economy with ripple effects throughout the sector. “Instead of seeking to minimize the impact of her decision, the Minister ignored local communities, mishandled First Nations consultations, and blindsided workers. These groups should have been at the negotiation table and helped provide a plan – an overdue step that Conservatives have called for,” they said. “The fisheries sector, and the thousands of Canadians it employs, deserves transparency and accountability from their government.” Layoffs and culling has already begun in the sector. Mowi Canada has released three employees with another 30 expected in the coming months. Yesterday the company also began a cull of 950,000 eggs and young salmon. A spokesperson for minister Jordan’s office said while the culling of any fish is unfortunate, industry leaders had known for months or years prior that a final decision on the farms would be made by December 2020. “The Cohen Commission recommended this over a decade ago, and the licenses in that area were only ever renewed on a yearly basis for that reason,” she said. Directed by the Cohen recommendations, DFO conducted risk assessments of the Discovery Islands farms last year, but found the impacts to wild salmon were below critical thresholds. However public pressure resulted in three months of consultation with area First Nations and Jordan’s subsequent decision. Fish farm owners, area mayors and B.C. Premier John Horgan have all stated they were not part of those discussions. “In 2021, Canadians expect First Nations to have a say in what economic activity occurs on their territory. These pens were not the right fit for the area,” Jordan’s spokesperson said. Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View
(epridnia - stock.adobe.com - image credit) Some New Brunswick workers will see a slight bump in their paycheques come spring. The minimum wage is set to increase by five cents on April 1, bringing it up to $11.75 an hour from $11.70. The five-cent increase was arrived at because the minimum wage in New Brunswick is indexed to the province's consumer price index, which saw a 0.22 per cent increase last year. In a statement posted to the province's website, Labour Minister Trevor Holder said tying the minimum wage to the consumer price index protects "the purchasing power of employees" while also ensuring "predictability for businesses." "We are mindful of the financial realities faced by both employees and employers, particularly as we endure the COVID-19 pandemic." The increase is relatively small compared with recent increases. In 2020 the minimum wage rose by 20 cents in 2019, by 25 cents in 2018 and by 35 cents in 2017. The province estimates that 20,000 workers in New Brunswick make minimum wage. The province has the second-lowest minimum wage in the country. Saskatchewan has the lowest at $11.45, and Nunavut has the highest at $16. The other three Atlantic provinces are also raising their minimum wages later this year, but they're already higher than New Brunswick's will be after the April increase. In Nova Scotia, the minimum wage is now $12.55, in P.E.I. it's $12.85, and in Newfoundland and Labrador it's $12.15.
Nikola Dimitrov of AIS Technologies Group in Windsor, Ont., discusses how the pandemic has affected supply lines.
“Paul Anishinaabemo (Speaks Ojibwe)” is a new podcast series by Paul Rabliauskas and his mother Sophia Rabliaukas. Paul Rabliaukas is a comedian from Poplar First Nation in Northern Manitoba, and he has sat with his mother every Sunday this month at her kitchen table to learn Anishinaabemowin. Rabliaukas told CBC he is a self-described mama's boy and said that it's nice to laugh with her during the recordings. Sophia told CBC when she was a young adult, she didn't put emphasis on teaching her children Anishinaabemowin because she was taught that in order to be successful, they had to prioritize English. As Rabliauskas has gotten older, he has come to regret not being able to speak his mother's tongue and has been wanting to work on a language project with her for a couple of years. This podcast is a beautiful look into an honest relationship between mother and son as they explore language together. They started this podcast in February 2021, and they now have 4 episodes that run an hour long and go through the lessons and importance of traditional teachings and language. This podcast can be found on most streaming platforms for free! Locally, the Sault Ste. Marie Indian Friendship Centre offers several resources for traditional language learning. Check out their Facebook page for their weekly programming for all ages and abilities! Josie Fiegehen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, SaultOnline.com
OTTAWA — A lawyer for prospective refugee claimants says a judge was correct in finding an agreement between Ottawa and Washington results in people being imprisoned by U.S. authorities.Lawyer Michael Bossin argued in an appeal hearing today there was sufficient evidence for Federal Court Justice Ann Marie McDonald to conclude the Safe Third Country Agreement leads to the detention of people turned away by Canada.Under the bilateral refugee agreement, which took effect in 2004, Canada and the U.S. recognize each other as safe places to seek protection.It means Canada can turn back a potential refugee who arrives at a land port of entry along the Canada-U.S. border on the basis the person must pursue their claim in the U.S., the country where they first arrived.Canadian refugee advocates have steadfastly fought the asylum agreement, arguing the U.S. is not always a safe country for people fleeing persecution.Government lawyers contend the Federal Court misinterpreted the law when it declared in July the agreement breaches constitutional guarantees of life, liberty and security.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
Despite rising COVID-19 cases, especially in Metro Vancouver, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry didn’t announce new measures to curb the spread of the virus in a briefing today. Henry urged British Columbians to continue to stay home when sick, wear a mask in public spaces and not socialize outside their households — public health orders that have been in place for nearly five months. “It is concerning that we’re seeing an increase in our per-cent positivity and in our weekly average, particularly in the Lower Mainland,” she said. “We know what to do to manage.” The province need only stay the course to lower transmission as it continues to roll out vaccines to the most vulnerable to serious illness, she said. But recent data shows the number of people infected is beginning to climb again after a slow decline. Earlier this month, the province was reporting about 450 new COVID-19 cases each day. On Thursday, the province reported 617 new cases. Today, Henry said 559 new cases had been identified. And the rolling seven-day average of new daily cases has surpassed 500 for the first time since early January. Recent polling also suggests British Columbians are less likely to consistently follow COVID-19 guidelines than people in other provinces. Concerns have also increased after seven schools reported students and staff had been exposed to COVID-19 variants that are believed to be more easily transmitted and potentially more likely to cause serious illness. Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside acknowledged the issue in a briefing Monday. “I can appreciate the anxiety,” she said. But she added that testing has shown the variants are not being spread within schools. Henry said the province is testing all positive cases for evidence of a variant, and genomic sequencing has been ramped up to confirm the extent of variants in the community. “We are paying extra attention, so we better understand how and where these are spreading,” she said. “We’re learning about the impacts of these variants of concern,” Henry said. “But we know what we have to do to manage it.” Henry said there are signs the province’s vaccination effort has saved lives, particularly in long-term care. More than 220,000 people have been vaccinated, and at least 55,057 of those have had two doses. The province reported one death due to COVID-19 today, an individual in assisted living. There have been no new cases or deaths in long-term care in the last 24 hours, and 92 per cent of residents have had their first dose of the vaccine, Henry said. Outbreaks in long-term care have also dropped from almost 60 in December to 12. There are five outbreaks in assisted living facilities. On Monday the province will announce the plan for vaccinating seniors over 80 living in the community, Henry said, which will begin shortly. “We are in a period of vaccine hope and pandemic reality,” she said. Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
BERLIN — Germany's foreign minister on Wednesday urged Iran to accept diplomatic overtures coming from the West in order to preserve the 2015 nuclear accord. Heiko Maas accused Tehran of further undermining the transparency it is required to show under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, after Iran began restricting international inspections of its nuclear facilities Tuesday. Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran had added 17.6 kilograms (38.8 pounds) of uranium enriched up to 20% to its stockpile as of Feb. 16 — far past the 3.67% purity allowed under the JCPOA. "In the end, Iran needs to understand that what’s important is to de-escalate and accept the offer of diplomacy that’s on the table, including from the United States,” Maas said. Iran’s violations of the JCPOA pose a significant problem for U.S. President Joe Biden, who is seeking to reverse the Trump administration’s decision to pull the U.S. unilaterally out of the deal three years ago, triggering the re-imposition of crippling economic sanctions on Iran. Iran this week effectively set a deadline to lift those sanctions within three months, after which it said it would erase surveillance footage of its nuclear facilities Maas said the transparency required of Iran under the JCPOA wouldn't be fulfilled during that period. "But we still want to use these three months, together with other partners in the nuclear agreement, to discuss step by step how the U.S. can return to this accord,” Maas said. “And in particular (the discussion) will be about the sequence of measures. That is, who needs to take which step so that a general agreement can be achieved at the end of which the U.S. are part of this agreement again.” Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made clear late Tuesday that his country doesn't have confidence in the accord with Tehran. “We have already seen the quality of agreements with extremist regimes such as yours, in the past century and in this one, with the government of North Korea,” he said. "With or without agreements – we will do everything so that you will not arm yourselves with nuclear weapons.” The Associated Press
TORONTO — A quarantine screening officer in Oakville, Ont., is facing charges of sexual assault and extortion. Regional police say the accused was trained by the Public Health Agency of Canada and worked for a private security company. Police allege the 27-year-old officer told a woman at a home she was in violation of a quarantine order. They allege he demanded a fine be paid in cash, and sexually assaulted her when she refused. Police say the accused goes by the name Hemant and has been suspended. They won't identify the security company. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
Holyrood council has voted to become a member of the Grand Concourse Authority. Council hopes that membership will help trail development in the community. “The purpose of the Grand Concourse is to foster, promote, and enable the design, development , and operation by or for the members of an integrated network of walkways, amenities, and land owned or occupied by the members,” said councillor Kim Ghaney during the February 9 meeting. The benefits include access to trailway standards and maintenance planning, which Ghaney said will lead to credibility in trail planning and increase the likelihood of success in getting grants “And, as Deputy Mayor (Curtis) Buckle likes to say, it’s always better to get funding for these infrastructure pieces of work. It reduces the burden on the community, so we’re always looking for funding for that purpose,” said Ghaney. “We recognise that trail development has been a gap in our outdoor recreation offered in the town, and we look forward to the creation of new trails in our area, and by doing it in the right way, by adhering to the best practices and good standards outlined by the Grand Concourse Association.” Councillor Roger Myette assured residents the membership will not mean that ATV users will be booted from the T’railway. “This is by no means taking the T’railway and turning it into a walking path,” said Myette. “Because when people hear Grand Concourse, they think right away of CBS, when they came in and removed all motorized vehicles from that trail. This is not that intent of what we have. This is to help us with the other trails we have around the community, and to increase this trail as well. But, so far as we know, as of right now, it will still be motorized, there is no intent of taking motorized vehicles off the T’railway.” Ghaney agreed that it was a “great point,” and noted that any such changes would not happen without public consultation. Council voted unanimously to approve the membership. The Grand Concourse Authority is a non-profit, member-based charitable organization. It’s board of directors includes representatives from CBS, Paradise, Mount Pearl, and St. John’s. Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden plans to distribute millions of face masks to Americans in communities hard-hit by the coronavirus, as part of his efforts to ensure “equity” in the government's response to the pandemic. Biden, who like Donald Trump’s administration considered sending masks to all Americans, is instead adopting a more conservative approach, aiming to reach underserved communities and those bearing the brunt of the outbreak. Trump's administration shelved the plans entirely. Biden's plan will distribute masks not through the mail, but instead through Federally Qualified Community Health Centers and the nation's food bank and food pantry systems, the White House announced Wednesday. The Departments of Defence, Health and Human Services, and Agriculture will be involved in the distribution of more than 25 million American-made cloth masks in both adult and kid sizes. The White House estimates they will reach 12 million to 15 million people. “Not all Americans are wearing masks regularly, not all have access, and not all masks are equal,” said White House COVID-19 co-ordinator Jeff Zients. Biden hinted at the move Tuesday during a virtual roundtable discussion Tuesday with four essential workers who are Black, saying he expected his administration to send millions of masks to people around the country “very shortly.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki suggested earlier this month that logistical concerns underpinned the decision to scale back the plans to send masks to all Americans. “I think there are some underlying questions about how you target them — the masks — where they go to first; obviously, it couldn’t happen immediately," she said. Biden has asked everyone to wear face masks for the first 100 days of his term. He also required mask-wearing in federal buildings and on public transportation. Zeke Miller And Darlene Superville, The Associated Press