Long-time Maple Leafs reporter Paul Hendrick reveals which former Toronto stars he continues to cheer for now that they have moved on to different teams.
Long-time Maple Leafs reporter Paul Hendrick reveals which former Toronto stars he continues to cheer for now that they have moved on to different teams.
LOS ANGELES — Tiger Woods was seriously injured Tuesday when his SUV crashed into a median, rolled over and ended up on its side on a steep roadway in suburban Los Angeles known for wrecks, authorities said. The golf superstar had to be pulled out through the windshield, and his agent said he was undergoing leg surgery. Woods was alone in the SUV when it crashed into a raised median shortly before 7:15 a.m., crossed two oncoming lanes and rolled several times, authorities said at a news conference. No other cars were involved. The 45-year-old was alert and able to communicate as firefighters pried open the front windshield to get him out. The airbags deployed, and the inside of the car stayed basically intact and that “gave him a cushion to survive the crash,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. Both of his legs were seriously injured, county Fire Chief Daryl Osby said. They said there was no immediate evidence that Woods was impaired. Authorities said they checked for any odor of alcohol or other signs he was under the influence of a substance and did not find any. They did not say how fast he was driving. The crash happened on a sweeping, downhill stretch of a two-lane road through upscale Los Angeles suburbs. Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who was the first to arrive at the wreck, told reporters that he sometimes catches people topping 80 mph in the 45 mph zone and has seen fatal crashes there. “I will say that it’s very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” Gonzalez said. Woods was in Los Angeles over the weekend as the tournament host of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, where he presented the trophy on Sunday. He was to spend Monday and Tuesday filming with Discovery-owned GOLFTV, with whom he has an endorsement. A tweet Monday showed Woods in a cart smiling with comedian David Spade. According to Golf Digest, also owned by Discovery, the TV shoot was on-course lessons for celebrities, such as Spade and Dwyane Wade, at Rolling Hills Country Club. Woods, a 15-time major champion who shares with Sam Snead the PGA Tour record of 82 career victories, has been recovering from Dec. 23 surgery on his lower back. It was his fifth back surgery and first since his lower spine was fused in April 2017, allowing him to stage a remarkable comeback that culminated with his fifth Masters title in 2019. He has carried the sport since his record-setting Masters victory in 1997 when he was 21, winning at the most prolific rate in modern PGA Tour history. He is singularly responsible for TV ratings spiking, which has led to enormous increases in prize money during his career. Even at 45, he remains the biggest draw in the sport. The SUV he was driving Tuesday had tournament logos on the side door, indicating it was a courtesy car for players at the Genesis Invitational. Tournament director Mike Antolini did not immediately respond to a text message, though it is not unusual for players to keep courtesy cars a few days after the event. Woods feared he would never play again until the 2017 fusion surgery. He returned to win the Tour Championship to close out the 2018 season and won the Masters in April 2019 for the fifth time. He last played Dec. 20 in the PNC Championship in Orlando, Florida, an unofficial event where players are paired with parents or children. He played with his son, Charlie, who is now 12. Woods also has a 13-year-old daughter. During the Sunday telecast on CBS from the golf tournament, Woods was asked about playing the Masters on April 8-11 and said, “God, I hope so.” He said he was feeling a little stiff and had one more test to see if he was ready for more activities. He was not sure when he would play again. Athletes from Mike Tyson to Magic Johnson and others offered hopes that Woods would make a quick recovery. “I’m sick to my stomach,” Justin Thomas, the No. 3 golf player in the world, said from the Workday Championship in Bradenton, Florida. “It hurts to see one of my closest friends get in an accident. Man, I just hope he’s all right.” Crews used a crane to lift the damaged SUV out of the hillside brush. The vehicle was placed upright on the street and sheriff’s investigators inspected it and took photos. Then it was loaded onto a flatbed truck and hauled away Tuesday afternoon. This is the third time Woods has been involved in a car investigation. The most notorious was the early morning after Thanksgiving in 2009, when his SUV ran over a fire hydrant and hit a tree. That was the start of shocking revelations that he had been cheating on his wife with multiple women. Woods lost major corporate sponsorships, went to a rehabilitation clinic in Mississippi and did not return to golf for five months. In May 2017, Florida police found him asleep behind the wheel of a car parked awkwardly on the side of the road. He was arrested on a DUI charge and said later he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medicine for his back pain. Woods later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and checked into a clinic to get help with prescription medication and a sleep disorder. Woods has not won since the Zozo Championship in Japan in fall 2019, and he has reduced his playing schedule in recent years because of injuries. The surgery Tuesday would be his 10th. He has had four previous surgeries on his left knee, including a major reconstruction after he won the 2008 U.S. Open, and five surgeries on his back. ___ Ferguson reported from Jacksonville, Florida. Stefanie Dazio And Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press
ATLANTA — Fueled by Black turnout, Democrats scored stunning wins in Georgia in the presidential and U.S. Senate races. Now, Republicans are trying to make sure it doesn't happen again. GOP lawmakers in the once reliably red state are rolling out an aggressive slate of voting legislation that critics argue is tailored to curtail the power of Black voters and undo years of work by Stacey Abrams and others to increase engagement among people of colour, including Latino and Asian American communities. The proposals are similar to those pushed by Republicans in other battleground states: adding barriers to mail-in and early voting, major factors in helping Joe Biden win Georgia's 16 Electoral College votes and Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff take the two Senate seats that gave Democrats control of the chamber. But one aspect of their plans, a proposal to eliminate early voting on Sundays, seems specifically targeted at a traditional get-out-the-vote campaign used by Black churches, referred to as “souls to the polls." It's led many to suggest Republicans are trying to stop a successful effort to boost Black voter turnout in Georgia, where they make up about a third of the population and have faced a dark history of attempts to silence their voices in elections. “It's a new form of voter suppression, the Klan in three-piece suits rather than white hoods,” said the Rev. Timothy McDonald III of the First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta, which has participated in souls to the polls events. “They know the power of the Black vote, and their goal is to suppress that power.” In previous elections, souls to the polls campaigns were festive, with vehicles and people parading to election offices during early voting windows. Churches would sometimes playfully compete to see which could bring the most voters, said McDonald, who described the GOP legislation as “spiteful.” In Georgia and elsewhere, Republicans say proposals to tighten voting access are meant to bolster confidence in elections, though they have been some of the loudest proponents of meritless claims that the election was fraudulent. The Brennan Center for Justice, a public policy group, has counted 165 bills in 33 states this year meant to limit access to voting. In Georgia, Republicans control state government and have introduced dozens of legislative measures that would restrict voting access. GOP state Rep. Barry Fleming is chief sponsor of a wide-ranging proposal that would ban Sunday early voting, require a photo ID for absentee voting, limit the time when an absentee ballot could be requested, restrict where ballot drop boxes could be placed and curb the use of mobile voting units, among other changes. In committee hearings, Fleming has cast the legislation as “an attempt to restore the confidence of our public in our election system.” He didn’t respond to an email or phone message requesting comment. Nse Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project that Abrams founded in 2014, called the GOP measures a backlash “to our multiracial, multilingual progressive majority that is winning elections." Biden beat former President Donald Trump by roughly 12,000 votes, becoming the first Democrat to win a presidential contest in Georgia since 1992. Biden received nearly double the number of absentee votes as Trump in a state that became a major target of Trump’s baseless claims of fraud. Biden's win there was confirmed in three separate counts, including one by hand. "These measures, in our opinion, are not based on any objective, data-driven, evidence-based assessment of the issue but solely with the intention to undermine Black voters and other communities of concern,” said Democratic state Rep. Michael Smith, chairman of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus Policy Committee. Because Republicans control both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office, at least some form of their proposals are likely to become law. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, also a Republican, has called for a photo ID requirement for absentee voting but has yet to back a specific proposal. His office said it was still reviewing the legislation. Republicans are trying to limit ways to vote that have been wildly popular. After states expanded access to mail-in and early voting during the coronavirus pandemic, nearly 70% of all ballots cast nationwide came before Election Day. An estimated 108 million people voted by mail, early in person or by dropping off absentee ballots. In Georgia, over 4 million voters cast early or absentee ballots. “They realize if they continue to allow individuals to vote by mail, it is going to be an uphill battle for Republicans to win at the polls and maintain their position,” Democratic state Rep. Debra Bazemore said. At the federal level, Democrats are pushing for a sweeping overhaul of how Americans vote. House Democrats are expected to vote next week on a measure that would establish federal election standards like early voting periods, same-day voter registration and other policies that Republicans have dismissed as federal overreach. And they are expected to introduce another bill to restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that had triggered federal scrutiny of election changes in certain states and counties with histories of discrimination. Georgia was among the states that previously had to get approval for voting changes. “If left to their own devices, Republicans will try to limit the ability of minority voters to exercise their fundamental right to vote,” said U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat co-sponsoring the bill on federal election standards. “It's open season on voting rights in Georgia,” he said. ___ Izaguirre reported from Lindenhurst, New York. ___ Associated Press coverage of voting rights receives support in part from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The AP is solely responsible for this content. Anthony Izaguirre And Ben Nadler, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is moving slowly but surely toward reengaging with the Palestinians after a near total absence of official contact during former President Donald Trump’s four years in office. As American officials plan steps to restore direct ties with the Palestinian leadership, Biden’s national security team is taking steps to restore relations that had been severed while Trump pursued a Mideast policy focused largely around Israel, America's closest partner in the region. On Tuesday, for the second time in two days, Biden's administration categorically embraced a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something that Trump had been purposefully vague about while slashing aid to the Palestinians and taking steps to support Israel’s claims to land that the Palestinians want for an independent state. The State Department said Tuesday that a U.S. delegation attended a meeting of a Norwegian-run committee that serves as a clearinghouse for assistance to the Palestinians. Although little-known outside foreign policy circles, the so-called Ad Hoc Liaison Committee has been influential in the peace process since Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. “During the discussion, the United States reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to advancing prosperity, security, and freedom for both Israelis and Palestinians and to preserve the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state,” the State Department said in a statement. “The United States underscored the commitment to supporting economic and humanitarian assistance and the need to see progress on outstanding projects that will improve the lives of the Palestinian people, while urging all parties to avoid unilateral steps that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve,” it said. U.S. participation in the meeting followed a Monday call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel’s foreign minister in which Blinken stressed that the new U.S. administration unambiguously supports a two-state solution. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is close to Trump, has eschewed the two-state solution. Biden spoke to Netanyahu last week for the first time as president after a delay that many found suspicious and suggestive of a major realignment in U.S. policy. Blinken, however, has spoken to Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi twice amid ongoing concern in Israel about Biden's intentions in the region, particularly his desire to reenter the Iran nuclear deal. In Monday's call, Blinken “emphasized the Biden administration’s belief that the two-state solution is the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace alongside a viable and democratic Palestinian state,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. The Trump administration had presented its own version of a two-state peace plan, though it would have required significant Palestinian concessions on territory and sovereignty. The Palestinians, however, rejected it out of hand and accused the U.S. of no longer being an honest peace broker after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, moved the U.S. embassy to the city from Tel Aviv, cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority, closed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington and rescinded a long-standing legal opinion that Israeli settlement activity is illegitimate under international law, Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
Dr. John C. Wickwire Academy in Liverpool and North Queens Community School in Caledonia are among the Queens County schools engaging students in various activities in recognition of February as Nova Scotia’s African Heritage Month. The theme in this year’s celebration is Black History Matters: Listen, Learn, Share and Act. Erica Langille, the teacher for Grades 1 to 2 at Wickwire, said the students began discussions in January about the famed American social rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr. They read a book about him and watched part of his speech. “It wasn’t so much about what he said, for my students, but how he said it,” observed Langille. The discussions focused on his dream, racism and segregation, and culminated in what the students could do to change the world. Earlier this month, discussions also touched upon different symbols that represent African culture. According to Langille, Kente cloths that are bright and worn for celebrations are what stand out for her. The students made some with paper and discussed what the colours they chose meant to them. They also talked about African American inventors. “I think it’s very important, because for many years we suppressed these people and did not allow them to speak about their history and culture,” commented Langille. ‘I think they need to be celebrated and their culture expressed. If we don’t teach our students about their history, how do we ever build upon that culture?” Meanwhile, Phil Prendergast, a behaviour support and resource teacher at North Queens Community School, has been leading activities in that school this month. “We are focusing on achievements and celebration – historical and contemporary,” he said. “Usually the standard for African Heritage Month is to just put up a poster. We didn’t want to stop there, but to go above and beyond that.” While the students did put up posters, the artwork included cut-outs of different colours of hands from elementary students that were placed around the poster. Staff and students also started a trivia contest for the school. Each day Grade 7 students ask a question during the announcements. Students from Grades 2 to 12 then can look up the answers. The classes with the most participation can win a weekly prize and, at the end of the month, a pizza party will be held for the winning class. Elementary students also were expected to begin making bracelets adorned in African colours, and one class had started a “history gram,” highlighting the accomplishments of African Canadians. The aim of African Heritage Month is to recognize the important legacy of people of African descent and their long-standing history in the development of Canada. It also brings focus and increased awareness of racialized issues and further calls on people to listen, share and act to make society a better place. Paul Ash, the regional executive director for the South Shore Regional Centre of Education, maintained that recognizing the contributions and learning about African Nova Scotians is “absolutely critical.” “It is extremely important that our students and communities see themselves reflected in our formal and informal curriculum,” Ash, who is of Canadian-African descent, commented in an email. “It is equally important that all of our students are exposed to learning opportunities to understand different lived experiences and histories as they prepare to enter into a much smaller world than previous generations.” While Ash recognized the value in having a designated month recognizing African Nova Scotians, he suggested more has to be done to break down social barriers. “Celebrations and activities are extremely important, but it will be the daily conversation and interactions that will impact our student level of knowledge and understanding of our African Nova Scotian/African Canadian Community,” he said. Nova Scotia has more than 50 historic African Nova Scotian communities with a history dating back more than 400 years. Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke on Tuesday and agreed to coordinate on efforts to get web giants to pay for news, according to a statement from Ottawa. The two leaders "agreed to continue coordinating efforts to address online harm and ensure the revenues of web giants are shared more fairly with creators and media," a statement detailing the issues discussed in their telephone call said.
THUNDER BAY — A new website launched this week features various services and tools to support victims and survivors of local human trafficking, says the co-chair of the Thunder Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking. Thunder Bay has been identified as one of the top six hubs in Ontario for human trafficking says Kristal Carlson, human trafficking youth and transition worker at Thunder Bay Counselling and co-chair of the Thunder Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking. “This crime is rampant in Thunder Bay,” she said Monday, Feb. 22. The website was created to provide victims and survivors of human trafficking with access to free services and to also spread awareness and education in the community about the crime. “The Thunder Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking created the website to help community members, potential survivors and business people alike to be able to acknowledge, identify and potentially intervene if they should see human trafficking in young peoples’ lives,” Carlson said, adding the crime is often under-reported. For women, only one in 10 will report and for men only one in 20 will report to police, Carlson said. “It is such an under-reported crime so any sex-based crime we know that only six per cent will ever end in conviction so it is really hard to convince people to come forward when there is not the likelihood that something will happen,” she said. And while groups such as the Thunder Bay Coalition To End Human Trafficking exist to support victims of the crime, it is important to note they do not classify themselves as a “rescuing people” group, Carlson said. “We support individuals to move forward when they are ready in the way that is going to best suit them in their current situation,” she said. Last year alone, through various programs across the Coalition more than 60 people were successful in leaving their current situation, Carlson said. The creators of the new website also hope to address misconceptions around human traffickers that are often presented in media and movies. “Human trafficking, more times than not, is somebody being exploited by the person they identify as their boyfriend, their best friend or somebody that they know so that happens in more than 85 per cent of cases,” she said. The other most common form of trafficking is the exploitation of young people by family members, extended family members, caretakers or guardians. “More times than not it’s happening by the person they believe to be their boyfriend, girlfriend or best friend,” Carlson said. The website also teaches individuals how to identify signs and risk factors of human trafficking. “We also want to raise the education in the city of Thunder bay because we are identified as one of the top six hubs in the province of Ontario and Ontario makes up two-thirds of all human trafficking that takes place in our country,” Carlson said. Carlson also points out that coming forward doesn’t mean individuals have to report to the police. “The Thunder Bay Police have started to do some really amazing work in being able to meet survivors exactly where they are at and not needing to move forward with charges but to support them for when they are ready to do that if they are ever ready to do that,” she said. “We just want [survivors] to know they are not alone and that there are people to support you no matter where you are, whether you are currently at risk, entrenched, or you looking to exit, there are people here to support you.” For more information, visit Thunder Bay Coalition’s new website by clicking here. Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
MONTREAL — Quebec will begin vaccinating the general population next week, beginning with Montreal-area seniors aged 85 and up, Premier Francois Legault said Tuesday. All seniors in the province born in 1936 or earlier will be able to make an appointment for vaccination through an online portal or by telephone as early as Thursday, Legault told reporters at Montreal's Olympic Stadium, a future mass vaccination site. The premier said the province's vaccination plan is well underway: all long-term care residents, about half of residents in seniors homes and almost 200,000 health-care workers have received a first dose. The province has not begun giving second doses. If all goes according to plan, all of Quebec's oldest and most vulnerable seniors should be vaccinated within a few weeks, the premier said. "We finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not so far away." Legault, however, said Quebecers must continue to be careful, warning that it takes about three weeks for the vaccine to reach full effectiveness. In the meantime, Quebec will have to contend with an ever-rising number of COVID-19 variant cases, as well as a spring break week that authorities fear could cause new cases to bound upwards. "We must avoid gatherings to avoid a third wave," Legault said. Health Minister Christian Dube said on Twitter that Quebec is expecting to receive more than 107,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 28,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine this week, which he said will allow the province to accelerate the pace of immunizations. The province reported 739 new cases Tuesday and 13 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including one that occurred in the past 24 hours. COVID-19-related hospitalizations dropped by nine, to 680, and the number of intensive care patients rose by three, to 120. The number of suspected cases of coronavirus variants continued to rise on Monday, up to 484 from 415 the day prior, according to Quebec's government-mandated public health institute. The number of confirmed cases remained unchanged at 23. Quebec has reported a total of 10,330 deaths linked to the virus and 283,666 infections. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Township of Perry does not support looking into changes for the regional fire training funding model. After its Feb. 17 meeting, council discussed a resolution put forward by the Township of McMurrich/Monteith to the seven municipalities involved in the regional fire training. On Dec. 12, the regional fire services committee met to discuss and agreed upon a one-fifth funding model to secure the training services of Gary Courtice. This is the third three-year term that Perry, Kearney, McMurrich/Monteith, Magnetawan, Burk’s Falls, Armour and Ryerson have signed on for. Perry’s mayor Norm Hofstetter said that he had no intention of going back and trying to renegotiate the funding model. Here are key quotes from the conversation: “ … It seems to me that the wrench that’s thrown into this is (McMurrich/Monteith) gets a little upset that Ryerson, Armour and Burk’s Falls are sharing a fire department and (McMurrich/Monteith) seems to think they’re getting a benefit from it, but I don’t look at it as that,” said Hofstetter. “I’m not interested in going back and renegotiating — as far as they want to see invoices before an invoice is paid … they seem to think that the training officer has an open agenda to order whatever he wants but he works withing his budget the same as all other departments do and at the end of the year it’s all reconciled the same way we do with our budgets. So, where I’m coming from you kind of get tired of doing the same thing over and over and if we do this, we’re taking huge steps backwards in training our firefighters,” said Hofstetter. “I do know it was a huge challenge to get where we’re at and I think all of the councils thought it was finalized at that committee meeting,” said Beth Morton, clerk-administrator. “ … McMurrich/Monteith is behind the eight ball here. Some of their councillors are just not up to speed as to where we’re at with this regional fire (committee) they’re just behind and they refuse to be educated so Reeve MacPhail is going to their meeting in March to set the record straight, so to speak, because it’s the fire chiefs’ realm now and they’re working to get a resolution together for the final thing,” said Coun. Margaret Ann MacPhail. “As one of the councillors here, I would like to see us stay the course.” “It looks like a lot of time has been put in and I don’t understand how they’d see that of Mr. Courtice because I’ve seen nothing but professionalism and that’s why we chose him … I agree with Coun. MacPhail and stay the course,” said Coun. Joe Lumley. “I don’t want to play these games anymore, we have a system that’s working and this all boils down to saving $2,000 to $3,000 is what they’d save if we move to another funding model,” said Hofstetter. The Township of Perry said it would not support looking into changes in the regional fire training funding model and would prefer remain status quo with what was decided at the Dec. 12 regional fire services committee meeting. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
(Michael Hugall/CBC - image credit) Yellowknife city councillors have voted to spend $1.8 million in federal money on projects they say will reduce homelessness and address its root causes. With strict rules for how the COVID-19 homelessness funding can be spent, Yellowknife city councillors chose to target some of the root causes of homelessness. City council decided to allocate $370,438 to initiatives including a land-based program run by Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN) and $100,000 for community hunts. Council voted unanimously Monday evening to approve the funding allocations recommended by the city's Community Advisory Board on Homelessness. The allocations include both regular funding from the federal government's Reaching Home initiative for 2021-22, as well as a special allocation tied to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. "There is more to ending homelessness than just providing a home," said Coun. Stacie Smith, acknowledging that the money won't create new housing. She said initiatives like the YKDFN land-based program recognize the importance of culture. Smith said the advisory board on homelessness consulted non-governmental organizations on their needs and allocated money to programs like Housing First, which helps people who are chronically homeless access services and private market housing. Housing First will receive $900,000 from the two federal pots of money. The women's shelter will get $25,000. Other homelessness prevention and diversion initiatives will get $219,000. 'There is more to ending homelessness than just providing a home,' said Yellowknife city councillor Stacie Smith. The on-the-land program will be open to people experiencing homelessness in Yellowknife. The COVID-19 spending will support food and breakfast programs, such as those offered by the YWCA, which is set to receive $10,000. As the city debated how to spend almost $2 million from the federal government, it realized it would not be able to put the money into permanent housing. Mayor Rebecca Alty said earlier this month that a major reason the money couldn't go toward more permanent housing projects is that the "federal directives are quite restrictive and the money has to be spent so quickly." Smith said despite this, the city can support programs that recognize the needs of the tight-knit community of people facing homelessness — some of whom return to shelters after they are put into housing. "We can provide as many roofs, apartments for people to stay, but if we're not getting to the root of why they're in the situation that they're in, there will always be homelessness," said Smith. "We found other opportunities where we could put our energies to assist them in those holistic methods that might reach them a lot better than the norm." City to give feds feedback Alty said the city will give the federal government feedback, including its criticism that tight timelines kept the city from putting the money toward permanent housing initiatives. The federal objectives for the Reaching Home COVID-19 funding program are to extend COVID-19 measures for people experiencing homelessness, to find permanent housing for people in temporary housing, and to divert people away from becoming homeless or entering the shelter system.
OTTAWA — Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem says the central bank is seeing early signs that people may be purchasing homes solely because they believe prices may go up. Macklem says rising prices in particular for single-family homes are still a long way from the heated market the country observed about five years ago. Fuelling the increase has been a combination of demand for more space as millions of workers do their jobs remotely, constrained supply and rock-bottom interest rates driven low by central bank actions. The bank's key policy rate has been at 0.25 per cent for about 11 months, and its quantitative easing program is trying to reduce the rates paid on things like mortgages to drive spending. Macklem says the central bank is surprised by the rebound in the housing market. He adds there are early signs of what he called "excess exuberance," with people maybe expecting the recent increases in prices to go on indefinitely. "What we get worried about is when we start to see extrapolated expectations, when we start to see people expecting the kind of unsustainable price increases we've seen recently go on indefinitely," Macklem said during a question-and-answer session with chambers of commerce in Edmonton and Calgary. "We are starting to see some early signs of excess exuberance, but we're a long way from where we were in 2016-2017 when things were really hot." The central bank plans to keep its key rate low until the economy recovers, expected sometime in 2023, and adjust its bond-buying program over time. Macklem says there is still a need for considerable monetary policy support to generate a complete recovery. In the meantime, the bank will keep an eye on debt levels, as mortgage debt rises as households pay down other debt like credit cards and personal loans, Macklem says. "We are acutely aware that in a world of very low interest rates, there is a risk that housing prices could get stretched, households could get stretched, and certainly that's a risk we want to guard against," Macklem told reporters following the speech. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
Microsoft Corp has notified 60 customers that their data was likely compromised in the suspected Russian hacking campaign centered on Texas-based software firm SolarWinds Corp, the company’s president told U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday. In prepared remarks, Microsoft's Brad Smith told the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the company believed some of the methods the hackers used to break into target networks have yet to be made public and that “the attacker may have used up to a dozen different means of getting into victim networks during the past year.” Smith said that several other organizations – including unidentified foreign government agencies – had also been breached.
Sudbury's board of public health has endorsed the idea that workers in Ontario should get permanent paid sick days. It doesn't mean it's going to happen. The motion will be forwarded to the Ontario government for consideration. The motion was included as part of the agenda for the regular monthly meeting of the board of the Public Health Sudbury and Districts, which was held as an online teleconference Thursday. The board was presented with several pages of information outlining the concern that some workers who have used up their sick days and cannot afford to take time off, would rather show up for work, even if they're sick or infectious, thus spreading their sickness around the workplace. In Ontario, most workers have the right to take up to three days of unpaid job-protected leave each calendar year due to a personal illness, injury or medical emergency. This is described as sick leave. Special rules apply to some occupations. Employees are entitled to up to three sick leave days per year once they have worked for an employer for at least two consecutive weeks. An employee who missed part of a day to take the leave would be entitled to any wages they actually earned while working, according to Ontario labour law. The concern is that a genuinely sick person might need more time off work and could lose their job if they miss too much time. PHSD Medical Officer of Health Dr. Penny Sutcliffe recommended the motion as a way to prevent Ontario workers from having to choose between unpaid time off work or continuing to go to work when they are sick. She outlined her position in a briefing note to the board. "Paid sick leave provisions are essential to protect the health of individual workers, their workplaces, and the broader community, which has become even more evident with the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has had widespread economic impacts, increasing the level and depth of poverty across the country," Sutcliffe wrote. "Inequitable access to paid sick days in Canada has significant impacts on income and health. Income alone is the single strongest predictor of health and individuals and families require a stable source of income to meet their basic needs for health and well-being. Paid sick leave provisions are essential to protect the health of individual workers, their workplaces, and the broader community, which has become even more evident with the COVID-19 pandemic," the note continued. The motion stated that staying at home is one of the most effective containment strategies for disease. It also noted that paid sick days actually create savings in the health-care system and eventual savings for the businesses by not causing more sickness in the workplace. "Despite clear evidence and public health directives to stay home when sick, workers without paid sick days are forced to choose between sacrificing their financial security to comply with public health measures or going to work while sick to support themselves and their families," Sutcliffe added, quoting a report from the Decent Work and Health Network. The motion was approved unanimously by the board of health. Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
TORONTO — Veteran fullback Justin Morrow and centre back Eriq Zavaleta have re-signed with Toronto FC. The signings do not come as a surprise, given both players have been at Toronto's training camp, which opened last week. But they needed new deals after their contracts expired at the end of last season. In keeping the two defenders in the fold, TFC retains experience and continuity. The 33-year-old Morrow is entering his eighth season with the club while the 28-year-old Zavaleta is starting his seventh. Morrow has made 229 appearances for Toronto in all competitions, second only to midfielder Jonathan Osorio (263). Captain Michael Bradley is third (214) on the list. Morrow, a U.S. international who doubles as executive director of Black Players for Change, is respected on and off the field. His new deal covers the 2021 season. "Justin has been a fixture with TFC and it’s great to have him signed," Toronto GM Ali Curtis said in a statement. "His versatility on the field, veteran presence in the locker-room and overall leadership on and off the field have been critical for the club for a long time and we’re thrilled that will continue." Zavaleta adds depth to a defence that lost veteran backup Laurent Ciman since last season. The Indiana native has made 136 appearances in all competitions for TFC. His deal is for one year with an option for the 2022 season. He has served as a backup for first-choice centre backs Omar Gonzalez and Chris Mavinga in recent years. “Eriq is another veteran who’s given a lot to the club,” said Curtis. “This is a big year for Eriq. He comes to the training ground every day ready to work and is a great role model as an all-around professional for our young players.” Zavaleta, originally acquired in a trade with the Seattle Sounders in January 2015, is one of 12 players to have made 100 appearances or more for TFC and currently ranks eighth all-time in club history in appearances. He saw action in five regular-season games in 2020, including three starts. Morrow, joined Toronto in 2014 after four seasons with the San Jose Earthquakes. He was an MLS all-star in 2012 with the Quakes and was named to the MLS Best XI in 2017 when Toronto won the MLS Cup, MLS Supporters’ Shield and Canadian Championship. Morrow, who has 17 career goals and 19 assists for Toronto, made US$330,000 in 2019, the last year the MLS Players Association released salary figures for. That ranked 11th among TFC players. When healthy, Morrow has been a fixture at left fullback for Toronto with Richie Laryea and Brazil's Auro normally splitting right back duties. Morrow had made it clear he wanted to return to Toronto. "This organization, this city has given me so much as a professional athlete and as a man," he said during the off-season. "And I just want to have a chance to win more trophies here and play in front of our fans again. That is something that I'm desperate for and I know the rest of our team is desperate for." Morrow saw action in 15 of Toronto's 23 regular-season games in 2020 with 11 starts. But he missed most of the stretch drive due to injury. The team finished out the 2020 season playing out of East Hartford, Conn., due to pandemic-related travel restrictions. The club is looking at playing home games in Florida to start the 2021 season, which kicks off April 17. Morrow played collegiate soccer at Notre Dame, appearing in 89 matches over four seasons with the Fighting Irish. San Jose selected him in the second round (28th overall) of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. Zavaleta is a former U.S., youth international who began his MLS career with Seattle and Chivas USA after a collegiate career as a forward at Indiana University. --- Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021 Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Going outside could be just what the doctor ordered. British Columbia has launched a new program that has doctors prescribing the great outdoors to help people with mental health issues or chronic illnesses. Robin Gill explains the science behind it.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the Interior Department faced sharp questions from Republicans Tuesday over what several called her “radical” ideas that include opposition to fracking and the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Deb Haaland, a New Mexico congresswoman named to lead the Interior Department, tried to reassure GOP lawmakers, saying she is committed to “strike the right balance” as Interior manages oil drilling and other energy development while seeking to conserve public lands and address climate change. If confirmed, Haaland, 60, would be the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency. Native Americans see her nomination as the best chance to move from consultation on tribal issues to consent and to put more land into the hands of tribal nations either outright or through stewardship agreements. The Interior Department has broad oversight over nearly 600 federally recognized tribes as well as energy development and other uses for the nation’s sprawling federal lands. “The historic nature of my confirmation is not lost on me, but I will say that it is not about me,? Haaland testified. “Rather, I hope this nomination would be an inspiration for Americans — moving forward together as one nation and creating opportunities for all of us.? Haaland's hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee was adjourned after nearly 2 1/2 hours and will resume Wednesday. Under questioning from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., the panel's chairman, Haaland said the U.S. will continue to rely on fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas even as it moves toward Biden’s goal of net zero carbon emissions by mid-century. The transition to clean energy “is not going to happen overnight,” she said. Manchin, who is publicly undecided on Haaland’s nomination, appeared relieved, saying he supports “innovation, not elimination” of fossil fuels. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., was less impressed. He displayed a large chart featuring a quote from last November, before Haaland was selected to lead Interior, in which she said: “If I had my way, it'd be great to stop all gas and oil leasing on federal and public lands." If confirmed as Interior secretary, "you will get to have it your way,'' Daines told Haaland. She replied that Biden's vision — not hers — will set the course for Interior. "It is President Biden's agenda, not my own agenda, that I will be moving forward,'' Haaland said, an answer she repeated several times. While Biden imposed a moratorium on oil and gas drilling on federal lands — which doesn’t apply to tribal lands — he has repeatedly said he does not oppose fracking. Biden rejected the long-pIanned Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office. Haaland also faced questions over her appearance at protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota before she was elected to Congress in 2018. Haaland said she went there in solidarity with Native American tribes and other “water protectors” who “felt they were not consulted in the best way'' before the multi-state oil pipeline was approved. Asked by Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., if she would oppose a renewal of the pipeline permit, Haaland said she would first ensure that tribes are properly consulted. She told Hoeven she also would "listen to you and consult with you.'' Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said the GOP questions over oil drilling and pipelines revealed a partisan divide in the committee. “I almost feel like your nomination is this proxy fight about the future of fossil fuels," Cantwell said, adding that Haaland had made clear her intention to carry out Biden’s clean-energy agenda. She and other Democrats “very much appreciate the fact that you’re doing that, and that’s what I think a president deserves with his nominee,'' Cantwell said. In her opening statement, Haaland told lawmakers that as the daughter of a Pueblo woman, she learned early to value hard work. Her mother is a Navy veteran and worked for a quarter-century at the Bureau of Indian Education, an Interior Department agency. Her father was a Marine who served in Vietnam. He received the Silver Star and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. “As a military family, we moved every few years ... but no matter where we lived, my dad taught me and my siblings to appreciate nature, whether on a mountain trail or walking along the beach,'' Haaland said. The future congresswoman spent summers with her grandparents in a Laguna Pueblo village. “It was in the cornfields with my grandfather where I learned the importance of water and protecting our resources and where I gained a deep respect for the Earth,'' she said. Haaland pledged to lead the Interior Department with honour and integrity and said she will be “a fierce advocate for our public lands.” She promised to listen to and work with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and ensure that decisions are based on science. She also vowed to “honour the sovereignty of tribal nations and recognize their part in America’s story.'' Some Democrats and Native American advocates called the frequent description of Haaland as “radical” a loaded reference to her tribal status. “That kind of language is sort of a dog whistle for certain folks that see somebody who is an Indigenous woman potentially being in a position of power,” said Ta’jin Perez with the group Western Native Voice. In an op-ed in USA Today, former Sens. Mark and Tom Udall said Haaland's record "is in line with mainstream conservation priorities. Thus, the exceptional criticism of Rep. Haaland and the threatened holds on her nomination must be motivated by something other than her record.'' Mark Udall is an ex-Colorado senator, while cousin Tom Udall just retired as a New Mexico senator. Tom Udall's father, Stewart, was Interior secretary in the 1960s. Daines called the notion of racial overtones in his remarks outrageous. “I would love to see a Native American serve in the Cabinet. That would be a proud moment for all of us in this country. But this is about her record and her views,” he said in an interview. National civil rights groups have joined forces with tribal leaders and environmental groups in supporting Haaland. A letter signed by nearly 500 national and regional organizations calls her “a proven leader and the right person to lead the charge against the existential threats of our time,'' including climate change and racial justice issues on federal lands. ___ Associated Press writer Matthew Brown in Billings, Montana, contributed to this report. Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
WABASCA-DESMARAIS, Alta. — RCMP have arrested a man on 15 sex charges in a remote northern Alberta community and say there could be more. Police say the allegations involve five women and took place between 2013 and 2018 in the Desmarais area, about 275 kilometres north of Edmonton. Mounties say they began investigating in December after receiving reports of sexual offences. Police say the suspect and the women know each other. Daniel Michael Balanger, who is 36, is charged with five counts of sexual assault, five counts of sexual interference and five counts of sexual exploitation. Balanger has been remanded in custody and is to appear in Desmarais provincial court on Thursday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021 The Canadian Press
(Michel Corriveau/Radio-Canada - image credit) Wishful thinking and poor forecasting have led NB Power to consistently miss profit and debt reduction targets in recent years with major new expenditures on the horizon, according to an unflattering assessment of the utility's financial management by New Brunswick Auditor General Kim Adair-MacPherson. "It is ultimately management's decision to reduce debt," said Adair-MacPherson, in a 65-page review of the utility she presented to MLAs on Tuesday. NB Power ended the 2020 fiscal year with $4.9 billion in net debt, about $700 million higher than targets set for it by the Legislature in 2013. That's a concern, according to the auditor general, because the province guarantees what NB Power owes and significant new spending requirements are approaching. "It's the largest contingent risk to the province," she told MLAs, about NB Power's liabilities. Debt reduction, her report said, is "not a top priority" of utility management, who she said failed to meet financial targets "year after year" by engaging in "optimistic" and "inaccurate forecasting" of utility expenses. The report notes how in 2016 the utility projected $549 million in profits for itself over the following four years in its planning but managed to achieve actual profits over the period of just $54 million, less than 10 per cent of what it had suggested. Damaging storms, spotty performance by the Point Lepreau nuclear generating station, low hydro production during dry summers and other problems have all taken turns upsetting the utility's financial plans, but Adair-MacPherson said those risks need to be better accounted for in corporate planning. An ice storm that hit the Acadian Peninsula in 2017 downed dozens of power lines and cost NB Power a record-setting $30 million in cleanup expenses. She also expressed concern about whether the utility will be able to significantly improve its finances before 2027, when up to $4 billion in major expenditures will be needed for a rebuild of the Mactaquac Dam and other projects. "NB Power does not have a definitive plan to do this," she wrote about the need for significant short term debt reduction. Although NB Power charges some of the lowest rates for electricity in Atlantic Canada, Adair-MacPherson questioned whether that makes business sense given its financial position. "While maintaining a consistently low annual rate may be advantageous to NB Power consumers, it is likely contributing to its failure to meet the debt to equity target and ever-increasing debt level," she said. Adair-MacPherson's report comes as NB Power is coping with yet another major unbudgeted cost, the unexpected breakdown of the Point Lepreau nuclear generating station last month. The Point Lepreau nuclear generating station appeared to have its reliability issues resolved in the last two years, until the utility had a surprise problem with its turbines in January. Turbine problems forced a shutdown of the plant in mid January and more than a month later it remains offline at an approximate cost to the utility of $1 million per day. In its response to the report, NB Power defended its forecasting practices and expressed confidence it will get its debt level down to the required 80 per cent level by 2027. However, it also promised to do better budgeting for trouble. "NB Power agrees to evaluate additional means to quantify the impact of significant future cost uncertainties outside management's control and to include this information in its planning process," said the utility's response.
ROME — The Republic of San Marino finally can start its coronavirus vaccination drive after the first shots arrived Tuesday. But the city-state surrounded by Italy had to resort to its “Plan B” and buy Sputnik V jabs from Russia after plans to get European Union-approved doses from Italy got delayed. A pink and yellow truck escorted by police cars brought the first 7,500 Sputnik V vaccines into San Marino and delivered them at the main hospital. Officials said the Russia-made doses will eventually be enough to vaccinate some 15% of the microstate’s population of around 33,800. San Marino bought Sputnik V shots at the last minute after an agreement to have Italy send a proportion of the vaccines it received through the EU's vaccine procurement system got delayed. San Marino, located near Rimini on the Adriatic coast, isn’t an EU member, and as such was excluded from the deals the 27-nation bloc negotiated with pharmaceutical firms. The San Marino secretary of state, Luca Beccari, said during a news conference last weekend that the negotiations with Italy took a long time and that under an agreement signed Jan. 11, San Marino was to receive one dose for every 1,700 that Italy received from the EU. But the deal hit a snag as Italy and other EU countries faced delivery delays for the three EU-approved vaccines, the ones from: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca. Italy has administered some 3.7 million doses. “Unfortunately, the time required to define these procedures and the fact that San Marino is a country that has not yet started its vaccination campaign has forced us to seek alternative solutions,” Beccari said in explaining the Sputnik purchase. “As for all other countries, it is necessary to start the vaccination campaign as soon as possible in order to ensure the safety of its citizens,” he said. The European Medicines Agency has said the developers of Sputnik V recently asked for advice on what data they needed to submit for the vaccine to be licensed across the European Union. Hungarian health authorities have approved both Sputnik V and the vaccine developed by state-owned Chinese company Sinopharm. San Marino has had a proportionately devastating outbreak, with 3,538 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 73 deaths. Roberto Ciavatta, San Marino’s secretary of state for health, said Sputnik V was safe and effective. “It is not that it did not pass any controls. On the contrary, as all the research and data available show, it is a vaccine that is already administered in 30 countries, About 70 million people have been vaccinated with it. It has extremely high safety standards,” he said. Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press
(Frank Gunn/Canadian Press - image credit) Public health officials are looking to contact six people who shared a ride in a van from Toronto to Ottawa last week, after a seventh occupant later tested positive for COVID-19. Ottawa Public Health (OPH) said the white van left Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre around 1 p.m. last Tuesday with six passengers and a driver aboard. OPH didn't name the private operator, but said the trip had been advertised on Kijiji. At the time, Toronto was still under a stay-at-home order, while Ottawa's was lifted that same day. OPH said the van arrived in Ottawa around 6 p.m., dropping off passengers at Bayshore Shopping Centre, Rideau Centre and St. Laurent Shopping Centre. The passenger who tested positive for COVID-19 would have been contagious at the time of the trip, OPH confirmed. Health officials recommend people only get into a vehicle with members of their own household. Anyone who has to share a ride with others should wear a mask, avoid sharing food and drinks, and stay home if they're sick. Anyone who thinks they may have travelled in the van last Tuesday is asked to contact OPH at 613-580-6744 to arrange a COVID-19 test.
The province prepares to open mass clinics while doing more in-depth testing for worrying variants. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says B.C. is expanding its pool of immunizers to include dentists, midwives and paramedics before 172 sites open up to eventually offer a vaccine to everyone aged 18 and up.