WASHINGTON — A conference dedicated to the future of the conservative movement turned into an ode to Donald Trump as speakers declared their fealty to the former president and attendees posed for selfies with a golden statue of his likeness. As the Republican Party grapples with deep divisions over the extent to which it should embrace Trump after losing the White House and both chambers of Congress, those gathered at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday made clear they are not ready to move on from the former president — or from his baseless charges that the November election was rigged against him. “Donald J. Trump ain’t going anywhere,” said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, one of several potential 2024 presidential contenders who spoke at the event, being held this year in Orlando to bypass COVID-19 restrictions. Trump on Sunday will be making his first post-presidential appearance at the conference, and aides say he will use the speech to reassert his power. The program underscored the split raging within the GOP, as many establishment voices argue the party must move on from Trump to win back the suburban voters who abandoned them in November, putting President Joe Biden in the White House. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and others worry Trump will undermine the party’s political future if he and his conspiracy theories continue to dominate Republican politics. But at the conference, speakers continued to fan disinformation and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, with panels dedicated to amplifying false claims of mass voter fraud that have been dismissed by the courts, state election officials and Trump’s own administration. Indeed, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., another potential 2024 hopeful, drew among the loudest applause and a standing ovation when he bragged about challenging the election certification on Jan. 6 despite the storming of the Capitol building by Trump supporters trying to halt the process. “I thought it was an important stand to take," he said. Others argued the party would lose if it turned its back on Trump and alienated the working-class voters drawn to his populist message. “We cannot — we will not — go back to the days of the failed Republican establishment of yesteryear,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who outlined a new Trumpian GOP agenda focused on restrictive immigration policies, opposition to China and limiting military engagement. “We will not win the future by trying to go back to where the Republican Party used to be,” echoed Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who chairs the fundraising committee tasked with electing Republicans to the Senate. “If we do, we will lose the working base that President Trump so animated. We’re going to lose elections across the country, and ultimately we’re going to lose our nation." Scott is dismissing pressure on him to “mediate between warring factions on the right” or “mediate the war of words between the party leaders." He has refused to take sides in the bitter ongoing fight between Trump and McConnell, who blamed Trump for inciting the deadly Capitol riot but ultimately voted to acquit him at his impeachment trial earlier this month. “I’m not going to mediate anything," he said, criticizing those who “prefer to fan the flames of a civil war on our side” as “foolish” and “ridiculous." But in speeches throughout the day, the GOP turmoil was front and centre. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., lit into Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, who has faced tremendous backlash for her vote to impeach Trump for inciting the Capitol riot. And as the program was wrapping up, Trump issued a statement endorsing Max Miller, a former staffer who has now launched a campaign challenging Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, another Republican who voted in favour of impeachment. Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox News Channel host and Trump Jr.'s girlfriend, offered a pointed message to those who stand in opposition to the former president, who will not arrive at the conference until Sunday but was present in spirit in the form of a large golden statue erected in a merchandise show booth, where attendees could pose for pictures with it. “We bid a farewell to the weak-kneed, the spineless and the cowards that are posing in D.C. pretending that they’re working for the people,” she said. “Let’s send them a pink slip straight from CPAC.” Trump Jr., who labeled the conference “TPAC” in honour of his father, hyped the return of his father and the “Make America Great Again” platform to the spotlight. “I imagine it will not be what we call a ‘low-energy’ speech," he said. “And I assure you that it will solidify Donald Trump and all of your feelings about the MAGA movement as the future of the Republican Party.” Jill Colvin, The Associated Press
(Submitted by Star Milton - image credit) With the glow of Christmas holidays and the new year squarely in the rearview mirror, many people have been talking about hitting the COVID-19 wall: where the dwindling adrenalin of dealing with lockdowns, masks, social distancing — the list goes on — meets the thought of months more of the same. There is help, though, and according to those helping run the mental health system in Prince Edward Island, more people are reaching out for it. "We have seen an increase since the pandemic has hit, definitely through our intake services and also through our Community Mental Health walk-in clinics," said Star Milton, a clinical social worker with Community Mental Health, who works as an intake screener. She's the voice you'll hear if you call Community Mental Health in the Summerside area, at the Prince County Hospital. "When it comes to mental health, there's shame, there's fear, there's so many different emotions," Milton said. "It can be scary for people, especially the way they're brought up — some are brought up not to share or ask for that support." The most common complaint is anxiety and depressive symptoms or struggling with motivation, Milton said. Do you know how to find help on P.E.I.? Here's a guide to walk you through the process — and Milton reminds people, there is no wrong way to enter the system. Single point of access coming later in 2021 An important note: in his state-of-the-province address Monday night, Premier Dennis King said some time this year, the province will introduce a single point of access for mental health and addictions services on P.E.I.: a 24-hour phone line, seven days a week, "where a real human being answers the phone and helps to navigate the process of getting the appropriate treatment," he said. P.E.I. Premier Dennis King says the province has to make it easier for Islanders to navigate and access the appropriate mental health and addictions services on P.E.I. The province also plans to establish a P.E.I. Centre for Mental Wellbeing, an organization funded by but independent of government, that will work with community organizations like the Canadian Mental Health Association, PEERS Alliance, the Boys and Girls Club, and others to create a co-ordinated network of services available for Islanders when they need them. "The centre will get off the ground immediately, with a founding board of high-performing leaders from across our province who will build a solid foundation for the centre to be fully operational by fall 2021," King said. Until then, here's how to find the help you need. Those in crisis can call the Island Helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-218-2885. You can also call P.E.I.'s Mental Health and Addictions Information Line weekdays 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. They may redirect you to a Community Mental Health office. Call Community Mental Health "Community Mental Health is exactly where to start," for those struggling with anxiety or depressive symptoms, Milton said. You can call 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. There are different toll-free phone numbers for Community Mental Health offices across P.E.I.: find the complete list for Souris, Montague, Charlottetown, Summerside, O'Leary and Alberton here. You do not need a referral from a doctor, Milton stresses: you can refer yourself. Your family doctor, nurse practitioner or an ER doctor can also refer you, as could a member of a school wellbeing team. What happens when you call? An administrator will take your name and phone number, then an intake worker like Milton will call back as quickly as possible — she said in Summerside, callbacks usually happen within 48 hours. The intake worker has a series of questions about how they can help so they can direct clients to the appropriate resource. That call can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, Milton said. "What I'm looking for is to see how people's daily functioning [is]," Milton said. "Their daily functioning might be a little bit interrupted, where others it might be significantly interrupted." Changes in sleep can be linked to changes in mental health. She'll ask how you've been sleeping and whether your appetite has changed, if you've been having psychotic symptoms or delusions, changes in memory, whether you have past trauma or are using alcohol or drugs. Addictions can be co-occurring with anxiety and depression, she noted. One of the questions will be whether you have access and coverage through your employer for counselling, like an employee assistance program. Most government employees on P.E.I. have access to a list of mental-health professionals, as do employees of some large private companies. Some people don't realize this help is available, Milton said. However, she stressed that even if you are covered, everyone is welcome to use the free public services offered by CMH. Go to a free walk-in clinic Another excellent way to seek help is simply show up at a Community Mental Health walk-in clinic offered across P.E.I., Milton said. The clinics went from in-person to over the phone during the early part of the pandemic, but now they can be either, depending on your preference. Some people do not have transportation to get to a walk-in clinic, or their mental health may present a barrier. Patients are presented with a single page form to fill out when they arrive at one of P.E.I.'s mental health walk-in clinics. The clinics are free, and you don't need an appointment. In Charlottetown, walk-in clinics are five days a week at two different locations. In Montague, clinics are Thursdays only, and are twice a week in Summerside. Here's the complete list of walk-in clinics, locations and times. Once Milton has done an intake interview, she triages the information — that means she decides where to send callers next, for help. Islanders can also find information on self-help and accessing the mental-health system through the online resource Bridge the gapp, a directory of resources Island-wide for adults and children. It can point Islanders to services such as peer support groups, to a huge library of articles on mental health, and to free online courses offered by Canada's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). This is yet another point of entry to the system, said Milton. Community Mental Health clinicians do not prescribe drugs, Milton said, since there is no doctor or nurse practitioner on staff. She said anyone looking to discuss or access medication should talk to their family doctor or NP, go to a medical walk-in clinic or access a virtual appointment with a doctor through the telemedicine provider Maple, at getmaple.ca. You've reached out, what's next? If someone is experiencing anxiety and depressive symptoms, there are many different things the system can offer, Milton assures. 'A lot of people ... are really seeing the benefits of doing group services,' such as ChangeWays, says Milton. She might refer them to one of the free programs offered by the Strongest Families Institute. Getting that set up takes only about a week, Milton said. Strongest Families has a group of online programs launched in 2015 by two psychiatry professors at Dalhousie to help Atlantic Canadian children, and now adults too, suffering from behaviour problems and anxiety. The Strongest Families website claims its programs have a 91 per cent success rate. ICAN is the only Strongest Families program aimed at adults suffering from anxiety, and began in 2019. It's a free eight-week program that includes videos, relaxation audio, a daily anxiety tracker and weekly telephone support from a coach. "I tell people if they're still struggling after they finish those programs ... we can offer more," Milton said. Group or individual therapy You may be offered the ChangeWays program, an in-person group that uses cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Program trainers include nurses, social workers, psychologists and occupational therapists. They're done in small group settings and one is begun every few months, or more often if there is high demand, Milton said. Islanders can also find information on self-help and accessing the mental-health system through the online resource Bridge the gapp, a directory of resources Island-wide for adults and children. Some may not be willing to participate in group therapy, and Milton said that's OK. "We try to meet them where they're at," she said, noting more people are using this option and "A lot of people ... are really seeing the benefits of doing group services." Community Mental Health also offers individual therapy with a clinician such as a registered nurse, psychologist or someone with a master's in social work (MSW). Milton said wait-lists for that differ in every P.E.I. office. Again, it is triaged, or based on urgency: if someone needs to be seen immediately, they are. Others may have to wait a bit, depending on the load of urgent cases. Milton said it is important to know that at any time if Islanders are waiting for treatment and their symptoms worsen, they can and should phone back Community Mental Health and be re-triaged. "I know it's probably so tough and they have to be so brave, and they're already so vulnerable coming through intake," she said. "But they need to call back if things are getting worse ... so we can reassess for intake. Which we have done." Islanders should also know that if they are waiting for treatment, they are welcome to drop in to a walk-in clinic any time — they can indicate they are on a wait-list, and get support until they can begin a course of therapy, Milton said. How will therapy help? Once you're assigned a clinician, you will get an appointment to come in person or talk on the phone. That clinician will decide your course of treatment on a case-by-case basis. Through the virtual care program, Islanders are able to consult with a doctor via text, phone, or video conference. It's done online through telehealth provider Maple. A common treatment is CBT, talk therapy that helps a patient understand how cognition, emotion and behaviour interact. "I've seen a lot of people calling for the first time saying 'I've had some past trauma and I've put it on the shelf, it's been fine, it's never come out and disrupted my daily function,' but all of a sudden it's exploded a little bit, and they need to unpack it and figure it out," Milton said. What happens if you are assigned a clinician and you don't think they are helping you, or you clash? "Sometimes we need to have those tough conversations, ask for what you need," Milton said. "Have a talk about it. Maybe the clinician can adjust something ... change how they are approaching things." Some people do quit and don't come back. "We hear that all the time from clinicians," Milton said. CMH will send a letter to the patient and try to get them to re-engage. "If you are not ready now, just come back, it's totally OK," she said. "We are here to support Islanders." She notes that Community Mental Health teams can also be deployed in larger-scale or group crisis situations, as they were for residents after the fire at Le Chez-Nous seniors' home in Wellington in January and the tragic drowning deaths of two teens in western P.E.I. last September. For youth cases who have tried a first-line treatment such as group or individual therapy, but who continue to struggle, a more intensive program called Insight may be recommended, Milton said. It's a day-treatment program for about four months that offers help for 13- to 18-year-olds with significant and persistent primary mood, anxiety, and/or psychotic disorders. You can't self-refer to Insight, but rather come through Community Mental Health. More from CBC P.E.I.
(Spencer Platt/Getty Images - image credit) For anxious New Yorkers enduring the darkest period of the pandemic last spring, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's daily briefings were a moment of calm, offering stability in a tumultuous and uncertain time. The clear, authoritative and informative sessions became appointment viewing and boosted Cuomo's national profile. His confident style, mixed with multiple PowerPoint slides and dad jokes, stood in stark contrast to the confusing and contradictory information trickling out of the White House. But now, almost a year later, Cuomo's image as a pandemic star has come crashing down to earth. He's engulfed by a scandal over his handling of nursing homes. The qualities of "clear communication and utter decisiveness" that won him praise during the pandemic are now, critics say, being shown to be more akin to the bullying governing style that's marked his career in politics. "A lot of it was very performative," New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim, a vocal critic, told CBC News in an interview. "It's very micromanaged and it's about him being in the middle." Cuomo, who wrote a book about his success in managing the pandemic, and won an Emmy for his media briefings, now faces a daily barrage of tough questions — and where once he was being talked about as a possible Democratic presidential contender, now he's being parodied on Saturday Night Live. His efforts at damage control have sparked accusations of abusive behaviour from within his own party, which was followed by an allegation of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour from a former senior aide. Emergency medical technicians wheel a patient out of the Cobble Hill Health Center in New York in April. A report from the New York State Attorney General says the state government undercounted deaths in nursing homes by as much as 50 per cent. "Strong managerial style is one way to put it. Being a tough guy in ... the most toxic way is another way to put it," said Casey Seiler, editor-in-chief of the Albany Times Union newspaper, who covered the New York state capital from 2008 to 2017. Nursing home scandal For months, Cuomo had faced questions about a decision made early in the pandemic to force long-term care homes to accept COVID-positive patients from hospitals. The thinking, back in March 2020, was that hospitals could be overrun, so every bed was needed. Cuomo defended the move as being consistent with guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and had dismissed criticism as politically motivated. At the time, President Donald Trump often cited nursing homes in his attacks against Cuomo. The issue boiled over last month when New York State Attorney General Letitia James released a report that said the Cuomo administration vastly undercounted the number of deaths in long-term care homes by as much as 50 per cent. Patients who were transferred from nursing homes to hospital and later died were not counted in the nursing home total. They were still counted in overall totals, but critics say it exposes Cuomo's poor handling and oversight of nursing homes during the pandemic. The FBI and federal prosecutors are now investigating. The attorney general's report also added to another controversy over access to those numbers. For months, when state legislators and policy groups sought details on nursing home deaths, the governor's office held back. A senior aide admitted recently that they were afraid the numbers would be politicized against them. "It really does, unfortunately, speak to the governor's mania for information control, especially when it involves something that might reflect negatively on his past performance," Seiler said. Accusations of abuse Kim, the Democratic state assemblyman, has been openly critical of Cuomo and recently went public claiming the governor called him at home and threatened to "destroy" him politically. "It's extremely abusive and it's an indication of someone who is accustomed to abusing his powers," Kim said. Kim has also been critical of a move by Cuomo last year to provide legal immunity to for-profit long-term care facilities during the height of the pandemic. New York Assemblyman Ron Kim, shown during a media briefing in Albany, N.Y., says Cuomo vowed to 'destroy' him during a private phone call for criticizing his handling of COVID-19 outbreaks at nursing homes. Cuomo "chose to protect business profits over people's lives, and now the whole world is paying attention to that decision and he needs to be held accountable for that," Kim said. 'Who cares ... they died' Cuomo, the son of Democratic Party stalwart and former New York governor Mario Cuomo, has led the state since 2011. He easily won re-election twice and is serving his third term. Seiler said his reputation for sharp elbows and scheming to destroy enemies goes back to his days as secretary for housing and urban development in the Bill Clinton administration. In light of numerous questions about nursing homes — questions not unfamiliar to Canadian premiers facing similar issues — Cuomo has responded to the accusations by brushing aside the criticism. "But who cares ... they died," Cuomo said during a Jan. 29 media briefing, saying it didn't matter where the deaths occurred since the overall count was correct. Seiler said Cuomo likes to project an image of strength and action in times of crisis and does not handle criticism well. "He is a micromanager, and he is also someone who is just pathologically unable to apologize for anything. His mode of response to criticism is to attack any critic." Kim said the governor on display now is closer to reality than the one who garnered headlines for his attacks on Trump. "Everything that I experienced, even before this pandemic, is about control and portraying an image of authority,' Kim said Cuomo, who said in late January that he didn't trust experts, has seen an exodus of health officials from his administration in recent months. Harassment allegation surface This week, Lindsay Boylan, a former state official and later special adviser to Cuomo, accused the governor of kissing her in his office in 2018 and other harassing behaviour. She said Cuomo would often keep track of her whereabouts and once invited her to play strip poker during a government flight. Cuomo denied the allegations, and on Thursday a longtime associate held a conference call with reporters to defend the governor. "His conduct has always been in my presence with the members of other staff appropriate, not that it is always fun-loving and a good time, but it is always appropriate," said Steven Cohen, a former senior adviser to Cuomo. On the questions of verbal abuse and bullying tactics, Cohen said it's no secret that Cuomo can be tough. "He has never shied from giving those around him accurate, blunt feedback," Cohen told reporters. Political fallout? Republicans and conservative media have seized on Cuomo's missteps, saying they're a sign that the left-leaning media chose to gloss over the mistakes of Democratic politicians while focusing solely on Trump. An effort is underway among state legislators to strip Cuomo of the emergency powers granted to him during the pandemic, and there are calls for his impeachment. A recent poll found that 54 per cent of New Yorkers support the governor's handling of the pandemic, down from 72 per cent in July. It also found that 60 per cent of respondents say Cuomo was wrong in how he handled the nursing home situation, but most didn't think he did anything illegal. Cuomo speaks during a news conference at a vaccination site in the Brooklyn borough of New York on Feb. 22. Critics say Cuomo likes to project strength in times of crisis but is too controlling of information. Seiler said it's too early to assess the fallout from the sexual harassment allegation as it's still relatively fresh. He noted that Cuomo isn't up for re-election until next year and that he is in his third term — the same point when his father, Mario, lost his job to a relatively unknown Republican. "Third terms are when the world turns on you, at least in New York state government. The third term is when people get sick of you, when past scandals, controversies, grudges, they begin to kind of stack up into a critical mass."
(Greg Kolz - image credit) Student athletes at the University of Ottawa formed a new group to address BIPOC representation and equity issues in the athletics department. The Black Student-Athletes Advocacy Council (BSAAC) was started last September by two members of the women's rugby team, but membership has now extended to involve 10 other athletes from various teams. "I'm hoping to modify policies at the university, hiring practices [and] possible scholarships for black athletes. But it also is just about Black athletes having a form of leadership in university athletics that was not seen before," said Kennedy Banton-Lindsay, one of the founding members. She said the group is open to all races. "There is a diversity issue with the staff at our university— the lack of Black head coaches and Black coaches and Black sports service employees." N-word impact The council was born out of the Black Lives Matter movement and to address recent events surrounding race at the university, including the debate around the use of the N-word in classrooms. "I would say it played a big role for me as a rookie," Banton-Lindsay said of the controversy. "Instead of just kind of taking [it] as a defeat, I decided to try and make change." The council has already been involved in discussions with administration about their concerns. Just prior to the holiday break, it was invited to meet with the university's administration committee to share its concerns about racism on campus. And in February, members met with the co-chairs of the university's action committee on anti-racism and inclusion. "The Black community and BIPOC community on the university campus feels like there should be more respect toward them in general," said Yvan Mongo, who also on the new council and is captain of the men's hockey team. The group is made up of athletes from many different Gee-Gees teams. Starting to make changes He said he hasn't experienced any racism at the school, and although he generally felt included playing hockey while growing up, there were still difficult times. "I've been called the N-word on the ice, which was really, really tough," Mongo said. "I just feel as though sometimes I had a treatment that was different from other players and I couldn't explain why." When the N-word debate blew up at the school, he wanted to make a difference. "As a group, we felt like it wasn't about academic freedom at all. It was more a matter of respect … people fight so hard to keep using that word was kind of disturbing," he said "I just wish we could create an environment that is safe and enjoyable for everyone." The group has already started to make changes. Following meetings with the group, the Varsity Athletics department is now providing mandatory anti-racism training as part of the annual student-athlete orientation. A working group made up of BSAAC representatives, coaches and administrators are working on an action plan to be presented to the university's senior administration in the spring.
The Pest County Rescue Research Service, which helps everyone from lost hikers to people under rubble after an earthquake, has seen a drop in donations.View on euronews
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. There are 861,472 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 861,472 confirmed cases (30,516 active, 809,041 resolved, 21,915 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 3,252 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 80.29 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20,886 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,984. There were 50 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 339 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 48. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 57.66 per 100,000 people. There have been 24,205,347 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 977 confirmed cases (290 active, 682 resolved, five deaths). There were four new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 55.54 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 114 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 16. There were zero new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.03 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 0.96 per 100,000 people. There have been 194,501 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 121 confirmed cases (seven active, 114 resolved, zero deaths). There was one new case Friday. The rate of active cases is 4.39 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been six new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 100,524 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,634 confirmed cases (35 active, 1,534 resolved, 65 deaths). There were 10 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 3.57 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 30 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.64 per 100,000 people. There have been 323,312 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,428 confirmed cases (42 active, 1,360 resolved, 26 deaths). There was one new case Friday. The rate of active cases is 5.37 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 11 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There were zero new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.04 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 3.33 per 100,000 people. There have been 234,746 tests completed. _ Quebec: 286,145 confirmed cases (7,888 active, 267,885 resolved, 10,372 deaths). There were 815 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 91.99 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,458 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 780. There were 11 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 94 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 13. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.16 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 120.96 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,220,844 tests completed. _ Ontario: 298,569 confirmed cases (10,294 active, 281,331 resolved, 6,944 deaths). There were 1,258 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 69.87 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 7,798 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,114. There were 28 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 124 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 18. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.13 per 100,000 people. There have been 10,726,049 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 31,721 confirmed cases (1,197 active, 29,635 resolved, 889 deaths). There were 64 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 86.79 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 486 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 69. There was one new reported death Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 10 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is one. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.1 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 64.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 526,985 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 28,344 confirmed cases (1,510 active, 26,454 resolved, 380 deaths). There were 153 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 128.11 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,099 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 157. There were zero new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 15 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.18 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 32.24 per 100,000 people. There have been 567,399 tests completed. _ Alberta: 132,788 confirmed cases (4,505 active, 126,406 resolved, 1,877 deaths). There were 356 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 101.88 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,433 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 348. There were three new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 65 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 42.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,378,626 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 79,262 confirmed cases (4,719 active, 73,188 resolved, 1,355 deaths). There were 589 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 91.67 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,427 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 490. There were seven new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 28 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.08 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.32 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,901,202 tests completed. _ Yukon: 72 confirmed cases (zero active, 71 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Friday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.38 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,126 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 42 confirmed cases (three active, 39 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 6.64 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 14,388 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 356 confirmed cases (26 active, 329 resolved, one deaths). There was one new case Friday. The rate of active cases is 66.07 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 24 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,569 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Feb. 26, 2021. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
The “Trump-made-me-do-it” defence is already looking like a longshot. Facing damning evidence in the deadly Capitol siege last month — including social media posts flaunting their actions — rioters are arguing in court they were following then-President Donald Trump's instructions on Jan. 6. But the legal strategy has already been shot down by at least one judge and experts believe the argument is not likely to get anyone off the hook for the insurrection where five people died, including a police officer. “This purported defence, if recognized, would undermine the rule of law because then, just like a king or a dictator, the president could dictate what’s illegal and what isn’t in this country," U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell said recently in ordering pretrial detention of William Chrestman, a suspected member of the Kansas City-area chapter of the Proud Boys. “And that is not how we operate here.” Chrestman’s attorneys argued in court papers that Trump gave the mob “explicit permission and encouragement” to do what they did, providing those who obeyed him with “a viable defence against criminal liability.” “It is an astounding thing to imagine storming the United States Capitol with sticks and flags and bear spray, arrayed against armed and highly trained law enforcement. Only someone who thought they had an official endorsement would even attempt such a thing. And a Proud Boy who had been paying attention would very much believe he did,” Chrestman’s lawyers wrote. Trump was acquitted of inciting the insurrection during his second impeachment trial, where Democrats made some of the same arguments defence attorneys are making in criminal court. Some Republican lawmakers have said the better place for the accusations against Trump is in court, too. Meanwhile, prosecutors have brought charges against more than 250 people so far in the attack, including conspiracy, assault, civil disorder and obstruction of an official proceeding. Authorities have suggested that rare sedition charges could be coming against some. Hundreds of Trump supporters were photographed and videotaped storming the Capitol and scores posted selfies inside the building on social media, so they can’t exactly argue in court they weren’t there. Blaming Trump may be the best defence they have. “What’s the better argument when you’re on videotape prancing around the Capitol with a coat rack in your hand?” said Sam Shamansky, who’s representing Dustin Thompson, an Ohio man accused of stealing a coat rack during the riot. Shamansky said his client would never have been at the Capitol on Jan. 6 if Trump hadn’t “summoned him there.” Trump, he added, engaged in a “devious yet effective plot to brainwash” supporters into believing the election was stolen, putting them in the position where they “felt the the need to defend their country at the request of the commander in chief.” “I think it fits perfectly,” he said of the defence. “The more nuanced question is: Who is going to buy it? What kind of jury panel do you need to understand that?” While experts say blaming Trump may not get their clients off the hook, it may help at sentencing when they ask the judge for leniency. “It could likely be considered a mitigating factor that this person genuinely believed they were simply following the instructions of the leader of the United States,” said Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney in Michigan who's now a professor at the University of Michigan Law School. It could also bolster any potential cases against the former president, experts say. “That defence is dead on arrival,” said Bradley Simon, a New York City white-collar criminal defence attorney and former federal prosecutor. “But I do think that these statements by defendants saying that they were led on by Trump causes a problem for him if the Justice Department or the attorney general in D.C. were to start looking at charges against him for incitement of the insurrection.” While the legal bar is high for prosecuting Trump in the Capitol siege, the former president is already facing a lawsuit from Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson that accuses him of conspiring with extremist groups to prevent Congress from certifying the election results. And more lawsuits could come. Trump spread baseless claims about the election for weeks and addressed thousands of supporters at a rally near the White House before the Capitol riot, telling them that they had gathered in Washington "to save our democracy." Later, Trump said, “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” A lawyer for Jacob Chansley, the shirtless man who wore face paint and a hat with horns inside the Capitol, attached a highlighted transcript of the Trump's speech before the riot to a court filing seeking Chansley's release from custody. The defence lawyer, Albert Watkins, said the federal government is sending a “disturbingly chilling message” that Americans will be prosecuted “if they do that which the President asks them to do.” Defence lawyers have employed other strategies without better success. In one case, the judge called a defence attorney’s portrayal of the riots as mere trespassing or civil disobedience both “unpersuasive and detached from reality.” In another, a judge rejected a man’s claim that he was “duped” into joining the anti-government Oath Keepers group and participating in the attack on the Capitol. Other defendants linked to militant groups also have tried to shift blame to Trump in seeking their pretrial release from jail. An attorney for Jessica Watkins said the Oath Keepers member believed local militias would be called into action if Trump invoked the Insurrection Act to stay in office. Watkins disavowed the Oath Keepers during a court hearing on Friday, saying she has been “appalled” by fellow members of the far-right militia. “However misguided, her intentions were not in any way related to an intention to overthrow the government, but to support what she believed to be the lawful government,” her lawyer wrote. Meanwhile, a lawyer for Dominic Pezzola, another suspected Proud Boy, said he “acted out of the delusional belief that he was a ‘patriot’ protecting his country." Defence attorney Jonathan Zucker described Pezzola as “one of millions of Americans who were misled by the President's deception.” “Many of those who heeded his call will be spending substantial portions if not the remainder of their lives in prison as a consequence," he wrote. “Meanwhile Donald Trump resumes his life of luxury and privilege." Michael Kunzelman And Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press
TORONTO — While it’s tempting to compare various aspects of AstraZeneca-Oxford’s newly approved COVID-19 vaccine to others, several experts cautioned against focusing on data that is not comparable and the danger of underrating the product’s ability to curb hospitalizations and deaths.Health Canada’s long-awaited announcement Friday that a third vaccine would soon be deployed came just as the provinces faced heightened scrutiny over regional immunization plans that vary by timeline, age eligibility and priority groups.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised the boost to Canada’s pandemic arsenal would mean “more people vaccinated, and sooner," and would be key to helping contain spread.Nevertheless, Health Canada chief medical advisor Dr. Supriya Sharma acknowledged questions over how the public should evaluate trial results that show AstraZeneca has an efficacy of 62 per cent in preventing symptomatic cases. That’s compared to the 95 per cent efficacy of the country’s two other approved vaccines, from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.But Sharma stressed that all three have been shown to prevent 100 per cent of hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19."Each vaccine has unique characteristics and Health Canada's review has confirmed that the benefits of the viral vector-based vaccine, as with the other authorized vaccines, outweigh their potential risks," Sharma said.Several medical experts including Dr. Stephen Hwang say Canadians do not have the luxury to pick-and-choose as long as COVID-19 cases continue to rage in several hot spots and strain health-care systems.With multiple COVID-19 projections warning of a variant-fuelled third wave without tighter suppression measures, any tool that can slow the pandemic should be embraced, he argued.“It would be important for people to be vaccinated with whichever vaccine is first available in their community to them, rather than trying to hold out for a specific vaccine,” advised Hwang, who treats COVID-19 patients at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.Still, Toronto resident Maria Brum couldn’t help but question whether AstraZeneca was safe for her 79-year-old mother. The vaccine was not tested on people over the age of 65. Health Canada, however, says real-world data from countries already using the product suggest it is safe and effective among older age groups, promising an update on efficacy in the age group as more data comes in."I personally would take that one out as an option for my mom,” said Brum, who is her mother’s main caregiver."Maybe I am wrong but, I don't know, I don't see that it's more useful. I'd like to see one that has a higher percentage of (efficacy).”As for herself, Brum said she has allergies that she believes may put her at greater risk of adverse reactions and so she is unsure whether she can take any vaccine. But she’d like the option of choosing, if possible, even while acknowledging that limited supply could make that unlikely."As a Canadian, I would like to see us all have choices, regardless of age, gender, or ability,” says Brum.“I'm going to wait where I can have more choices." Such hesitancy could pose public health challenges to Canada reaching the vaccination coverage needed to build protective immunity against COVID-19, said Hwang.He noted that Germany has seen a reported preference among some for the vaccine made by Germany’s BioNTech with Pfizer, as well as a misconception that the AstraZeneca vaccine is inferior because of a lower efficacy rate.Hwang says efficacy between vaccines cannot be compared because each involved completely different trials at different time periods, in different countries, with different volunteers of different age groups and varying trial design."Until we have direct comparison studies where we give people one vaccine versus another and directly compare, it's very difficult to know for sure how it's going to pan out,” he says.Then there’s the fact Canada's initial AstraZeneca doses will be made at the Serum Institute of India, which dubs its version CoviShield, while later packages will be produced at the drug giant's own manufacturing facilities.Hwang acknowledges that could invite further scrutiny but says the Pune, India-based biotech firm has a "strong track record of producing vaccines."Sharma also stressed the similarities between the two shots Friday."For all intents and purposes they're the same vaccine," said Sharma."There are some slight differences in terms of manufacturing and the places that they are manufactured are different. The analogy is a bit like the recipe – so the recipe for the vaccine is the same, but they're manufactured in different kitchens."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2021. Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — A ticket holder somewhere in Ontario won Friday night's whopping $70 million Lotto Max jackpot. Nine of the draw's Maxmillions prizes of $1 million each were also won, with one of those prizes being split between two lottery players. Winning Maxmillion tickets were sold in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and the Prairies. The jackpot for the next Lotto Max draw on Mar. 2 will be approximately $24 million. The Canadian Press
(Shutterstock - image credit) A member of Parliament from Nova Scotia wants food products in Canada labelled so consumers can clearly see their impact on the environment. Jaime Battiste's private member's motion calling for a green grading system passed in the House of Commons this week. "My hope and my dream is that within, you know, the next few years, we'll be able to pick up two products at the local Walmart and Costco and we'll be able to make a choice of two products based on not only their cost, but on what the impact is on our environment," Battiste, the MP for Sydney-Victoria, told CBC Radio's Information Morning on Friday. Even though we're in the middle of a pandemic, the next crisis is climate change, Battiste said. The House standing committee on environment and sustainable development will now study what food labels could look like under a green grading system, among other things. Battiste said he imagines the information being displayed in a similar way to nutritional information, with products getting a grade such as A, B or C. "When we're looking at environment labelling, we're not looking at our personal health, but our environmental health," he said, "which I think is interconnected in a lot of ways." Battiste said some restaurants already include information about carbon footprint on their menus. He'd like the labels to be on Canadian-made food products as well as those from other countries, but said that will be looked at further in the study. The committee will talk with farmers, environmentalists and industry experts, he said. The grading system would take into consideration things like greenhouse gas emissions, the waste created, water used and distance travelled. The committee will also have to determine if the grading is voluntary or if companies that don't comply should face fines, Battiste said. "I think we have to hear from the experts and hear from the industries and hear from the farmers and hear from everyone before you can really make judgments like that," he said. As far as he knows, no other country has created a similar green labelling system. Jaime Battiste, the MP for Sydney-Victoria, put forward a private member's motion that was passed by the House on Feb. 24. "There are so many different labels on so many different foods, but if we had one consistent one that was used across Canada, kind of like a nutritional facts, it's pretty consistent," he said. "This is the opportunity that we have to make a difference in our day-to-day lives to ensure that we're doing our best to protect our planet." Not all MPs have the chance to put forward a private member's bill. Battiste said he was thrilled when his bill, which is called M-35 Environment Grading Label, passed this week. "I don't know if I'll ever get this opportunity again and I wanted to be able to look [my son] in the eyes when he's older and said when I had an opportunity to make a difference, I did what I could to make sure that the future generations and the next seven generations had had a fighting chance," he said. MORE TOP STORIES
(Brian Chisholm/CBC News file photo - image credit) Mount Allison University's decision to launch an internal review following complaints about the personal blog of one of its professors is an "egregious" violation of academic freedom, a group dedicated to the protection of free speech and scholarship says. Earlier this week, Mount Allison announced it was conducting an internal review after receiving complaints about an associate psychology professor's blog. In a statement, the university said "serious concerns have been expressed" about posts related to systemic racism, sexual violence, gender, and colonization. "We neither support nor agree with the inappropriate comments that have been posted to this blog," the university said. On Wednesday, the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship rallied to the professor's defence. The society, a group of Canadian professors headed by philosophy professor Mark Mercer, sent a letter urging Mount Allison to rethink its decision. "The professor alluded to in the tweet is Rima Azar, associate professor of health psychology, and the comments Dr. Azar posted on her blog "Bambi's Afkar" concern matters of public and academic importance, such as freedom of expression, university policies, the existence of systemic racism in Canada and teaching in a multi-cultural society," the group said in a letter to Mount Allison. "SAFS is concerned that Mount Allison's [statement] violates Dr. Azar's academic freedom and will function to suppress discussion and inquiry" at the university. Mark Mercer, president of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, says Mount Allison has "no legitimate reason" to look into Azar's postings. In an interview, Mercer said Mount Allison has "no legitimate reason" to look into Azar's postings, and said he sees its decision to do so as a response to public pressure. "It's an expression of cancel culture and it perpetuates cancel culture," Mercer said. "As soon as the investigation is called, that's an act of cancelling." Azar declined to comment on the internal review or on the society's response. Mount Allison acknowledged Friday that it has received the letter, but did not respond to questions about whether it will continue with the review. "We have no further comments at this time," communications officer Aloma Jardine said in an email. Mercer said he has not heard back from Mount Allison yet, but that he is hopeful the university will change its position and use the controversy as a "teachable moment." "When we're confronted with positions that we think are false or dangerous, we should analyze them, discuss the arguments for and against," not shut them down, he said. Mount Allison University should be using the controversy around the complaints as a teachable moment about the academic values of free speech and discussion, Mercer said. No topics should be off-limits, Mercer says Earlier this week, Jonathan Ferguson, president of Mount Allison Students' Union, said it received multiple complaints about Azar's blog. The complaints were not about any one post specifically, he said, but rather about "what this professor was saying throughout her blog … denying systemic racism in New Brunswick or in Canada, talking about BIPOC students in unkind ways, labelling Black Lives Matter a radical group — stuff that doesn't run in line with the values of our institution at all." Husoni Raymond, a St. Thomas University graduate who was mentioned in Azar's blog, tweeted: "So one Black person wins an award and that means there's no racism? Disappointing to see a professor who's still ignorant to what racism is and will be using her power within the institution to uphold racists ideologies. Racism IS in Canada. Racism IS in NB." Raymond was responding to a post by Azar in which she said, in part: "NB is NOT racist. Canada is NOT racist. We do not have 'systemic' racism or 'systemic' discrimination. We just have systemic naivety because we are a young country and because we want to save the world. "Oh, one quick question to Mr. Husoni Raymond: Upon your graduation from St. Thomas University, you have been named the 2020 recipient of the Tom McCann Memorial Trophy for your 'strong leadership and character' ... "If NB is as racist as you are claiming, would one of its prestigious universities be honouring you like that?" Mercer said no topics should be off-limits. "The point of freedom of expression on campus is to remove impediments from discussion ... so that people can say what's on their mind," he said. "So when a university says it doesn't support this view, then that's the institution saying there's a party line. And then when they say they're investigating, then they're saying there are some things that cannot be said."
New numbers on the state of the Great Lakes shows a rise in water temperatures for winter 2021, including for Lake Huron. Environmental experts in the Georgian Bay area say the warming of Lake Huron can have significant effects on the weather, environment and wildlife. The latest data from the Great Lakes Environment Research Laboratory (GLERL) shows Lake Huron's water volume temperature sitting at 4.3 C for Feb. 5. That's compared to this time last year, when the water temperature was at 3.9 C, and the year before, at 3.2 C. David Bywater, a conservation program manager with Georgian Bay Biosphere Mnidoo Gamii, said GLERL's latest data is consistent with the pattern of ice loss coverage they've seen in data dating back to the 1970s. A report the Biosphere published in 2018 details a steady decline in ice coverage for Lake Huron from 1973 to 2016, using data from the Canadian Ice Service. It adds the average water temperature is increasing at a rate of 0.9 C every decade. It links both these phenomena to climate change. "It can affect weather: if you have open water instead of ice, that's going to affect the amount of precipitation that you're going to be seeing, both rain and snow," he said. This is because ice coverage prevents further evaporation. Rupert Kindersley, the Georgian Bay Association's executive director, said the warming waters are a concern for that reason: he noted the damage done to structures, docks and businesses near the Georgian Bay shoreline over the years as a result of flooding. "It's one of the features of climate change that we're getting these warmer winters and less ice cover," he said. There are also ecological impacts: according to Samantha Noganosh, a councillor with Magnetawan First Nation and lands manager, many community members have seen a decrease in the number of fish coming through Magnetawan River — which is connected to Lake Huron — over the years, meaning less yield during fishing season. Community members also use the river as a water source for recreational activities and ceremonies. "(Magnetawan River) is the lifeblood of the First Nation," said Alanna Smolarz, a species-at-risk biologist working for the First Nation. "It's an incredible resource." According to Noganosh, the First Nation is closely monitoring the situation with Lake Huron's warming waters. Bywater said the community partners with the Georgian Bay Biosphere to collect data and exchange information to aid in raising awareness. "That's part of the climate change challenge: making it local and making it meaningful when it's such a big issue," he said. Kindersley said the Georgian Bay Association is also working to inform members of the water level concerns, but added what they can do to tackle this problem is minimal. "There's not a lot we can do about climate change and global warming other than persuade people to adopt individual behaviour that will help to reduce CO2 emissions and other things," he said. Zahraa Hmood is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering the municipalities of Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Zahraa Hmood, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection is likely to be much higher than recorded because death certificates don't always list the virus as the cause of a fatality, experts say. Dr. Nathan Stall, a geriatrician at Sinai Health in Toronto, said deaths that have been recorded as a result of COVID-19 only reflect those who were tested for it. "But there are going to be people who died in excess of what we normally expected, who might have been infected and never got a test and went on to die." The underlying cause of death in 92 per cent of 9,500 fatalities was recorded on medical certificates as COVID-19 in a November study by Statistics Canada. In the remaining eight per cent of cases, cancer, dementia, Alzheimer's disease or other chronic conditions were most commonly found to be the underlying cause of death. Stall said while the 92 per cent figure is higher than what he expected it to be, he thinks the actual number is likely to be even larger. "I think this also speaks to the confusion people have of how to actually classify a cause of death," he said, adding those who die are rarely tested to determine if they had COVID-19. He said the better indicator of the pandemic's death toll will be excess mortality, when more deaths than were expected are recorded during a specific time period. Dr. Roger Wong, a clinical professor of geriatric medicine, said the accurate recording of deaths from COVID-19 is a challenge around the globe. The World Health Organization and medical regulatory bodies in Canada have provided guidelines on how to record COVID-19 related deaths. Wong said an incomplete or inaccurate record of mortality data can have public health implications. Scientists and researchers will get a better understanding of COVID-19 in people with long-standing health conditions by recording as many details as possible in death certificates, said Wong, who is also a vice-dean in the University of British Columbia's faculty of medicine. "It has implications, not only for COVID-19 deaths, but implications for all deaths," Wong said. He said the first line of a death certificate states the immediate reason a patient died, while the second and subsequent lines record health conditions leading to the cause of the fatality. "The immediate cause of death may not capture the underlying cause of death," he said. In patients who die from COVID-19, they could have also suffered from acute respiratory distress syndrome and pneumonia because the virus affects the lungs, he said, giving an example. In those cases, the first line would list respiratory syndrome as the cause of death, and the second and third lines would say what led to it, which could be pneumonia and COVID-19 respectively, Wong said. It is important to note what caused the pneumonia, he said, adding in a number of cases it could be COVID-19. Long-standing illnesses or comorbidities, such as diabetes, heart or kidney disease, also complicate how deaths are recorded, Wong said, as those patients are at higher risk of infection. "COVID-19 should be recorded as an underlying cause of death, not so much as a concurrent health condition that happened to be there," Wong explained. Stall used cardiopulmonary arrest as another example of fatalities that don't always list COVID-19 as a factor. "Well, everyone dies of cardiopulmonary arrest, because everyone dies when their heart stops beating and the lungs stop breathing. That's not a cause of death. That's the mechanism of death," Stall said. "The cause of death is COVID-19, and ultimately all events lead to cardiopulmonary arrest but that's a common example that I'll sometimes see as a cause of death when it certainly is not the cause." There needs to be better education and "a bit more" quality control in how deaths are recorded, he said. "It's not something we learn a ton about in medical school or something that's given a lot of attention and consideration by individuals who are often in a rush to do it so the body can be released to the morgue or funeral home." The StatCan study said international guidelines are followed to record COVID-19 as the cause of death where the disease "caused, or is assumed to have caused, or contributed to death." Stall said accurately recording deaths helps stamp out misinformation about the pandemic as well as gauging how the country has been affected by it. "We are looking at the picture and the complete scope of what COVID-19 has done to our population in our country," Stall said. "And in order to look after the living, you need to count the dead." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021 Hina Alam, The Canadian Press
(wutzkohphoto/Shutterstock - image credit) Heads up, Canadians: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is going to be a tax season like no other. If you collected COVID-19-related benefit payments last year, you might end up owing more money than in previous years. However, if you spent part of 2020 working from home, you could wind up with a bigger tax refund than usual. Here's what you need to know about filing your taxes this season, including important deadlines. Has the deadline been extended? Despite this being a more complex tax season, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has not extended the tax filing deadline. The due date is still April 30 for most Canadians, and June 15 for self-employed people. To avoid interest charges, Canadians need to pay any taxes owed by April 30. However, not everyone has to comply with that rule this year. Those who had a total taxable income of $75,000 or less and received one or more of the COVID-19 benefits listed below don't have to pay their taxes until April 30, 2022. Eligible benefits: Canada emergency response benefit (CERB). Canada emergency student benefit (CESB). Canada recovery benefit (CRB). Canada recovery caregiving benefit (CRCB). Canada recovery sickness benefit (CRSB). Employment Insurance benefits. Similar provincial emergency benefits. Qualifying Canadians "will have that full year after the filing deadline of April 30th " to pay any tax debt without facing interest charges, said Francesco Sorbara, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue. Those who qualify for the payment deferral still need to file their taxes on time — or they'll face a late-filing penalty. Will I owe taxes on my government benefits? The benefits listed above are considered taxable income, so the federal government introduced the tax-payment deferral to help out the many Canadians who will have to pay taxes on their benefit payments. "[Many] lost jobs and collected benefits, and they may have some amounts owing," said Sorbara. "We're giving some flexibility there." WATCH | CRA prepares for a complicated tax season: The government didn't withhold any taxes on CERB and CESB benefit payments Canadians received in 2020. It did withhold a 10 per cent tax for people who received CRB, CRCB and CRSB benefits, but tax expert Jamie Golombek said many of those individuals will still owe the government money, as most Canadians' income is taxed at a much higher rate than 10 per cent. "For many people, [10 per cent is] not going to be enough, particularly for those who had other sources of income throughout the year," said Golombek, managing director of tax and estate planning at CIBC. "You may actually find out for the first time ever in your life that you actually owe some taxes." Working from home? Claim your cash Due to the pandemic, many Canadians worked from home for part of 2020, which means they may be eligible for a home office expenses tax deduction. To qualify, you must have worked from home more than 50 per cent of the time for at least four consecutive weeks last year. There are two options for Canadians claiming home office expenses. The first is the detailed method, which involves calculating what percentage of your household costs — such as hydro, rent and internet — can be applied to your home office space. Also, you're required to save all relevant receipts. If that sounds like too much work, don't fret. To simplify the process for people who worked from home for the first time in 2020, the CRA has introduced a new, temporary flat rate method. It allows employees to claim a tax deduction of $2 for each day they worked from home, up to a maximum of $400. "We've kept it simple. They can file it without filing any documentation, any forms," said Sorbara. Software designer Pat Suwalski is seen working from his desk at home in Nepean, Ont. Software developer Pat Suwalski of Nepean, Ont., has been mainly working from home since April 2020. He filed his taxes on Wednesday using the flat rate method and said it took him just minutes to calculate his deduction. "I'm a pretty honest guy, so I took a calendar and I started counting [work] days," he said. Suwalski counted 188 work-from-home days last year. Multiply that by $2 a day and he's set to get a tax credit of $376. "I'll take it," he said. "It's great that they made [the process] simpler." Which method should you choose if you worked from home this year? Golombek said the flat rate method may be the best option if you're a homeowner, because it's easier and chances are you'll come out ahead. That's because mortgage payments — typically a homeowner's biggest monthly bill — can't be claimed as a home office expense. "Our experience is that homeowners, typically speaking, don't have enough expenses … to beat the $2-a-day method," Golombek said. While homeowners can't claim their mortgage payments, renters can claim a portion of their rent based on the size of their home office space compared to their entire home. As a result, Golombek says they may reap bigger rewards by choosing the detailed method. "Depending on [what] percentage of their home they're using, [renters] typically would probably come out ahead on the detailed method." Digital tax credit Golombek also points out one of the new wrinkles this tax season, which is that the government is offering a tax break to people who subscribed to digital news services in 2020. Canadians can claim up to $500 for subscriptions to qualifying Canadian media, such as newspapers, magazines, websites and podcasts, that don't have a broadcast licence and offer primarily original news content. "I call it a bit of a fun new credit," Golombek said. The CRA told CBC News it will post a list of eligible subscriptions on its website in March and that it will only include organizations that wish to have the information publicly posted. If you still have questions about your taxes, you can call the CRA tax information line at 1-800-959-8281. The agency said it has beefed up resources at its call centre, as it anticipates higher than normal call volumes this tax season.
(Zach Goudie/CBC - image credit) A mining company hoping to strike it rich on the Eastern Shore says it now believes there is double the amount of gold it initially thought was on its property near Goldboro, N.S. Anaconda Mining originally estimated there were 1.4-million ounces of gold at its site about 250 kilometres east of Halifax. But after exploration, drilling and testing last year, the Toronto-based company now believes there are closer to 2.75-million ounces of gold. "I've been in this industry 35 years, and it's been my dream to develop something like this," said Kevin Bullock, the company's president and CEO. "I'm just ecstatic. You know, people look for these their lifetime and never find them. So I'm really happy about that." Bullock said he believes the gold deposit at Goldboro is the second-largest undeveloped deposit in Atlantic Canada, second only to Marathon Gold's Valentine Gold project in Newfoundland and Labrador. Focus shifting to open-pit mining The findings have prompted Anaconda to modify its plans for the proposed mine. The plan had always been to extract gold through both open-pit surface mining as well as underground mining. The company still plans to use both methods, but now plans more open-pit mining. Open-pit mining tends to be faster and less expensive. It also means more ore is crushed and processed, producing more waste dumps and tailings, the material left over after ore is processed. Bullock said the amount of ore that will be processed will quadruple from previous estimates. The shift to more open-pit mining will increase the physical footprint of the mining operations due to the amount of tailings and waste dumps, but Bullock couldn't yet say by how much. He expects the period of open-pit mining to last for at least eight or nine years before underground mining begins. Bullock said if the mine is approved, he hopes to see construction begin by the end of 2022. The project would create a "tremendous" number of jobs through both the construction and operations phases, Bullock said. Anaconda is now expecting to be able to produce about 100,000 ounces a year, a figure Bullock estimates is relatively on par with the activities of the province's active mine, Atlantic Gold's Touquoy mine in Moose River. Environmental approval Anaconda submitted its original plans for Goldboro to the province for environmental approval in August 2018. But the environment minister at the time, Margaret Miller, said the company's submission didn't contain enough information. She asked Anaconda to write a new, more extensive report on the environmental implications of the project, and gave a one-year deadline. Three days before that deadline, in September 2019, Anaconda withdrew its proposal from the environmental assessment process because it was changing its plans for the mine. Bullock said the mine would operate in compliance with all provincial environmental policies. "So, waters frequented by fish, we will stay away from. We will ensure that everything is done to the standard that anything emitted to the environment will not have anything in it that's deleterious." Bullock acknowledged that since the Goldboro area was mined as far back as the late 1900s — long before any environmental regulations were in place — there are historical tailings that "have some nasties in them." He said the company would hope to help the government clean up those sites. MORE TOP STORIES
Gunmen in Nigeria on Saturday released 27 teenage boys who were kidnapped from their school last week in the north-central state of Niger, while security forces continued to search for more than 300 schoolgirls abducted in a nearby state. Schools have become targets for mass kidnappings for ransom in northern Nigeria by armed groups. On Feb. 17, 27 students, three staff and 12 members of their families were abducted by an armed gang that stormed the Government Science secondary school in the Kagara district of Niger state, overwhelming the school's security detail.
(Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press - image credit) A predicted warmer than average spring and the continued rollout of vaccines bodes well for COVID-19 case counts to drop in the coming months, experts say. But doctors are quick to add that comes with the caveat of continued stringent adherence to public health advice over the next few weeks and beyond so variants of the novel coronavirus don't rapidly spread in Ontario, overwhelming the health-care system. "If we are very careful, we can imagine a much better summer, and a better summer is the payoff from the stay at home order and the vaccinations. But if we let up, we will with little doubt lose the gains that we've worked so hard for," said Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of Ontario's COVID-19 science advisory table at a news conference Thursday. "A better summer is in sight if we work for it now." No matter the year, Canadians hope for a mild spring ushering in warm weather as soon as winter abates — but amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the stakes are immeasurably higher. Warmer temperatures allow people to more easily gather outdoors, where the virus is less of a threat. Case counts throughout Ontario dropped significantly last summer, only to rise to new heights through the fall and winter. That's why it's welcome news that Environment Canada's models are suggesting it's going to be a warmer and milder than normal March this year. "March, April [and] May are all looking like warmer than normal," the federal agency's senior climatologist David Phillips told CBC News. Still, this is Canada — so people should expect some yo-yoing between decent and sludgy weather in the coming weeks, Phillips added. An 'even better and more open' summer Though he'd struck a very sombre tone in recent news conferences when laying out modelling projections, Brown said Thursday that the coming summer could be "even better and more open than last summer." He based that prediction on a variety of factors, such as the combination of vaccination and public health measures that have helped reduce virus transmission. More time outside in warmer weather with less time in enclosed spaces should only help break transmission of the disease even more. "Looking at historical models, like the 1918 influenza pandemic, we believe that the introduction of vaccination [and] the effective use of public health measures may mean that we're both able to control spread more, but also [establish] immunity in a much more safe and reliable way than in previous pandemics, where we truly had to rely on the spread of infection alone," Brown said. Though the province's vaccine rollout has been criticized, health experts say vaccination should somewhat mitigate COVID-19 caseloads this summer. Dr. David Fisman, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said if all goes well, Ontario could expect to see "at worst" similar COVID-19 case counts as the province saw last summer. "But we'll probably see an even better situation because many of us now have immune experience with [the virus] … either because we've actually been infected, or increasingly because we've been vaccinated," Fisman said. "That's going to make whatever happened last summer happen to a lesser degree because many of us are protected." Avoiding a 3rd wave Officials hailed Health Canada's approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday as a "huge deal" for the province's immunization effort. According to Friday's figures, 258,014 people have received both doses of a vaccine. After almost a year of disruption, Fisman says we can now "see the finish line" for the pandemic in Canada — but with a minefield of variants of concern that are thought to be more transmissible in the way. "We just need to pick our way carefully through the minefield for these next few weeks, so we don't have another wave," he said. Dr. Peter Juni, scientific director of the province's Science Advisory Table, similarly warned that people have to be vigilant about the coronavirus variants over the next few weeks. He said that will have to happen before anyone is able to reap any benefits in the summer months. "What we now need to do is stick to the playbooks much more stringently than before," Juni said. "Do this now a bit longer and try to keep the numbers low. They're still quite high."
(Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP Photo - image credit) Vaccine deliveries are ramping up and provinces and territories are starting to unveil more of their vaccine rollout plans. Each province has a phased plan for vaccine deployment which indicates when the various priority groups can expect to receive the shots. Here's what we know so far about who's getting the shots and when. British Columbia B.C. is still in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout, which covers residents and staff of long-term care facilities, health care workers who may provide care for COVID-19 patients and remote and isolated Indigenous communities. The subsequent phase is expected to run through March and includes seniors 80 and over, Indigenous seniors 65 and over, hospital staff and medical specialists, vulnerable populations living and working in congregated settings and staff providing in-home support to seniors. B.C. is planning to announce the details of Phase 2 of the immunization program on Monday. Immunization clinics overseen by local health authorities are being organized in 172 communities in school gymnasiums, arenas, convention centres and community halls. B.C. said it would start reaching out to those in line for vaccines in Phase 2 to tell them how to pre-register for immunization appointments. A truck carrying COVID-19 vaccine crosses the Canada-U.S. border into B.C. on Monday, Dec. 12, 2020. People will be notified by postcard, email, text or phone call, through specialty clinics, independent living homes, home care services and family physician offices. Pre-registration for vaccinations opens in March. People can pre-register, online or by phone, two to four weeks before they are eligible. Eligibility is based on the current phase of the vaccination program and the recipient's age. Those contacted for vaccination appointments are pre-screened for eligibility before they choose a location, date and time to receive the shot. Mass clinics for the general population are scheduled to start on April 6, beginning with the 75-79 age group. The B.C. government website says it is developing a registration and record system and a process to register for vaccine access and receive a formal record of immunization. For more information about B.C.'s vaccination plan, go here. Alberta As of Feb. 24, seniors 75 and over (born in 1946 or earlier) and seniors 65 and over living in First Nations and Métis communities were eligible for vaccination. The Alberta government estimates there are about 230,000 seniors in these two groups. Starting the first week of March, select pharmacies in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer will be offering the vaccine. By the end of the week about 100 pharmacies will provide shots. A list of participating pharmacies can be found here. Staff at participating pharmacies will contact people who are eligible for the shots. Given the anticipated vaccine delivery schedule, Alberta Health Services says it expects it will be vaccinating people in this first phase over most of March. Allan Pasutto, 86, of Penhold, Alberta gets the COVID-19 vaccine in Red Deer. Phase 2 is expected to begin in April. Vaccinations in this phase will be offered to anyone aged 50 to 74 years, anyone with underlying health conditions, First Nations and Métis people aged 35 and older, residents and staff in congregate living settings and eligible caregivers. The Alberta government says that, as supply increases, it will accelerate vaccinations on the model of its annual flu campaign by using Alberta Health Services staff, community pharmacies and family physicians. The province was able to administer 1.3 million flu shots in six weeks last fall — an average of over 30,000 shots per day. Starting February 24, Alberta started using an online booking tool www.ahs.ca/covidvaccine. Those eligible for vaccination also can call the province's 811 Health Link number for information. Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said appointments are now available seven days a week from 8:20 a.m. to 3:40 p.m. at 58 sites around the province, and the hours will be extended as more vaccines arrive. No walk-ins are allowed. Seniors who can't find transportation to their appointments can call 211 — the government's information line for programs and services — for help. For more information about Alberta's vaccination plan, go here. Saskatchewan Saskatchewan's Phase 1 is still underway, focusing on health care workers, residents and staff of long-term care homes, residents 70 years and older and residents in remote and northern regions over the age of 50. People eligible for vaccination in Phase 1 are being contacted directly by phone or mail. Phase 2 is expected to begin in April and will cover the general population, starting with people aged 60-69 and working down in 10 year increments. Phase 2 will also cover individuals considered to be extremely vulnerable to infection, and staff and residents of group homes and emergency shelters. Doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine are loaded onto a plane for delivery to Southend and Wollaston in Saskatchewan. The province said it expects that when Phase 2 begins, the Saskatchewan Health Authority will be operating 226 vaccine clinics in 181 communities across the province. Those clinics will include mass vaccination sites, drive-through locations and mobile vaccination clinics. More sites will be added through pharmacies and doctors' offices. A mass vaccination clinic will open in April at the International Trade Centre at Evraz Place in Regina. Appointments will be needed. People will be asked to register for vaccination through an online platform or by phone. For more information about Saskatchewan's vaccination plan, go here. Manitoba Manitoba's immunization teams are now vaccinating all residents age 92 and older (born on or before December 31, 1928) and First Nations people 72 and older (born on or before December 31, 1948). Vaccinations are also available to individuals working in laboratories handling COVID-19 specimens, in immunization clinics and testing sites and in isolation accommodation facilities. The vaccine is being offered now to those working in congregate living facilities who were born on or before Dec. 31, 1960, and people working in licensed personal care homes. A COVID-19 vaccine dose is administered in Thompson, Manitoba. Health care staff who work for acute care facilities and emergency response services (ERS), home care workers, correctional facility staff, dental office staff and those who work in facilities providing services insured by Manitoba Health and Seniors Care (such as family medical practices and outpatient surgical units) are eligible for the vaccine. So are community services workers, staff at homeless shelters and family violence shelters and those who provide disability services and child and family services. The next eligible group includes health care workers who were not included in Phase 1, residents and staff of shared living facilities and essential workers. It's not known yet when Manitobans in this group will receive their shots. Manitoba has set up a Vaccine Queue Calculator to allow Manitobans to estimate when they'll receive their vaccines. The province expects to open two new "supersites" for large-scale vaccinations in Selkirk and the Morden-Wrinkler area the week of March 12, bringing the number of such sites to six. (Three are in Winnipeg, Brandon and Thompson, with a fourth facility at the airport outside Thompson.) The province says it plans to expand to 13 supersites throughout Manitoba in April. It has hired 1,212 staffers to help with the vaccination effort. More than 400 medical clinics and pharmacies have applied to be a part of the immunization campaign. Manitobans with questions about the vaccination plan and their position in the queue can go to this website or call a toll-free number: 1-844-626-8222. Manitoba's booking portal is still in the testing phase. Ontario Ontario's vaccination rollout is in Phase 1, which covers staff and essential caregivers in long-term care homes, high-risk retirement homes and First Nations elder care homes, and highest-priority health care workers. In March, Phase 1 is expected to expand to adults 80 years of age and older, staff, residents and caregivers in retirement homes and other congregate care settings, high-priority health care workers, all Indigenous adults and adult recipients of chronic home care. Vaccines have been delivered to Ontario's 34 public health units in Ontario and the pace of the rollout could vary depending on the region. Nicole Laplante, centre, receives a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in Embrun, Ont., Jan. 13, 2021. Phase 2 is set to begin in April. This phase will add more vaccination sites, including municipally run locations, hospital sites, mobile vaccination locations, pharmacies, clinics, community-run health centres and aboriginal health centres. In August, the province is to move to Phase 3 and make vaccines available to everyone who wants to be immunized. The Ontario government's online portal for mass vaccination pre-registration and appointment booking is set to launch on March 15. For those without access to the internet, the province will establish a customer service desk to register and book appointments. Neighbourhood mobile clinics are being planned by local public health units. For more information about Ontario's vaccination plan, go here. Quebec On the island of Montreal, vaccinations are now available to people 80 and older. To make an appointment, go to this website or call 514-644-4545. The rest of Quebec will start vaccinating anyone 85 years of age or older next week. Anyone born before 1936 can start making an appointment for their first dose on February 25, by phone (1-877-644-4545) or online. Quebec has posted a document describing the procedure here. Once more vaccines arrive, Quebec plans to expand inoculations to include seniors 70 and up and those with chronic health conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19. The province has started to prepare by securing mass vaccination sites, such as the Olympic Stadium. Quebec Premier François Legault and Health Minister Christian Dubé watch a woman register for her COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Montreal's Olympic Stadium It has set up mass vaccination sites already in major urban centres in anticipation of an increase in the vaccine supply. One of them — the Palais des congress de Montreal, in the heart of downtown — is set up to vaccinate up to 2,000 people per day. For more information about Quebec's vaccination plan, go here. New Brunswick Phase 1 is underway, covering long-term care residents and staff, front line health care staff, First Nations adults 16+ and individuals 85 and over. Clinics are being held this week and next at 321 licensed long-term care homes and those vaccinations are expected to be completed by March 14. Residents and staff are being contacted directly by their employers to register for vaccination. Others in Phase 1 are being contacted directly to book appointments. For individuals aged 85 or older living in the community, details on clinic locations and registration process will be announced in the coming weeks. A box containing 1,950 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 arrives at the Miramichi Regional Hospital. Phase 2 starts in April and will include residents in other communal settings, health care workers providing direct patient care (such as pharmacists and dentists), firefighters, police officers, home support workers for seniors, people 70 and over, people with complex medical conditions, volunteers at long-term care homes, people 40 and over with three or more chronic conditions and truckers or workers who cross the Canada-U.S. border regularly. The N.B. government's website says that details about who can register for vaccination and when will be announced in the coming weeks. Clinic locations are also being finalized. The province is asking residents to wait for those details instead of tying up resources by calling the provincial tele-care number or their local health practitioners. Prince Edward Island P.E.I.'s vaccination effort is in its first phase, which will continue throughout March. Public health nurses had been delivering the vaccines; trained pharmacists were approved recently to administer the doses as well. Those getting vaccinations in this phase are residents and staff of long term care homes, health care workers in direct contact with patients who face an elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors 80 and older, adults 18 and older living in Indigenous communities, residents and staff of shared living facilities (such as group homes, shelters and correctional facilities) and truck drivers and other workers who routinely travel out of the province. Starting February 22, vaccine clinics in P.E.I. will start giving doses to seniors aged 80 and older. You can find a list of clinics here. The province says other population groups will be told when they can be vaccinated as the rollout continues. The province expects to have four clinics in operation starting in March — in O'Leary, Summerside, Charlottetown and Montague. Vaccinations in P.E.I. are by appointment only. When their turns come up, Islanders can book their appointments by calling 1-844-975-3303 or by filling out a form available through this government website. For more information about Prince Edward Island's vaccination plan, go here. Nova Scotia Nova Scotia's vaccination effort is in Phase 1. That covers those who work directly with patients in hospitals or care homes, people who live and work in long term care homes and people who live and work in adult residential care centres and regional rehabilitation centres. There's no word yet on when the next phase of the vaccine rollout will begin. When it does, it will include: anyone who works in a hospital (and might come into contact with patients); doctors, nurses, dentists, dental hygienists and pharmacists; people who live in correctional facilities, shelters and temporary foreign worker housing; people who are required to travel regularly for work (such as truck drivers); people responsible for food security (such as workers in large food processing plants); those aged 75 to 79 and those 80 and older. Alvena Poole, 83, receives her vaccine from Allison Milley, a nurse at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, on Feb. 22, 2021. N.S. Public Health is holding prototype clinics before deploying vaccines across the province. The first prototype clinic — for seniors 80 years and older — opened at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax starting the week of Feb. 22. More clinics will open in the coming weeks: in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro on March 8; in Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth on March 15, and in Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth on March 22. The province also is planning to set up clinics in pharmacies as well. Those at the head of the queue will receive letters from the province explaining how to schedule a vaccination appointment. Once contacted, appointments can then be booked online or by calling 1-833-797-7772 the week before the clinic opens. For more information about Nova Scotia's vaccination plan, go here. Newfoundland & Labrador Newfoundland & Labrador is in Phase 1 of its immunization plan. Doses in this first phase are earmarked for congregate living settings for seniors, health care workers at high risk of exposure to COVID-19, people 85 and older and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities. It's not known yet when the next phase of the province's vaccination plan will begin. That phase will cover health care workers who were not included in Phase 1, residents and staff of all other congregate living settings and essential workers. These categories are still being defined by the province and its health department says details of future phases are still being finalized. Newfoundland and Labrador's chief medical officer of health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald smiles at St. John's public health nurse Ellen Foley-Vick after giving her the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in St. John's, Nfld., on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. For more information about Newfoundland & Labrador's vaccination plan, go here. Yukon Priority groups in Yukon have received their first doses and, in some cases, their second doses as well. As of Feb. 19, high-risk health care workers and long-term care residents and staff had received their second doses. Those living in remote rural communities and people aged 65 and older are to start getting their second doses beginning the week of Feb. 22. Over the past few weeks, every community outside Whitehorse has been visited by one of two mobile vaccine clinic teams (named 'Balto' and 'Togo') delivering first doses to all residents 18 and over. In Whitehorse, a mass clinic will open on March 1 that will deliver up to 800 immunizations a day — both first and second doses. All Whitehorse residents 18 years of age and older can now book appointments for their first shots. Those living in Whitehorse must book appointments online or by calling 1-877-374-0425. In rural Yukon, where internet access may be an issue, appointments are recommended but walk-ins are also welcome. For more information about Yukon's vaccination plan, go here. Northwest Territories All NWT long-term care residents have received first and second doses. The NWT COVID-19 vaccine strategy says the general population can expect access to the vaccine in late March or early April. The original NWT strategy said there would be enough doses to immunize 75 per cent of eligible residents 18 years of age and older should by the end of March. That target date has now been put off to the end of April. "This generous initial allocation from the federal government recognizes the territories' limited health care system capacities and the vulnerabilities of remote Indigenous communities," says the strategy document. The vaccine schedule and booking tool are now online and will be updated as more doses are delivered. Dr. AnneMarie Pegg, territorial medical director, receives her first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Stanton Territorial Hospital on Jan. 10. Those living in larger centres are expected to call or book online for their vaccinations. In smaller communities, dates and locations for vaccination clinics will be advertised and residents will be asked to show up. Multiple small mobile vaccine units are travelling to 33 communities to help local health care staff administer doses. For more information on NWT's vaccination plan, go here. Nunavut Nunavut says it expects to have 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18 vaccinated by the end of March. Nunavut is only using the Moderna vaccine right now and has been staging vaccine clinics in two or three communities at a time. Starting March 1, the next round of clinics to administer the first dose will be held in five communities. Starting around March 5 and March 6, nine locations will start holding clinics for the second dose of the vaccine. In Iqaluit, vaccinations are by appointment only and are being directed toward elders 60 or older, those living in community shelters, front line health workers, Medivac flight crews, residents and staff of group homes and Iqaluit's Akaausisarvik Mental Health Treatment Centre, and residents and staff of correctional facilities. The next phase in Iqaluit is expected to begin March 1 and will be for people age 45 and over. Nunavut relays COVID-19 information through public service announcements on TV, social media, community radio and the government's website. The website shows the locations of clinics, their times of operation and contact information.
(Andrew Lee/CBC - image credit) After almost a year of working in crowded stores amid a deadly global pandemic, Ontario's essential workers are facing yet more uncertainty as the province approaches its mass inoculation campaign. "I want to know when a vaccine is going to be available for me," said Sergio Peña, a part-time cashier at a Toronto grocery store. "And that would mean knowing when essential workers are going to be able to get vaccines." Ontario's COVID-19 immunization task force revealed on Wednesday new information about how it will prioritize residents when mass vaccinations are expected to begin near the end of March. The shift to large-scale vaccinations will represent the second phase of Ontario's three stage immunization plan. The proposed vaccination schedule is broken down primarily by age brackets, but the province also intends to begin vaccinating what it calls "front-line essential workers" during Phase 2. What remains unclear is exactly when those workers will be eligible. 'We are also at risk' The province has also not yet said how it will prioritize different types of essential workers, such as grocery store clerks, teachers and workers in the food processing industry. "I think this is a very important point that we all need to know when we will have the opportunity to take it," said Lilia Abbassene, a cashier at a Toronto grocery and convenience store. "As younger people, we are also at risk of getting COVID-19, and we need to know when the vaccine will get to us." Grocery store employee Lilia Abbassene says it will be 'very important' for the government to clarify when essential workers will be eligible for a vaccine. While young people represent a miniscule portion of deaths related to the novel coronavirus, people aged 20 to 29 now account for the largest share of active COVID-19 cases in Ontario, with 2,198 cases as of Feb. 26. People aged 30 to39 account for the second highest share of active cases, with 1,701 cases. Essential workers vaccinations could start in May While Ontario has not said exactly when it plans to begin vaccinating essential workers, it has indicated that people in those jobs will not be a lower priority when Phase 2 formally begins. People with high-risk chronic conditions and their caretakers and those who live or work in high-risk congregate settings (such as shelters) will also be eligible at some point in Phase 2. Rick Hillier, the retired general leading Ontario's immunization task force, said on Wednesday that he does not anticipate essential worker vaccinations to begin until at least May. "As we roll out, our priorities will be those more aged, those that are disproportionately affected and then our essential workers," Hillier said. However, the proposed timeline is said to depend on the availability of vaccines, meaning that inoculations could either speed up or slow down depending on supply. Health Canada approved the AstraZeneca vaccine after Ontario released its proposed schedule, meaning the province will have greater access to vaccines than anticipated when shipments arrive in the second and third quarters of the year. Retired general Rick Hillier, chair of the COVID-19 immunization task force, announced new details about Ontario's priority list this week. Barry Pakes, a program director at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said essential workers will likely become eligible for vaccines "relatively soon" given the anticipated increase in supply and the possible approval of additional vaccines. After noting that inoculating older residents is rightfully Ontario's priority, he said the concerns of relatively younger front-line workers should also be accounted for. "Those have been people who are the most affected and are also legitimately, very justifiably, anxious about the situation over the past whole year," Pakes told CBC Toronto. Clues about how the plan could look While Ontario develops a more detailed priority list for essential workers, residents and planners can look to jurisdictions further along in their immunization rollout for clues about how the plan could look. New York City, for example, started vaccinating grocery store and convenience store workers on Jan. 11. Those workers were placed in the same eligibility bracket as school teachers, police officers and transit employees, among many others. In New York City, those essential workers were eligible for vaccines before immunocompromised residents and others with chronic health conditions such as cancer and kidney disease. Although a similarly detailed plan has not been released here, Ontario has indicated that it will prioritize people with health conditions before essential workers.
(Leanne King Photography - image credit) Members of Saskatchewan's horse-racing community are devastated after the cancellation of the 2021 season at Marquis Downs in Saskatoon. They say more could have been done to save the season and that the cancellation could cause long-term damage to the sport in Saskatchewan. Horse-racing at Marquis Downs, a racetrack operated by Prairieland Park, was cancelled last year due to COVID-19. Earlier this week, the organization announced the 2021 season would be cancelled as well. The news is a heavy blow for many in the industry. Some claim Prairieland Park has been keeping them in the dark about plans for the season after a deal to lease the facility to Pan Am Horse Racing Inc. for 2021 was unsuccessful. "It seems to me that they haven't put forward the effort that one would expect from an organization that is in the business of running horse-racing and promoting agriculture," said Nicole Hein, an apprentice jockey and one of the only female jockeys in the province. Hein is spearheading a grassroots effort to raise awareness of the short- and long-term effects the cancellation will have on the horse-racing industry in Saskatchewan. She said many in the community are upset, as there's been "silence for months'' from Prairieland Park, leaving many who depend on the racetrack in limbo. Hein was one of the organizers of a small demonstration at City Hall on Friday aimed at making more people aware of the situation. She said organizers feel their voice has not been heard and that Prairieland Park needs to do more to support the sport. "They just sat silent for months and then made this decision," she said. A small group of people gathered at Saskatoon's City Hall this week to raise awareness of the cancellation of the 2021 horse-racing season at Marquis Downs. Mark Reiger, CEO of Prairieland Park, said the organization was still making efforts to run races in 2021 until three days before the cancellation. He said the pandemic hit Prairieland Park hard and presented issues for a potential 2021 season. He pointed to both recruitment of international jockeys — a process with extensive COVID-19 protocols — and a lack of agreement with the Saskatchewan's Horsemen Benevolent and Protective Association (HPBA) representing owners and trainers as factors. "The fact is, the horsemen haven't agreed to 20 days of racing, which is a problem in itself. If they refuse to race, then we have no horses, so we're done," he said. "The bigger issue is the jockey situation. If we had an agreement with the horsemen and we could get jockeys in, we might consider this." Prairieland Park put forward an offer to run 20 days of races, but the HPBA wanted to see a 24-day season to ensure the costs of running are covered. Regier said the issue comes down to finances. "We invest large amounts of money to make it operate and there's limits as to what we can do," he said. "With the shutdown of our whole operations here, Prairieland could be losing as much as $3 million this year. So that poses a big challenge for us too. How many days are enough? What are we supposed to do? We try our best here to make it work, but there are limitations as to what we can do." He said Prairieland not having applied for permits as usual a "non-issue," saying they could have been acquired quickly if needed. We try our best here to make it work, but there are limitations as to what we can do. - Mark Reiger, CEO of Prairieland PArk Sport will suffer from cancelled seasons Eddie Esquirol, President of the Saskatchewan HPBA, said owners and trainers countered with the 24-day season because cash streams from gate admission and concessions would likely be off the table due to COVID, so they would be relying on revenue from wagering and race takes alone. "Keep in mind the care of the animals, the care of the horses, is 365 days a year," he said. He said some racetracks have had success broadcasting their globally via simulcast, which allows people in international markets to bet on live races even if physical attendance is limited. While you can wager on horse racing at Marquis Down through a smartphone app, the software is based out of Ontario, meaning some money made from Saskatchewan betters won't stay in the province, Esquirol said. He said Prairieland Park needs to invest in a global simulcast, and the marketing and planning required to make it successful. He also said he's "at a loss" as to why Prairieland Park leadership won't join the HPBA's efforts to lobby the provincial government for funding, which he said could be one avenue to saving the struggling industry. He's not sure Saskatchewan's horse-racing industry will be able to survive without provincial intervention. "There's 500 people that are affected directly and there's another 500 plus that are affected indirectly," he said. "So for Prairieland not to conduct horse racing in Saskatoon for the summer of 2021, you have many people that are either going to be forced to relocate to our neighbouring provinces or find some other form of employment in Saskatoon." Praireland has no interest in further lobbying efforts Reiger said Prairieland has invested millions in the sport of horse-racing over the years and is not interested in asking the province for money alongside the HPBA. Although Prairieland supported a petition lobbying the province for funding in the summer, he said it has no interest in continuing lobbying efforts. "That's their initiative, it's in front of the table and we'll let them talk to the government," he said, noting there wouldn't be thoroughbred racing in the province at all if not for Marquis Downs. Asked about criticisms that Prairieland isn't doing enough, he said, "that's their opinion and I appreciate that." On Friday, CBC reached out to Prairieland Park with follow up questions about the 2021 horse-racing season, including questions about a global simulcast, but a response was not received by deadline. Marquis Downs is the premier horse-racing track in Saskatchewan. A news release from Prairieland Park said its revenue is derived from "trade shows, banquets, agricultural exhibitions, and the Exhibition itself," all of which have been unable to open due to COVID-19. "The effect of that has been a significant reduction in revenues. To help maintain its strong balance sheet, Prairieland Park has been forced to make many difficult decisions over the last year," the statement said. "The primary commitment is opening operations when safe to do so." Kristy Rempel, marketing manager with Praireland Park, told CKOM that the park understands the cancellation of the 2021 season "does effectively end horse-racing in the province." Esquirol said he's reached out to the province in hopes of meeting to discuss further options. He said he's yet to get a response. Hein, who wants to see horse-racing grow and thrive in Saskatoon, said leaders at Prairieland need to do their part to make sure the sport survives. "Everybody needs to pull up their bootstraps and get to work and not hide behind a desk and just decide the fate of an entire industry from your chair," she said.