WASHINGTON — Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm won Senate confirmation Thursday to be energy secretary, joining President Joe Biden's Cabinet as a leader of Biden’s effort to build a green economy as the United States moves to slow climate change. The vote was 64-35, with all Democrats and 14 Republicans, including GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, voting yes. Granholm, 62, served two terms as governor in a state dominated by the auto industry and devastated by the 2008 recession. She has promoted emerging clean energy technologies, such as electric vehicles and battery manufacturing, as an answer for jobs that will be lost as the U.S. transitions away from oil, coal and other fossil fuels. Granholm, who was sworn in late Thursday, is just the second woman to serve as energy secretary. She tweeted her thanks to senators and said, "I’m obsessed with creating good-paying clean energy jobs in all corners of America in service of addressing our climate crisis. I’m impatient for results. Now let’s get to work!'' Sen. Joe Manchin, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Granholm has the leadership skills, vision and compassion needed at the Energy Department to “develop innovative solutions for the climate challenge'' while preserving jobs. Granholm is committed to working every day “to ensure that we don’t leave any workers behind as we move towards a cleaner energy future,'' said Manchin, D-W.Va. During her confirmation hearing last month, Granholm pushed her plans to embrace new wind and solar technologies. But her position caused tension with some Republicans who fear for the future of fossil fuels. “We can buy electric car batteries from Asia, or we can make them in America,” Granholm told senators. “We can install wind turbines from Denmark, or we can make them in America.'' Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate energy committee, said Biden “seems to want to pull the plug on American energy dominance. So I cannot in good conscience vote to approve his nominee for secretary of energy.'' Barrasso and other Republicans have complained that a freeze imposed by Biden on oil and gas leases on federal lands is taking a “sledgehammer” to Western states’ economies. The moratorium could cost tens of thousands of jobs unless rescinded, Barrasso said. He and other Republicans also bemoaned Biden’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, saying thousands of jobs will be lost and a friendly source of oil left idle. Granholm assured lawmakers that creating jobs was her top priority — and Biden's. “We cannot leave our people behind. In West Virginia, and in other fossil fuel states, there is an opportunity for us to specialize in the technologies that reduce carbon emissions, to make those technologies here, to put people to work here, and to look at other ways to diversify,'' she said at her Jan. 27 hearing. During her introduction as Biden's nominee, Granholm described arriving in the U.S. at age 4, brought from Canada by a family “seeking opportunity.” She said her father found work as a bank teller and retired as head of the bank. “It’s because of my family’s journey and my experience in fighting for hardworking Michigan families that I have become obsessed ... with gaining good-paying jobs in America in a global economy,” she said. In other action Thursday on Biden's Cabinet nominees: SURGEON GENERAL Surgeon general nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy said Americans must not lose track of opioid addiction and other health emergencies amid the intense national focus on overcoming the coronavirus pandemic. He told senators at a hearing that “we cannot neglect the other public health crises that have been exacerbated by this pandemic, particularly the opioid epidemic, mental illness and racial and geographic health inequities.” After dipping slightly, opioid deaths have risen again, the result of street formulations laced with the powerful painkiller fentanyl. Murthy told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that the overdose rescue drug naloxone should be even more widely available and that medication-assisted treatment must be expanded. Murthy, who was surgeon general in the Obama administration, has drawn opposition from gun rights groups because of his assessment that gun violence is a public health problem. But he tried to dispel notions that he would launch a crusade against guns. He told Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., that while he supports government studying the problem, “my focus is not on this issue, and if I’m confirmed it will be on COVID, on mental health and substance use disorder.” TRADE REPRESENTATIVE Biden’s pick for U.S. trade representative promised to work with America’s allies to combat China’s aggressive trade policies, indicating a break from the Trump administration’s go-it-alone approach. Katherine Tai told the Senate Finance Committee that rebuilding international alliances would be a priority, as well as "reengaging with international institutions? to present Beijing with “a united front of U.S. allies.? Tai did not address whether the Biden administration would drop former President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum or whether it would revive the Obama administration's Asia-Pacific trade deal, which Trump killed. BUDGET DIRECTOR Another key Republican lawmaker came out against Biden’s embattled pick to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, raising further questions about her viability. Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley told reporters he won't support her nomination. He and Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski were two Republicans seen as potentially gettable votes for the White House, as Grassley had previously said he’d had good conversations with Tanden. Murkowski has yet to say how she'd vote. With a handful of other key centrist Republicans coming out against her in recent days, Tanden’s path to confirmation hinges largely on Murkowski and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., neither of whom have made their positions known. The White House was forced to search for a Republican to support Tanden after West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin announced his opposition last week. Lawmakers have largely cited Tanden’s controversial and at times harshly critical tweets about members of both parties in explaining their opposition to her. ___ Associated Press writers Alexandra Jaffe, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Paul Wiseman contributed to this report. Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
Wheatland County council is considering sending a letter to provincial representatives and municipalities requesting provincewide COVID-19 public health restrictions be lifted. During its regular meeting on Feb. 6, Wheatland council voted 5-2 in favour of a motion directing administration to draft a letter protesting COVID-19 public health restrictions, with Reeve Amber Link and Councillor Glenn Koester voting in opposition. The motion was proposed by Councillor Tom Ikert. “I am becoming very distressed about the amount of not only economic damage, but the amount of mental health damage that’s being done with this shutdown,” he said, during the meeting. “We’ve got to get people out, (and) we’ve got to quit treating this like it’s the end of the world.” Ikert said once the letter is drafted, it should be sent to Premier Jason Kenney and local MLAs, with council’s approval. Councillor Jason Wilson said in addition to these provincial officials, the letter should be sent to all municipalities in Alberta. “It’s not just a provincial issue,” he said. “We’re facing federal restrictions as well that are very hindering – hindering our industry that crosses borders (and) deals with airlines.” Provincewide shutdowns have pitted rural and urban areas against each other, said Councillor Scott Klassen. “(COVID-19) does hit the large centres,” he said. “Our urban partners are afraid, and they have the numbers to support that, but we don’t (in) rural Alberta.” Councillor Donna Biggar said she supports a more regional approach to restrictions. “That way, maybe the government can actually concentrate on those areas (and) why those numbers are going up (there),” she said. Councillor Ben Armstrong said he and many others in the community have been not following restrictions since the beginning of the pandemic. Wilson said he too has at times engaged in social gatherings, against the restrictions. “A person’s greatest strength against anything is their refusal to follow the rules – that shows the most discontent,” he said. But this view was not unanimous among council. “I don’t like that nobody can come to my house,” said Councillor Glenn Koester. “But we follow the rules here, and my kids follow the rules.” Wilson said more seniors are experiencing reduced quality of life because of restrictions than are being affected by the virus directly. “My question to policymakers is, when are you going to start asking seniors what they want? You can assume they want to sit in a room with food being passed through a little hole, like in a jail, or they can risk living, to have a life, to see their family, and be part of society,” he said. “I think that quality of life far outweighs any risk of this disease.” But Koester said the threat of COVID-19 to seniors’ health is undeniable, with resultant deaths in such places as Wheatland Lodge and AgeCare Sagewood. Unlike the province, which has physicians, mathematicians and other professionals on staff, Wheatland County only has their feelings on the matter, he said. “What’s our expertise?” Koester asked, adding that easing restrictions now could result in a larger cost later, especially with the uncertainty of newly identified variants of the virus in the province. “I don’t like (restrictions), but opening and closing back and forth is not the answer either.” On March 2, council will debate the drafted letter and vote on whether it be sent. Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
CHARLOTTETOWN — The spring session of the Prince Edward Island legislature has opened with a throne speech acknowledging the challenges of the past year caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lt.-Gov. Antoinette Perry thanked the chief medical officer of health and other front-line workers for their efforts keeping Islanders healthy and safe. "We owe a debt of gratitude to those who put themselves in danger to accommodate our needs," Perry said Thursday. "Because of them, and because of the faithful adherence to public health protocols on the part of all Islanders, we are in an enviable position to make a speedy recovery from this pandemic," she said. Perry said she walks in the footsteps of the many governors and lieutenant-governors during the 170 years of government on Prince Edward Island, but joked she's probably the first to wear a mask into the legislative chamber. The speech outlined a number of new health initiatives planned by the Progressive Conservative government, including the creation of three new primary care homes. "Islanders assigned to primary care homes will have quicker access to the appropriate health professional," Perry said. "The new model will employ more virtual care options in circumstances where a physical visit may be unnecessary." She said the government is also creating a five-year, $10-million fund for mental health and addictions. "And to ensure that attention to our mental health has parity with our physical health, my government will establish the P.E.I. Centre for Mental Well-being," she said. She said the centre will provide guidance to ensure mental health services are responsive to the needs of the community. Perry says the government will table a seniors health strategy during this legislative session, which will focus on preventing hospital admissions and increasing at-home care. She said the government will also increase efforts to recruit and retain more health professionals. A working group will collaborate to expand the nursing programs at UPEI and Holland College, and the government will establish a $5-million fund to recruit nurses and nurse practitioners over the next five years. The government also announced a $2.5-million Retention, Mentorship and Training Fund for registered nurses and nurse practitioners currently working on Prince Edward Island. Perry said the government will announce programs to support the development and use of clean-technology solutions to cut carbon emissions. The government will also increase access to childcare by adding 300 additional childcare spaces this year, she said. The speech acknowledged the pressures felt by the tourism sector as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and Perry said 2021 will be a stabilizing year for the tourism industry. "We will focus on a local campaign, working to reopen the Atlantic Bubble, and as our vaccine programs result in immunity over time, opening to travellers from the rest of Canada," she said. Green party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker said considering the importance of tourism to the provincial economy, he expected more help for the sector. "I didn't hear any funding in there to ensure tourism operators are going to be there when tourism comes back, hopefully in 2022," he said in an interview. Bevan-Baker said he was pleased to see some emphasis on developing the clean-tech sector but overall was disappointed with the throne speech. "It's a pretty timid vision for what Prince Edward Island should be," he said. Premier Dennis King says the spring session will include the 2021-22 operating budget and that the government plans to introduce about 20 pieces of legislation. The governing Progressive Conservatives hold 14 seats in the legislature, while the Greens have eight and the Liberals five. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. - By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton. The Canadian Press
WELLINGTON COUNTY – The Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) project is looking toward the next phase targeting funding broadband projects in lower-density areas. SWIFT is a non-profit that aims to subsidize broadband projects in rural southwestern Ontario areas that have poor or no connectivity. George Bridge, Minto mayor and SWIFT board member, and Barry Field, SWIFT executive director, gave an update on the project to Wellington County council at Thursday’s meeting. In the presentation Bridge noted some highlights from the first phase of the project, called SWIFT 1.0. He explained they are exceeding their target of 50,000 premises served by a few thousand and are very close to reaching their kilometre of fibre laid goal. He was also happy to report that despite earlier concerns from smaller companies about SWIFT becoming a “Bell and Rogers show,” projects from small internet service providers (ISPs) accounted for about half of the funding given through SWIFT’s first phase. The small ISPs will become more important for SWIFT 2.0, the next phase of the project where SWIFT intends to focus on projects in lower density areas. “The bigger ones, Bell and Rogers, they go after so many people per km but your small ISP, for example they’ve gone down as low 3.1 density per km or three houses on a km,” Bridge said. “Our next round we’ll get into, some of the low hanging fruit has been done, now we need to get out to that last mile.” The funding is a big question for the next phase as there has been no commitment on what the province and federal governments will give, if anything at all. A third of SWIFT is funded by the province and a third from the federal government, with the private sector filling in another third and municipal governments providing some capital contributions. Coun. David Anderson asked if there’s anything they could do to give projects a better chance at a successful grant application. Field said municipal financial support or just letter of support for a grant application — which Field noted applies for other funding beyond SWIFT — can go a long way. He also said it might be helpful to encourage local ISPs to apply for funding if they haven’t done so. Wellington North mayor Andy Lennox questioned how to ensure funding gets distributed more equitably so lower density projects aren’t missed again. Field said by the time SWIFT 2.0 comes around those will be most of the projects left and to lower the number of premises per kilometre required, which in the first phase is at around 17 premises per km on average. “There are things we can do in the (request for proposals), the procurement itself, to not only encourage but ensure that we’re not getting at that easiest of the remaining premises,” Field said, noting this was a valid criticism of SWIFT 1.0. “We did have a very high premises count target we had to achieve and that kind of led to policies we had to encourage more premises passed.” Coun. Jeff Duncan asked if a possible federal election this year could delay or impact the next phase. Field said he wasn’t sure but did stress there is no commitment from upper levels of government to fund SWIFT 2.0. Bridge said they’ve been advocating through the Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus to all political parties and there is no question from any of them that this is needed. The presentation was accepted as information from council. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
La Ville de Saint-Sauveur a acquis deux terrains par dons écologiques pour créer la réserve naturelle du Mont-Christie. Les travaux débuteront au printemps et les sentiers seront accessibles dès l’été 2021. Un nouveau projet parmi les nombreux autres de la Ville. Ces dons proviennent du promoteur Immo-Mc inc et de Madame Nancy Guillemette qui ont donné chacun une partie de leur terrain. Au total, cela représente 1,6 million de pieds carrés dans le domaine du Mont-Christie, en bas et à l’est de la montagne du même nom. Il s’agit d’un milieu humide et un lac se trouve également au centre. La création de la réserve permettra de préserver ce territoire naturel et d’y faire de l’interprétation. « Il s’agit d’un don écologique, car c’est un milieu humide et il n’est pas possible de toute façon de construire dans ce genre d’endroit », a précisé le maire de la Ville, M. Jacques Gariépy. La Ville profitera donc de ce territoire pour y installer des sentiers d’interprétation de la faune et du milieu naturel. « Dans ce coin, la faune est très diversifiée. Des écologistes vont d’ailleurs travailler avec nous pour développer cette partie. » Des passerelles en bois seront également construites pour que le terrain ne soit pas abimé, mais aussi parce qu’il s’agit d’un milieu humide, donc il y a souvent de l’eau. Comme il s’agit de dons, la Ville a eu moins d’investissements à faire, sauf pour les infrastructures de bois et l’aménagement. Dans le budget 2021, le montant est estimé à 600 000$. En été, les sentiers seront accessibles pour la randonnée pédestre et pour y faire de l’interprétation. En hiver, il sera possible d’y faire de la randonnée pédestre également, mais aussi de la raquette et du ski de fond. « On regarde pour peut-être permettre le fatbike à l’hiver », précise le maire. Il y aura également un belvédère avec une vue sur le lac et le terrain pour y faire de l’interprétation. « Les écoles et les camps de jour pourront également en profiter. Du point de vue académique, c’est très intéressant. » Il y aura deux accès pour entrer dans la réserve : un sur la rue de l’Église et un autre à l’extrémité du chemin Papineau. Des stationnements sont prévus aussi à ces endroits, mais il reste à la Ville d’acquérir ces deux terrains situés au nord et au sud. Selon le maire, il est aussi important de prendre en compte cet enjeu avant de lancer le projet. « Le problème qu’on a dans les sentiers des Pays-d’en-Haut, c’est que les gens se stationnent n’importe où dans les milieux résidentiels et dans les rues, car il n’y a pas assez de stationnements. » La Ville souhaite donc travailler en amont, et ouvrir la réserve lorsque des stationnements auront été prévus à cet effet. Cela fait déjà plusieurs années que la Ville de Saint-Sauveur travaille pour créer cette réserve. « C’est un long processus, autant du point de vue écologique qu’au niveau interne. Mais toutes ces étapes sont maintenant passées et nous sommes prêts à passer à d’autres choses », explique M. Gariépy. Dès le printemps, la Ville entamera l’aménagement des sentiers et des passerelles en bois et travaillera avec des écologistes pour le volet interprétation. Mais la réserve du Mont-Christie n’est pas le seul projet qui prendra forme cette année. En effet, grâce au don écologique de la famille De Volpi, la Ville a acquis un terrain de plus de 3 millions de pieds carrés. Ce dernier est situé près du Lac des Becs-Scies et de la municipalité de Mille-Isles. À cet endroit seront aménagés des sentiers de randonnée pédestre et de vélo qui seront accessibles dès cet été. Certains sont déjà en place, mais il restera à les baliser par la Ville. Dans les autres grands projets de Saint-Sauveur, il y a également l’acquisition du Cap Molson pour y faire des sentiers balisés et y construire un belvédère. « Nous sommes actuellement en procédure d’expropriation. Dans les prochaines semaines ou mois, la procédure devrait être finalisée. On devrait commencer les travaux prochainement. » La Ville souhaite principalement sécuriser les sentiers, comme ils sont déjà beaucoup utilisés. Les sentiers du sommet de la Marquise seront aussi accessibles dès cet été. Il reste à la Ville d’acquérir un terrain pour en faire un stationnement à l’entrée sud des sentiers pour empêcher les gens de se stationner dans les rues. Selon M. Gariépy, ces projets aboutissent presque tous maintenant, mais la Ville travaillait sur eux depuis des années. « Les projets étaient liés à des échéanciers écologiques, avec le ministère de l’Environnement notamment. Par exemple, pour les sentiers du Mont-Christie, on attendait des autorisations de leur part qu’on a eues. » Voyant l’engouement pour le plein air cette année en raison de la pandémie, ces projets s’inscrivent parfaitement dans le mouvement. « On n’avait pas prévu la COVID-19 il y a deux ou trois ans lorsqu’on avait commencé ces projets, mais la concrétisation de ces derniers tombe pile avec ce besoin. » Marie-Catherine Goudreau, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Accès
OTTAWA — The federal government was granted one more month Thursday to expand access to medical assistance in dying even as its efforts to do so stalled in the House of Commons. Quebec Superior Court Justice Martin Sheehan agreed to give the government a fourth extension — until March 26 — to bring the law into compliance with a 2019 court ruling. But he suggested this will be the last one. Given that the government is close to finally reforming Canada's assisted-dying law, Sheehan said "it is appropriate to grant a final extension to allow it to end." But he added, if the government can't meet the new deadline, "it must be deduced that this incapacity results from a lack of consensus on the sensitive issues raised rather than exceptional circumstances justifying an extension." Sheehan's decision came just one day before the previous deadline was to expire. The 2019 ruling struck down a provision in the law that allows assisted dying only for those whose natural deaths are "reasonably foreseeable." Bill C-7 is intended to bring the law into compliance with the ruling, expanding access to assisted dying to intolerably suffering individuals who are not approaching the ends of their lives. However, the bill is stalled in the Commons, where the Conservatives refused for the third straight day Thursday to facilitate debate on a motion laying out the government's response to amendments passed last week by the Senate. Conservative MPs talked out the clock on the motion Tuesday and then refused the unanimous consent needed to extend the debate until midnight, despite calling last week for extended hours to allow thorough debate on the issue. They refused unanimous consent again Wednesday to allow the Commons to sit into the night to wrap up debate on the motion. And they refused unanimous consent again to sit Thursday night. The Bloc Québécois offered to give up its opposition day Thursday, an opportunity for it to set the agenda in the Commons, to allow debate on the motion to continue. The minority Liberal government decided that would be pointless, given the Conservatives' stalling tactics. "Conservatives have twice blocked our proposal that the House sit late to debate this important issue, despite claiming that they want extended hours," Mark Kennedy, a spokesman for government House leader Pablo Rodriguez, said late Wednesday. "Based on this, we now know that Conservatives will continue to obstruct, and cancelling the Bloc opposition day tomorrow will not change anything." The Conservatives were largely opposed to the original bill and object even more strenuously to the amended version the government is now proposing. The bill originally would have imposed a blanket ban on assisted dying for people suffering solely from mental illnesses. The government is now proposing a two-year time limit on that exclusion, six months longer than the time limit approved by senators. The government has rejected another Senate amendment that would have allowed advance requests for assisted dying, as well as an amendment intended to clarify what constitutes a mental illness. It has accepted a modified version of two others. The Bloc has said it will support the government's response to the Senate amendments, assuring the motion's eventual passage. But until Conservatives agree to wrap up debate, it can't be put to a vote. Once the motion is passed, the bill will still have to go back to the Senate for senators to decide whether to accept the verdict of the elected parliamentary chamber or dig in their heels on their amendments. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
(Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC - image credit) York Regional Police say their homicide unit has been called in to investigate a "suspicious" death after a man's body was found on a road in Vaughan, Ont. on Thursday morning. Police say they were called to the area of Teston at Rodinea roads at around 8 a.m. after the body was located. The man was pronounced dead at the scene, police say. There's no confirmation yet of man's identity and cause of death. The homicide unit has since taken over the investigation. Police are appealing to anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in the area or anyone with home surveillance video to contact them.
La campagne de sociofinancement pour les rénovations du Bar à Pitons bat son plein. En moins d’un mois, plus de 8000 $ ont été amassés, sur un objectif de 30 000 $, afin de permettre l’agrandissement de ce lieu culturel et d’ainsi assurer sa survie. Avec ces rénovations, l’établissement pourra revoir sa capacité d’accueil à la hausse et bonifier son offre d’activités. C’est la Coopérative de Solidarité V.E.R.T.E qui est responsable du bar et qui a mis en place la campagne de sociofinancement appelée Pour l’amour du Bar à Pitons. Selon Christine Rivest-Hénault, coordonnatrice générale de la coopérative, le Bar à Pitons est devenu, au fil des années, un endroit unique pour la scène émergente artistique du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean. « La signature du Bar à Pitons, c’est que tout le monde peut être une vedette. Ils peuvent tous venir chanter ou lire leurs textes. On accueille aussi beaucoup de groupes émergents. On a une offre qui, je pense, est importante pour la région culturellement », explique-t-elle, lors d’un entretien téléphonique avec Le Quotidien. Alors que les gestionnaires avaient pris la décision, en février 2020, de concentrer leurs activités sur le Bar à Pitons et de fermer l’auberge, ils ont été frappés de plein fouet par la pandémie. Le bar a dû fermer ses portes tout l’hiver, avant de rouvrir quelques mois à l’été. La terrasse extérieure a permis la tenue de certaines activités. Cet automne, la coopérative a dû faire face à la réalité. Les normes sanitaires ne permettent pas au bar d’ouvrir ses portes à l’hiver. Les gestionnaires devaient donc décider de le laisser fermé tout l’hiver ou d’amorcer des rénovations qui permettraient au lieu d’être adapté aux règles sanitaires. « Ça faisait déjà deux ans que nous pensions à ces rénovations et, comme tout le monde, nous ne savons pas combien de temps nous serons dans cette pandémie. Nous nous sommes donc lancés. Nous savons qu’il y a plein de gens qui nous aiment, qui tiennent au Bar à Pitons. Nous avons décidé de prendre le pari que tous ces gens-là, qui voient que notre mission est importante, allaient nous aider », se réjouit-elle. Déjà, les rénovations sont amorcées. La coordonnatrice est fière du montant amassé jusqu’à maintenant et reconnaît que son objectif est ambitieux. L’important pour elle est d’amasser le plus de sous possible, pour que la relance de l’établissement soit le plus facile possible, à la réouverture. Jadis un lieu touristique Le Bar à Pitons a bien changé avec les années. Lorsque la coopérative a acheté la Maison Price, où se trouve le Bar à Pitons, le but était de transformer cette maison en auberge. Au sous-sol, une salle de réunion avait été aménagée, surtout pour les visiteurs. « C’est comme ça qu’est né le Bar à Pitons, une toute petite salle principalement pour les utilisateurs de l’auberge. Rapidement, les gens qui habitent autour se sont approprié le lieu », souligne la coordonnatrice générale. C’est cet engouement qui a motivé les gestionnaires à faire des rénovations en 2015 et à mettre sur pied le Bar à Pitons. Le bar a eu le droit à un léger agrandissement, mais plusieurs espaces étaient toujours réservés à l’auberge. En 2018, l’auberge a commencé à perdre de la clientèle, tandis que le Bar à Pitons lui, en gagnait. C’est ce qui a amené les gestionnaires à fermer l’auberge, en février 2020, pour de bon et se concentrer sur le lieu culturel. « C’était rendu le Bar à Pitons qui faisait vivre l’entreprise. Notre programmation culturelle était de plus en plus riche, aimée et fréquentée, donc nous avons concentré nos activités là-dessus puisque c’est ce qui fonctionne et ce qui attire les gens », continue Mme Rivest-Hénault. La mission de l’établissement alors touristique a officiellement changé pour devenir plus culturelle. Tous les intéressés à participer à la campagne peuvent se rendre sur le site de la coopérative pour faire un don. Myriam Arsenault, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Wheatland County voted not to support the draft of a regional planning document that, if adopted, could shape development across 10 municipalities in the Calgary region into the future. The Calgary Metropolitan Region Board (CMRB) was established by regulation passed by the NDP-led provincial government in 2017 to promote the long-term sustainability of the region around Calgary. It is composed of 10 member municipalities, including Strathmore and (a portion of) Wheatland County. A requirement of the CMRB is the creation of a regional planning document to establish overarching planning strategies for the region, relating to such things as land use, infrastructure investment and service delivery. This document, called the CMRB Growth and Servicing Plan, is due to be submitted to the province by March 1. While a draft growth and servicing plan has been developed by an external consultant, HDR Calthorpe, a planning consulting firm, it has not yet been finalized. As such, the CMRB is requesting an extension of this deadline to June 1, but it has not yet publicly received a response from the province. HDR Calthorpe has been presenting an overview of the draft CMRB Growth and Servicing Plan to member municipalities. This plan was presented to Strathmore town council during its Feb. 10 committee of the whole meeting and to Wheatland County council during its Feb. 16 regular meeting. Following the Feb. 16 presentation, Wheatland County Reeve Amber Link raised several questions about the impacts of the proposed CMRB Growth and Servicing Plan on Wheatland County. An aspect of the draft regional growth plan could affect Wheatland County as it prohibits employment areas from rural areas, outside of hamlets and “joint planning areas” (of which there are three: between Calgary and Chestermere, Calgary and Airdrie, and Okotoks and High River). The plan thus aspires to shut down rural growth and mandate that most of the growth in the Calgary metropolitan region be directed into urban municipalities, said Link. “This entire plan is built on a basic premise that specific types of development are only appropriate in certain municipalities, and that’s really being delineated by virtue of whether a municipality is considered urban or rural – and that doesn’t capture the reality of Alberta,” said Link. “Our rural neighbours in the CMRB have demonstrated that effective, sustainable and efficient servicing can happen for industrial or commercial developments outside of urban centres.” With challenges in the oil and gas sector, Wheatland County has seen significant reductions to its linear tax assessment revenue. In response, its council has been looking to attract investment, diversify and maintain the sustainability of the municipality, said Link. But this new restriction could hinder long-term investment attraction. “This growth plan certainly constrains, if not completely sterilizes, our ability to (attract investment).” The CMRB draft growth and servicing plan honours existing area structure plans (ASP), planning documents for major developments (e.g. residential communities, industrial parks), passed by member municipalities. But if significant amendments to an ASP are required, approval from the CMRB will be required. Under the CMRB regulation, if a decision is to be made by a vote, it must be supported by at least two thirds of the representatives from member municipalities with at least two thirds of the population in the Calgary metropolitan region. As Calgary accounts for about 90 per cent of the Calgary metropolitan region’s total population, this essentially gives the City of Calgary veto power. This voting structure of the CMRB, together with the growth plan, will move decisions away from local democratic governments to a model where one municipality exercises authority over all others, said Link. “That voting structure is essentially based on the notion that authority is given due to the population of that certain municipality, and ignores the responsibility we as rural municipalities have for stewarding large masses of land and our local communities.” This dynamic could affect Wheatland County directly, which has an approved ASP for its West Highway 1 industrial park which currently requires developers to provide self-servicing for wastewater and stormwater. But as the county is considering providing servicing to the area, this would likely constitute a significant change, requiring CMRB approval, and may not be seen as aligned with the new plan. “I don’t think anybody could have anticipated that our local autonomy would be stripped, and another municipality would be making the decisions on those amendments,” said Link. Link also questioned whether public engagement for the growth and servicing plan was sufficient. “The public was only asked to comment on high-level concepts,” she said. “They were never given the opportunity to comment on policy that would give them an understanding of how the plan would impact them.” There was little to no participation by Wheatland County residents, she added. Later in the meeting, Wheatland County council passed unanimously a multi-part motion to not support the draft regional growth plan, stating it is concerned significant portions of the growth plan have not been submitted as required. “We just don’t feel that we can in good conscience support the growth plan as it stands with the impacts of the policy that it contains,” said Link. “It is potentially extremely detrimental to economic growth in Alberta.” The contract between CMRB and HDR Calthorpe stipulates the submission of the regional growth plan, as well as a regional servicing plan and a regional evaluation framework, the motion states. But Wheatland County is “greatly concerned” none of this work has been “satisfactorily completed,” despite the county contributing over $165,000 worth of staff and elected officials’ time over the past 13 months towards the project, it reads. As a result, county council is requesting an analysis of the time and money spent by all member municipalities as contributions toward the work of the consultant for review and discussion at the next CMRB board meeting. An accounting of all project costs to date and project work submitted should also be provided, according to the motion. The final part of the motion states the CMRB board should review the draft submissions while considering the provincial mandate of red tape reduction and other provincial economic strategies. An updated growth and servicing plan will be presented to the CMRB during its next meeting, on Feb. 26. Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
The harmless puppy just wanted to play around! How cute is that?
LOS ANGELES — Rebel Wilson is going to the dogs. And it’s not the first time. The Australian actress comes from a family with a long history of handling and grooming dogs and will return to her roots as host of ABC’s “Pooch Perfect,” an eight-episode series featuring 10 dog groomers and their assistants competing in challenges. She said Thursday that her great-grandmother began a beagle club in Australia and that her mother judges dog shows internationally. As a child, Wilson travelled in her family’s yellow van to shows and sold grooming products despite being allergic to dogs. “My mom was devastated when I chose not to continue the family legacy,” Wilson said in a virtual call with the Television Critics Association. “When I told her I wasn’t going to continue in the family business and try to be an international movie star, she cried. I had to tell her in a public place so she wouldn’t do anything too crazy.” In the show, Lisa Vanderpump, dog groomer Jorge Bendersky and veterinarian Callie Harris will vote on creations from dog groomers and one team will be sent back to the doghouse — or eliminated — each week. The remaining teams square off in a grooming transformation. The top three teams will compete for $100,000. The show debuts March 30 and is based on an Australian version. “Pooch Perfect” is Wilson’s first project after undergoing her own transformation. She lost 60 pounds during her self-proclaimed year of health last year. “I’ve been showing it off on Instagram a bit too shamelessly,” she said. “I get two looks per episode, and I like to work with my stylist and show off the new physique because still single. So this is my prime-time opportunity to just really put it out there.” Wilson worked without a studio audience because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the seats are filled with stuffed animals. “I do try to bring the comedy in the show,” she said. “I also do what's called ‘dogography' in the show, which is a new term I invented. We dress the PAs (production assistants) up in dog costumes, and I work out little dances. I tried to lighten it up.” Beth Harris, The Associated Press
(CBC - image credit) Liberal Leader Andrew Furey says he's confident of the processes in place for the mail-in election. Liberal Leader Andrew Furey says it's too early entertain the possibility of legal challenges to the provincial election results. During a media availability via Zoom on Thursday morning, Furey told reporters he has confidence in the processes in place for an election that has been in flux for weeks. "It will be a legitimate election," he said. After advance voting wrapped up earlier this month, the in-person vote was originally set for Feb. 13. But just days before, due to an outbreak of COVID-19 in the metro St. John's area, Elections NL announced that in-person voting in nearly half of the province's electoral districts would be delayed. Then, less than 12 hours before polls were set to open in the rest of the province, a lockdown was put into place when it was confirmed the outbreak was due to coronavirus variant B117. In-person voting was then taken off the table completely, while special ballot application deadlines were extended for a mail-in voting process. Some people have said they couldn't access the online portal just before the deadline, and couldn't get through to call centres to get a ballot kit. With no in-person voting, those who didn't complete an application won't be able to vote, setting the province up for perhaps its lowest-ever voter turnout. When asked if he believes the election results would be legitimate, Furey's response was brief: "Yes." Furey said he's confident he will have the mandate needed to form a government if re-elected, but wouldn't comment on the possibility of historically low voter turnout. There's no bogeyman here. - Andrew Furey "I think it's far too premature to judge the turnout at this particular moment in time. I don't even have the updated numbers on how many packages have gone out," he said. "But I do encourage everybody who has a package to vote." Before announcing the election in January, Furey said, he had looked at all the information and science available to him, and had discussed the status of the pandemic with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald. "There was already published guidelines surrounding elections and COVID and we had already been through a byelection," Furey said, referencing the byelection he won in Humber-Gros Morne last year. "We talked daily, of course, and we knew that there was a risk of COVID spread during the Christmas period and the New Year's period. That's why we waited until we were a healthy incubation period away from those events and not seeing any spread or outbreak. The decision was mine, of course, and mine alone, as it is the premier's prerogative." The provincial election is being done entirely with mail-in ballots. He also said he reviewed how three other provinces ran elections during the pandemic, and had discussions with Elections NL's chief electoral officer Bruce Chaulk to ensure there were plans in place for a COVID-19-era election. Chaulk said a couple of weeks ago that in all the planning done by Elections NL, there was never any anticipation that there would be no capacity for in-person voting. "My understanding from discussions with Elections NL is that they were ready for a COVID-style election. Again, I'm not responsible for running it, nor should I be, but they informed us and Mr. Chaulk himself was on the media telling people that they were ready for a COVID-style election," Furey said, adding that he had been assured the province's Elections Act allowed Chaulk and Elections NL to run an election in the pandemic. "There had to be a COVID-style election, as we know. The 12-month timeline started ticking back in August, so again I'm assuming Elections NL did all that homework, as well." Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie says Furey made a mistake in calling the election. Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie argued the voting situation makes it "crystal clear" that there was inadequate planning and consultation. "It was poor planning. It was a poor election call by Mr. Furey. He did the most superficial questioning of Mr. Chaulk, the electoral officer, and it seems that Mr. Chaulk said, 'Yes, b'y, we're all ready.' Well, obviously they're not," Crosbie said Thursday afternoon. He said Furey's election call was a mistake. "I guess he figures he has to defend it because otherwise he's admitting he made a very grave and very serious error, which is what I think he did do." Some experts have said a case could be made for challenging the election under Section 3 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms if the measures in place and factors in play do not allow someone to vote, meaning there is the possibility for a legal fight regardless of the outcome. Furey said to his knowledge, the Liberals are "not at this point" looking to retain legal counsel. "I'm not entertaining it at this time," Furey said. "We're trying to get through the next couple of weeks. We're not looking at challenges right now.… Elections NL has pivoted with respect to the style that is being run now, but businesses have pivoted, schools have pivoted, everyone has pivoted, and we need to make sure that we get as many as we can out to vote at this point in time." Crosbie said the Tories are focusing on the voting process, but are also gathering complaints about the voting process, should a legal challenge arise after the votes are counted. "We've made no decision about challenging the election or any aspect of it in court. That's something that would have to be looked at and a decision made at the end of the whole process," Crosbie said. "We're collecting complaints and evidence of inadequacies or irregularities against the possibility that we may have to go to the law once all the dust has settled." NDP Leader Alison Coffin says her party is encouraging people to submit a complaint if they're having trouble voting. NDP Leader Alison Coffin said her focus was on getting people able to vote to cast a ballot, while directing people to the party's website, where they could submit a complaint. "All manner of things could come form this election, and I'm certain that the courts will decide that," she said. "Gathering up the concerns, I think that's gonna bolster into reforming the Elections Act, and if we see on the other side of the vote count that something needs to be done, we'll certainly have some comments to support some decision-making and some discussions for sure." Interim economic recovery report expected soon As for the status of the report expected from Moya Greene and the premier's economic recovery team, established in September, Furey said the interim report is still expected by Feb. 28 but he hasn't discussed it with Greene. "I have no visibility into the report itself. As I said from the very beginning, as soon as I get it, I will release it so that everyone can have a look," Furey said, adding that the final report is expected to be completed in April. "This report is just recommendations. Moya Greene is not the premier; they're not the cabinet. We'll take those recommendations from smart, successful Newfoundlanders who are volunteering their time to look from the outside and see if we can come up with creative, new ideas to reshape the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador, and then as a government we will take that to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador for broad consultation. "Everyone will have a chance to have a say. There's no bogeyman here." Furey said the last time he spoke with Greene was during the holiday season, and the conversation had nothing to do with the team or the report. "I don't want to bias the report, as I've said from the very beginning. I want them to come with new ideas, outside-the-box ideas, and those ideas will have broad consultation. If I was to influence the report, what's the point? I could just write the report myself," Furey said. For him to now describe it as just a discussion document is trying to backtrack. - Ches Crosbie For both Crosbie and Coffin, the apparent lack of discussion and the overall characterization of the report from Greene was a point of confusion. "Given that it was in her mandate to meet with him on a weekly basis … I'm a little surprised by that," Coffin said. "I would have expected that given the gravity of the situation and the importance of the report, I would have thought they would have spoken about that on a more regular basis." Crosbie said the Greene report was touted as Furey's "blueprint for the province" on how to deal with immediate fiscal problems, and if it doesn't turn up and get released to public on Sunday, "there is reason to wonder whether dirty tricks are not being played." Crosbie said Furey is being "grossly negligent" if the weekly discussions aren't happening. The characterization of the report is different from what Furey first said it would be, Crosbie added. "For him to now describe it as just a discussion document is trying to backtrack, because when it becomes available, unless there been some political chicanery and it's had its fangs pulled out, then the people of the province will get to see for themselves what Andrew Furey's true plan for them is," Crosbie said. 'No one could have predicted the situation' As for why he called an election for February, rather than waiting until later in the year, Furey said much of the same thing he's said since the outbreak: that he made the decision based on the low number of cases and strict public health measures that had gotten the province this far. "There's one thing that's certain about this pandemic: we don't have any certainty. There's no certainty around vaccine supply, there's no certainty around variants, there's no certainty that we'll be out of this in the fall," Furey said. "At the time that I made the decision, the numbers were extremely low, we were the envy of the world, there was no community spread, we were living, for all intents and purposes, a normal life, and no one could have predicted the situation that we are currently in." If he's re-elected, Furey said, he's open to looking at changes to the Elections Act to cover such a situation arising again. "It's always healthy after an election to reflect on what has gone well and what hasn't gone well," he said. Furey said he will continue to participate in COVID-19 briefing updates with Fitzgerald, adding that he doesn't see it as either helping or hindering him but as a way to assure the province there is still leadership in place. Until the election is over — mail-in ballots postmarked by March 12 will be counted, but there's no firm date for when results will be released — the province will remain in caretaker mode, Furey said. "That's the situation we're in, and we'll navigate it to the best of our abilities." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Facebook Inc ended a one-week blackout of Australian news on its popular social media site on Friday and announced preliminary commercial agreements with three small local publishers. The moves reflected easing tensions between the U.S. company and the Australian government, a day after the country's parliament passed a law forcing it and Alphabet Inc's Google to pay local media companies for using content on their platforms. The new law makes Australia the first nation where a government arbitrator can set the price Facebook and Google pay domestic media to show their content if private negotiations fail.
OTTAWA — The Public Health Agency of Canada is launching an investigation and reviewing its practices after two returning travellers were allegedly sexually assaulted during their mandatory quarantine periods. A spokesperson for Health Minister Patty Hajdu said allegations of assaults reported in the media this week are "really concerning." Cole Davidson said the public health agency would review its own procedures as well as those of its service providers to ensure the safety of travellers returning to the country. The response follows reports that a quarantine screening officer as well as a returning traveller have been charged in separate sexual assault cases that allegedly occurred last week. The Opposition Conservatives immediately demanded a suspension of the obligation for travellers to quarantine in hotels until better safety measures are in place, as well as an end to the use of security guards, who they say haven't been properly evaluated, to check on people quarantining at home. Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet says he doesn't necessarily believe the quarantine measures need to be suspended, but he wants to see improvements to ensure the safety of travellers under quarantine. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021 The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Eight schools in Toronto now have at least one case of a more contagious COVID-19 variant. In a letter to parents, Toronto Public Health says the discovery is not unexpected as the variants are known to be spreading across Ontario. The health unit says affected students were sent home. The unit also says it has followed up with close contacts and is recommending testing. Of the schools, three are in the Toronto District School Board, three are in the Catholic board, and two are private. Public health says everyone in a household should complete the daily screening tool for staff, visitors and all students before going to school. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé que le port du masque d'intervention pédiatrique sera rendu obligatoire en tout temps pour les élèves de la 1ère à la 6e année qui fréquentent un établissement scolaire situé en zone rouge. À Laval, cette mesure sera mise en place dès le 8 mars, soit au même moment que pour tous les autres élèves de la Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal. La livraison de ces masques vers les centres de services scolaires et les établissements d'enseignement privés est déjà en cours. Cette mesure s'appliquera plutôt à compter du 15 mars pour les autres territoires en zone rouge en raison des délais de livraison. Les élèves devront tout de même porter un couvre-visage en tissu partout dans les établissements scolaires pendant cette période. Rappelons que le port du couvre-visage était déjà obligatoire en tout temps pour les élèves des 5e et 6e années. L'ajustement se fait plutôt auprès des niveaux plus jeunes qui devaient seulement porter le couvre-visage dans les aires communes, lors des déplacements et dans le transport scolaire. Les régions situées en zone orange pourront continuer de procéder de cette façon. L'opération de vaccination de masse a débuté plus tôt jeudi sur le territoire lavallois. Elle se déroule simultanément avec le lancement de la prise de rendez-vous pour obtenir une première dose du vaccin contre la COVID-19. Selon Christian Dubé, ministre de la Santé, plus de 70 000 rendez-vous avaient déjà été confirmés dans la province moins de quatre heures après l'ouverture de la plateforme web. En conférence de presse, M. Dubé s'est d'ailleurs dit ouvert à l'idée de créer un «passeport de vaccination» qui pourrait notamment permettre aux personnes vaccinées d'accéder à certains lieux ou événements. «Tous les outils qu'on va pouvoir utiliser comme mesures sanitaires pour moi sont importants, précise-t-il. Pour moi, ça en est un, mais il faut le mettre en place. Il faut être capable de s'assurer des pratiques, mais c'est sûr que nous sommes en train de regarder ça.» Le ministre de la Santé a aussi confirmé que le Québec devrait recevoir 700 000 doses des vaccins de Pfizer-BioNTech et de Moderna d'ici la fin du mois de mars. Avec un bilan de 24 367 personnes testées positives à la COVID-19, Laval a connu une hausse de 113 cas en 24 heures. Le total de décès augmente à 868 depuis le début de la pandémie. Le CISSS de Laval cumule également 22 718 guérisons, ce qui signifie qu’il y a désormais 781 cas actifs (+57) confirmés sur le territoire lavallois. Parmi les personnes touchées, 31 sont hospitalisées, dont 10 aux soins intensifs. 15 employés de l’organisation de santé sont toujours absents du travail en raison de la COVID-19. Trois résidence privée pour aînés (RPA) de Laval sont présentement touchées par la COVID-19. Voici la liste complète de celles-ci : Au Québec, le bilan est maintenant de 285 330 cas et 10 361 décès. Au total, 633 personnes sont toujours hospitalisées, dont 122 aux soins intensifs. Nicholas Pereira, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
WASHINGTON — Antony Blinken will meet virtually Friday with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau in a day of online diplomacy for the U.S. secretary of state. Blinken will meet with Trudeau, Garneau and other members of the federal cabinet as part of a "virtual trip" to Canada and Mexico, Blinken's first bilateral video conferences since taking office. The visit follows up on Trudeau's own virtual summit this week with U.S. President Joe Biden, which produced a "road map" for plans to collaborate on issues like climate change, the economy and COVID-19. The pandemic made an in-person visit impossible, said Julie Chung, the acting assistant secretary for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. "We decided to do this virtually instead of waiting for the time when it would be safer to travel," Chung said. "This is the new world we live in through virtual platforms, but we thought it was really important to engage with both Canada and Mexico early on." Agenda items for the two "neighbours, friends and allies" also include "defending human rights in the Western Hemisphere and around the world, and bolstering our shared defence and security," said State Department spokesperson Ned Price. That means the conversations will likely include the plight of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, two Canadians who have spent the last two years in custody in China. Spavor and Kovrig — the "two Michaels," as they are known in Canada — were swept up in the weeks that followed Canada's arrest in December 2018 of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei and daughter of the company's founder. Meng is facing extradition to the U.S., where she has been charged with violating sanctions against Iran — a case some observers believe is sure to keep the two Michaels behind bars indefinitely. On Tuesday, Biden vowed to work with Canada to secure their release, but offered no clues as to what specifically the U.S. is prepared to do. Justice Department spokesman Marc Raimondi would only say the U.S. will "continue to seek extradition" of Meng, who is under house arrest in Vancouver and due back in court Monday. Earlier this month, Canada, the U.S. and a coalition of 56 other countries collectively denounced the state-sponsored arbitrary detention of foreign nationals for political purposes. "We've been consistently for the past year talking about the two Michaels … and calling for Beijing to release these two individuals and stop the arbitrary detention," Chung said. "Human beings should not be used as pawns. And we stand by Canada, our strong friend and partner, in the issues of arbitrary detention and for the release of the two Canadian citizens." The followup work after Tuesday's bilateral meetings continued this week in other departments as well. Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson spoke Wednesday with John Kerry, Biden's special envoy on climate, to shore up plans for more stringent emissions-reduction targets in advance of a climate summit in April. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra committed to more stringent vehicle pollution standards to push both countries toward a zero-emissions future on roadways throughout the continent. They are also collaborating on new standards for aviation and for seagoing vessels, as well as efforts to develop new clean-tech solutions with an eye toward the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. Blinken is also scheduled to meet with a group of Canadian students, as well as with Mexico's foreign secretary and secretary of the economy during a "visit" to a port of entry facility along the southern U.S. border. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. James McCarten, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Ontario had no updated plan for dealing with a pandemic when COVID-19 began cutting a deadly swath through the province last spring, a public commission was told. In testimony before the panel released on Thursday, the province's chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, denied responsibility for the shortcoming. The province had developed a pandemic response plan in 2006 that was updated in 2013, but the process stalled after work started on a "Ready and Resilient" blueprint in 2016. "Do you have any knowledge about the "Ready and Resilient" plan and why it wasn't completed in four years before COVID?" commission co-counsel John Callaghan asked. "The process was in place, and they were doing reviews on it," Williams answered. "Why was it not done?" "Because it was not completed." The commission is delving into the devastating impact of COVID-19 on Ontario's long-term care homes. To date, coronavirus disease has killed 3,753 residents and 11 staff members. Williams said pandemic preparation drifted down the priority list because things had been relatively quiet for several years. Historically, he said, planning focused on influenza A, a situation that hadn't changed as late as 2019 when the World Health Organization said the world is not ready for a pandemic. "For seven years, you never felt the need to increase your pandemic plan, your influenza pandemic plan?" Callaghan asked. "We did quality work back in 2006," Williams said. "You are saying, in your opinion, it was your decision not to upgrade the 2013 plan?" "No, I was not asked to update the plan." Williams said he "took flak" over pushing more robust preparation for a major infectious disease outbreak because others saw the exercise as wasting time and resources for something that would never occur. "It is hard to keep that prevention thing always at the front table because the tyranny of the urgent always pushes things aside," Williams said. "It was to me disappointing to find the lack of depth and breadth of infection prevention and control expertise that was available out there." Williams said he was shocked to discover the poor situation at long-term care homes when it came to masks and other personal protective equipment. The purpose of the provincial stockpile, he said, was to equip front-line doctors and their offices, not long-term care facilities. Nursing homes, he said, were supposed to have their own supplies able to last between four and seven weeks. However, when the pandemic hit in earnest, he learned most of the protective equipment was made in China and global demand had outstripped supply. "That was startling and shocking to me that that had happened in there because it is something that I thought we had in-house; anyways in North America at least," he said. Constant staff turnover of key personnel in nursing homes hampered efforts to ensure adequate infection prevention controls were in place, he said. "The changeover was at times disconcerting," he said. Callaghan called it "vexing" the commission had received 217,000 pages of documents from Williams only in the week before he testified. The co-counsel also noted Williams had provided 2,000 pages of his redacted notes. New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath said Williams' testimony made it "astoundingly clear" the government was trying to hide its response to COVID-19 in nursing homes. “The Ford government and Dr. Williams are taking great pains to hide, bury and cover up how they dealt with COVID-19 in long-term care homes,” Horwath said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
Trois-Rivières - Afin de souligner la semaine de relâche et pour encourager les enfants à être actifs en profitant des sports d’hiver, Cogeco Connexion et NousTV ont remis une cinquantaine de luges à la maison d’entraide pour familles et centre de pédiatrie sociale Coude à Coude du secteur Grand-Mère. «Quelle belle façon d’égayer les journées hivernales des enfants! Avec la situation actuelle, les possibilités d’activités sont restreintes et ces luges offrent une belle occasion à toute la famille d’aller prendre une bonne bouffée d’air et de se changer les idées. Merci à Cogeco de se mobiliser à nos côtés pour le bien-être de nos tout-petits comme de nos jeunes et de faire autant d’heureux», souligne Lysiane Legault, directrice générale de Coude à Coude. «Chez Cogeco et NousTV, nous encourageons l’activité physique et les saines habitudes de vie. Avec cette initiative, nous voulions inviter les familles et les jeunes à bouger tout en s’amusant. À la veille de la relâche, nous espérons que les enfants en profiteront pour jouer dehors et pour aller glisser. Ils pourront ensuite utiliser les luges tout au long de la saison hivernale», explique Jessica Lalonde, gestionnaire de la programmation chez NousTV Mauricie. Mentionnons que ce sont 750 luges que Cogeco Connexion a offertes à des organismes à but non lucratif des quatre coins du Québec avec la complicité de ses 15 stations NousTV. «Depuis plusieurs années, nous nous sommes donné pour mission de nous impliquer auprès de nos communautés. Comme nous l’avons constaté au cours des derniers mois, les enfants subissent aussi les répercussions du confinement. L’activité physique aide grandement à réduire le stress et l’anxiété. Nous souhaitions donc leur offrir un peu de gaieté et une belle dose d’énergie pour la relâche», précise Johanne Hinse, directrice générale Québec et vice-présidente, Programmation et Relations avec les communautés chez Cogeco Connexion. Marc-André Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nouvelliste
(CBC - image credit) As the Northwest Territories heads into spring in a few weeks, health teams have been wrapped up in preparing and delivering vaccination clinics, say the territory's top doctors. "This coming week is going to be one of the busiest weeks for the team," said N.W.T. medical director Dr. AnneMarie Pegg. There will be a slew of second-dose clinics rolling out in various communities. The doctors said those who missed getting their first dose will have another opportunity to get it at these clinics. There will also be a priority vaccination clinics in Yellowknife, Hay River and Inuvik rolling out. The territory originally set the target to have 75 per cent of the eligible population vaccinated but that's been pushed to April because fewer vaccines were delivered to the N.W.T. than originally planned. As of Wednesday, there are four active COVID-19 cases in the N.W.T., with a total of 47 confirmed cases and 43 listed as recovered on the government's website. There have been 14,520 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine given since Wednesday and 1,934 second doses administered. The N.W.T. government says it expects to receive its fourth shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine, containing 16,200 doses, later this week. Missed the live call-in show? Watch it here: Pegg, along with Dr. Kami Kandola, the territory's chief public health officer, answered questions from listeners during the Thursday morning edition of the CBC's The Trailbreaker. Here are some highlights: Once you get your vaccine do you still have to isolate? At this time, yes. Kandola says though the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a U.S. federal health agency) has made a statement that two weeks after a person receives a second dose, there's no need to quarantine, Canada has not yet made a statement on that. She says medical experts are also waiting to receive data on whether the virus can be transmitted from people who have been inoculated. "Once we get that answer, that will be a game changer," Kandola said, adding she's hoping more information on that will be known as the rollout of the vaccines continues aroudn the world. Will hotel workers be made essential workers? People can make a request to be considered an essential worker through the office of the chief public health officer, said Kandola. As well, next week, the priority group for vaccinations in larger municipalities will be expanded to include workers who provide essential services such as cashiers, teachers and hotel workers. "We do understand hotel staff … do put themselves at risk for exposure," Kandola said. To find out more about who is in a priority group, Pegg said people can check the government website for the latest vaccine schedule. Within the majority of the smaller communities, anyone over 18 is eligible for the vaccine, Pegg said. Those people should get in touch with their local health centre to find out how the clinic will be organized. Will the N.W.T. be bubbled with Yukon anytime soon? Not at this time. Currently, Yukon has out-of-province travel restrictions, Kandola said. For N.W.T. to be able to move forward with exemptions between the two territories, Yukon would have to lift those restrictions too. "Once that occurs, then we can move forward in discussion but that is really outside of my control." What if I can't get a second dose of the COVID-19 until about 6 weeks after the first dose? You can still get the second dose without having to restart the vaccination process. "In some places like the U.K. and Quebec, they wait up to 12 weeks," Kandola said. She added you can also get it in any community as an N.W.T. resident. Will there be a card issued to prove you've been vaccinated? There is a card given out once people receive a dose, but it's more of a reminder, Pegg explained. The date of the vaccine administration is also recorded in the electronic medical system. Pegg says there is talk of a vaccine "passport" but so far there's no official card. If someone wants a copy of their vaccination record, they would need to make a request through the Department of Health and Social Services. Those requests take time, Pegg said. Expect to wait as there are many of those requests in progress.