This Pit Bull sings the blues as his owner plays the harmonica. Epic!
This Pit Bull sings the blues as his owner plays the harmonica. Epic!
The federal government is eyeing a comprehensive North American energy strategy as workers reel from cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline. The project's presidential permit was rescinded by U.S. President Joe Biden on his first day in office, prompting outrage from Alberta's provincial government. TC Energy, the proponent, had pre-emptively ceased construction of the project. "I was the minister of natural resources when the Obama administration cancelled Keystone XL. So for me, it's Round 2 of deep disappointment," Minister Jim Carr, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's representative for the Prairies, said Monday. "We have to look forward, however, to a continental energy strategy." That North American energy strategy is enticing to Alberta's premier as well, with Jason Kenney suggesting to the prime minister that they approach Washington together to pitch a collaborative approach to North American energy and climate policy. "Canada and the U.S. share a highly integrated energy system, including criss-crossing infrastructure such as pipelines and electricity transmission systems. Our energy and climate goals must be viewed in the context of that integrated system," Kenney wrote. The premier has called the Keystone cancellation an "insult" and a "gut-punch," repeatedly pressing for retaliation against the U.S. and suggesting economic and trade sanctions if the administration is unwilling to engage in conversations about the future of the pipeline. Last year, Kenney invested $1.5 billion in Keystone XL, arguing it would never be completed without the infusion. The pipeline, first announced in 2005, would have carried 830,000 barrels of crude a day from the oilsands in Alberta to Nebraska. The Biden administration has made no indication it intends to consider reinstating the permit. TC Energy has already laid off 1,000 workers in Alberta. A continental energy partnership has been an elusive goal for more than 15 years, with multiple trilateral meetings ending with consensus but often without measurable outcomes. It's been five years since Carr, then the minister of natural resources, hosted his American and Mexican counterparts to discuss the potential of such a partnership. They agreed to collaborate on things like energy technologies, energy efficiency, carbon capture and emissions reduction. While they signed a document stating these shared goals, synergy between the three countries has been slow to develop. In December 2014, a similar meeting ended with a to-do list to move forward on a continental energy strategy, including mapping energy infrastructure and sharing data. That data website hasn't been updated since 2017. In that meeting, then-natural resources minister Greg Rickford was making the pitch to the Obama administration for why Keystone XL should be permitted to live. It was cancelled — for the first time — less than a year later. "We've gone through a period over the last number of years where relations around energy have kind of died a slow death and become more and more narrowly focused around individual projects," said Monica Gattinger, director of the Institute for Science, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa. "There's tremendous potential between Canada and the United States to collaborate around energy and environmental objectives in the long term." Gattinger said changes in the United States around hydrocarbon and shale have diminished the country's motivation for a broader energy approach. With the national governments in Canada and the U.S. now more closely aligned on climate priorities, she added there's the potential for a breakthrough. "Both countries have vast potential across a whole host of energy resources," she said. "Those are the conversations that we have not been having in North America for a number of years now. And there is a real opportunity to do so at this time." Carr is optimistic, too. "We're hardly starting from scratch, and there will be alignment," he said, alluding to his hope for co-operation between the U.S. and Canada, but also with the Prairie provinces. "There is an awful lot of work to be done and an awful lot of potential."
It's a sight familiar to anyone who's driven into or out of Windsor across the Ambassador Bridge — a woman in a bright red bikini, next to a massive number 4. For decades, Studio 4 has greeted millions of drivers entering Canada or heading to the United States; its risqué sign a distinctive —and for some an unwelcome — landmark. But the sign you can't miss won't be there for much longer. The strip club has been sold. "It hasn't really sunk in yet. I think if they demolish it or something I want to be there," said Peter Barth, who had owned the bar since 1984. Negotiations for the lot at the corner of Huron Church and Tecumseh roads began last year, according to Iyman Meddoui, president of Westdell Development Corporation, which bought the property. Both Brath and Meddoui declined to say how much the site sold for, but land registry documents show it was transferred on Jan 21 for $1,250,000. Plans for something 'completely different' The new owners won't say just yet what's coming to the site — but it won't be a strip club. "Our plans are going to be something completely different," said Meddoui. "We do have an exciting development that's under the planning." The company has applied to demolish the red building covered in signs currently advertising the XXXTASY LOUNGE, he added. "Saying that it was rough is putting it lightly. It looked like there wasn't much investment made there for many years now." Knocking down Studio 4 means the loss of a landmark — for better or worse. It was part of Windsor's exotic dancer heyday in the 1980s, when roughly a dozen strip clubs were operating and the city was dubbed "Tijuana North" by American visitors, said local historian Marty Gervais. "When you drive off the bridge and you see Studio 4 it's part of our Sin City image and people have always talked about it." The history of catering to partiers who streamed across the river dates back to Confederation when the city boasted the "best bawdy houses in North America," he explained. During prohibition, Windsor offered dance halls and a place to get a drink. More recently, it's attracted visitors with fully-nude dancing, Cuban cigars and a legal drinking age of 19. "We were constantly feeding thirsty Americans with what they wanted, which they couldn't get on the Detroit side of the border," said Gervais. Studio 4, and its salacious sign is part of that history. "It's very much a part of Windsor life. It just seems to have always been there," he said. Sign survived councillors and controversy But the sign, much like the club it stands outside, has had to weather controversy. Alan Halberstadt is a former newspaper columnist and city councillor. He remembers his council colleague, Caroline Postma, leading a crusade to "get that half-naked sign down because she felt it was against the city's sensibilities." Halberstadt said he wasn't happy about the sign either, but over time he got used to it. "After a while it becomes … kind of a Windsor insignia or landmark," he said, adding he believes any concerns about damage it may have done to the city's image is "overblown." "There's a lot of politicians and people that would have liked to see that sign come down, but she's stood the test of time," he said with a wry smile. Tussles with councillors and police officers enforcing the no-touching rule are among memories that were top of mind for Brath on Tuesday. He doesn't have any worries about his sign being a bad first impression of Windsor, or Canada for that matter. "We were right in their face, right on the corner," he said. The sign that's so recognizable today was also once a little more risque. "We had to draw on panties and a bra," said the former owner. "Originally, it was showing a little bit more." Strip clubs have been shut down by COVID-19, but even before the pandemic, Brath, who's 80 now, said business wasn't what it once was. Gone are the days of limousines pulling up out front, seven servers working non-stop and a lineup that extended beyond the canopy snaking out the back door. "The first week we were full, full, full," he said. "Lately? Nothing. Adult entertainment in Windsor is dead." Studio 4's new owners are planning to turn the site into a shopping development, he added. A 'fresh new look' coming to sign Meddoui was tight-lipped about his company's plans, saying they're still being developed. Westdell has also purchased an empty lot next to the club, along with the University and Ambassador shopping centres across the street. They're planning to "transform" the intersection over the next couple of years, said Meddoui. As for the sign? He's promising a very different look in the meantime. "You'll see a fresh new look on that sign on an interim basis," he said. "As the building will be removed, the sign will also be rebranded."
In mid-January, an unsettling report from Norway suggested 23 frail, elderly patients had all died after receiving a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The finding made headlines around the world. Meanwhile, here in Canada, there have been instances of coronavirus infections and deaths in the midst of initial vaccination efforts targeting residents of long-term care. A home in Saskatoon where the vast majority of residents had received their first vaccine dose later reported seven cases of COVID-19. And a facility in Barrie, Ont., is in the grips of a facility-wide outbreak that has caused dozens of deaths due to a fast-spreading virus variant — even as public health officials raced to fully vaccinate all the residents while the outbreak progressed. But in all these instances of seniors falling ill or dying after receiving at least one dose, dire-sounding headlines don't tell the whole story, experts say. "Just because somebody died after receiving the COVID vaccine does not mean the COVID vaccine caused the death," said Dr. Noni MacDonald, a researcher focused on vaccine safety who is also a professor at Dalhousie University's department of pediatrics in Halifax. In the case of outbreaks in long-term care homes, it's important to remember that while one dose offers some level of protection, it's not the full amount that results from the two-dose regimen for either of the vaccines currently approved in Canada, said Dr. Samir Sinha, director of geriatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. That means even if residents get partially vaccinated, it might not be enough to protect them if the virus is spreading where they live. "There might have been a high level of COVID circulating, and they didn't have enough protection within days of their very first dose to confer immunity at that point," he said. Canadian physicians also stress COVID-19 vaccines are proving overwhelmingly safe and protective for the majority of elderly recipients — a population that's at the highest risk of dying from the illness. "We are now hoping that as soon as we get people vaccinated, especially in these care settings, that we're really going to see the burden of disease — and the resulting burden of death — stopped," Sinha said. No unexpected death increase, WHO concludes In Norway, the deaths of those 23 elderly vaccine recipients happened during the course of more than 20,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses being administered over several weeks — not all in one go — and in a country where around 400 deaths normally occur among care home residents on a weekly basis. Following a review of the deaths, which later totalled more than 30, the World Health Organization concluded there was actually no "unexpected" increase in deaths of frail, elderly individuals or any unusual adverse events following the vaccinations. WATCH | Dr. Samir Sinha on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for seniors: In fact, the vaccine did not play a "contributory role" in the fatalities at all, the panel found. It's a finding that comes as tens of millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses are being administered in countries around the world, including to millions of seniors, with the clear protective benefits against severe infections so far outweighing minor risks such as allergic reactions in rare instances. "We're just not seeing the data showing that the vaccine is hastening anybody's death," Sinha said. However, an earlier investigation from the Norwegian Medicines Agency, Norway's national medical regulatory authority, did note that common adverse reactions of mRNA-based vaccines, such as fever, nausea and diarrhea, may have contributed to some of those deadly outcomes in the Norweigian patients. Canadian physicians do agree immune system responses to a vaccine could indeed prove dire, but only for the most frail of elderly individuals who are already approaching their death based on their age and pre-existing health issues. That could mean someone immobile, largely bed-bound and in the end stages of dementia, explained geriatrician Dr. Janet McElhaney, the scientific director of the Health Sciences North Research Institute and a professor at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine in Sudbury, Ont. "Those are not the people that we want to be vaccinating, as they are unlikely to tolerate that." For someone severely frail and dehydrated, even a short bout of diarrhea can be dangerous to their health, she said. WATCH | Why there's new urgency for vaccinations in long-term care homes: At the same time, it's a delicate balancing act, since those frail seniors could even more easily die from COVID-19, said Tara Moriarty, an associate professor at the University of Toronto and co-founder of COVID-19 Resources Canada. "This is something that decision-makers would weigh very, very carefully with the physician or the care provider," she said. But both McElhaney and Moriarty stressed those individuals are among a small minority of long-term care residents. COVID-19 disproportionately deadly for seniors For the vast majority of Canadian seniors, including those living in long-term care or in the community, medical experts maintain the protective benefits of COVID-19 vaccines far outweigh any minimal risks. Across Canada, nearly 20,000 people have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, the vast majority of whom were over the age of 60 — including 70 per cent aged 80 and older. That's why long-term care residents are near the front of the line as public health officials ramp up vaccination efforts, as both their age and congregate living conditions put them at higher risk. Health complications from COVID-19 a concern for seniors But as reports of deaths post-vaccine keep causing confusion among some seniors, Moriarty is now among those concerned it might prompt vaccine hesitancy among the very population who would benefit most. "There have been no deaths that have actually been associated with these vaccines whereas there are a lot of deaths among people who are diagnosed with COVID," she said. And as McElhaney points out, death isn't the only concern with COVID-19. Even if a senior survives the illness, they run the risk of serious complications, be it lingering health issues or life-changing impacts from a stay in intensive care. "The most compelling reason for older people to get vaccinated is to prevent a loss of independence, their abilities," she said. "So, it's a quality of life decision." According to MacDonald, wary Canadian seniors need to understand where the highest risk exists — and that's definitely from falling ill with COVID-19, not getting vaccinated against it. "So, which door do you want to go through?" she said. "The door that has a probability of you not getting COVID, and saving your life, however long that may be? Or do you want to go through the COVID door?"
MONTREAL — Quebec's director of national health said he's still not sure when the province will begin administering COVID-19 booster shots — 43 days since officials started injecting people with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Dr. Horacio Arruda said Tuesday that while he doesn't want Quebecers to wait more than seven weeks to receive a booster shot, he said he was still waiting to hear back from government scientists studying the efficacy of the vaccine among those who received their first of two injections. Quebec has taken a different approach from other provinces, focusing on giving a first dose to as many people as possible before giving anyone a second, a strategy that Arruda maintains will save more lives and keep more people out of hospital at a time when vaccine supplies are limited. "We did it because we don't have enough vaccine," he told reporters. Vaccine maker Pfizer has said the second dose of its vaccine should be given within 21 days. Moderna, the maker of the other vaccine approved for use in Canada, has set the date for the second shot at 28 days. Ottawa's National Advisory Committee on Immunization, however, has said the second dose of both vaccines can wait up to 42 days. Relatives of long-term care residents say they don't believe the government is making a science-based decision. Quebec is "playing Russian roulette with our loved ones' lives," Joyce Shanks, member of the Maimonides Family Advocacy Committee, said Monday. Her group, which represents residents of the Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Montreal, is considering suing the government over its vaccine strategy. Her father, a Maimonides resident, was one of the first people in Quebec to get a dose of vaccine, on Dec. 14. "We signed up for the two doses. We did not sign up to be part of a clinical trial," Shanks said. Kathy Assayag, chair of the users' committee at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, said the government's vaccine strategy is "a mistake." "It's a gamble and we cannot gamble with people's lives." Experts, however, differ on whether Quebec's plan is a well-calculated risk or an ill-fated wager. Dr. Caroline Quach, chair of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, said the committee's guideline that patients can wait up to 42 days between injections is based on trials from vaccine makers. Trial participants, she said, were encouraged to return after 21 or 28 days from their first injection — depending on whether they received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine — but she said they were allowed to return up to 42 days later. "The problem after the 42 days is that we don't have any data," Quach said. While it's possible a single dose remains effective after 42 days, she said, there's a decent risk its efficacy decreases, but no one knows how fast that could happen. "We know that the second dose helps with the maturation of the antibodies," Quach said. "The two companies decided that a second dose was needed, so we have no data with only one dose and we have no data with extended intervals." Dr. Andre Veillette, a research professor at the Universite de Montreal's department of medicine and a member of the federal government's COVID-19 vaccine task force, said the further Quebec moves away from what's been proven in clinical trials, the higher the chance the vaccine won't have the same results. "I think it's a gamble," he said. "I think there's not enough information." Veillette said he's particularly worried about older people who generally don't respond as well to vaccines as younger people do. Even in a situation with constrained supply, he said the government should stick to the vaccine schedule that's been proven in clinical trials. "Take the drops as they come and give them the way they're supposed to be given," Veillette said. While the results of the vaccination campaign in Israel have raised concerns about the amount of protection given by the first dose of vaccine, Dr. Donald Sheppard, chair of the department of microbiology and immunology at McGill University's faculty of medicine, said the data matches what was demonstrated in the clinical trials. The protection offered by both vaccines 14 days after the first shot exceeds 90 per cent, he said. Studies of other vaccines indicate the timing of the second dose isn't critical, Sheppard added. But, he said, there's no specific data on the consequences of delaying the COVID-19 vaccines. Like other provinces, Quebec has been forced to manage with fewer COVID-19 vaccines than anticipated, following Pfizer's recent decision to suspend deliveries to upgrade its European production facility. As a result, Quebec doesn't expect to receive any vaccine shipments this week. The Health Department said Tuesday it had received 238,100 doses of vaccine and had administered 224,879. Given the shortage of vaccine and the high number of COVID-19 cases in Quebec, Sheppard said he thinks the government made the right calculation — though if there were fewer cases or more doses, he added, there wouldn't have been the need to take the risk. "But that's not where we are right now, in January, in Quebec," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press
European football teams face losing up to $10 billion due to disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest forecast of the umbrella organization for clubs on the continent. Supporters have been kept out of stadiums in Europe's main leagues longer than anticipated as the second wave of COVID-19 cases has devastated the continent. Andrea Agnelli, the Juventus chairman who leads the European Club Association, said it would be “extremely difficult" to see spectators being allowed back in this season. There have also been rebates to broadcasters and sponsors due to the pandemic after some leagues, including France, were abandoned last season and others paused for up to three months. “When I look at the best information I’ve had so far, we’re looking at a bottom-line loss for the industry in the region of €6.5 billion ($7.9 billion) to €8.5 billion ($10.3 billion) for the combined two years," Agnelli said on a News Tank Football virtual event on Wednesday. Italy — like England — had brought a small number of fans back into some stadiums but had to prohibit access again as part of a national effort to contain the resurgence of coronavirus cases. There are concerns about the financial impact on the value of broadcast rights to games. “About 360 clubs (in Europe) will need cash injections, whether it’s debt or equity within those two years, for an amount of €6 billion ($7.2 billion)," Agnelli said. Just as the ECA is in talks with UEFA about the distribution of Champions League revenue, Agnelli is painting a gloomier picture of the state of club finances than Deloitte. The accountancy firm reported this week that the top 20 revenue-generating clubs lost around €1.1 billion ($1.3 billion) last season and their turnover could drop by €2 billion ($2.4 billion) in this campaign. “The revenue that’s been missed out on is driven by the lack of fans in the stadium, the lack of interaction on a match day — fans spending in the club shop and buying food and drink — and there is an element that relates to revenue that broadcasters have either clawed back (or deferred) to next year," said Tim Bridge of Deloitte. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Rob Harris, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin Wednesday warning of the lingering potential for violence from people motivated by antigovernment sentiment after President Joe Biden's election, suggesting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol may embolden extremists and set the stage for additional attacks. The department did not cite any specific plots, but pointed to “a heightened threat environment across the United States” that it believes “will persist” for weeks after Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration. It is not uncommon for the federal government to warn local law enforcement through bulletins about the prospect for violence tied to a particular event or date, such as July 4. But this particular bulletin, issued through the department’s National Terrorism Advisory System, is notable because it effectively places the Biden administration into the politically charged debate over how to describe or characterize acts motivated by political ideology, and suggests it regards violence like the kind that overwhelmed the Capitol as akin to terrorism. The bulletin is an indication that national security officials see a connective thread between different episodes of violence in the last year motivated by anti-government grievances, including over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results and police use of force. The document singles out crimes motivated by racial or ethnic hatred, such as the 2019 rampage targeting Hispanics in El Paso, Texas, as well as the threat posed by extremists motivated by foreign terror groups. A DHS statement that accompanied the bulletin noted the potential for violence from “a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors.” “Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the bulletin said. The alert comes at a tense time following the riot at the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump seeking to overturn the presidential election. Authorities are concerned that extremists may attack other symbols of government or people whose political views they oppose. “The domestic terrorism attack on our Capitol earlier this month shined a light on a threat that has been right in front of our faces for years,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “I am glad to see that DHS fully recognizes the threat posed by violent, right-wing extremists and is taking efforts to communicate that threat to the American people.” The alert was issued by acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske. Biden’s nominee for the Cabinet post, Alejandro Mayorkas, has not been confirmed by the Senate. Two former homeland security secretaries, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano, called on the Senate to confirm Mayorkas so he can start working with the FBI and other agencies and deal with the threat posed by domestic extremists, among other issues. Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, said attacks by far-right, domestic extremists are not new but that deaths attributed to them in recent years in the U.S. have exceeded those linked to jihadists such as al-Qaida. “We have to be candid and face what the real risk is,” he said in a conference call with reporters. Federal authorities have charged more than 150 people in the Capitol siege, including some with links to right-wing extremist groups such as the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers. The Justice Department announced charges Wednesday against 43-year Ian Rogers, a California man found with five pipe bombs during a search of his business this month who had a sticker associated with the Three Percenters on his vehicle. His lawyer told his hometown newspaper, The Napa Valley Register, that he is a “very well-respected small business owner, father, and family man” who does not belong to any violent organizations. Ben Fox And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2021. There are 757,022 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 757,022 confirmed cases (59,551 active, 678,068 resolved, 19,403 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 4,011 new cases Tuesday from 34,572 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 12 per cent. The rate of active cases is 158.43 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 37,271 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 5,324. There were 165 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 1,137 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 162. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.43 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 51.62 per 100,000 people. There have been 17,120,912 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 398 confirmed cases (six active, 388 resolved, four deaths). There were zero new cases Tuesday from 158 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.15 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two 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 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 78,477 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 110 confirmed cases (six active, 104 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Tuesday from 267 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 3.82 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 88,900 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,572 confirmed cases (11 active, 1,496 resolved, 65 deaths). There was one new case Tuesday from 934 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.11 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.13 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 have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 201,358 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,161 confirmed cases (340 active, 807 resolved, 14 deaths). There were 10 new cases Tuesday from 1,048 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.95 per cent. The rate of active cases is 43.77 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 157 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 22. There were zero new reported deaths Tuesday. 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 0.02 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.8 per 100,000 people. There have been 137,228 tests completed. _ Quebec: 256,002 confirmed cases (15,622 active, 230,803 resolved, 9,577 deaths). There were 1,166 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 184.11 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 10,268 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,467. There were 56 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 435 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 62. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.73 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 112.87 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,695,925 tests completed. _ Ontario: 258,700 confirmed cases (23,036 active, 229,755 resolved, 5,909 deaths). There were 1,740 new cases Tuesday from 29,712 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 158.14 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 16,423 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,346. There were 63 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 430 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 61. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.42 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 40.57 per 100,000 people. There have been 9,007,713 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 28,902 confirmed cases (3,492 active, 24,601 resolved, 809 deaths). There were 92 new cases Tuesday from 1,556 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 254.99 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,162 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 166. There were five new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 26 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.27 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 59.07 per 100,000 people. There have been 450,194 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 22,646 confirmed cases (2,649 active, 19,729 resolved, 268 deaths). There were 230 new cases Tuesday from 897 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 26 per cent. The rate of active cases is 225.55 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,775 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 254. There were 14 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 43 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is six. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.52 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 22.82 per 100,000 people. There have been 331,591 tests completed. _ Alberta: 121,901 confirmed cases (8,652 active, 111,662 resolved, 1,587 deaths). There were 366 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 197.93 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,134 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 591. There were 13 new reported deaths Tuesday. 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 0.41 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 36.3 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,061,844 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 65,234 confirmed cases (5,714 active, 58,352 resolved, 1,168 deaths). There were 406 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 112.67 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,322 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 475. There were 14 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 78 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 11. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.22 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 23.03 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,044,931 tests completed. _ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (zero active, 69 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Tuesday. 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 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,229 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 31 confirmed cases (six active, 25 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 13.39 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of one 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 9,064 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 282 confirmed cases (17 active, 264 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 43.84 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 16 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 7,382 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — United Nations human rights experts are alarmed by what they see as a growing trend to enact legislation allowing medical assistance in dying for people suffering from non-terminal, disabling conditions. Three experts, including the UN's special rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, say such legislation tends to be based on "ableist" assumptions about the quality and worth of the life of a person with a disability. In a statement issued earlier this week, the experts do not specifically mention Canada's proposed legislation, which would expand assisted dying to people who are suffering intolerably but are not approaching the natural end of their lives. But the arguments they make echo those advanced by Canadian disability rights advocates, who are vehemently opposed to Bill C-7. The bill has been passed by the House of Commons and is currently before the Senate. It is intended to bring the law into compliance with a 2019 Quebec Superior Court ruling that struck down a provision in the current law that allows assisted dying only for those whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable. The near-death restriction was challenged by Nicole Gladu and Jean Truchon, both of whom suffered from degenerative, disabling conditions but were not at the end of their lives. Justice Christine Baudouin agreed with them that the restriction violated their charter rights to equal treatment under the law and to life, liberty and security of the person. However, the UN experts argue that extending assisted dying to people with non-terminal conditions contravenes Article 10 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, "which requires states to ensure that persons with disabilities can effectively enjoy their inherent right to life on an equal basis with others." "When life-ending interventions are normalized for people who are not terminally ill or suffering at the end of their lives, such legislative provisions tend to rest on — or draw strength from — ableist assumptions about the inherent 'quality of life' or 'worth' of the life of a person with a disability," they say in a statement issued Monday by the UN Human Rights Council. "Disability is not a burden or a deficit of the person. It is a universal aspect of the human condition," they add. "Under no circumstance should the law provide that it could be a well-reasoned decision for a person with a disabling condition who is not dying to terminate their life with the support of the state." The experts who issued the statement are Gerard Quinn, the UN Human Rights Council's special rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities; Olivier De Schutter, special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; and Claudia Mahler, who was described as "an independent expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons." They argue that everyone accepts there can be no justification for assisting "any other protected group — be it a racial minority, gender or sexual minorities — to end their lives because they are experiencing suffering on account of their status." And they say it should be no different for people with disabilities. "Disability should never be a ground or justification to end someone's life directly or indirectly." Even when assisted dying is restricted to people near the end of life, they argue people with disabilities, the elderly and especially elderly people with disabilities "may feel subtly pressured to end their lives prematurely" due to societal attitudes and a lack of support services. Those living in poverty may decide to seek an assisted death "as a gesture of despair," not as a real choice, they say. The government has until Feb. 26 — after being granted three extensions — to bring the law into compliance with Baudouin's ruling. The Senate's legal and constitutional affairs committee, which has already conducted a pre-study of Bill C-7, is to resume its study and consider possible amendments during three, daylong meetings, starting Monday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
Quantum Genetix, a laboratory licensed to perform COVID-19 testing in Saskatchewan for profit, has expanded its licence to include anyone in the province who is asymptomatic and wishes to be tested. The Saskatoon lab started processing samples at the beginning of December. At that time the company was only doing travel- and business-related testing in Saskatchewan. Testing kits are $150 and results are emailed to clients within 48 hours. For same-day rush service, testing kits are $250. Quantum Genetix has been very busy since December, according to Heather Deobald, the lab's general manager. The lab has served more than 100 businesses and more than 1,000 travelers so far. "We requested to have our licence expanded because from the start we've been getting requests from Saskatchewan residents who didn't fall under the business or travel related scope that we were given our licence through." Individuals and businesses can order testing kits by mail from Quantum Genetix. Kits contain self-administered nasal and oral swabs, and detailed instructions on how to use them. "Before we were able to do the testing, people were struggling sometimes with having turnaround times that they could utilize and still be able to go out and do their work or whatever they needed the test for," said Deobald. "So I think people are just relieved that they had another option." Deobold says there are many reasons Sask. residents are willing to pay for a quick test. "People waiting for surgery, people who have compassion permission to go into a care facility, families with immunocompromised family members. Single family members who are having another family member come into their home. Or two single people wanting to get together," said Deobald. After receiving the kit, clients can either courier their specimen to the Saskatoon laboratory or drop it off on-location at a kiosk there. Deobald said Quantum Genetix is working on making the process easier for anyone in the province, including those in the north. "We're actually right now working with another private business in Saskatchewan who will help us to expand into all areas of the province," she said. "We should have the news on that and more information on that hopefully next week."
The Writers' Trust of Canada is renaming its annual fiction award after co-founders and literary power couple Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson.In a news release Wednesday, organizers announced that the prestigious honour will now be known as the Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize.The name change comes with a $10,000 increase in prize money, with future winners set to receive $60,000. Atwood and Gibson, who were partners for more than a half-century until Gibson's death in 2019, were among the wordsmiths who co-founded the Writers' Trust in 1976.In a statement, playwright and fellow co-founder David Young says the prize is a "perfect" way to honour their commitment to Canada's literary culture.Since 1997, the Writers' Trust Fiction Prize has been handed out to the author of the year's best novel or short story collection. Previous winners include Andre Alexis, Emma Donoghue, Lawrence Hill, Alice Munro and Austin Clarke.The finalists for the 2021 prize will be announced on Sept. 28, and the winner will be named on Nov. 3.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
Facebook Inc may face questions about fallout from U.S. election controversies when it posts earnings on Wednesday, but top of mind for investors is a less political matter: the company's heavy bet on e-commerce to drive ad sales. The world's biggest social media company is poised to reap a windfall from that gambit, analysts say, bolstered by a return in ad growth rates to pre-COVID levels and a holiday shopping boost from its new "social commerce" features. Wall Street expects the company to report fourth-quarter sales up 25% to $26.4 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4.m. ET on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 28,505 new vaccinations administered for a total of 868,454 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 2,291.479 per 100,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 1,122,450 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 77.37 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 3,258 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 8,549 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 16.326 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 16,500 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 51.81 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,207 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,117 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 44.866 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 9,225 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 77.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 3,102 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 11,622 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 11.909 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 28,850 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 40.28 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 3,821 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 14,257 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 18.277 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 21,675 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 65.78 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 4,164 new vaccinations administered for a total of 224,879 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 26.281 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 238,100 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 94.45 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 9,707 new vaccinations administered for a total of 295,817 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 20.139 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 411,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 71.86 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 1,618 new vaccinations administered for a total of 31,369 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 22.781 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 55,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 56.37 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 727 new vaccinations administered for a total of 34,080 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 28.902 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 32,725 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 104.1 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 361 new vaccinations administered for a total of 99,814 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 22.674 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 122,725 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 81.33 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 2,509 new vaccinations administered for a total of 122,359 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 23.844 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 144,550 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 84.65 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 445 new vaccinations administered for a total of 4,397 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 105.365 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 14,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 35 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 30.53 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting 7,578 new vaccinations administered for a total of 9,471 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 209.912 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 14,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 32 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 65.77 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 265 new vaccinations administered for a total of 4,723 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 121.959 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 12,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 31 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 39.36 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published January 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
Genomic sequencing will be key in determining the prevalence of new, more transmissible variants of COVID-19 in Canada, experts say, but the process is too laborious and time-consuming to run on every positive swab. While that means we likely can't know the exact number of cases stemming from the "variants of concern," first identified in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil, experts say genomic sequencing can unlock useful information about where and how quickly spread may be happening.The Canadian Press spoke with microbiologists and laboratory science specialists to answer popular questions about the new variants, and what we're doing to detect them.HOW IS GENOMIC SEQUENCING DONE?Positive samples, typically taken from travel-related cases or those that were otherwise flagged for sequencing, are sent to a specific lab which has the equipment required to get a closer look at the virus's genetic code. From there, a specially-trained scientist looks for mutations and changes from the main SARS-CoV-2 virus, going through the code line by line. The process, which can take anywhere from a couple days to a full week, is tedious, expensive and requires a level of scientific equipment and knowledge only accessible in a handful of labs across the country, says Dr. Tony Mazzulli, a medical microbiologist at Public Health Ontario Laboratory."You need the supplies, the reagents, and you need people with the expertise who can a) do it and b) interpret the results once the test is finished," said Mazzulli, who's also the microbiologist-in-chief of the Mount Sinai Hospital. "It's not just like a diagnostic test that is either a yes or no."HOW OFTEN ARE WE DOING IT?Ontario, which had 34 total known cases of the B.1.1.7 variant from the U.K. as of Monday, is undergoing a point-prevalence study in which all positive test results in the province from a single day — Jan. 20 — are being analyzed through genomic sequencing. Health Minister Christine Elliott said Ontario has analyzed 9,000 samples for the new variants and hopes to look at 1,500 every week going forward.Public Health Ontario also says it is introducing screening tests that can look for a mutation that's found in the three concerning variants. Dr. Vanessa Allen, the chief of microbiology at the Public Health Ontario Lab, said in a press conference Monday the new tests will help identify "high-risk samples," that will then be sent to labs for sequencing. Mazzulli says some of Canada's standard PCR tests can also pick up a hint — known as the S-gene dropout — that the sample should be sequenced. PCR tests give us a yes or no answer as to whether a person is infected, but they also look for specific genes in the virus, Mazzulli explained. If the S gene, which has the mutation, is missing from the diagnostic, that's an indication the sample should be sent in for further sequencing.Mazzulli also says Ontario is building capacity and developing further criteria for samples that should be sequenced, including those from outbreaks where a group of cases are associated with each other.In B.C., where according to data released Monday there have been three confirmed cases South Africa variant and six cases of the U.K. variant, top doctor Bonnie Henry said the province is working on strategies to see where it can target genomic sequencing to better understand changes and variants circulating in the community. About 9,500 quality sequences have been performed in the province since February, which amounts to sampling approximately 15 per cent of cases, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control. WHY CAN'T WE SEQUENCE EVERY POSITIVE COVID TEST WE GET?Joel Rivero, field application system specialist who helps set up molecular and immunodiagnostic tests at labs across Canada, says that boils down to capacity and lab resources.While sequencing every sample is ideal to get a full picture, Rivero says that probably wouldn't get you the best "return on investment."Since most variant cases are still travel-related, it's best to concentrate efforts there, he says, in hopes of catching those quickly to limit spread."We want to make sure there's a fine balance between your resource management and what makes the most sense to help identify and protect public health."Rivero adds that the COVID treatment plan and contact tracing efforts remain the same whether the patient has "a variant strain or the quote-unquote regular strain.""Everyone will still have to isolate whether they have the variant or not," he said.WILL CURRENT VACCINES WORK AGAINST NEW VARIANTS?Dr. Samira Mubareka, a microbiologist and clinical scientist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, says part of the importance of genome sequencing is in understanding which mutations are showing up and figuring out what they do.And that can have potential implications on vaccines and other treatments.Mubareka and other experts say they're hopeful current vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna will still work against the variant strains — at least to some extent."It's really unlikely to go from 95 per cent effectiveness of a vaccine to zero," she said, adding however that there may be some reduction of effectiveness against the variants."But from what I understand from preliminary data, it's still anticipated to be above what would be protective at this stage."Mubareka says the emergence of the new variants means vaccines currently being developed will need to be tested against the latest strains rather than older versions to properly measure efficacy. Some of our established vaccines could need updates down the line. Moderna announced Monday it was planning to test booster vaccines aimed at the B.1.351 variant first found in South Africa, noting the current formula had a six-fold reduction in the effectiveness of its neutralizing antibodies. Despite the reduction, the company says those levels are still believed to offer protection. The nature of mRNA technology, which Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna both use in their vaccines, is that an updated shot with a new target could theoretically be made quickly, if needed.However, Mubareka says any new vaccine would presumably need to go through a review process and trials to determine safety and efficacy. So updated inoculations won't be popping up overnight. WHAT DO THE NEW VARIANTS MEAN FROM A PUBLIC HEALTH STANDPOINT?As of right now, public health measures aimed at curbing the spread of our current dominant strain — physical distancing, hand-washing, mask-wearing — will work to fend off these variants. Travel takes on greater significance with the more transmissible versions of the virus, however, with some experts calling for further restrictions and more strict enforcement of the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for anyone coming into the country.COVID projections from Caroline Colijn, a mathematician and epidemiologist with Simon Fraser University, show a potentially grim picture for the next few months, with a skyrocketing spring wave fuelled by community spread of more contagious variants.But if the variants aren't yet firmly established here, we have time to prevent that flagrant spread, she says."If we can push that peak out to September, we may be able to avert it if most of us are vaccinated by then."Mubareka cautions, however, that new variants will continue to arise as long as the virus is spreading. So limiting contacts and abiding by other public health measures is important in making sure we don't get a series of strains that could slip past our mitigation strategies."We play an important part in preventing the likelihood that we will become a vector for one of these variants," she said. "Every time one of these viruses passes through a host, it provides an opportunity not just for spread, but also for adaptation."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
If you have high-interest consumer debt, getting control of your money in the new year might sound overwhelming. Most Americans say the COVID-19 outbreak has caused financial stress, according to a survey released in October by the National Endowment for Financial Education, with 30% listing debt as their top stressor. Despite the pandemic, you can still pay down your debt with the right plan. Here’s how. CONFRONT YOUR DEBT The first step is simple, but it can be the hardest: You have to face the problem. Angela Moore, a Miami-based certified financial planner and founder of Modern Money Advisor, which offers virtual advising and education for consumers, says it’s common for her clients to know they’re in debt but not know how much. She recommends compiling your debt onto one document or spreadsheet, listing all balances, minimum payments and interest rates. Though the task is daunting, most of her clients feel relief once it’s finished. “Debt is an emotional burden,” she says, “but a lot of times that overwhelm goes away once you have clarity.” COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR LENDERS After listing your debt, it’s time to get on the phone with your creditors. Ask for a temporarily lowered interest rate, reduced monthly payment or waived late fees. Make sure to explain how the pandemic has influenced your finances. Most creditors will be willing to work with you, says Dan Herron, a California-based CFP at Elemental Wealth Advisors. “It doesn’t hurt to say, ‘I’m still trying to do the right thing, I’m still trying to make payments. Where can we meet in the middle?’” he says. Any break you get, take that money and apply it to your debt. If you need help negotiating, contact a credit counsellor at a reputable non-profit organization, like the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Counselors have relationships with creditors and can negotiate on your behalf. Services are typically free for those experiencing financial difficulties due to COVID-19. CONSIDER CONSOLIDATING If you have multiple types of debt, such as loans, credit cards and medical bills, you may want to take out an unsecured personal loan to consolidate it into one monthly payment. A consolidation loan is a good idea only if you can qualify for a lower interest rate than those on your current debts. Some lenders have tightened their approval standards in the pandemic, but borrowers with good to excellent credit (690 FICO or higher) should have a good shot. Look for a lender that specializes in debt consolidation and offers perks like direct payments to creditors or rate discounts for automated payments. If you have credit card debt, you could apply for a balance transfer card. Though these cards typically charge a 3% to 5% fee, they offer an introductory 0% interest period, so all payments go toward your principal, which helps you pay off debt faster. You’ll likely need good credit to qualify. Charles Ho, a California-based CFP and founder of Legacy Builders Financial, urges caution for some consumers. Though consolidation tools can save money, they also free up your credit cards for more spending. “It might make mathematical sense to consolidate your loans, but the math is meaningless if we don’t account for our behaviour and end up almost doubling our debt,” he says. PICK A STRATEGY AND STICK TO IT If you choose not to consolidate, there are two common methods for approaching debt payoff: the snowball or avalanche. With the snowball method, you pay off your smallest debt first, while making minimum payments on the others, then move to the second smallest and so on. The avalanche method uses the same strategy, but you start with the debt that has the highest interest rate. According to Herron, the avalanche method may get you to the finish line faster since the money you save on interest can be applied to other debts, but it’s more important to pick the method that motivates you the most. BREAK THE CYCLE As you make your way out of debt, start to automate your finances. Moore has her clients set up automatic bill payments and savings contributions, so the money is put aside without having to think about it. If finances are tight in the pandemic, build toward a $500 emergency fund. She also advises clients to use a separate account for nonessential spending — 30% of your post-tax income is a good target to hit in this account. Clients can use the money to buy whatever they want, but once it’s at $0, “that’s it,” she says. “By automating and creating systems, it helps you stick to your financial strategy and take the emotional aspect out of it. That’s the key.” ______________________ This article was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Jackie Veling is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: email@example.com. RELATED LINKS NerdWallet: Compare debt consolidation loans http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-debt-consolidation-loans National Foundation for Credit Counseling: Get help for debt https://www.nfcc.org/ Jackie Veling Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
The Himalayan nation of Nepal launched its largest immunisation campaign on Wednesday with its first coronavirus vaccinations for medical workers, following a gift of one million doses from giant neighbour India. Wearing a traditional black peaked cap and sleeveless red vest, a doctor at a teaching hospital in the capital, Kathmandu, became the first recipient of a dose taken from a bed of ice in a cubical blue cooler and injected by masked and gowned staff. "We have a new weapon now and I hope we will be able to defeat the coronavirus soon," said Dinesh Kafle, 50, after he was applauded by those queuing for their turn while he sat in a white-walled room before a poster advertising the campaign.
VANCOUVER — There's a race between COVID-19 and the rollout of vaccine as researchers and health officials in B.C. warn of two faster-spreading variants. The number of variant cases may start low, but increased transmission could only be a few weeks away, just as delivery of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is delayed, said Caroline Colijn, the Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematics for Infection, Evolution and Public Health at Simon Fraser University. Colijn's lab released modelling data this week showing public health rules in several provinces, including B.C., would not be sufficient to prevent exponential growth in cases starting around March if a COVID-19 variant with a 40 per cent higher transmission rate became established. "By established I mean some cluster doesn't get stopped and takes off and we don't notice or we don't act and we are unable to stop those chains of transmission and so they take off the way the current COVID has," she said. Colijn added she would expect public health officials to enact further restrictions before such exponential growth in variant cases. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told a news briefing this week that B.C. has detected three cases of a variant found in South Africa and none were linked to each other or to travel, pointing to community spread. By completing whole genome sequencing, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control has also recorded six travel-related cases of the COVID-19 variant first found in the United Kingdom, which appears significantly more transmissible than earlier strains of the new coronavirus. B.C. is sequencing about 15 per cent of samples that test positive for COVID-19 in the province, said Natalie Prystajecky, head of the environmental microbiology program at the centre's public health lab. Sequencing is more labour-intensive than diagnostic testing, she said, so it can take up to two weeks to produce data from a given sample. B.C. has sequenced about 11,000 COVID-positive samples since last February and generated quality data from about 9,500 of them, she said. The average rate of sequencing across Canada is between five and 10 per cent, said Prystajecky, a member of the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network that received funding last spring to sequence 150,000 samples. In addition to targeting samples from travellers and youth, she said, B.C. is prioritizing more general, "background" sampling to understand if public health officials are missing anything, such as transmission of new variants. "We're ramping up," she said. "We did 750 genomes last week and we're aiming to continue to increase the amount of sequencing we're doing." Prystajecky said her lab is also planning to do a "point prevalence study" to screen a high number of samples at a given point in time. B.C. is taking a smart approach to sequencing by targeting travel-related cases, said Colijn, but at the rate sequencing data becomes available, "there could be 10 or 50 or 100 cases of whatever we detect at the time." Colijn believes B.C. should consider Atlantic Canada's approach and create a so-called "Pacific bubble" that would require travellers from other provinces to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival in B.C. Data from Pfizer and Moderna — the pharmaceutical companies behind the two COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada — show their products still protect people against the U.K. and South African variants, said Fiona Brinkman, a professor in the molecular biology and biochemistry department at Simon Fraser University. "What this means is people really need to hunker down until this vaccine gets out into the population further," she said in an interview this week. "We really are in a race between the vaccine and the virus right now." Basic measures including physical distancing and avoiding non-essential travel are still effective in preventing new variants from spreading, she said. B.C. reported 4,260 active cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday out of more than 65,000 confirmed cases since the pandemic began. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press
Work continues in an effort to protect the province's last coastal wilderness — the Hog Island Sandhills — though the process has been slowed down due to COVID-19, Parks Canada says. The initiative was originally brought forward by the Mi'kmaq of P.E.I., as well as the province. In 2019, Parks Canada began a feasibility assessment with the aim of turning the area into a national park reserve, separate and distinct from the existing Prince Edward Island National Park. It would be given the Mi'kmaq name Pitaweikek. Shanna MacDonald, senior negotiator for protected areas establishment for Parks Canada, said plans are moving slowly because part of the process includes significant community and public engagement. "Given that there has been a lockdown and … wanting to follow public health rules and regulations and practise social distancing and all of those other things, a lot of the types of community engagement that we would normally do, like open houses, one-on-one meetings with key stakeholders, has had to be put on hold." MacDonald is hopeful community engagement will take place this spring. She said until that happens, it's hard to predict when Hog Island could become a national park reserve. Treasured place According to the Canada National Park Act, park reserves are established for the same purpose as national parks — to preserve the land for the benefit and enjoyment of Canadians — but in areas "subject to a claim in respect of Aboriginal rights that has been accepted for negotiation by the government of Canada." MacDonald said Hog Island is a treasured place among Indigenous people. "It was a place where the community could always go in times of scarcity because of the rich waters in Malpeque Bay and the ability to collect plants and fish in the waters offshore," she said. "It's a fascinating piece of geology as well because of igneous outcropping in the area which makes the environment around Hog Island significantly different than the onshore land." More from CBC P.E.I.
Most countries in Europe now require people to wear facemasks on public transport and in shops. In Germany, new rules allow only medical masks to be worn on public transport and supermarkets. Euronews has visited one small factory in the German capital that is ramping up its production.View on euronews
ST. MARY’S – A tiny dirt road near Sonora – a mere afterthought for any mapmaker – has suddenly become an important topic for local decision-makers. In December, the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s issued a formal expression of interest in acquiring a tiny strip of surplus land – once an access road to the St. Mary’s River – after receiving a memo from the Real Property Services Acquisition and Disposal division of the provincial Department of Transportation and Renewal. Last week, elected officials heard that the province had withdrawn its offer pending examination of an expression of interest by another government department. What’s more, a local developer has also come forward, inquiring about the land’s availability. At council’s Jan. 20 committee of the whole meeting, Warden Greg Wier wondered whether council should step back. “I think if a land developer would like it and it would help build a couple of homes and give us some tax revenues, I think it would be a good idea to let them have it,” he told his fellow councillors.” Deputy Warden James Fuller added, “It may be good for the tax base, [but] I think we should just wait and see. We may be out of the running anyway. And, if we are, let’s just see what the developer is developing.” Councillor Everett Baker agreed: “There’s not much we can do right now anyway.” The Nov. 18 letter from the province stated: “We are informing you that the land … identified as PID 35231786 on Property Online, Old Ferry Road/Gegogan Ferry Road, at St. Mary’s River, Guysborough County… is surplus to the needs of the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. Please advise if you have any interest in acquiring the property.” Last month, the municipality’s Director of Finance Marian Fraser explained: “Any time the province has land it no longer has a need for, it always sends out a notice to the adjoining municipalities and any other levels of government to see if there is interest. In this case, council did express their interest and put in a formal notice to acquire it.” The most recent Surplus Crown Property Disposal Report shows that the province earned nearly $161,000 on the disposal of 31 pieces of real property to private and public sector interests during the fiscal year ending March 20, 2020. Of these, the Crown conveyed surplus land only once to a municipality – the County of Shelburne – for $1. Chief Administrative Officer Marvin MacDonald told The Journal: “It’s always good for the municipality to have land, especially if there’s water access. It could be used in conjunction with development. So, if there is a piece of development that would increase our tax base, we might eye it for development.” Council has directed municipal staff to inform the private interest that the decision is still with the provincial government. Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
A B.C. couple who met at Christmas dinner in 1965 found out they both had COVID-19 on Christmas Day in 2020. In the 55 years between those fateful holidays, John and Helen Eberherr had three children and five grandchildren, and were active members of their church and community in Prince George. They died just days apart, unable to see each other or say goodbye while sitting in the same hospital. He was 85, she was 78. At age 23, Helen moved from Kelowna to Prince George to work at the Royal Bank. John's sister also worked there, and invited Helen to spend the holiday with her family, including John, who took an immediate liking to his sister's new co-worker. "My aunt always said, 'We knew that as soon as your dad met someone he liked enough, it was going to be quick,'" daughter Tracy Glaciar said. Sure enough, John and Helen were engaged within a week, and married six months later. A homebody whose wife refused to sit still Joseph (John) Eberherr was born to homesteaders in Prince George in 1935. His grandparents wound up in the community after taking a wrong turn on their way to Kelowna and decided to stay. John's father started a small sawmill, and John dropped out of Grade 7 to work there. He spent the rest of his career working for mills in the city while everyone else in his family departed for the Okanagan and the Lower Mainland. "He was a homebody," Glaciar said. Helen put her career on hold to focus on raising Glaciar and her two brothers. Not content to sit on the sidelines, she would volunteer and get involved in her kids' lessons, learning to ski and teaching them how to swim. "She actually drove me crazy," Glaciar said. "She could never just watch." Helen particularly loved swimming, and in retirement one of her dreams came true: The Eberherrs built an pool in their home and opened it up for swimming lessons for the neighbourhood. "Hundreds of people must have learned to swim there," Glaciar said. Among them were the Eberherrs' five grandchildren, all of whom were raised in Prince George. John and Helen would often care for their grandchildren, but family visits came to a stop when the COVID-19 lockdowns began last year. While John had limited mobility and stayed home, Helen remained active, going for daily walks and keeping in touch with friends and family. "She wore a mask and sanitized but she just really felt that staying locked up wasn't what she wanted," Glaciar said. "So she would continue to shop and continue to live." Final days The family isn't sure how they caught the virus, but on Dec. 22, Helen told Glaciar that John was losing his appetite. Glaciar convinced her parents to get tested for COVID-19 on Christmas Eve, and they received the positive results the next day. On Dec. 28, Glaciar could hear a change in her mother's voice — slurred and disjointed. She told Helen to dial 911, hung up and started driving to her parents' home. Watching from a distance, Glaciar watched first John and then Helen get loaded into ambulances. Her parents insisted they didn't want to be hooked up to ventilators. Glaciar spoke to her father via video chat one last time before he passed on Jan. 5, and had several phone calls with her mother. While her father had been extremely ill and chances of recovery seemed low, her mother appeared to be in relatively good health — until she learned John had died. "She just sort of stopped after that," Glaciar said. "I think it just became too much."