Rush Limbaugh has died at 70. The polarizing and provocative conservative radio host had been a leading voice for the political right since the 1980s.
Rush Limbaugh has died at 70. The polarizing and provocative conservative radio host had been a leading voice for the political right since the 1980s.
Former President Donald Trump has clashed again with his Republican Party, demanding that three Republican groups stop using his name and likeness for fundraising, a Trump adviser said on Saturday. The adviser, confirming a report in Politico, said lawyers for Trump on Friday had sent cease-and-desist letters to the Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Campaign and National Republican Senate Campaign, asking them to stop using his name and likeness on fundraising emails and merchandise.
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Saturday, March 6, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 85,376 new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,253,514 doses given. Nationwide, 561,238 people or 1.5 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 5,946.061 per 100,000. There were 8,190 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 2,622,210 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 85.94 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 4,472 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 24,757 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 47.279 per 1,000. In the province, 1.61 per cent (8,427) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 35,620 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,105 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 13,281 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 83.724 per 1,000. In the province, 3.32 per cent (5,273) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 14,715 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 9.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 90.25 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 6,657 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 38,676 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 39.631 per 1,000. In the province, 1.48 per cent (14,395) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 61,980 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 62.4 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 7,424 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 33,741 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 43.255 per 1,000. In the province, 1.56 per cent (12,142) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 46,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 72.13 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 19,975 new vaccinations administered for a total of 510,479 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 59.659 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 638,445 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 79.96 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 35,886 new vaccinations administered for a total of 820,714 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 55.872 per 1,000. In the province, 1.83 per cent (269,063) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 903,285 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 90.86 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 2,358 new vaccinations administered for a total of 84,937 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 61.682 per 1,000. In the province, 2.17 per cent (29,847) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 8,190 new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 124,840 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 9.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 68.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 2,789 new vaccinations administered for a total of 86,879 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 73.679 per 1,000. In the province, 2.37 per cent (27,945) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 74,605 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 116.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 9,488 new vaccinations administered for a total of 275,719 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 62.634 per 1,000. In the province, 2.06 per cent (90,486) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 274,965 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 100.3 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 12,357 new vaccinations administered for a total of 311,208 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 60.646 per 1,000. In the province, 1.69 per cent (86,865) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 385,080 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 80.82 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 1,279 new vaccinations administered for a total of 19,437 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 465.769 per 1,000. In the territory, 17.00 per cent (7,093) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 18,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 102.8 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 19,775 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 438.285 per 1,000. In the territory, 10.10 per cent (4,558) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 19,100 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 42 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 103.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 158 new vaccinations administered for a total of 13,911 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 359.216 per 1,000. In the territory, 13.28 per cent (5,144) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 23,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 62 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 58.21 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. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 6, 2021. The Canadian Press
SYDNEY, Australia — Sydney’s annual iconic Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras went ahead on Saturday, only in a different format due to coronavirus restrictions. It was being held at the Sydney Cricket Ground, where people can socially distance in their seats rather than on the traditional route down Oxford Street. Up to 23,000 spectators will be allowed in the stands while the performers will be on the pitch. Organizers say this year’s parade will move away from the traditional large floats and instead focus on the outlandish pageantry of costumes, puppetry and props. Face masks will be mandatory for participants and there will be temperature checks and screening at entry points. Meanwhile, LGBTQI rights protesters have been given the green light to march down Oxford Street in a separate event before the parade. Health officials in New South Wales state agreed to make an exception to the 500-person limit on public gatherings after organizers agreed to enhanced contact-tracing processes. The marchers are protesting social issues including transphobia, the mandatory detention of asylum-seekers and the criminalization of sex work. The Associated Press
OTTAWA — A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the judicial warrant process at Canada's spy agency — an issue that made headlines last summer — stretch back at least nine years. Internal reviewers found several of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service's preparatory steps for the execution of warrant powers needed strengthening. Among the shortcomings were insufficient training of personnel and a lack of quality-control measures. In underscoring the importance of the process, the report notes warrants are authorizations issued by a federal judge that enable CSIS to legally undertake actions, including surveilling people electronically, that would otherwise be illegal. "Failure to properly apply or interpret a warrant at the time of its execution exposes the Service to the risk of its employees committing unlawful actions, and in certain situations, criminal offences," the report says. "The investigative powers outlined in warrants must be exercised rigorously, consistently and effectively." Potential misuse of these powers could result in serious ethical, legal or reputational consequences that might compromise the intelligence service's integrity, the report adds. The Canadian Press requested the 2012 audit under the Access to Information Act shortly after its completion, but CSIS withheld much of the content. The news agency filed a complaint through the federal information commissioner's office in July 2013, beginning a process that led to disclosure of a substantial portion of the document more than seven years later. CSIS operates with a high degree of secrecy and is therefore supposed to follow the proper protocols and legal framework, particularly concerning warrants, said Tim McSorley, national coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, which includes dozens of civil society organizations. "Seeing a report like this, it just raises a concern ... to what degree they're really following that framework with the most rigour possible." CSIS can apply to the Federal Court for a warrant when intrusive collection techniques are needed because other methods have failed or are unlikely to succeed. Once a judge approves a warrant but before it is executed, a step known as the invocation process takes place. It involves a request from CSIS personnel to use one or more of the authorized powers and a review of the facts underpinning the warrant to ensure appropriate measures are employed against the correct people. However, the reviewers found CSIS policy did not "clearly define or document the objectives or requirements of the invocation process." "When roles and responsibilities are not documented, they may not be fully understood by those involved. As a result, elements of the process may not be performed, or be performed by people who do not have sufficient knowledge or expertise to do so." Overall, the report found the invocation process "needs to be strengthened" through a clear definition of objectives, requirements and roles, and better monitoring, training and development of quality-control procedures. In response, CSIS management spelled out a series of planned improvements for the auditors. But concerns have persisted about the spy service's warrant procedures. A Federal Court of Canada ruling released in July said CSIS had failed to disclose its reliance on information that was likely collected illegally in support of warrants to probe extremism. Justice Patrick Gleeson found CSIS violated its duty of candour to the court, part of a long-standing and troubling pattern. "The circumstances raise fundamental questions relating to respect for the rule of law, the oversight of security intelligence activities and the actions of individual decision-makers," he wrote. Gleeson called for an in-depth look at interactions between CSIS and the federal Justice Department to fully identify systemic, governance and cultural shortcomings and failures. The National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, the key watchdog over CSIS, is examining the issues. Another review, completed early last year by former deputy minister of justice Morris Rosenberg, called for improvements, including better training and clarification of roles, but stressed they would not succeed unless the "cultural issues around warrants" were addressed. CSIS spokesman John Townsend said the intelligence service continuously works to improve training and updates its policies and procedures accordingly, informed by audits, reviews and best practices. The Rosenberg review prompted CSIS to launch an effort last year to further the service's ability to meet its duty of candour to the court, resulting in a plan that was finalized in January, Townsend said. "The plan includes specific action items directed at ensuring the warrant process is more responsive to operational needs, documenting the full intelligence picture to facilitate duty of candour and ensuring CSIS meets expectations set by the Federal Court," he said. "In addition to training on CSIS's duty of candour already provided under the auspices of the project, additional training on a variety of operational issues including warrant acquisition will be developed by the project team and offered to employees." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021. Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
Oliver Dobson lives in a town outside of Canada's financial nerve centre, a nearly three-hour drive from Toronto. How he earns his living is worlds apart from the traditional business of Bay Street. For the past few years, Dobson has been trading in cryptocurrencies, stockpiling a horde of digital coins that have suddenly skyrocketed in price. In the real world, he lives off of cash savings, but on the Internet, he works in myriad ways to harvest these tokens. He considers it his full-time job. "I'm very frugal with my money," Dobson said. "I focus my time stocking up on these coins, so that when they explode [in price], I can take advantage of it." Prices for these cryptocurrencies, which have less familiar names like ether and nano, are exploding because they're riding on the coattails of bitcoin, which has been on a feverish run. The going rate has catapulted from about $9,000 per bitcoin a year ago to a peak of roughly $58,000 in late February, according to CoinDesk. The tidal wave has showered digital wealth on Dobson and other Canadians with a stake in the game, while attracting large players from Wall Street like never before. Bitcoin's flirtation with mainstream acceptance and the gravity-defying climb in the price — along with some white-knuckle dips — have made headlines around the world and even captured the attention of the doubters. Underneath the mania is a potential sea change in the world of finance that observers say was made possible by a global pandemic. And what's at stake is nothing less than a war for the future of money. But there are plenty of skeptics. They warn bitcoin is a highly speculative investment play with no real value backing it up and that investors run the risk of crushing losses. Oliver Dobson estimates banks handle only 10 or 20 per cent of his finances. He says he manages the rest in crypto networks. (Submitted by Oliver Dobson) Create money out of thin air' The rally has made Dobson's seemingly bizarre occupation all the more lucrative. Among other methods, he said he uses bitcoin to buy other digital coins on crypto exchanges and sell them when they rise in price. He also keeps his eye out for so-called airdrops, where crypto startups release free tokens or coins as part of a marketing stunt. "If you're asking me, how do you make your money? I guess in a way, you just go try random stuff and they might just create money out of thin air and hand you some." The new wave of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies has its share of colourful characters. It also has some heavy hitters from legacy finance. Wealthy investors and big institutions, such as PayPal Holdings Inc., Mastercard Inc., Visa Inc. and Tesla Inc., are embracing bitcoin in various ways, signalling broader approval of crypto for the first time. The 2018 rout To understand how this happened, and what it all means, it's helpful to look back at the last bitcoin wave, which ended when investors watched vast sums of wealth get wiped out in a brutal crash. Invented as an alternative to national currencies in the depths of the financial crisis in 2009, bitcoin enjoyed one of its sharpest climbs almost a decade later, in 2017. The going rate escalated from less than $3,000 per coin to nearly $20,000 in six months. This bitcoin boom was driven not by big institutions like banks and pension funds, but by amateur, regular investors making a bet on new technology, said Alex McDougall, the managing director of portfolio management at the bitcoin and digital asset fund manager 3iQ in Toronto. People were drawn to an alternative to the legacy banking system, McDougall said. Bitcoin and its underlying technology presented a possible end-run around these gatekeepers, allowing people to do their own banking without a large financial institution. "We saw this potential move towards a radically open world and an entire new generation of wealth could be created in an entirely different type of market participant," McDougall said. Monty Kohli, a 25-year-old cryptocurrency investor, says he believes in the ethos of decentralized finance and continues to have money tied up in digital coins. (Submitted by Monty Kohli) "We also saw a ton of scams and fraud and a bunch of, quite frankly, B.S. that sprung up around the market." The price of bitcoin ultimately crashed in 2018, dropping more than 80 per cent in a year. Left in the ashes were people who lost their life savings. Monty Kohli, a cryptocurrency investor in his early 20s at the time, didn't face catastrophic losses, but still watched up to $8,000 in wealth disappear. Despite the setback, he believes in the ethos of decentralized finance and continues to have money invested in digital coins, but it's money he said he can afford to lose. Now 25, Kohli said he's a bitcoin banker. He said he loans out tokens in a secondary, crypto market where he collects interest, though he maintains a day job working in the finance department of a Toronto company. "My time horizon for investing is quite long and so that's where I can also afford to take some risk in my portfolio," he said. While long-time core believers like Kohli remain in the game, some bigwigs on Wall Street are suddenly stepping in from the sidelines. And that's part of what makes this latest bitcoin wave so different. COVID-19 fuelling the latest bitcoin rally "There is relentless demand," said Edward Moya, a New York-based senior market analyst with the currency trading company Oanda Corp. "What we're starting to see is Wall Street, Main Street are really embracing the crypto world. Even when we have significant sell-off days, there is still strong demand, and it's global." Moya said the arguments in favour of an alternative to government-issued currency haven't changed all that much, but critical conditions have shifted in the past year, making that case more persuasive. "If we did not have COVID, we would not be talking about bitcoin right now," he said. Central banks around the world have been pumping trillions of dollars into their economies to help them survive crippling lockdowns and various restrictions meant to control the spread of COVID-19. A major concern with all the pandemic-related stimulus is that it threatens to 'devalue or debase' national currencies, said Gavin Brown, a senior lecturer and associate professor of financial technology at the University of Liverpool. (Gavin Brown) A major concern with all of that stimulus is that it threatens to "devalue or debase" national currencies, said Gavin Brown, a senior lecturer and associate professor of financial technology at the University of Liverpool. "The purchasing power is less because, quite simply, there's more of it and therefore it's worth less." Bitcoin, on the other hand, is "not controlled by a central bank; it doesn't have any domicile; doesn't have any formal governance structure like you would expect with a company or a nation state," Brown said. "Instead, the supply of bitcoins is controlled by mathematical code and computer code, which means that the supply side of bitcoin is known at all times. It will never be more than 21 million [coins in circulation]." Critical infrastructure allows for big investments Cash was already on the decline for years, while the pandemic has accelerated demand for fast and convenient digital payments, analysts at the investment bank J.P. Morgan said in a recent report. "The pandemic has boosted demand for digital services and also for 'alternative' currencies as multiple rounds of stimulus, accommodative monetary policy, and excess savings have boosted money supply, leading to record inflows into bitcoin investment vehicles." Critical storage infrastructure is one development making cryptocurrency more accessible to institutional investors. Here, an illustration of bitcoin's logo stands on a PC motherboard.(Dado Ruvic/Illustration/Reuters) Another important change is that critical storage infrastructure required to hold large sums of bitcoin for institutional investors is now available. Tesla revealed in early February it had bought $1.5 billion US in bitcoin, something that "would have been almost impossible just a couple of years ago due to the lack of institutional controls and infrastructure at play," Brown said. It's not only easier for some large institutions to invest, the academic said, it's also more publicly acceptable — entirely different than the 2017 surge. A bet or an investment? Some bright minds in finance don't buy all of the enthusiasm. Stephen Poloz, the former governor of the Bank of Canada, said in an interview that bitcoin is more of a speculative investment play than it is a currency. "Even the pros who deal in bitcoin often use the word 'bet' rather than 'invest,' which suggests in our minds it's sufficiently volatile; it really is close to gambling as opposed to actual investment, since the asset itself has no intrinsic value," said Poloz, a special advisor at the law firm Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt. "But that doesn't mean that it can't become mainstream." Stephen Poloz, a special advisor at the law firm Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt and a former governor of the Bank of Canada, says bitcoin trading is akin to gambling. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press) Poloz said the Toronto Stock Exchange took important steps in this direction by listing two bitcoin exchange-traded funds. It means investors can put money into bitcoin under a regulated system of controls that ensure those investments are backed by the coins. Dobson, the crypto token trader, said the funds traded on the stock market and other developments, such as PayPal's foray into bitcoin, represent the antithesis of why cryptocurrencies exist in the first place. "Would you appreciate it if you agreed yesterday to buy a car paying in bitcoin and then you go to pick it up today and it cost you 16 percent more today than yesterday? - Stephen Poloz, former governor of the Bank of Canada "The whole point of cryptocurrency is that it's peer-to-peer, decentralized digital currency; it's immutable, it's uncensorable, and it's yours, purely yours," he said. "They don't give you access to withdraw your coins, so you never actually own them." Dobson estimates that banks handle only 10 or 20 per cent of his finances and he manages the rest in crypto networks. "Dollars don't make more dollars," he said, meaning he can make higher returns holding onto cryptos than national currencies, "so I keep basically everything I possibly can out of dollars. I do everything in my power to make sure that the amount of Canadian dollars that I'm holding is the smallest amount that I can get away with." But Poloz argues bitcoin can't replace national currencies in part because it takes far longer to process transactions. If, for example, someone used bitcoin to buy a cup of coffee, the drink would likely be cold by the time the payment cleared. While the technology could theoretically improve to make payments faster, he said there is no fundamental value behind the coins, leaving the price vulnerable to wild swings. "Would you appreciate it if you agreed yesterday to buy a car paying in bitcoin and then you go to pick it up today and it cost you 16 per cent more today than yesterday?" he said. "That's not the kind of volatility that you can endure in something that is being used for payments." 'A real seismic shift' There is no shortage of predictions of where bitcoin's latest wave is headed. The financial services firm UBS Wealth Management reportedly warned investors there is little stopping cryptocurrency prices from falling to zero. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she worries about potential investor losses. People pass in front of a crypto currency 'Bitcoin Change' shop near the Grand Bazaar on December 17, 2020 in Istanbul. (Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images) Brown, the fintech academic from the U.K., said there probably will be a correction, or drop, in the price of bitcoin over the coming weeks and months, but he expects the appeal of a decentralized currency won't disappear. "It allows them to move money without a payment intermediary," he said. "The idea of doing banking without a bank ... that is a paradigm that flies in the face of not just centuries of financial development but millennia. That's a real seismic shift." Still, Brown doesn't believe bitcoin will someday dominate global finance. Where this is ultimately headed, he predicts, is a digital currency war. There are three groups that Brown believes will be competing for supremacy: decentralized coins, like bitcoin; corporate coins, such as one launched by J.P. Morgan and the currency Facebook proposes; and, finally, future digital currencies backed by central banks. "There's a three-way fight for the future of money."
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia has long proclaimed itself “Almost Heaven,” a nod to a song and soaring mountaintop vistas. Now some joke the state name-checked in “Take Me Home, Country Roads” could take things up a notch as Democratic U.S. Sen Joe Manchin bargains his way through Congress. “Maybe we’ll get to heaven status,” said longtime Democratic Party official Nick Casey. Reviving West Virginia’s economically battered coal towns and reversing a persistent population decline is a tall order. But Manchin, who grew up in the mountain town of Farmington, has emerged as a key swing vote in a divided Senate. Now he has his best shot in years to steer federal dollars back home. Manchin put himself in the middle of things again this week over the COVID relief bill making its way through Congress, singlehandedly halting work on the measure Friday as Democrats sought to placate his concerns about the size and duration of an expanded unemployment benefit. As for his own agenda, Manchin has dropped hints publicly about “common sense” infrastructure investments sorely needed back home: expanding rural broadband and fixing roads among them. He declared that West Virginia could supply the manufacturing firepower to “innovate our way to a cleaner climate.” And more than once, he's said coal miners can build the best solar panels if given a chance. Some wonder if his newfound clout might help him do something former President Donald Trump promised but couldn’t deliver — reignite a state economy long overly dependent on a coal industry in freefall. Manchin's Senate colleagues have good reason to study the needs of small towns beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains. Manchin, 73, was already a recognized dealmaker on Capitol Hill, but deference to the most conservative Democrat in a 50-50 Senate has ratcheted up since November. A senator from Hawaii recently teased him as “your highness.” The guessing game of which way he'll vote has become fodder for late night television. In recent days, Manchin's opposition helped sink Neera Tanden as President Joe Biden's nominee to lead the federal Office of Management and Budget. Not since Robert Byrd’s death in 2010 has a senator from West Virginia wielded this much influence. Over half a century, Byrd brought home billions of dollars in federal buildings, landmarks and roads, many bearing his name. “This is hardscrabble country, man — our population is dropping, the demise of coal,” said Casey, an attorney and former chair of the state Democratic Party. “We got a guy now who can maybe do something legacy-wise. And I think there’s a lot of hope and some expectation that Joe’s going to do things that are significant, exceptional.” Pam Garrison, a retired cashier, said she told Manchin at a meeting seeking a $15 federal minimum wage that Byrd has universities and hospitals named after him because “when he got into power, he used that power for the good of the people.” “If you do what’s good for the people, even after you’re gone, you’re going to be remembered.” Manchin, though, sees himself not as a seeker of pork-barrel projects but as a champion for policies that aid Appalachia and the Rust Belt. “What we have to do now, and I think it’s appropriate — we show the need, and that the base has been left behind,” he said. He started down that road by joining Michigan Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow in co-sponsoring a proposal for $8 billion in tax credits to boost clean energy manufacturing for coal communities and the auto industry. Robert Rupp, a political history professor at West Virginia Wesleyan College, says Manchin can use his position in a 50-50 Senate to put his small state in the forefront of everyone’s mind. “He’s at the centre of attention, and he could assert power,” Rupp said. A former governor, Manchin has deep roots in West Virginia politics. That helps explain why he is the last Democrat to hold statewide office in a state Trump carried twice by large margins. Manchin maintains an air of unpredictability. He opposed a $15 minimum wage provision in the $1.9 billion pandemic stimulus package, even after activists rallied outside his state office in Charleston, leaving some to question his future legacy. “We’re either going to smell like a rose in West Virginia, or we’re going to smell like crap, and it’s going to be attributed to Joseph Manchin,” said Jean Evansmore, 80, an organizer with the Poor People’s Campaign in West Virginia. Days later, the Senate parliamentarian ruled an increase couldn’t be included in the COVID-19 relief bill. That was a win for Manchin and his reverence for Senate customs, including the filibuster, which helps sustain a 60-vote hurdle to advancing most legislation. Manchin has vowed never to support ending the filibuster. On a recent morning in Charleston outside the golden-domed state capitol, saving it was a rallying cry for anti-abortion advocates, who held signs stating, “Thank you Senator Manchin.” “We need to encourage him to stand strong,” said Marilyn Musgrave, who works for the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion non-profit. Musgrave's group looks to Manchin now after campaigning against his 2018 bid for a second full term, which he won with just under 50% of the vote. Manchin opposes public funding for abortions but stops short of supporting an outright ban. Still, he typically scores a low rating from abortion-rights groups, which puts him more in line with West Virginians who collectively have sent mixed signals on abortion. With his centrist instincts in such a red state, Manchin has occasionally been the subject of rumours he'll switch parties. “Republicans kind of have this day-dream that just because he’s conservative on some issues that would mean he would jump parties,” Rupp said. That's unlikely, especially given Manchin's newfound clout, he said. And that's fine with Matt Kerner, a 54-year-old West Virginian who wants Manchin to never forget that 16% of the people in his state live below the poverty line, the sixth-highest rate in the nation, according to the U.S. Census. “We're hoping Senator Manchin remembers that he represents some of the poorest people in this country,” Kerner said. Cuneyt Dil, The Associated Press
WARSAW, Poland — A bus carrying dozens of Ukrainian citizens rolled off an embankment into a ditch in Poland, killing six people and injuring 41, Polish media reported on Saturday. The accident occurred around midnight on the A4 motorway near the town of Jaroslaw, which is in southeastern Poland near the border with Ukraine. TNV24, a private all-news station, reported that the bus had a Ukrainian license plate and was travelling with 57 Ukrainian citizens, including two drivers. A large rescue operation early Saturday involved dozens of firefighters, paramedics and helicopters to transport the injured to hospitals. There was no immediate cause given for the accident. Ukrainians travel for work to Poland, a European Union state on Ukraine's western border. Ukrainians fill gaps in the labour market in Poland, which has experienced fast economic growth in recent years. The Associated Press
HONG KONG — A group of 11 Hong Kong pro-democracy activists accused of subversion will stay in jail for at least another five days while judges consider whether to release them on bail, a court said Saturday. The group, which includes three former legislators, will have hearings Thursday and on March 13, the High Court said. A court agreed this week to release them but prosecutors appealed the decision. They are among 47 people who were charged under a national security law imposed on the Chinese territory last year by the ruling Communist Party after pro-democracy protests. They were arrested after opposition groups held an unofficial vote last year to pick candidates for elections to the territory’s Legislative Council. Some activists planned, if elected, to vote down major bills in an attempt to force Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to resign. The national security law was imposed following months of rallies that began over a proposed China extradition law and expanded to include demands for greater democracy. The law prompted complaints Beijing is undermining the “high degree of autonomy” promised when the former British colony returned to China in 1997, and hurting its status as a business centre. People convicted of subversion or other offences under the law can face penalties of up to life in prison. Hong Kong traditionally grants bail for non-violent offences but the new law says bail cannot be granted unless a judge believes the defendant “will not continue to commit acts endangering national security.” On Friday, four of the 47 people charged were released on bail after prosecutors dropped a challenge to the decision. The group due to appear in court Thursday includes former legislators Helena Wong, Jeremy Tam and Kwok Ka-ki. The next hearing for the 47 defendants is May 31. The Associated Press
After a stalled rollout, Ontario is aiming to approve dozens of cannabis retail outlets each week with the goal of hitting 1,000 stores across the province by the fall. But the prospect of more competition, especially during a pandemic, has some in the industry predicting a shakeout in the marijuana marketplace. Vivianne Wilson, the founder and president of GreenPort Cannabis on College Street in the heart of Little Italy, opened her story on Oct. 17, 2020 after waiting almost a year to get it approved. "We opened during the pandemic, so we don't know what normal is. As soon as we opened we were on lockdown again so people can't come into the store," she said. Wilson added that the retail experience is how she hoped to differentiate her store. GreenPort Cannabis employees fill orders during the store's grand opening on Oct. 17, 2020.(CBC) By last summer, Ontario had authorized just 100 cannabis retail stores, fuelling criticism that the slow rollout was hurting legal sales and helping the black market. Now the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, which regulates the cannabis industry, is aiming to approve 30 retail store authorizations per week. But with in-store shopping curtailed in many regions due to COVID-19 restrictions, Wilson says it's been tough times for cannabis startups like hers. She's concerned about the impact all those new stores will have. "We opened a brand new business in a brand new industry during the pandemic, so those are huge strikes against any new business to begin with," she said. "It's inevitable that independent stores will feel that impact and I guess we'll have to wait to see see how dramatic it truly is." Trevor Fencott. the CEO and president of Fire and Flower, Canada's largest cannabis retail chain, says despite adding so many stores, Ontario's model doesn't work. He says having the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS), the Crown corporation that manages online retail also handle the wholesale distribution to private retailers, is a mistake. "There's an attempt to change the narrative, but really we're still where we were before, which is that the government is operating a monopoly in direct competition with private retailers." Trevor Fencott, president and CEO of Fire & Flower, says Ontario's private cannabis retailers must compete against a Crown corporation with a monopoly on wholesale distribution.(Fire & Flower) Fencott prefers the Saskatchewan model, where the government is the regulator, but not the wholesaler and retailer. He predicts that the OCS "taking gross margins from private retailers" will make them less competitive. "They are going to end up with fewer stores and perhaps that's the clarion call if these mom and pops are not able to sustain themselves. So it might take some business failures." Daffyd Roderick, the Ontario Cannabis Store's senior director of communications, says the cannabis sector is not immune to the factors that affect other retailers. "You see a real range of creative expression about what a cannabis store should look like across the province and that's the real gain in having the private sector involved. And that means some will be very successful and some are going to struggle." But Roderick says the last report for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2020 showed gains for the industry and healthy margins for private retailers. Ontario hit a high with $251 million in legal sales in the fourth quarter of last year. That's about about 32 million grams of weed, up 23 per cent over the previous quarter. That means the legal market has now captured 40 per cent of all cannabis sold in Ontario, up from 36 per cent. Daffyd Roderick, Ontario Cannabis Store’s senior director of communications, says COVID-19 has hit the cannabis sector hard, just as it has all other retailers. (Zoom) As for bankruptcies, consolidations and failures, he says the figures don't show there's a problem. "You're still seeing some stores changing hands. There will be successes there will be failures, but that's the nature of an open marketplace," he said. "We have yet to see a store close its doors since legalization occurred." Jay Rosenthal. the co-founder and president of the research and analysis firm Business of Cannabis, says while many stores are clustering in some Toronto-area communities, there are still many parts of Ontario where getting legal cannabis is still inconvenient. "Even with the ramp up ... saturation of cannabis retail stores is a long way off," said Rosenthal. He says where there is strong competition, retailers with capital and experience, such as, Value Buds, Fire & Flower, High Tide will thrive, but there is room for neighbourhood stores rooted in the community. Jay Rosenthal, co-founder and president of the Business of Cannabis, says while some communities in the Toronto area have complained of too many stores, there are still many parts of Ontario that are underserved.(supplied) In fact, even though the OCS offers lower prices online than private retailers, $6.40 per gram versus $9.45 per gram, customers seem to prefer their local stores. Almost 90 per cent of all legal cannabis in Ontario is bought from private retailers. "If consumers prefer buying from private retailers and COVID has shown that private retailers can responsibly and responsively offer products through e-commerce and delivery, why does the OCS have an e-commerce function at all?" asked Rosenthal. Back at GreenPort, Vivianne Wilson says OCS is appreciated by small and medium operators. "Having the OCS as a wholesaler negotiating for us, especially as an independent, is fantastic," she said. "I don't think that if they took that away we would be able to get the same price as a lot of wealthier corporations with more stores."
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called on Saturday for a binding deal by the summer on the operation of a giant Ethiopian hydropower dam, as he made his first visit to neighbouring Sudan since the 2019 overthrow of Omar al-Bashir. Egypt also signalled support for Sudan in a dispute with Ethiopia over an area on the border between the two countries where there have recently been armed skirmishes. Both Egypt and Sudan lie downstream from the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which Addis Ababa says is crucial to its economic development.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Saturday, in a bid to push forward peace talks with the Taliban, that his government was ready to discuss holding fresh elections, insisting that any new government should emerge through the democratic process. "Transfer of power through elections is a non-negotiable principle for us," Ghani told lawmakers at the opening of parliament session in Kabul. President Ghani met U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad in Kabul during the past week to discuss ways to inject momentum in the stalled peace negotiations with Taliban representatives being held in Qatar.
NAIROBI, Kenya — The death toll has risen to at least 20 after a vehicle packed with explosives rammed into a popular restaurant in Somalia’s capital on Friday night, with 30 wounded, the government news agency reported Saturday. The Somali National News Agency cited the Aamin ambulance service for the death toll. Police spokesman Sadiq Ali Adan blamed the attack on the local al-Shabab extremist group, which is linked to al-Qaida and often targets Mogadishu with bombings. The Luul Yamani restaurant also was attacked last year. Some houses near the restaurant collapsed after the dinnertime blast, and police said that caused a number of deaths. Security in Mogadishu had been especially heavy, with thousands of government forces deployed in anticipation of a planned demonstration on Saturday by an alliance of opposition leaders over the country’s delayed national election. The demonstration was later postponed. The Associated Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Saturday, March 6, 2021. There are 881,761 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 881,761 confirmed cases (30,146 active, 829,423 resolved, 22,192 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 3,370 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 79.32 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20,214 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,888. There were 41 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 277 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 40. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.1 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 58.39 per 100,000 people. There have been 24,938,790 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 1,003 confirmed cases (117 active, 880 resolved, six deaths). There was one new case Friday. The rate of active cases is 22.41 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 27 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There were zero new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.03 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 200,703 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 139 confirmed cases (24 active, 115 resolved, zero deaths). There was one new case Friday. The rate of active cases is 15.04 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 18 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 110,916 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,651 confirmed cases (31 active, 1,555 resolved, 65 deaths). There were two new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 3.17 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 17 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 6.64 per 100,000 people. There have been 356,686 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,447 confirmed cases (34 active, 1,385 resolved, 28 deaths). There were four new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 4.35 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 19 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There were zero new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.04 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 3.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 240,032 tests completed. _ Quebec: 291,175 confirmed cases (7,290 active, 273,430 resolved, 10,455 deaths). There were 798 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 85.02 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,030 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 719. There were 10 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 83 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 121.93 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,397,936 tests completed. _ Ontario: 306,007 confirmed cases (10,378 active, 288,583 resolved, 7,046 deaths). There were 1,250 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 70.44 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 7,438 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,063. There were 22 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 102 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 15. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.1 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.82 per 100,000 people. There have been 11,082,737 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 32,104 confirmed cases (1,133 active, 30,067 resolved, 904 deaths). There were 53 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 82.15 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 385 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 55. There was one new reported death Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 15 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.16 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 65.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 539,166 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 29,432 confirmed cases (1,507 active, 27,532 resolved, 393 deaths). There were 212 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 127.85 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,088 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 155. There were two new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 13 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.16 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.34 per 100,000 people. There have been 584,905 tests completed. _ Alberta: 135,196 confirmed cases (4,639 active, 128,644 resolved, 1,913 deaths). There were 411 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 104.91 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,408 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 344. There were two new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 36 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 43.26 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,434,748 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 83,107 confirmed cases (4,975 active, 76,752 resolved, 1,380 deaths). There were 634 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 96.64 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,767 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 538. There were four new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 25 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.07 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.81 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,959,060 tests completed. _ Yukon: 72 confirmed cases (zero active, 71 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Friday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.38 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,216 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 42 confirmed cases (one active, 41 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 2.21 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 14,790 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 373 confirmed cases (17 active, 355 resolved, one deaths). There were four new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 43.2 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 17 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 2.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,819 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 6, 2021. The Canadian Press
Juliana Aguero of London, Ont., knew she was going to have a tough time buying a house after she separated from her husband. "Every time, I lost the offer for $100,000 or something like that. It was crazy," said Aguero, who made about 10 offers on homes within a span of three months. The average price of a home in London is now more than $600,000. Aguero, who moved to Canada from Colombia 11 years ago, has two children with her ex-husband. The couple decided they wanted to live in the same neighbourhood — near Victoria Hospital — and raise their children together. Aguero is shown with her ex-husband, David Cuellar, and their children, Valeria and Santiago, when the couple was still married.(Submitted by Juliana Aguero) That's when Aguero found a three-bedroom condo listed for $330,000. It seemed like a good deal; other units in the building were listed for $20,000 more. Aguero offered $375,000. Paying it forward "When my realtor came, she actually started with Juliana's offer," said Damian Devonish, a London-based therapist with three children. "[She] said, 'This is a really touching story. I know your heart and I know that you will want to give it to her.'" Without her knowledge, Aguero's realtor had included a letter with her offer, detailing her client's backstory. Devonish, also a recent immigrant, arrived in Canada eight years ago from Barbados and believes strongly in paying it forward. "We don't know how life will treat us 10, 15, 20 years from now. So the best thing to do is to live it well today." Devonish, who moved to London from Barbados eight years ago, is shown with his three children, Destiny, Caden and Dasha. (Submitted by Damian Devonish) "I really didn't have a lot of money when I came to Canada," He said. "I was having difficulty getting a job because I needed a vehicle." Devonish found a car on Kijiji and remembers how the seller agreed to take $500 less for it, and he also threw in a set of winter tires. And that's why when Devonish reviewed all of the offers on his condo, and Aguero's was the lowest by about $50,000, he still accepted it. "I just feel so blessed," said Aguero, who takes possession of the home on May 6. "I've cried. I cannot believe there are people like Damian," she said. During an interview on CBC's London Morning, Aguero spoke directly to Devonish: "I'm absolutely sure you will receive many, many blessings in different ways. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart." For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here. (CBC)
The Dalai Lama, who is 85, was administered the first shot of the coronavirus vaccine on Saturday at a hospital in the north Indian hill town of Dharamsala.
It may not be intuitive, but safely reusing medical equipment that has been previously used by doctors or patients can help hospitals save on health care costs, prevent supply shortages and have beneficial knock-on effects for the whole population, say some doctors. It could also potentially make a dent in the mountains of hospital waste generated each year. In Canada alone, non-hazardous hospital waste could amount to nearly 300 tonnes a day. Dr. Andrea MacNeill, a surgical oncologist at Vancouver General Hospital is one of several doctors across Canada trying to make the shift from the single-use and disposable equipment hospitals rely on to more reusable masks, gowns and surgical supplies. They're also finding ways to recycle single-use items, such as oxygen masks, IV bags and tubing. MacNeill, a clinical associate professor, is launching the Planetary Health Care Lab at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver that will examine the environmental impacts of health care. She acknowledges that patients often don't like the idea of using something that has already been used on another patient. "There is an almost visceral reaction to the idea of reuse," she said. "I think we've been successfully marketed the notion that single-use consumables are safer from an infection prevention perspective, and there's very little, if any, data to back that up." Conversely, she said, there's is a lot of data showing that reuse is safe when done properly, similar to using the same restaurant utensils as thousands of other patrons. "There's no difference between that and using medical devices that have undergone safe-reuse protocols," MacNeill said. And there are potential health and environmental benefits to doing so, she suggests. Preventing equipment shortages For one thing, reusable equipment could potentially prevent some of the supply problems seen when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit in early 2020. At that time, some hospitals, long-term care homes and other front-line facilities faced dangerous shortages of personal protective equipment. Some reportedly even had to stop doing front-line work as a result. WATCH | Ottawa paramedics faced shortage of PPE: "Part of the reason for that is that we have developed increasing reliance on single-use items, so disposable N95 [respirators], disposable gowns," MacNeill said. That was less of a problem at Vancouver General Hospital, where she works, which was well stocked with reusable gowns and respirators. "Because it's a lot easier to scale up your reuse cycles, so your laundering of your gowns or your replacement of the filters of your reusable respirators, than it is to actually manufacture more of something," MacNeill said. She said supply-chain disruptions such as the ones seen during the pandemic can be expected to become more frequent with future pandemics and climate change-related catastrophes, and the health-care system needs to find ways to address such vulnerabilities. Dr. Ali Abbass, an anesthesiologist and chief of environmental stewardship and sustainability at St. Joseph's Hospital in Toronto, holds IV bags that are being recycled as part of a PVC recycling program.(Yuri Markarov/Unity Health Toronto ) "One of those is focusing more on reusable supplies rather than single-use consumables." Since the start of the pandemic, more research has gone into ways to clean and reuse PPE, such as N95 masks, and some provincial governments have invested in reusable gear. For example, the Manitoba government ordered a million reusable N95 masks that can we worn up to 30 times. The shortages have also prompted some hospitals to stockpile used masks in case they run out of new ones and need to clean and reuse them. Early prototype designs of reusable N95 masks being designed by Precision ADM in Winnipeg. The government of Manitoba has ordered one million, one of several efforts underway to move away from single-use equipment and toward reusable medical supplies.(Submitted by Precision ADM) Reuse can save money Reusing supplies rather than throwing them away can also cut costs, and some of those savings can be reinvested in patient care. Since December 2018, St. Joseph's Hospital in Toronto has been reusing disposable items such as blood pressure cuffs, fingertip oxygen sensors and surgical drill bits that are normally used once before being thrown away. Now, instead of being trashed, they're cleaned, sterilized, tested and repackaged by a company called Stryker Sustainability Solutions. The company says each device is individually tested after processing, must meet a U.S. Food and Drug Administration requirement to be "substantially equivalent" to a brand new device and carries a warranty and liability policy similar to those from the original manufacturer. In 2020, Toronto St. Joseph's Hospital estimates it was able to reprocess about 900 devices and purchase 600 new ones, saving about $20,000, including $4,000 in waste-hauling costs, said Dr. Ali Abbass, an anesthesiologist and chief of environmental stewardship and sustainability at St. Joseph's. WATCH | Dr. Ali Abbass shows some ways his hospital is cutting medical waste Normally many of the metal items need to go in a sharps container, which is expensive to haul away. "If you put it in the Stryker collection container, it's free," said Abbass, who reached out to the company after hearing about its programs at U.S. hospitals. Abbass said the program is relatively new in Canada after being approved by federal regulators. The system also reduces environmental costs, as Stryker can reprocess each device five to seven times — reducing the number of new ones that need to be made, Abbass said. "To me, every hospital in the country should implement it." When reuse isn't possible, recycling may be Of course, not all materials are durable enough to be cleaned and reused. That has been the case for disposable medical masks along with IV bags, oxygen masks and oxygen tubing. For those, recycling may be an option — but one that hasn't been widely used. Abbass says that's likely in part due to the "ick factor," where hospital waste is perceived to be infectious. It's also often hard to find a market even for household plastics that have been recycled let alone recycled medical plastics. "There's lots of factors, I think that are in flux," Abbass said. "And one has to keep following up, I find, to see whether something that isn't recyclable may now be or vice versa. In 2009, Abbass heard of a program in Australia that recycled items made of PVC, such as IV bags, oxygen masks and oxygen tubing. He got in touch to ask how it worked, then found a recycler in Ontario, Norwich Plastics, willing to give it a try. A pilot program for recycling those items from patients who aren't infectious started at St. Joseph's in 2016. Dr. Andrea MacNeill, a surgical oncologist at Vancouver General Hospital, says switching from single-use to reusable medical supplies in hospitals can cut down on the harmful environmental effects of medical waste and help hospitals avoid some of the shortages they've faced on the pandemic.(Andrea MacNeill) It's already generated several thousand pounds of recycled PVC that's being used to make items such as automotive parts, garden hoses and highway sound barriers. Abbass said his hospital alone uses 400,000 IV fluid bags and 70,000 oxygen delivery devices a year. He thinks the majority of them could be sent for recycling if staff are educated about the process and recycling bins are placed in the right places. The program is gradually being expanded to other parts of the hospital and, in partnership with The Vinyl Institute of Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada, has launched at six other hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area, with plans to expand to B.C. Mask recycling ramping up Medical masks have not been widely recycled, but some efforts have started up recently. They have been collected for recycling at schools in Ontario and Quebec, for example. Collection of masks from some Vancouver hospitals also started in February, as part of a collaboration between Burnaby, B.C.-based mask manufacturer Vitacore and Ravi Selvaganapathy, director of McMaster University's Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials in Hamilton. It expects to have collected 200,000 masks by the end of March and aims to expand to hospitals across the country over the next four months. Selvaganapathy's lab will receive 25,000. They'll be melted down for recycling, and the research team is experimenting with pulling them into thin fibres. "Those can be then chopped up into little bits and can be used as filler materials, for example, in concrete and composites," he said. They're testing the strength of concrete that contains recycled masks to see if it's stronger than regular concrete. He sees the potential to integrate recycled plastic from masks into all kinds of other materials used in sports equipment or aircraft. "They could be buried in all of these products," he said. Emissions impact MacNeill says the ideal situation is to never have to worry about whether something goes into the recycling bin or garbage can and whether the recycled material can be sold and made into something else. "My ideal system is absolutely zero waste," she said, "because what we are purchasing is entirely purpose-built reusable instruments that are actually designed for durability and quality." She recognizes that's a challenge, given that hospitals have been relying heavily on single-use medical supplies since the 1980s in response to the products being marketed as safer and more convenient. "Nobody was thinking about what the impacts were of manufacturing all of these plastics and of ultimately disposing of them," she said. Now, even health regulators in the U.S. factor in the use of disposables when considering a hospital for accreditation, she said. The World Health Organization estimates that high-income countries currently generate an average of 0.5 kg of hazardous waste and more than three kilograms of non-hazardous waste per hospital bed per day. Canada had 91,000 hospital beds in 2018-2019, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, suggesting its hospitals could be producing 273 tonnes of non-hazardous waste per day. MacNeill notes that waste and pollution generated by the health care industry is unhealthy for everyone. "We have a moral imperative to first do no harm," MacNeill said. "And that includes to the rest of the population who's not currently a patient, but who is potentially being adversely affected by the implications of the care we're delivering right now." WATCH | The operating room anesthetic gasses hurting the environment: The greenhouse gas emissions from health care are also an issue, she said. "If we could decarbonize health care, it would be nearly equivalent to eliminating air travel. So we actually have a massive opportunity." That's something the National Health Service in England has acknowledged by committing to produce net zero emissions. MacNeill is confident it's something Canada can also achieve, too. "One hundred per cent, we can get there."
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said Thursday that when it comes to funding for health care, the provinces aren't looking for the federal government to be their "banker" — they're looking for a "partner." He's at least half right. The premiers certainly aren't looking for a banker, because bankers typically apply pretty stringent conditions to any money they hand out (and they usually expect you to pay it back). For the same reasons, it's not clear how much the premiers want a "partner" either. The money they seek is money they can spend without the federal government being able to say much of anything about it. What the provinces actually seem to be looking for is a donor. WATCH: Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister calls out Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on health transfers You can see the likely compromise here: the federal government increasing funding while acting like something in between a donor and partner. But underneath the political negotiation are some long-term questions about taxes, spending and debt — questions about whether governments at all levels will have enough money to do what citizens want or need them to do in the years ahead. Officially, the premiers are demanding that the federal government give them enough funding through the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) to cover 35 per cent of all health care costs. There's nothing particularly magical about the number — the last time federal cash transfers covered that share of health costs was in the mid-1970s. But the premiers have decided that it feels like a fair number, or a sufficiently ambitious opening bid. There is no requirement that CHT funds be spent on health care. Right now, the funding provided by the CHT is equal to about 22 per cent of all health costs incurred by the provinces (though there is a long trail of context behind that number). In 1977, the federal government transferred "tax points" to the provinces — effectively reducing federal taxes so that provinces could raise theirs — to cover health care costs. The current Liberal government also has signed separate agreements to provide $11 billion over ten years to the provinces to cover specific costs related to mental health and home care. The provinces have a point Raising the CHT to cover 35 per cent of all health costs incurred by the provinces would amount to an increase of $28 billion in new annual spending for the federal government. The provinces argue that the federal government is in a better position to carry that cost. But that's not the same as saying it would be easy. The provinces have a case for calling on the federal government to pay more. The parliamentary budget officer's latest fiscal sustainability report, released last November, repeated a warning that has been offered on a regular basis over the last several years: assuming that an aging population leads to rising health care costs, the combined "subnational" debt-to-GDP ratio will continue to climb unsustainably into the future. According to the PBO, provinces would need to either raise taxes or cut annual spending by a combined $12 billion to stabilize their collective debt-to-GDP ratio at the pre-pandemic level of 24.1 per cent. The federal government's debt-to-GDP ratio, meanwhile, is set to decline over the long term. In fact, according to the PBO's calculations, the federal government could cut taxes or increase spending by $19 billion and still expect to get back eventually to its pre-pandemic debt-to-GDP ratio of 28 per cent. It's time to talk about taxes A transfer of $28 billion from the federal government to the provinces would flip those calculations. The premiers have their own report from the Conference Board of Canada that says the federal debt-to-GDP ratio would increase to 60 per cent and then very slowly decline to 57 per cent by 2038 — though the Conference Board calculates that provincial debt-to-GDP eventually would continue to rise. It's debatable what sort of debt-to-GDP ratio the federal government can now carry responsibly. While provincial conservatives might be happy to take that $28 billion, federal Conservatives might be even happier to criticize the federal debt levels that would result. But it's also possible that someone here needs to think about raising taxes — and most federal governments are going to be reluctant to surrender fiscal room to the provinces if it means those provinces can avoid raising taxes, or even cut them. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney's government is cutting the corporate tax rate — a decision that could lead to some awkward moments when the provinces and Ottawa get down to negotiating a boost in the federal health transfer.(Jason Franson/Canadian Press) The Alberta government, for instance, is in the process of cutting its corporate tax rate from 12 per cent to eight per cent. (When he was Quebec's premier, Jean Charest semi-famously used a boost in federal transfers in 2007 to hand out a pre-election income tax cut.) One way or another, a conversation about the resources needed to tackle the challenges of the post-pandemic world is necessary — and maybe inevitable. But Trudeau seems to be in no rush to start the health care aspect of that conversation. "As I've said to the premiers, we will be there to increase those transfers," he told reporters on Friday. "But that conversation needs to happen once we are through this pandemic." Room for compromise While the Liberals might be willing to increase the unconditional transfer to some degree, they also have other health care priorities that they'd like to pursue — expanding pharmacare and improving the conditions of long-term care (including a commitment to new national standards). Put those things together and the provinces might end up with an offer to increase the federal contribution through a combination of conditional and unconditional funds — though perhaps not nearly equivalent to $28 billion in new money. Conservative leader Erin O'Toole has insisted that he would be prepared to increase the transfers without conditions. He's also stopped short of saying that a Conservative government would actually put up the full $28 billion. Barring a quick change in government, though, the premiers and the prime minister might realize — as any number of first ministers before them have done — that they're ultimately tied together. The provinces want money. The federal government wants to advance some legacy-defining priorities. And the public might not be terribly interested in jurisdictional arguments right now. These are the makings of a beautiful, if acrimonious, partnership.
They'd been gently nudging the kindly woman who slept on cardboard boxes outside a central London church to accept temporary lodging for some time. Over a bowl of soup one snowy Monday in February, said Vicky McGarrigle, "she looked up at me and said: 'I am tired.'" The answer was finally yes. McGarrigle helps out with a charity called Under One Sky, which aims to help people who are homeless in the United Kingdom, particularly in winter. And the woman on the stoop was Laraine McHendrie-Décarie. She's a former Montrealer. In fact, McHendrie-Décarie's a McGill University graduate — in 1990, with a social work degree earned with distinction — who once represented Canada as a national-level swimmer. These days, she is living in a London hotel thanks largely to a crowd-funding initiative piloted by McGarrigle and her friend Monica White. It has raised nearly $70,000, and McHendrie-Décarie has dreams of soon finding a permanent home. Laraine McHendrie-Décarie was homeless in central London for four-and-a-half years, but now she's living temporarily in a hotel thanks to a crowdfunding initiative.(Submitted by Vicky McGarrigle and Monica White) Life is good, she says, and her aim now is "to change these situations for other people out there in the future." McHendrie-Décarie's story is one of how suddenly life's trajectory can deviate, how carefully laid plans sometimes go awry for no good reason. Now 64, she arrived in Canada in her early 20s to work as an au pair outside Toronto. Soon after, she moved to Montreal and began studying psychology at Concordia University before switching fields and transferring to McGill's School of Social work. Over the course of her 15 years in Canada, McHendrie-Décarie continued swimming competitively — back in England, she had been on the cusp of qualifying for the national team. After a chance encounter with someone at a local YMCA pool, she joined a club in Pointe-Claire and participated in Canadian colours at the 1986 FINA World Masters Championship in Tokyo, a competition for swimmers 26 and older. Laraine McHendrie-Décarie, middle, with friends Vicky McGarrigle, left, and Monica White, right. McGarrigle and White have helped McHendrie-Décarie, a McGill grad and former competitive swimmer, find a temporary home after years of homelessness.(Submitted by Laraine McHendrie-Décarie) McHendrie-Décarie moved back to the U.K. in 1996. She travelled, built a career, acquired an apartment. In 2014, she decided to relocate to France to teach and work for a Catholic community group. Two years later, the bottom fell out. She lost her identification documents, she said, then someone stole her identity. She would eventually lose her savings and her apartment. "I ended up sleeping on a church doorstep for over four-and-a-half years," she said. That wasn't the plan, of course. McHendrie-Décarie says it simply started as a way to pass the nighttime hours until she could get on with the business of helping herself, and others. "Even though Laraine was homeless and didn't have anything, she was still giving and still looking after people," said White, a graphic designer by trade, who is a longtime family friend of McGarrigle's and an Under One Sky volunteer. "A lot of these organizations and the churches relied on Laraine because of her social work qualifications and experience," White said. "She's just an uplifting person." Laraine McHendrie-Décarie's McGill University student identification card. She graduated in 1990 and after building a career in her native England became homeless in 2016 following a stint teaching in France. She says she lost her identification documents, fraudsters stole her identity and she lost nearly everything as a result.(Submitted by Laraine McHendrie-Décarie) McHendrie-Décarie, for her part, said she "tried to survive with the conditions that were thrown at me" and began to see her position as a case of "destiny and fate." Lockdown measures in the U.K. to stem the spread of COVID-19 have been hard on the unhoused, as they have elsewhere in the world, including Quebec. And her case was further complicated by changes in the rules governing pension benefits. "I kept coming up against all sorts of things. Mentally and physically I've always been well and I didn't fit into any of the categories that we have here in England to get assistance. And I wouldn't lie," McHendrie-Décarie said. With the help of her friends McGarrigle and White and organizations like Under One Sky, she's in the process of negotiating the various bureaucratic obstacles in her path. "These two ladies are very special, unique people … they're like guardian angels," said McHendrie-Décarie. 'It's been such a positive journey' The feeling is very much mutual. "It's been such a positive journey," said McGarrigle, who is also part of an advocacy group called Minds United F.C. And it's not over. "We've just had so many people message us … we've just realized we can use this in a positive way," said White. She also encouraged people to get involved with easing the plight of folks like McHendrie-Décarie. "These are real people, with real lives and stories and more often than not they had horrendous experiences … you just take it at face value, human to human," White said. "A tea and a coffee, and just five minutes to talk is more than putting a [coin] in a cup."
As a physiotherapist, Matthew Laing is seeing first-hand the consequences for many people who have been working from home for nearly a full year because of the pandemic. He says he frequently hears the same complaints from clients: neck, back and shoulder pain that bothers them throughout the day because they're stuck and not moving. "I've got clients who just don't move for eight hours a day," said Laing, who is based in Toronto. "We're human beings, we're not meant to be in a sedentary position, not moving at all." Back in March 2020, when many companies directed most of their staff to leave the office and telecommute in an effort to slow the spread of a scary new coronavirus, the experience of working from home felt novel, perhaps even exciting for some workers. At the very least, it was considered a blessing to have the option, particularly as workers in other sectors, such as health-care workers and grocery store staff, didn't have the same choice, and many other workers were laid off because of the pandemic's economic toll. But working from makeshift setups with non-ergonomic chairs and unorthodox workspaces has caused its share of physical strain. And collaborating with colleagues remotely for so long has only worsened a COVID 19-era ailment of another kind: Zoom fatigue. WATCH | Zoom fatigue is taking its toll: "The novelty has worn off," said Peter Flaschner, a director of the marketing firm Klick Health, who started working from his Toronto living room and kitchen a year ago. He's since turned a room upstairs into a temporary office. "We've become quite adept at this," he said, referring to collaborating with colleagues remotely. A year ago, few would have foreseen how widespread videoconferencing would become. Trials are held online, world leaders attend international summits virtually, and even Queen Elizabeth makes appearances via a webcam at Windsor Castle. Queen Elizabeth has been holding virtual meetings while staying at Windsor Castle during the pandemic.(Twitter/Royal Family) Downloads of the pandemic's hottest video chat software, Zoom, exploded. The company said last spring 300 million daily participants were meeting on the platform. This past week, it reported total revenue of $882.5 million US, up a whopping 369 per cent year-over-year for the quarter ending Jan. 31. But with that added usage came increased complaints of Zoom fatigue, the term given to the unique brand of mental exhaustion caused by hours of videoconferencing on any app, including Microsoft's Skype and Teams, Cisco Webex and Google Meet. "I've never put my finger on why being on Zoom all day is so mentally and physically exhausting," Giancarlo Fiorella, a Toronto-based investigator for the website Bellingcat, tweeted. "There's a reason why TED talks are 18 minutes," said Anthony Bonato, a Ryerson University mathematics professor, referring to the popular series of online lectures. "Zoom fatigue is real." Researchers at Stanford University recently considered what makes videoconferencing so tiring. They pointed to four factors: The unnaturally prolonged simulation of close-up eye contact. The mental strain of watching other attendees for visual cues. A reduction in mobility from staying in the same spot. Constantly seeing yourself in real time. Their work was published in the journal Technology, Mind and Behavior. Stanford communication professor Jeremy Bailenson points out in the article, "The arguments are based on academic theory and research, but also have yet to be directly tested in the context of Zoom, and require future experimentation to confirm." Still, "this is a huge transformation to the way we normally talk," fellow Stanford communication professor Jeff Hancock told CBC News over Zoom from his home in Palo Alto, Calif. "It's like walking around with a mirror hanging around in front of us." He said Zoom fatigue is bound to affect people of different genders and races to varying degrees, particularly when it comes to the way individuals pay attention to — and perceive — their own image, what's known as self-focused attention. "There's a lot of work in psychology that shows people that have higher levels of self-focused attention are more likely to feel anxious or even more likely to get depressed," said Hancock, a B.C. native. "And we find the same kind of thing here [with Zoom fatigue]." What to do about it Bailenson recommends turning off "self-view" mode as much as possible, as well as reducing the size of the videoconference window so it doesn't take up the entire screen. He hopes platforms such as Zoom will change default settings so the user isn't automatically faced with their own image any time they enter a video meeting, unless that's what they choose. As for the aches and pains, Laing, the physiotherapist, recommends doing small exercises between meetings to break up the time spent in front of the computer screen. "It's not about changing what they're doing during those meetings … instead, it's actually to get them to maximize the time between meetings," he said. Matthew Laing, a registered physiotherapist and the owner of Foundation Physiotherapy in Toronto, says it's important to move around between online meetings.(Taylor Simmons/CBC) Laing recommends at-home workers get up — even for 30 seconds at a time — to do a few squats or stretches. Even going up and down stairs can help break the monotony and physical inertia. "Just pacing around between meetings … can go a long way," he said. Others have a longer-term solution. While vaccines start to help fight the spread of COVID-19, the eventual return of face-to-face meetings may prove to be the only cure for Zoom fatigue. "If we could do hybrid [meetings], that would be just great, if it means more people are able to participate," said Dipika Damerla, a municipal councillor in Mississauga, Ont. A hybrid meeting would have a mix of virtual and in-person attendance, once public measures allow for it. The city, like many others, has been holding public meetings via videoconference. And it hasn't always gone according to plan. A presenter at a recent council meeting asked for her presentation to be delayed. "What issues are you having?" staff asked. "My Powerpoint presentation isn't opening," the presenter replied, reflecting a recurring pandemic-era scenario. Damerla herself shared a habit to which many videoconference participants can relate, even a year into the pandemic. "I still start to speak with the mute button on."
A registered nurse who openly refused to comply with quarantine rules and other mandated COVID-19 safety requirements after returning from an international trip at a Toronto airport could face disciplinary action by the body that regulates nurses in Ontario. In a series of videos posted to her social media account from Pearson International Airport on Thursday, Toronto registered nurse Jessica Faraone appears maskless and says she refused to take a COVID-19 test as well as to quarantine in a hotel. Both of these regulations were made mandatory for air travellers returning to Canada from outside the country on Feb.1 and Feb. 21, respectively. In one of the videos, an airport official can be heard telling Faraone that while she's entitled to her opinion, she must respect others by complying with the public health guidelines, to which Faraone replies she's a registered nurse. "I'm a front-line worker," she can be heard saying. "Actually, I'm considered a hero." Jessica Faraone is pictured here second from the left in Arusha, Tanzania. She says she worked at a public hospital there for five weeks and arrived back at Toronto's Pearson airport on Thursday. (GoFundMe) In an emailed statement to CBC News, Faraone said she had gone to Arusha, Tanzania to volunteer as a nurse at a hospital for five weeks. When she returned on Thursday, she said she refused to comply with the public health guidelines because they are "100 per cent against our Charter of Rights and Freedoms." She also said when the pandemic began, she decided to work in long-term care homes that were hard hit by the virus. It is not clear whether she will be returning to long-term care homes by her own volition or if she'll even be allowed to. Anti-masking statements grounds for discipline: CNO The province's nursing regulatory body, the College of Nurses of Ontario, says it is aware of the videos posted online and according to the conditions outlined on their website, Faraone could face disciplinary action. When nurses communicate with the public and identify themselves as nurses, they are accountable to the CNO and the public it protects, the regulatory body says. And that applies to public health measures aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. "Nurses have a professional responsibility to not publicly communicate anti-vaccination, anti-masking and anti-distancing statements that contradict the available scientific evidence. Doing so may result in an investigation by CNO, and disciplinary proceedings when warranted." On multiple videos in her series, Faraone tagged the Instagram account of Chris Saccoccia, also known as "Chris Sky," an anti-masker who has consistently rallied against health measures meant to keep people safe during the pandemic. His social media posts are rife with conspiracy theories and misinformation. "I got the courage to stand up for myself by watching Chris Sky stand up for his own rights at the airport. This made me dive deeper into actually learning and studying the Charter of Rights," Faraone said. RNAO calls behaviour offensive, unprofessional Doris Grinspun, CEO of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario, say Faraone displayed "offensive behaviours that are unprofessional and that contravene public health measures." "To have this video surfacing on social media at the same time thousands and thousands of RNs, RPNs, NPs and other health professionals are working 24 hours a day, seven days a week protecting Ontarians and trying to save lives is unfathomable," Grinspun said in an emailed statement to CBC News. Grinspun added that if Faraone is a practising nurse in Ontario, the CNO should deal with this matter "as they are obligated to do." Having any health professional acting in this way compromises the collective effort to mitigate the damage caused by COVID-19, she said, and she urges the public to continue following public health measures advised by the province. Violators of Quarantine Act could face $750K fine: PHAC In a statement, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) told CBC News it is aware of Faraone's conduct and it is looking into the incident. Although the PHAC couldn't provide additional details of the case citing privacy concerns, it said travellers are legally obligated to follow the instructions of a screening officer or quarantine officer on testing and mandatory hotel quarantining. "Violating any instructions provided to you when you entered Canada is an offence under the Quarantine Act and could lead to up to six months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines," the agency said. "It's a very difficult situation when that happens but I think we have the right people and the right professionals to manage through it accordingly," said Dwayne Macintosh, the director of safety and security for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, referring to the conduct of Faraone and passengers like her. "There are rules that we all have to follow and we are following the guidance that is provided to us by the Public Health Agency of Canada."