2020 has been a testing and turbulent year for politics. Tough decisions have come under intense scrutiny and none more so, than the series of government U-turns and broken promises. Here are five of the most notable ones from 2020...
2020 has been a testing and turbulent year for politics. Tough decisions have come under intense scrutiny and none more so, than the series of government U-turns and broken promises. Here are five of the most notable ones from 2020...
WASHINGTON — Hours from inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden paused on what might have been his triumphal entrance to Washington Tuesday evening to mark instead the national tragedy of the coronavirus pandemic with a moment of collective grief for Americans lost. His arrival coincided with the awful news that the U.S. death toll had surpassed 400,000 in the worst public health crisis in more than a century — a crisis Biden will now be charged with controlling. “To heal we must remember," the incoming president told the nation at a sunset ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. Four hundred lights representing the pandemic's victims were illuminated behind him around the monument’s Reflecting Pool. “Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights into the darkness ... and remember all who we lost,” Biden said. The sober moment on the eve of Biden's inauguration — typically a celebratory time in Washington when the nation marks the democratic tradition of a peaceful transfer of power — was a measure of the enormity of loss for the nation. During his brief remarks, Biden faced the larger-than life statue of Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War president who served as more than 600,000 Americans died. As he turned to walk away at the conclusion of the vigil, he faced the black granite wall listing the 58,000-plus Americans who perished in Vietnam. Biden was joined by Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, who spoke of the collective anguish of the nation, a not-so-subtle admonishment of outgoing President Donald Trump, who has spoken sparingly about the pandemic in recent months. “For many months we have grieved by ourselves,” said Harris, who will make history as the first woman to serve as vice-president when she's sworn in. “Tonight, we grieve and begin healing together.” Beyond the pandemic, Biden faces no shortage of problems when he takes the reins at the White House. The nation is also on its economic heels because of soaring unemployment, there is deep political division and immediate concern about more violence following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Biden, an avid fan of Amtrak who took the train thousands of times between his home in Delaware and Washington during his decades in the Senate, had planned to take a train into Washington ahead of Wednesday's Inauguration Day but scratched that plan in the aftermath of the Capitol riot. He instead flew into Joint Base Andrews just outside the capital and then motorcaded into fortress D.C. — a city that's been flooded by some 25,000 National Guard troops guarding a Capitol, White House and National Mall that are wrapped in a maze of barricades and tall fencing. “These are dark times," Biden told supporters in an emotional sendoff in Delaware. "But there’s always light.” Biden, who ran for the presidency as a cool head who could get things done, plans to issue a series of executive orders on Day One — including reversing Trump's effort to leave the Paris climate accord, cancelling Trump's travel ban on visitors from several predominantly Muslim countries, and extending pandemic-era limits on evictions and student loan payments. Trump won’t be on hand as Biden is sworn in, the first outgoing president to entirely skip inaugural festivities since Andrew Johnson more than a century and a half ago. The White House released a farewell video from Trump just as Biden landed at Joint Base Andrews. Trump, who has repeatedly and falsely claimed widespread fraud led to his election loss, extended “best wishes” to the incoming administration in his nearly 20-minute address but did not utter Biden's name. Trump also spent some of his last time in the White House huddled with advisers weighing final-hour pardons and grants of clemency. He planned to depart from Washington Wednesday morning in a grand airbase ceremony that he helped plan himself. Biden at his Delaware farewell, held at the National Guard/Reserve Center named after his late son Beau Biden, paid tribute to his home state. After his remarks, he stopped and chatted with friends and well-wishers in the crowd, much as he had at Iowa rope lines at the start of his long campaign journey. “I’ll always be a proud son of the state of Delaware,” said Biden, who struggled to hold back tears as he delivered brief remarks. Inaugural organizers this week finished installing some 200,000 U.S., state and territorial flags on the National Mall, a display representing the American people who couldn’t come to the inauguration, which is tightly limited under security and Covid restrictions. The display was also a reminder of all the president-elect faces as he looks to steer the nation through the pandemic with infections and deaths soaring. Out of the starting gate, Biden and his team are intent on moving quickly to speed distribution of vaccinations to anxious Americans and pass his $1.9 trillion virus relief package, which includes quick payments to many people and an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Biden also plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill on the first day of his administration, hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status. That would be a major reversal from the Trump administration’s tight immigration policies. Some leading Republican have already balked at Biden's immigration plan. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is often a central player in Senate immigration battles. Many of Biden's legislative ambitions could be tempered by the hard numbers he faces on Capitol Hill, where Democrats hold narrow majorities in both the Senate and House. His hopes to press forward with an avalanche of legislation in his first 100 days could also be slowed by an impeachment trial of Trump. As Biden made his way to Washington, five of his Cabinet picks were appearing Tuesday before Senate committees to begin confirmation hearings. Treasury nominee Janet Yellen, Defence nominee Lloyd Austin, Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken and Director of National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines were being questioned. Yellen urged lawmakers to embrace Biden’s virus relief package, arguing that “the smartest thing we can do is act big.” Aides say Biden will use Wednesday's inaugural address — one that will be delivered in front of an unusually small in-person group because of virus protocols and security concerns and is expected to run 20 to 30 minutes — to call for American unity and offer an optimistic message that Americans can get past the dark moment by working together. To that end, he extended invitations to Congress' top four Republican and Democratic leaders to attend Mass with him at St. Matthew's Cathedral ahead of the inauguration ceremony. ___ Madhani reported from Chicago. Associated Press writers Darlene Superville, Alan Fram and Alexandra Jaffe contributed reporting. ___ This story has been corrected to show that flags on the National Mall represent people who couldn't come, not COVID deaths. Bill Barrow And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
Two British hospitals are using blockchain technology to keep tabs on the storage and supply of temperature-sensitive COVID-19 vaccines, the companies behind the initiative said on Tuesday, in one of the first such initiatives in the world. Two hospitals, in central England's Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick, are expanding their use of a distributed ledger, an offshoot of blockchain, from tracking vaccines and chemotherapy drugs to monitoring fridges storing COVID-19 vaccines. The tech will bolster record-keeping and data-sharing across supply chains, said Everyware, which monitors vaccines and other treatments for Britain's National Health Service (NHS), and Texas-based ledger Hedera, owned by firms including Alphabet's Google and IBM, in a statement.
GENEVA — A panel of experts commissioned by the World Health Organization has criticized China and other countries for not moving to stem the initial outbreak of the coronavirus earlier and questioned whether the U.N. health agency should have labeled it a pandemic sooner. In a report issued Monday, the panel led by former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said there were “lost opportunities to apply basic public health measures at the earliest opportunity” and that Chinese authorities could have applied their efforts “more forcefully” in January shortly after the coronavirus began sickening clusters of people. “The reality is that only a minority of countries took full advantage of the information available to them to respond to the evidence of an emerging pandemic,” the panel said. The experts also wondered why WHO did not declare a global public health emergency sooner. The U.N. health agency convened its emergency committee on Jan. 22, but did not characterize the emerging pandemic as an international emergency until a week later. At the time, WHO said its expert committee was divided on whether a global emergency should be declared. “One more question is whether it would have helped if WHO used the word pandemic earlier than it did,” the panel said. WHO did not describe the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic until March 11, weeks after the virus had begun causing explosive outbreaks in numerous continents, meeting WHO’s own definition for a flu pandemic. As the coronavirus began spreading across the globe, WHO's top experts disputed how infectious the virus was, saying it was not as contagious as flu and that people without symptoms only rarely spread the virus. Scientists have since concluded that COVID-19 transmits even quicker than the flu and that a significant proportion of spread is from people who don't appear to be sick. Over the past year, WHO has come under heavy criticism for its handling of the response to COVID-19. U.S. President Trump slammed the U.N. health agency for “colluding” with China to cover up the extent of the initial outbreak before halting U.S. funding for WHO and pulling the country out of the organization. An Associated Press investigation in June found WHO repeatedly lauded China in public while officials privately complained that Chinese officials stalled on sharing critical epidemic information with them. Although the panel concluded that “many countries took minimal action to prevent the spread (of COVID-19) internally and internationally,” it did not name specific countries. It also declined to call out WHO for its failure to more sharply criticize countries for their missteps instead of lauding countries for their response efforts. Last month, the author of a withdrawn WHO report into Italy’s pandemic response warned his bosses in May that people could die and the agency could suffer “catastrophic” reputational damage if it allowed political concerns to suppress the document, according to emails obtained by the AP. ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak The Associated Press
A degree of contempt is expected to grow between the seven teams in the NHL's all-Canadian North Division, but the number of times the clubs play each will also breed some familiarity. The shortened NHL season has each team playing a 56-game schedule within its division. Some of the Canadian clubs will see each other nine or 10 times. During a 14-day stretch within the first month, the Vancouver Canucks will face the Montreal Canadiens five times, with a three-game series against Ottawa squeezed into the same period. The Winnipeg Jets will face the Calgary Flames four times in the first nine days of February. WATCH | CBC Sports' Rob Pizzo ranks the all-Canadian division: Most players and coaches agree the games will have a playoff feel about them, but teams will also have to guard against becoming predictable. "For all the teams you are going to have to come up with different sort of strategies and ways to mix things up, especially when you are seeing a team three times in a row," said Flames captain Mark Giordano. "Little things like the way you kill penalties or the way you are on the power play, the way your faceoffs are drawn up. Teams are going to be able to scout that. "You are going to have to change things up and have a lot of different plays in your book. It's going to be exciting." Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice said having a Canadian division is "going to be fantastic. The message boards are going to be awesome, funny as hell." It also means coaches will be tested on their ability to make subtle changes without completely deviating from their schemes. "You have to be real careful about how many times you are going to change your grip on your golf club because you are going to get a different trajectory every time," Maurice said. "You have to play well, play hard, but I do agree you are going to have to be fairly creative in how you approach the game." Vancouver Canucks coach Travis Green said teams are constantly adjusting for opponents. "There are wrinkles that you throw into your team for a game, but there are certain things, certain staples that every team has that [indicates] how they play," he said. "You don't want to go change your whole system from game to game. "I think it's perfecting a system that works for your team. There are different things [you can do], faceoff plays, on special teams, certain things you can change." 'Different for everybody' Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid said players will have to adapt. "You're going to have to learn on the fly," he said. "It's going to be different for everybody." Vancouver forward Brock Boeser said the schedule reminds him of his college days playing for the University of North Dakota. "You have to learn from game to game," Boeser said. "You watch film, you have to adjust to what you didn't do right in the game before and make sure you don't make those mistakes again." WATCH | NHL season begins amid rising COVID-19 cases: Toronto Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said reducing the number of opponents will make coaches focus. "It allows you to just zero in on a very small number of opponents, you get to know them very well," he said. "It frees up so much more time just to focus on our own team." Edmonton's Dave Tippett said the compressed schedule will keep coaches concentrating. "Sometimes you get into the regular season, games flow into each other," he said. "Every game [now] is going to be so important. The competition is going to be stiff. "I think it's going to be a playoff mindset coaches are really going to dig into. It's going to push coaches to be better. WATCH | CBC Sports' Rob Pizzo breaks down 9 NHL talking points: Vancouver forward Antoine Roussel, one of the Canucks who plays the game with an edge, said scores will be quickly settled. "It's going to be more edgy every night," he said. "You see the same guys all the time. "If something happens in game one . . . in game two you may have to answer the bell. The emotion and the fire in the games are going to step up, maybe linger longer." Playing more games against teams from the East will also give more exposure to young Canuck stars like Elias Pettersson and Quin Hughes. "I don't think our guys sometimes get the attention they deserve," Roussel said. "They could be in better position to market themselves as the best players in the league." Vancouver forward Tanner Pearson said the shortened season means teams must always keep an eye on the standings. "It's going to be different for a points race," he said. "You always talk about a four-point game when you play a division team. Now it's more crucial than ever." WATCH | NHL world honours Willie O'Ree on MLK Day:
India is considering revising its foreign investment rules for e-commerce, three sources and a government spokesman told Reuters, a move that could compel players, including Amazon.com Inc, to restructure their ties with some major sellers. The government discussions coincide with a growing number of complaints from India's bricks-and-mortar retailers, which have for years accused Amazon and Walmart Inc-controlled Flipkart of creating complex structures to bypass federal rules, allegations the U.S. companies deny. India only allows foreign e-commerce players to operate as a marketplace to connect buyers and sellers.
The company that operates the Eurostar rail service between the UK and mainland Europe has called for a UK government bailout following a collapse in travel. The train operator runs daily services through the Channel Tunnel between London, Paris and Brussels.View on euronews
In a moment of nation-splintering turmoil, an incoming American president, Abraham Lincoln, travelled by train to his inauguration in Washington, D.C., in a nerve-racking ride cloaked in disguise as he faced threats to his life. Now, 160 years later, an incoming president has cancelled plans for a train ride to Washington. It was supposed to be a symbolic journey highlighting Joe Biden's decades-long habit of riding the rails to D.C. each day from his family home in Delaware. Instead, it has taken on a sad new symbolism, of an American capital clenched shut in fear of political violence at Wednesday's inauguration. The question nagging at residents here, and at security analysts, is whether the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the worst of a passing storm, a one-off, or the start of a dark era of political violence. What's already clear is this will be no normal inauguration. The American capital has transformed into a heavily armed and tightly barricaded fortress. "Clearly, we are in uncharted waters," Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser told a news conference last week, urging tourists to stay away from her city during the inauguration. Fences are now up around Washington's downtown. Thousands of soldiers are patrolling the streets, bridges are blocked, parking garages are shut, bicycle-sharing services are suspended, Airbnb reservations are cancelled, and residents are being urged on neighbourhood chat groups against renting rooms to tourists. Suspicion strikes Capitol Hill neighbourhood Security concerns are most acute in the neighbourhood near the Capitol. Lawyer Matt Scarlato already has an overnight bag packed in case unrest spills into his neighbourhood and he's forced to flee the city with his family. He lives near one of the new security barriers near Capitol Hill, where police are forcing residents on some streets to show ID if they want to access their home. Scarlato was working from home the day of the riot in the Capitol building, when unexploded bombs were found near political party offices. He received a message from his son's daycare urging parents to immediately come pick up their children. Scarlato grabbed a baseball bat and tossed it in the car for the ride to the daycare. "It was a minute-by-minute escalation," Scarlato said. "We were all just sitting in the house saying, 'What the hell is going on?'" A longtime resident of the area, he compared the recent panic to a smaller-scale version of what he witnessed during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. On the day of the Capitol riot, he was concerned by the sight of an unfamiliar RV on his street given the reports of bombs in Washington and the recent explosion in Nashville. For her part, Monica Ingram, a retired health-care administrator, was rattled yesterday morning by the sound of helicopters hovering over the same Capitol Hill neighbourhood. Around that same time, the congressional precinct was ordered evacuated. The panic was the result of an explosion and fire nearby, caused by a propane tank in a homeless encampment. Ingram said people now look at each other differently, warily. Ingram saw a man taking pictures of streets near the Capitol the other day and she worried whether he was up to something nefarious. "We're suspicious of each other now. It's sad," she said. "It's very disheartening, upsetting. It's like I don't even know this country anymore." WATCH | Staff and media scramble as a blast goes off during inauguration rehearsal: Some call for indoor inauguration She's among the many people with mixed feelings about whether this inauguration should even be happening in public. Ultimately, she prefers it going forward, as opposed to moving to a makeshift indoor location, in order to deliver a message: that this country won't buckle in fear. There is, however, a part of her that hopes Biden might throw another inaugural party, a year from now, a real festive party, after this pandemic, and this panic. Biden should have a "redo" inauguration, she said. "It's so sad that president-elect Biden has to be sworn in like this. It should be a day of joy for this country." There's no guarantee this place will feel safer in a year. Mark Hertling, a retired lieutenant-general who led U.S. soldiers in Europe, said he worries about whether the United States is now entering an era of political insurgency. And he's not alone. One-time riot or preview of insurgency? Some analysts who study domestic political violence have warned for years (in thesis papers and books and government reports) that the conditions existed for an American insurgency on the right. Those conditions include a proliferation of guns, a surge in ex-military joining militia groups, two increasingly hostile political parties, and a split along racial and cultural lines in a rapidly diversifying country. A 2018 book, Alt-America, charts how membership in armed militia groups skyrocketed after the election of a first Black president, Barack Obama, in 2008, and these fringe groups began showing up at political protests. Alleged members of such militias are now accused of participating in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, where numerous people were dressed in paramilitary-themed clothing and several could be heard in the crowd warning they'd be back with weapons. "Welcome to the reality of other countries," said Greg Ehrie, who led FBI domestic terrorism units and is now vice-president of law enforcement and analysis at the Anti-Defamation League. "There is sort of an underlying belief that if we can get through Wednesday, this stops and then it moves on. And that's just not true.… This is going to be something we're going to be living with for several years — this heightened sense of security." Details released since the siege of the Capitol suggest things could have been worse. Jan. 6 could have been worse One man arrested that day allegedly had two guns and enough materials to make 11 Molotov cocktails, and another allegedly had a loaded gun, spare bullets and a gas mask. A federal prosecutor said one air force veteran who carried plastic handcuffs intended to take hostages. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City said in a YouTube video she believed she was going to die during the riot in the Capitol and that she experienced a traumatic event she declined to discuss: "Many, many, many members of Congress were almost murdered," she said in the video. "We were very lucky [to escape]." One police officer died as a result of injuries sustained during the riot. Another said he narrowly survived the angry mob and described how he was Tasered while some wanted to take his gun and kill him with it. Joseph Young, a professor at American University in D.C. who studies the factors that drive political violence, usually in other countries, said he is bothered by the trends he sees. "More and more, my work has been applicable to the United States," he said in an interview. "[And that's] troubling." A word of historical caution He said it's wrong, however, to conclude this is a more violent political era than the 1960s and 1970s. The U.S. experienced hundreds of terrorist attacks back then, from white-supremacist church bombings to political assassinations to the activities of the left-wing group Weather Underground, which bombed the Capitol, the State Department and other government buildings. But he's still worried about the current U.S. situation. As are the authorities preparing for inauguration day. The Pentagon has authorized the Washington, D.C., National Guard to carry weapons on domestic soil amid ongoing worries about the possible use of explosives. About 25,000 National Guard troops from D.C. and several states were expected to be part of the security operation. National Guard members are being screened themselves for any extremist affiliations. On Tuesday, Pentagon officials said 12 National Guard members were removed from securing Biden's inauguration after vetting by the FBI, including two who posted and texted extremist views about Wednesday's event. A Secret Service member was reportedly under investigation over political comments related to the Capitol riot posted on Facebook. Jared Holt, an expert who monitors extremist chatter online, said it has gotten quieter lately. He said he was extremely worried before Jan. 6 about the heated and violent rhetoric he saw in online platforms. People were posting tips for smuggling guns into Washington and maps of the underground tunnels connecting the Capitol to lawmakers' offices. Those same forums erupted in joy after the attack. "It was initially jubilation," said Holt, of the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Washington-based Atlantic Council think-tank. "They were thrilled. They felt incredibly accomplished. [Now], the cohesion between groups has eroded." It became clear within hours of the riot that it might backfire — against those involved and against Donald Trump. It failed to stop the vote to certify Biden's election win. Then it led to Trump's swift impeachment in the House. WATCH | Preparations underway to fortify U.S. capital ahead of inauguration day: Has the threat already receded? Some rioters in the Capitol who posted triumphant images of themselves on social media have been arrested or fired from their jobs, with their posts used as evidence against them. Social media platforms are either limiting extremist rhetoric and shutting out Trump, are offline altogether (Parler), or are unusually slow (Gab). Holt now worries that violent rhetoric is moving to tighter channels that are harder to monitor publicly, such as Telegram and other private messaging apps. So residents of Washington, D.C., and the country as a whole, enter this historic transition week in a fog of uncertainty, about whether they've just witnessed a dark passing moment in the life of the American republic or a sombre omen. "It looks like a police state down here. We've never seen it like this," Emilie Frank, a communications professional, said in an interview a few days ago, referring to the imposing concrete-and-metal labyrinth being erected downtown. "It would normally be bustling, everybody's excited [for the inauguration]. But it's silent, blocked off, police cars everywhere." She doesn't know if any of this will be necessary. But she'd rather have this than the under-preparation by authorities that the city witnessed on Jan. 6, she said. "So, even if it's just [for] show, it's better than nothing, I guess," she said. "If some people will be convinced they should stay away after seeing all this stuff in place, then that's good." WATCH | Ex-FBI agent on the new domestic terrorism:
The possibility of a fire in a special care home with dozens of residents shuffling toward the nearest exit while pushing a walker is something Lise Dubois worries about. Her elderly mother suffers from dementia, and she has seen what happens when a blaring fire alarm goes off, with three staff trying to evacuate 45 seniors in a hurry. "It's pretty scary," Dubois said of the scene she witnessed when her mother lived at Manoir Sugarloaf in Campbellton. A CBC News analysis of special care homes in New Brunswick, completed on Jan. 8, has found 24 per cent failed to meet fire prevention standards, with the most common infraction being a failure to do monthly fire drills. Dubois worries that lack of preparation, combined with the ongoing practice of reducing overnight staff at care homes, could lead to "disaster" for some of the province's most vulnerable. 'Variances' often granted Special care homes can be approved for a "variance" that allows the overnight staffing level to drop below the government standard of one caregiver per 10 residents. "In some circumstances, a staffing variance may be approved of up to 1:15," wrote government spokesperson Coreen Enos. The practice came to light in a recent CBC investigation into five special care homes owned by the Lokia Group. These homes took part in a government-approved pilot project that allowed staffing levels to be reduced, in some cases leaving workers alone overnight. As of Nov. 20, 2020, a spokesperson for the Department of Social Development said 55 of the 491 adult residential facilities in New Brunswick, which includes special care homes, memory care homes and community residences, had been granted a nighttime variance. Those variances are valid for one year and can be revoked at any time. Resident 'stuck' in her room Dubois remembers helping her mother, who uses a walker and moves slowly, to exit the home during that evening fire alarm. With one staff for every 15 residents, she said it was "chaos" with everyone "freaking out." "If it would have been a real fire, at least half to three-quarters of them wouldn't make it." There's a lot of them that has a hard time to walk. And a lot of them has oxygen tanks, so they need help. - Lise Dubois The Office of the Fire Marshal would not do an interview, but spokesperson Enos said in a written statement that staffing ratios always ensure "there is sufficient staff for evacuating residents in the event of a fire." She said variances are granted only after the operator has completed a timed fire drill, and if Social Development has no concerns about the home. Dubois said that during the evening fire alarm, as she was hurrying her mother down the hall toward the exit, another resident who was in a wheelchair opened the door of her room a crack to ask Dubois what was going on. "She was kind of stuck in there," she said. "She needed help. So I stopped and I helped her and I brought her and my mom toward the front. "There's a lot of them that has a hard time to walk. And a lot of them has oxygen tanks, so they need help." Dubois's mother, who has dementia, has now moved out of the special care home and into a nursing home, but Dubois is still bothered by what she saw during that fire alarm. "It really got me thinking a lot when I seen that — it's like Holy Lord — something like that had happened in an old people's home somewhere near Montreal." In January 2014, a fire that broke out just after midnight in the Résidence du Havre, about 450 kilometres northeast of Montreal, took the lives of 32 of the 50 residents. Many of the residents used walkers and wheelchairs, and a coroner's report blamed the high death toll in part on the lack of automatic sprinklers and insufficient overnight staff at the residence. Expert says fire drills critical In the most recent inspection reports for New Brunswick special care homes, as of Jan. 8, inspectors flagged 83 homes for not complying with fire prevention and safety standards. Fire prevention expert Derek Gruchy said it's critical that fire drills are completed regularly, especially when you are dealing with vulnerable populations who may have reduced mobility and diminished cognitive abilities. "The vast majority [of residents] are there because they need assistance. And so in the event of a fire, they can't just all get up and walk out, so they need help from the staff." Gruchy is the co-ordinator of the fire protection engineering technology program at Seneca College in Toronto, and his students include future fire inspectors. He said the number of residents, the number of exits, the distance to those exits and whether there are sprinklers all need to be considered when determining whether staffing levels are adequate and evacuation plans are safe. "If you have one staff or three staff — I don't really care — I just want to make sure that it's safe. So if you can do it with one person, show me. And so you do these evacuations to show that." Rules in New Brunswick 'very strict' Jan Seely, president of the New Brunswick Special Care Home Association, understands why family members like Dubois are concerned. She didn't know anything about the pilot project at the five Lokia homes and says the variance never should have been approved. "It's painted a very unfortunate picture of a sector that is undeserving of that picture," she said. "I hope that this type of thing doesn't happen again." Seely operates a 12-bed care home in Saint John and has applied for a variance herself in the past, which allows her to have one staff person working during the night. "The variance process is very strict," said Seely who does regular fire drills, has a sprinkler system and is confident all of her residents and staff can get out in two minutes. "When I go home at night, I know that can be done … it's one of my most important peace-of-mind issues." Seely is calling for a peer-review committee to be set up that would include officials from the Department of Social Development, the Office of the Fire Marshal, the Special Care Home Association and care home operators. The committee would discuss requests for future pilot projects and staffing variances. "Nobody knew this project was happening. So, you know, shame on government for doing that." For Gruchy, the bottom line is that all special care home staff and residents have to be prepared should there be a fire — day or night. "It's really important for the drills to just keep repeating the same thing over and over, so that when it is a real fire, everybody just knows what to do, and it's not a situation where people are looking around [wondering] 'Are you helping me? Where am I supposed to go?'"
OTTAWA — Almost two-thirds of Canadians would support a nightly curfew if necessary to curb the spread of COVID-19 — even though they're not convinced it would be effective, a new poll suggests. Sixty-five per cent of respondents to a poll by Léger and the Association for Canadian Studies said they would support temporary curfews in their provinces if recommended by public health officials. In Quebec, where the government imposed a month-long curfew 10 days ago, 74 per cent said they support the move. Nevertheless, only 57 per cent of Quebecers and just 39 per cent of respondents in the rest of the country said they think curfews are an effective way to reduce the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The poll of 1,516 Canadians was conducted Jan. 15 to 18. Léger executive vice-president Christian Bourque said the results suggest Canadians "want to do their part and will stand by their governments" in efforts to reduce the spread of the virus. But it also suggests provinces "need to sell this thing (curfews) if they want to make it work." The poll also suggests that Canadians' mental health has suffered as the pandemic drags on. Twenty-one per cent rated their mental health as bad or very bad, up eight points since last April, when the first wave of COVID-19 rolled over Canada. Thirty-two per cent rated their mental health as excellent or very good, a 10-point drop since April. Another 45 per cent described their mental health as good, down three points since April. Bourque said mental health experts do not consider "good" to be a particularly positive rating, akin to someone saying they feel OK. The poll suggests 59 per cent remain somewhat or very afraid of contracting COVID-19, virtually unchanged since April. Seventy-one per cent of respondents said they intend to get vaccinated against the coronavirus when a vaccine becomes available to them. Two vaccines have been approved for use in Canada so far and provinces have begun immunizing front line health care workers, long-term care home workers and residents and some others considered among the most vulnerable. Forty-seven per cent of respondents said they'll take the first vaccine available to them, while 27 per cent said they'll wait for other vaccines to become available. Another 11 per cent said they won't take any vaccine and 15 per cent didn't know what they'll do. The online poll cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
Health officials in northern Quebec Cree communities are pleased with the early rollout of a region-wide vaccination campaign launched in a snowstorm over the weekend. Shipments of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine were delivered safely Saturday across the nine inland and coastal communities of Eeyou Istchee, the traditional name of the Cree territory in northern Quebec. "[Teams] were fully prepared ... as the vaccines arrived, everybody was set to go," said Bertie Wapachee, the chairperson of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay. As the vaccines arrived, everybody was set to go. - Bertie Wapachee, Chairperson of CBHSSJB "We were very proud of our team. And I'm very grateful to have all of them on the ground," said Wapachee. Cases up in two Cree communities More than 3,000 vaccinations have already been administered across Eeyou Istchee, according to officials. That includes 1,200 advance doses sent to Mistissini and Oujé-Bougoumou, two communities currently dealing with outbreaks of the virus. On Monday, local officials confirmed there are 26 cases of COVID-19 in Oujé-Bougoumou and 25 in Mistissini, up from last week. "Vaccination is an important first step toward being able to finally put this pandemic behind us as a nation," said Grand Chief Abel Bosum, who was vaccinated last week in Oujé-Bougoumou. In Chisasibi, the largest of the Cree communities, more than 700 people had been vaccinated by 3 p.m. Monday, according to Jeannie Pelletier, who is the local director of the community's health clinic. "I believe the vaccine will help us, and I am happy that many [people] came," said Pelletier in Cree. She also reminded people of the importance of continuing with the measures in place, such as physical distancing and wearing a mask, even after they have been vaccinated. "I wish to tell people that this won't end soon, and we still need to be vigilant in keeping with the safety protocols that are in place to keep us all safe," she said. The launch of the territory-wide vaccination campaign has been months in the planning, according to Jason Coonishish, coordinator of the pre-hospital and emergency measures for the CBHSSJB. In recent weeks, the coordinating team has been meeting weekly to go over the logistics of the arrival of the doses and the transportation by air charter and car to the different communities across the vast territory. The vaccination campaign is expected to last eight weeks. "We've been doing this for many years since H1N1, and every year after that we've been having influenza vaccines," said Coonishish. "We know how to handle it and we're ready." Coonishish is confident as the campaign gathers momentum and more people share photos and stories of being vaccinated, more and more Cree will choose to receive the vaccine and protect their families.
Brandon Sun readers request specific questions be asked about COVID-19. QUESTION: if a person from Rapid City, for example, were to test positive at the Brandon site, would they not be added to Brandon district numbers? PROVINCIAL SPOKESPERSON: Numbers are tracked by home address — i.e., the address on the Manitoba Health Card is where that case will be attributed to in our numbers, not the testing location. As to your example, if that person’s home address were to show as Rapid City on their health card, that’s where we would consider the case to be from, not the testing location (Brandon). QUESTION: I understand Moderna’s vaccine efficacy in participants 65 years of age and older appears to be lower than in younger adults 18 to 65 years — 86.4 per cent compared to 95.6 per cent. Considering First Nation elders are top of list for vaccination — is this on your radar at all as an issue? The question would apply, as well, regarding any personal care homes using Moderna. DR. JOSS REIMER: We are constantly looking at the data that’s provided by the companies, as well as by other jurisdictions. We will be sure to analyze it on an ongoing basis. What we have right now shows it as a very effective vaccine and we are confident that it will be beneficial to those who are receiving it. QUESTION: People who work at a COVID testing site are eligible to receive the vaccine. Why aren’t people who work directly with COVID-positive clients at alternative isolation accommodation sites included in the eligibility criteria? REIMER: We have looked at a number of different issues when it comes to determining the eligibility criteria. We looked at issues like whether or not the people would potentially be exposed to the virus in the workplace. We’re also looking at how vulnerable the patients or clients in that setting might be. So for example, for personal care homes, it’s essential that the staff be immunized so that they’re not a source of infection or the individual living in that setting because they’re more likely to experience severe harm. We’re also looking at where we’ve seen evidence of outbreaks and disease transmission, particularly between staff and residents or patients. We’re looking at where we have a specialized workforce with specialized skills or those where any work disruption would be quite critical to the system. All of those factors have to be considered at the same time. So one of the reasons that the COVID immunization clinics became a priority was around that workforce issue. It is critical that these clinics be up and running with as many people as we need in order to give every vaccine as fast as we can. So it was important that not only that we have the eligibility in there to help recruit some of the workers to that batch location, but also to prevent that from ever becoming a source of infection. The last thing we would want for Manitobans is to have one of our vaccine clinics become the site of an outbreak, and so we wanted to ensure that we were protecting everyone who was working there, as well as protecting everyone who is coming through to get their vaccine. Do you have a question? Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: Readers Ask. Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey on Tuesday slapped advertising bans on Twitter, Periscope and Pinterest over their non-compliance with a controversial new law that requires social media platforms to appoint legal representatives in the country. The law — which human rights and media freedom groups say amounts to censorship — forces social media companies to maintain representatives in Turkey to deal with complaints about content on their platforms. Companies that refuse to designate an official representative are subjected to fines, followed by advertising bans and could face bandwidth reductions that would make their platforms too slow to use. Facebook avoided the advertising ban after it announced Monday that it had begun the process of assigning a legal entity in Turkey, joining LinkedIn, YouTube, TikTok, Dailymotion and the Russian social media site VKontakte, which have agreed to set up legal entities in Turkey. “We hope that Twitter and Pinterest which have still not announced their representatives will rapidly take the necessary steps,” said Omer Fatih Sayan, the deputy minister in charge of communications and infrastructure, after the advertising bans for Twitter, it’s live video-streaming app, Periscope and on the image sharing network, Pinterest, were announced on Turkey’s Official Gazette. Sayan added: “It is our last wish to impose bandwidth reductions for social networks that insist on not complying with their obligations.” There was no immediate comment from Twitter and Pinterest over the advertising ban. Under the law that came into effect in October, the local representative of social media companies would be tasked with responding to individual requests to take down content violating privacy and personal rights within 48 hours or to provide grounds for rejection. The company would be held liable for damages if the content is not removed or blocked within 24 hours. The law also requires social media data to be stored in Turkey, raising concerns in a country where the government has a track record of clamping down on free speech. Rights groups have said the decision by international tech companies to bow to Turkish pressure and appoint representatives would lead to censorship and violations of the right to privacy and access to information in a country where independent media is severely curtailed. The Freedom of Expression Association says more than 450,000 domains and 42,000 tweets have been blocked in Turkey since October. Facebook said Monday it remained committed to maintaining free expression and other human rights in Turkey. The Associated Press
AL-QAIM, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraq is tightening security along its 600 km (400 mile) border with Syria to curb the movement of Islamic State militants, drug smuggling and other illegal activities. Iraqi commanders on Monday toured the remote desert frontier controlled by various different forces, including the Iraqi military, Iran-aligned militias, the Syrian army, anti-Damascus rebels, and U.S.-backed Kurdish forces. The border is a flashpont for tension between Iran-backed groups and the United States, and is also tense because of Islamic State incursions and Turkish pressure on Kurdish rebel groups.
BANGKOK — A court in Thailand on Tuesday sentenced a former civil servant to a record prison term of 43 years and six months for breaching the country's strict law on insulting or defaming the monarchy, lawyers said. The Bangkok Criminal Court found the woman guilty on 29 counts of violating the country’s lese majeste law for posting audio clips to Facebook and YouTube with comments deemed critical of the monarchy, the group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said. The sentence, which comes amid an ongoing protest movement that has seen unprecedented public criticism of the monarchy, was swiftly condemned by rights groups. “Today’s court verdict is shocking and sends a spine-chilling signal that not only criticisms of the monarchy won’t be tolerated, but they will also be severely punished,” said Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher for the group Human Rights Watch. Violating Thailand's lese majeste law — known widely as Article 112 — is punishable by three to 15 years’ imprisonment per count. The law is controversial not only because it has been used to punish things as simple as liking a post on Facebook but also because anyone — not just royals or authorities — can lodge a complaint that can tie the person accused up in legal proceedings for years. During Thailand's last 15 years of political unrest, the law has frequently been as a political weapon as well as in personal vendettas. Actual public criticism of the monarchy, however, had until recently been extremely rare. That changed during the past year, when young protesters calling for democratic reforms also issued calls for the reform of the monarchy, which has long been regarded as an almost sacred institution by many Thais. The protesters have said the institution is unaccountable and holds too much power in what is supposed to be a democratic constitutional monarchy. Authorities at first let much of the commentary and criticism go without charge, but since November has arrested about 50 people and charged them with lese majeste. Sunai said Tuesday's sentence was likely meant to send a message. “It can be seen that Thai authorities are using lese majeste prosecution as their last resort measure in response to the youth-led democracy uprising that seeks to curb the king’s powers and keep him within the bound of constitutional rule. Thailand’s political tensions will now go from bad to worse,” he said. After King Maha Vajralongkorn took the throne in 2016 following his father's death, he informed the government that he did not wish to see the lese majeste law used. But as the protests grew last year, and the criticism of the monarchy got harsher, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha warned a line had been crossed and the law would be used. The protest movement has lost steam since the arrests and a new restrictions on public gatherings that followed a surge in coronavirus cases. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights identified the woman sentenced Tuesday only by her first name Anchan and said she was in her mid-sixties. The court initially announced her sentence as 87 years, but reduced it by half because she pleaded guilty to the offences. Her case dates back six years, when anti-establishment sentiment was growing after a 2014 military coup led by Prayuth. She was held in jail from January 2015 to November 2018. She denied the charges when her case was first heard in military court, where lese majeste offences were prosecuted for a period after the coup. When her case was transferred to criminal court, she pleaded guilty with the hope that the court would have sympathy for her actions, because she had only shared the audio, not posted or commented on it, she told local media Tuesday on her arrival at court. “I thought it was nothing. There were so many people who shared this content and listened to it. The guy (who made the content) had done it for so many years," Anchan said. “So I didn’t really think this through and was too confident and not being careful enough to realize at the time that it wasn’t appropriate.” She said she had worked as a civil servant for 40 years and was arrested one year before retirement, and with a conviction would lose her pension. What is believed to have previously been the longest lese majeste sentence was issued in 2017, when a military court sentenced a man to 35 years in prison for social media posts deemed defamatory to the monarchy. The man, a salesman, had initially been sentenced to 70 years, but had his sentence halved after pleading guilty. ___ Associated Press video journalist Tassanee Vejpongsa contributed to this report. Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul, The Associated Press
MILAN — European car sales plunged by nearly a quarter last year as the pandemic provoked the worst crisis ever to hit the capital-intensive industry. New car registrations sank by 23.7%, or 3 million vehicles, to 9.9 million units, according to new figures released Tuesday by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association. It said lockdowns and other restrictions “had an unprecedented impact on car sales across Europe.” All major markets recorded double-digit declines, down 32.3% in Spain, 28% in Italy and 25% in France. Germany suffered a more contained 19% drop. December sales were just 3.3% lower than the previous year, but performance varied drastically between markets. Italy and Spain both had double-digit dips, Germany gained 10% while Spain was flat. Germany’s Volkswagen shed 3% in market share, while gains were posted by PSA Peugeot and Fiat Chrysler -- which on Monday officially launched as a new merged entity -- as well as Toyota. The Associated Press
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 42,543 new vaccinations administered for a total of 613,285 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,618.197 per 100,000. There were 31,065 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 848,565 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 72.27 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 1,531 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,291 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.104 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 47.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,502 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,102 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 32.163 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 8,250 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 61.84 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 3,769 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,600 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 7.788 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 23,000 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 33.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 2,704 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 10,436 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.379 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 17,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 58.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 6,845 new vaccinations administered for a total of 153,539 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.944 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 196,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 78.27 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 9,691 new vaccinations administered for a total of 209,788 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 14.282 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 277,050 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 75.72 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 4,212 new vaccinations administered for a total of 17,751 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 12.891 per 1,000. There were 12,665 new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 46,290 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 38.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 2,459 new vaccinations administered for a total of 22,618 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 19.182 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 29,300 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 77.19 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 3,879 new vaccinations administered for a total of 89,814 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 20.403 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 101,275 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 88.68 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 11,432 new vaccinations administered for a total of 87,346 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.021 per 1,000. There were 18,400 new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 117,875 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 74.1 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 163 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,347 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 32.278 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 18.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 512 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 11.348 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 7.111 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 1,158 new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,141 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 55.286 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 35.68 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 Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. There are 715,072 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 715,072 confirmed cases (73,919 active, 623,033 resolved, 18,120 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 5,225 new cases Monday from 55,172 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 9.5 per cent. The rate of active cases is 196.65 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 46,889 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,698. There were 80 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 990 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 141. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.38 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 48.21 per 100,000 people. There have been 16,612,155 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 396 confirmed cases (nine active, 383 resolved, four deaths). There were zero new cases Monday from 122 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three 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 76,491 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 108 confirmed cases (10 active, 98 resolved, zero deaths). There were four new cases Monday from 251 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.6 per cent. The rate of active cases is 6.37 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of six new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 86,471 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,557 confirmed cases (25 active, 1,467 resolved, 65 deaths). There were zero new cases Monday from 909 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.57 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 24 new cases. 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 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 196,719 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 973 confirmed cases (305 active, 656 resolved, 12 deaths). There were 26 new cases Monday from 719 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.6 per cent. The rate of active cases is 39.26 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 173 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 25. There were zero new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of three new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.06 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 128,996 tests completed. _ Quebec: 244,348 confirmed cases (19,936 active, 215,325 resolved, 9,087 deaths). There were 1,434 new cases Monday from 7,600 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 19 per cent. The rate of active cases is 234.96 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 13,658 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,951. There were 32 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 352 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 50. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.59 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 107.1 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,664,134 tests completed. _ Ontario: 240,364 confirmed cases (28,621 active, 206,310 resolved, 5,433 deaths). There were 2,578 new cases Monday from 38,983 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 6.6 per cent. The rate of active cases is 196.48 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 21,244 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 3,035. There were 24 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 375 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 54. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.37 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 37.3 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,672,567 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 27,629 confirmed cases (3,108 active, 23,748 resolved, 773 deaths). There were 118 new cases Monday from 5,188 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.3 per cent. The rate of active cases is 226.95 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,181 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 169. There were four new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 32 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.33 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 56.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 441,424 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 20,562 confirmed cases (4,265 active, 16,078 resolved, 219 deaths). There were 290 new cases Monday from 1,165 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 25 per cent. The rate of active cases is 363.14 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,036 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 291. There were four new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 20 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.24 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 18.65 per 100,000 people. There have been 322,431 tests completed. _ Alberta: 117,311 confirmed cases (11,923 active, 103,941 resolved, 1,447 deaths). There were 474 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 272.76 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,220 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 746. There were 11 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 140 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 20. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.46 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.1 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,979,663 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 61,447 confirmed cases (5,713 active, 54,656 resolved, 1,078 deaths). There were 301 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 112.65 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,340 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 477. There were five new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 68 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 10. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.19 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 21.26 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,021,911 tests completed. _ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (zero active, 69 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Monday from 19 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. 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 6,175 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 28 confirmed cases (four active, 24 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 8.92 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of four new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 8,323 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 266 confirmed cases (zero active, 265 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Monday from 216 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. 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 2.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,774 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Joe Biden has given himself an imposing to-do list for his earliest days as president and many promises to keep over the longer haul. Overshadowing everything at the very start is Biden's effort to win congressional approval of a $1.9 trillion plan to combat the coronavirus and the economic misery it has caused. But climate change, immigration, health care and more will be competing for attention — and dollars. Altogether Biden has laid out an ambitious if not always detailed set of plans and promises across the range of public policy. Drawn from a review of his campaign statements and a recent memo from Ron Klain, who'll be his chief of staff, here's a sampling of measures to expect right away, around the corner and beyond: WEDNESDAY, after the inauguration, mostly by executive action: — Declaration that the U.S. is rejoining Paris climate accord. — Declaration that the U.S. is rejoining World Health Organization. — Ethical standards for his administration and an order prohibiting interference in the operations of the Justice Department from other parts of government. — Start of a process to restore 100 public health and environmental rules that the Obama administration created and President Donald Trump eliminated or weakened. — Start of a process to rejoin the deal restraining Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. — Executive action to end travel restrictions on people from a variety of Muslim-majority countries. — Executive action to protect from deportation people who came to the country illegally as children. — Executive action to make masks mandatory on federal property and when travelling out of state. Others will be asked to wear masks for 100 days. — Steps to extend pandemic-era restrictions on evictions and foreclosures. — Legislation to go to Congress proposing to repeal liability protections for gun manufacturers and tightening some other aspects of gun control. — Immigration legislation to go to Congress as part of an effort to offer a path to citizenship for 11 million people in the U.S. illegally and to codify protections for people who came illegally as children. — Education Department to be asked to extend the existing pause on student loan payments and interest for millions with student debt. ___ THURSDAY — Executive action laying out new steps to expand virus testing, protect workers and set new public health standards. ___ FRIDAY — Directive to agencies to take unspecified immediate action to deliver economic relief from the pandemic. ___ BY FEB. 1 — Executive actions to strengthen “buy American” provisions. — Executive actions to address climate change. — First steps to expand access to health care, for low-income women, women of colour and other segments of the population. — First steps to reunite families still separated at the Mexican border. ___ BEYOND (some may be tried sooner) — Ensure 100 million vaccines have been given before the end of his first 100 days. — Ensure 100 federally supported vaccination centres are up and running in his first month. — Expand use of the Defence Production Act to direct the manufacture of critical pandemic supplies. — Win passage of a $2 trillion climate package to get the U.S. to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. — Seek passage of a “Medicare-like public option” to compete alongside private insurance markets for working-age Americans; increase existing premium subsidies. — Eliminate certain corporate tax cuts where possible, by executive action, while doubling the levies U.S. firms pay on foreign profits. — Make a plan within 100 days to end homelessness. — Expand legal immigration slots. — Freeze deportations for 100 days, then restore the Obama-era principle of deporting foreigners who are seen as posing a national security threat or who have committed crimes in addition to the crime of illegal entry, thereby pulling back the broad deportation policy of the Trump years. — Halt financing of further construction of the wall along the Mexican border. — Within 100 days, establish a police oversight commission to combat institutional racism by then. — Reinstate federal guidance, issued by Obama and revoked by Trump, to protect transgender students’ access to sports, bathrooms and locker rooms in accordance with their gender identity. — Ensure taxes are not raised on anyone making under $400,000. — Restore Obama-era rules on campus sexual misconduct and a policy that aimed to cut federal money to for-profit colleges that left students with heavy debt they can't pay back. — Support legislation to make two years of community college free and to make public colleges free for families with incomes below $125,000, with no repayment of student loans required for people who make less than $25,000 a year and, for others, no repayment rate above 5% of discretionary income. — Support increasing the national minimum wage to $15. — Try to win passage of a plan to spend $700 billion boosting manufacturing and research and development. — Establish a commission to study expanding the Supreme Court. Darlene Superville And Will Weissert, The Associated Press
Gil Hymer was sixteen years old when he came out of the closet. When he left home, he met his partner through a consciousness-raising group in the gay community. They became fast friends, and bonded easily over their mutual love for music. They were together for 40 years. "We sort of became very entrenched in our own relationship, and didn't make a lot of friends outside," he explains. When his partner died and he entered his golden years, Hymer found himself longing for community. For many people who are over 50 years old and LGBTQ+, it can be difficult to make new friends. While bars in the Gay Village are an option for younger people, the older generation are often left without a space to connect with others their own age. Hymer, however, found support through a group called Gay and Grey Montreal, a social group for people 50 and over who are LGBTQ+. They meet for barbecues, go out for walks, and offer a safe space for people to be themselves. For now though, because of the pandemic, the group meets primarily through video calls. Gil recalls a special moment he had with the group. "[They] came to one of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas I was singing in," he says. "It really touched me that they would go all the way out to the West Island to do that." Bruce Cameron founded Gay and Grey in 2018 . The goal was to counteract the homophobia that some seniors might experience as they get older, and to allow them to interact comfortably with people of the same orientation, gender identity, or who share similar experiences. As Cameron explains, many seniors go back into the closet when they enter residential care. "They have to be concerned again about people being homophobic," he says. "They can't really be free, and this is one of the last places where they're going to live." Through Gay and Grey, Cameron also hopes to fight ageism that exists within the LGBTQ+ community. "Whether you're 40, 50, 60, or 70, you still have needs, you still have wants, you still have desires," he said. "And people should be open and accepting of that." By connecting older members to younger people in the LGBTQ+ community, Bruce hopes to bridge the divide between members of the community. "The older generation, they lived through gay liberation. They remember a time when being themselves was actually illegal," Nikki Machin, an outreach co-ordinator for Gay and Grey, explains. "That's an experience that not many of us today, who are millennials or younger, have any experience with." One of the group's members, K. David Brody, was involved in a court case fighting for the right to a widower's pension after his partner died. At the time, the province of Quebec did not recognize gay couples' rights to the pension. The members of Gay and Grey have a message for young people who may be struggling to come out of the closet. As Cameron puts it: "Be proud of who you are. The people who aren't accepting, that's their issue. Live with who you are, and be proud of that." WATCH | Bruce Cameron discusses what it's like to age as part of the LGBTQ+ community with the CBC's Catherine Verdon Diamond.